Friday 25 March 2022

Why was the Marriage at Cana the situation for Jesus's first miracle?

The Fourth Gospel tells us that the Marriage at Cana, changing water into wine, was the first miracle of Jesus; which raises the question of - why then?

By my understanding; Jesus's miracles should primarily be understood as evidence of his primary creative power; that Jesus was divine and shared in God's creative power. 

I also understood Jesus's baptism by John to be the moment when the Holy Spirit descended onto him and stayed; so that Jesus 'knew who he was' and also became divine (i.e. fully and permanently aligned with  God's will)... 

But if that was the whole story, then the question arises: why the 'gap' between the baptism and the first miracle? 

The answer - I now believe - is that it was Jesus's marriage to Mary (Magdalene) at Cana which made possible the miracles

The background to this can be found in my theological writings over the past years - and in particular my mini-online-book about the Fourth Gospel

There can be found the arguments as to why this is the primary source on Jesus's life and teachings (qualitatively superior to any other source - whether Old testament, Gospel, Epistle, Revelation or otherwise). 

Once this is acknowledged, it may readily be seen that we are clearly being told by the Fourth Gospel that Jesus married Mary at Cana; that 'this Mary' was the same as Lazarus's sister (Mary of Bethany) and Mary Magdalene; and that the resurrected Lazarus was author of the Fourth Gospel - Chapters 1-20 of which were written shortly after the ascension of Jesus (and, presumably, Mary his wife). 

The other necessary understanding is of the nature of God and creation. I understand 'God' to be the dyad of Heavenly Parents - of the prime, divine man and woman; and creation to be the manifestation of their Love

Taken together, this implies (although it does not entail) that the divine creativity of Jesus, as shown by his miracles, also required to be completed by a dyadic love between a man and a woman; which was made possible by the eternal/ celestial/ divine marriage of Jesus with Mary.

Until that point - Jesus could not perform miracles of divine creation; and this is why Lazarus took care to inform us in his Gospel that Cana was Jesus's first miracle. 


James Higham said...

That's quite some take on it. Exploring hat on, off I go.

Bruce Charlton said...

@James - I believe that we all must discover Jesus for ourselves, as a continuous process; here I am reporting on my personal discoveries which hang together surprisingly well in the ways that matter most to me, that I am most driven-by.

Nowadays, we cannot (even if we wanted) passively/ obediently and unconsciously absorb Christianity from externally - partly because all the major churches are corrupt, and partly because there are such gross contradictions in guidance (even within churches - especially across time) that we must always use discernment.

We are called upon to derive Christianity primarily from God-within and a direct relationship with the Holy Ghost.

Francis Berger said...

It's an engrossing idea, and it had me thinking for the better part of the afternoon. It certainly makes sense within the dyad conceptualization, and it underscores the sanctity of marriage. From a negative perspective, it also might help explain why evil is so opposed to marriage and -- recently -- the reality of man and woman.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage" (John 2:1-2).

We generally see eye-to-eye on the Fourth Gospel, but in this case I just can't read this as meaning "Jesus got married." If the marriage in Cana was his own, this fact has been deliberately obfuscated in the text. It could be true, but "it may readily be seen that we are clearly being told" is just a bit of an overstatement.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I won't recapitulate what I've already said, but I think it Is clear - rather than being coded or esoteric. The obvious is only obscured by the fact that people nearly-always understand the Fourth Gospel as in-effect subordinated to the the rest of the Bible and especially Synoptic Gospels and Pauline letters (including the almost universal but bizarre assumption that the Fourth Gospel was written decades after the events it describes!).

But my understanding is that literal explicitness wrt matters everybody knew at the time is not to be expected. All intended readers of the Fourth Gospel would know that Jesus had married the (famously resurrected) author's sister. And there was nothing remarkable about Jesus being married, because the theology that made it vital for Jesus Not to be married (etc, etc) had not at that point been devised.

This isn't special pleading because this kind of thing happens a lot in writing - as I know from my own; the obvious is not described explicitly.

So the marriage of Jesus is not stated in so many words at the exact point of description of the marriage at Cana where - although I would say (pretty obviously) the text is corrupted around the conversation between Jesus and his mother, which as-is is not consecutive or coherent.

The simplest way to approach this is just to read the Fourth Gospel with the assumption (working hypothesis) of Jesus marrying Mary - and see for oneself whether this reading 'works'.

Then for example, the events of the wedding make sense (whereas, with Jesus - and his mother - as merely a guest, they seem rather bizarre) - and obvious sense is made of the otherwise enigmatic references to 'the bridegroom' first at the feast and later by John (the Baptist).

John 2 ; [9] When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, [10] And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

John 3: [26] And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. [27] John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. [28] Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. [29] He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

In other words; here "the bridegroom" was referring to just-married Jesus.

Lucinda said...

Excellent analysis! Especially spurred on by WJT.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...


I agree that the Fourth Gospel doesn’t always make things explicit which were deemed “common knowledge.” For example, it never directly says that Jesus was baptized by John, or that he called twelve apostles. The wedding *is* explicitly described, though, so it’s very odd that it’s described as if Jesus were just one of the guests — “Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were invited, too,” and then “the bridegroom” is mentioned as (apparently) a separate character.

I do think that Jesus was probably married to Mary; I’m just not convinced that John 2 is an account of that marriage.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WM - [1] And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: [2] And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. [3] And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

Well, it's very compressed, and there is a jerkiness to the account that suggests some error has occurred in the transmission. But the only slight thing that suggests to me that Jesus was *not* the bridegroom is an unexpected linguistic hint like Jesus being 'called'.

But being 'called' to one's own wedding is just an unusual term (to me) rather than anything that refutes - and I think we should not focus on individual words when the elements and shape of the story is sufficient to be clear.

Thus overall, the basic facts that Jesus's mother was at the wedding in the first place, that she told Jesus in particular there was a problem about the wine, and asked Jesus in particular to do something about it - are absolutely consistent with its being Jesus's wedding - as confirmed by the later 'bridegroom' references.

Anonymous said...

It can be expected that the marriage occasion was premeditated by an officiating religious Jew who has this authority among the community. Thence Jesus is called to the wedding that preparations are complete. That Jesus prepares the wine is significant of the turning over of authority and again as Christ's own witness to the divine.

I am at lunch, so excuse me for leaving out anything more as of now. Bless Us Dr. Charlton.

A said...

It is an interesting question. Whose wedding was it - if not His? And why all His disciples? Important enough to mention. Why would Mary call on the Son of God, understanding He is the Son of God and can do miracles, to provide more wine? Just a surface literal reading is confusing.

Anonymous said...

I may have to post this a second time due to a connectivity error.

Each three Mary are symbolic of the world, the soul, and the unity of which. It has been many years since I have read the New Testament and I had been quite inattentive. Waiting at the tomb, the third mystery Mary(second chronologically) was in fact wife of Christ, and interregnum. ;)

Bruce Charlton said...

@TC and MA - A general comment. I am not claiming that this is the only rational way to read the Bible, and I am aware that there are (orthodox explanations for every verse and word in the Bible - after 2000 years, it would be surprising if not. And these interpretations are controlled by a top-down set of theological principles (e.g. a single, 'triune', omni-God etc)

Then again, it is not possible to read the Bible bottom up, a sentence at a time - because one Must have made assumptions about the overall questions of the status of the Bible and its many parts - how meaning ought to be constructed from reading it.

We will always find that we must start from a truth that is intuitively validated ; and from this we can build in cycles of discernment and testing against other intuitions.