“On the third day, there was a wedding in Cana …” John 2:1
It might be the most famous miracle in world history.
That’s so ironic. It really wasn’t even all that important. This miracle dealt with nothing more than providing refreshments at a party! Still, it would be hard to find a person who hasn’t heard that Jesus once turned water into wine. Travel to Israel, and you might even be invited to buy some wine near the place where this story took place.
But there is more to this miracle than first meets the wine glass. John, the young disciple who recorded the story for us, calls it a “sign.” This miracle, apparently, is supposed to tell us something. Like a sign on the road, it’ll give us key information. Direction. Help. As it was for the guests at that wedding, it might even refresh us!
You know the story, I’m sure. Jesus and his disciples, plus his mother and a host of friends from the community, were invited to a wedding in Cana. The unnamed couple enjoying the wedding party had no idea that they’d run out of wine, but the mother of Jesus knew, and she knew Jesus could do something about it.
Indeed, he could. And he did. The wedding was saved, the wine flowed, and the servants who knew they’d drawn nothing but water from a place of hand-washing were stunned.
Flabbergasted. Speechless. Nothing short of a miracle!
There’s so much going on in this story, it’s hard to know where to start. So perhaps a good thought for today is to notice the most unnoticed detail in the entire story.
This wedding, says John, came “on the third day.”
Third day? Third day after the previous story? Third day of the ministry?
Or was it the third day of the week?
As a non-Jewish American, this one slips right past me. When we have weddings, more often than not, I’m reserving a Saturday for the big day. As we count days of the week, that would be the “seventh day.” There’s no law that says it has to happen then, but more often than not, that’s the day of weddings.
But in Jewish life, the third day is the day. Not by law. By tradition.
Sunday. Monday. Tuesday.
So this wedding took place on … Monday night?
Almost certainly, that’s the detail in the first sentence of the story. In Jewish life, a day begins at sundown. And more than likely, this wedding took place at the beginning of the third day. That would be Monday night.
But why? Why does a day begin at sundown? And why so many weddings on Tuesday … which begins on Monday?
If you have a question for the text, says a favorite teacher of mine, just ask the text. This answer comes in Genesis 1.
For every day of creation, the record goes like this: “It was evening and it was morning, the first day.” “It was evening and it was morning, the second day.” To Jews reading the text, it seemed to be a pattern. If God was going to start a day at sundown, so would they.
And so it is to this day, evening first, and then morning. One trip to Israel and you’ll get the hang of it. Sundown is the key event. Not sunrise.
Back to the wedding. Why so many weddings on the third day, then and now?
That’s another question for the text. And again, the answer comes from Genesis 1. It turns out that when God created the third day, something special happened. While every other day ends with the famous commentary that God looked around and “saw that it was good,” the third day is a little different. The third day gets two declarations that “it was good.”
And thus the third day of creation goes down as the day of double blessing.
Who wouldn’t want to be married on the day of double blessing?
My wife and I were in Israel a few years back, and our anniversary fell on a Tuesday, the third day of the week. We also happened to visit Cana that day. Our Jewish guide acted like it was the most wonderful thing she’d ever seen. Here we were, she said, “on Tuesday!” She knew what we did not know. Weddings often still take place on Monday nights – the beginning of the third day – in Israel today. I even stumbled in on one a few years later in a Jerusalem hotel. It seemed so strange … a big, expensive wedding on Monday night. Didn’t they know about the football game?
Maybe the better question: Why didn’t we know about the day of double blessing?
Want to find more secrets from the ancient paths or even travel to Israel yourself? Check out experienceisraelnow.com.