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The Wedding at Cana, Creation, and Baptism

by John Bergsma July 25, 2019 0 Comments



The first strong nuptial imagery that we get in the Gospel of John related to Jesus is, of course, the marriage at Cana, which is obviously a nuptial situation. But I want to point out just a few basic facts about the way the marriage at Cana is described in the Gospel of John. You see in John 2:1:

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee…

Let’s stop there for just one moment. It says “on the third day”. The third day from what? What’s being counted here? To find out the third day from what, we have to back up into chapter 1 and we have to really backtrack to the beginning of the gospel itself. If we backed up into chapter 1, we go back up and the first time reference we find working backwards is verse 43, where it says “the next day”. The next day from what? We have to back up further, we go up to verse 35 and we find the next day. Next day from what? Well back up further and we get up to verse 29 and we find the next day. If we back up from verse 29, we have no other indications of a time previous.

So now let’s run through this in chronological order now, starting from chapter 1, all the way down. Apparently, the first stuff that happens in history in John is in verse 19, when it starts talking about John the Baptist talking with the Jews who come down to ask who he is. It narrates all that and that apparently is the first day of the gospel the way the gospel narrates it. So that would be verses 19-28. And when you hit verse 29, all of us sudden it’s the next day. So that day would then be day 2 (the events from verses 29-34 would be day 2). And then verse 35, the next day (that puts into day 3), the events down to verse 43. Verse 43 says “the next day”, so now what day is it? Day 4, ok. Go all the way down; the next time indicator we get is chapter 2 verse 1, “on the  third day.” So, the third day from what? The third day from the fourth day. So you count, 1-2-3-4….5, 6, 7. It brings us to the sabbath of this gospel. The 7th day that’s narrated in this gospel. Is that of any significance? Well think about the talk we had earlier, talking about the so-called two creation narratives which still need to be read as one. Adam, created on the sixth day, falls into sleep, Eve made from a side. He wakes up; that would be the morning of the 7th day. That’s when you have this wedding of the first Adam and Eve, the first human pair in the creation story.

Now what do we have in the Gospel of John? Is there any links to Genesis, say,  even Genesis 1 and the Gospel of John?  Are there any subtle clues that he’s telling a story that is somehow related to the creation story? Like, maybe starting off the book with “In the beginning”, and then talking about “all things being made”, and then talking about “light and darkness”, “created on the first day”. That’s all in the prologue of the Gospel of John, all this language taken from the creation story in Genesis. What is the whole point of that? Jesus is our new creation. When you come to Jesus it’s such a moving experience, it’s like being made new, being made all over.

And this is and idea that the Apostle John pursues elsewhere in the Gospel of John. Like in John 9, where a man who is born blind in darkness, plunges himself into water at the pool of Salome and comes back and can see what? Light; which is a type of Baptism, and Baptism is a type of the new creation, because how is the world made? It began with the spirit moving over the waters and then the dry land was brought up out of the water. So when we are plunged into the baptismal font and brought back up — and that’s the fullest sign of Baptism, is immersion (like practiced in ancient church, sometimes still practiced today), that’s the fullest of the sign, when you are brought up out of the waters — you are like the dry land being created for the first time. You are a new creation. So that’s why Saint Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

So what’s the Gospel of John presenting us with? It’s the seven days of the new creation, and on the 7th day of the first creation we had the new man and the new woman come forward. Now, not coincidentally, on the 7th day of the new creation in the Gospel John, we have a wedding and the only identified characters in the story are Jesus and his mother. These are the only named persons. Now it is not the marriage of Jesus; it’s not the marriage of our blessed mother, yet it is a marriage context and to the front of this context, in the front of this marriage, we have Jesus who does something that is the prerogative of the bridegroom. You know what he does in this story that was really the right of the bridegroom to do, or the duty of the bridegroom to do? What? Provide the wine. And yet, the bridegroom at this wedding, who remains unnamed in the background, he’s not so good at that. He is not so good at fulfilling his bridegroomial duties. That’s an adjective I came up with myself. If anybody knows of a legitimate word that means that, let me know, but I’ve always been forced to use “bridegroomial”.

Anyway, Jesus takes on those bridegroomial prerogatives and provides the wine. So what’s being shown here? Jesus is new Adam to Mary, new Eve, new mother of the living. They come to the front and Mary is a type of the bride, the church, and Christ here IS the bridegroom; he is the bridegroom of what scholars call the eschatological wedding banquet, the final wedding banquet in the last days when we are face to face with God, because Jesus is God himself. When we look upon him we see the Father. So it’s the marriage feast of the last times. So that’s where the nuptial imagery begins with the Gospel of John, it is really at the wedding at Cana, where Jesus and Mary come forward as kind of the new Adam and the new Eve, the new bridegroom and new type of the bride in John 2.

John Bergsma
John Bergsma


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