Stone Pots, and Earthen Vessels
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the Mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were there six water posts of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water,” And they filled to up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that is made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feat called the bridegroom, 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” 11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believe in Him. 12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.
After Jesus attempts to separate himself from His mother, she turns around and says to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
I would like to believe that Mary heard Jesus, but I also wonder if it is just the faith she had in Him that made her turn to the servants and say, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
I have also wondered what her role was in the wedding reception, yes, it was for a relative, but was she in charge of providing food or drink for the wedding guests, or did she just see the need and felt that within Jesus that need could be met. I have come to believe that she saw a need and understanding that it might not have been possible to secure more wine for the celebration, she put her faith in Jesus to accomplish what she could not do.
Truth be told, there are several spiritual implications in what was about to happen. Up to this point, there is no recorded instances in which Christ performed a miracle, so there was probably no inclination on Mary’s part to believe that Jesus would perform a miracle. Yet she placed her faith on Jesus, believing that he could help the situation.
Now there were sitting there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.
Mark 7:2-5 perhaps gives us the best illustration of what this purification ceremony was about. Let’s try to unpack this just a moment for this is important for our understanding of Christ mission here on earth.
The Jews sought to become spiritually clean and so there were strict laws regarding what one must do to remain spiritually clean or pure. This cleanliness had less to do with what is in one’s heart, as it did with the outside. Therefore, over time this idea of spiritual cleaning, or ceremonial cleaning came into being. This does not mean one would wash with soap and water, but that washing certain parts of the body with water, would make you spiritually clean.
A small ladle was dipped into the water of these waterpots of stone. The amount of water used was equal to about a half egg shell full of water and this water was poured into the palm of the hand. The water was then swished around in the palm of the hand, not allowing a drop to be spilt. After this was done, the water was allowed to run to the wrist, then back into the palm before being discarded. This procedure was then naturally repeated on the other hand. When completed in the prescribed manner the person would be considered ceremonially cleansed or clean.
But get this, if no water was available, then one could do the same by pretending there was water, swishing their hands in the prescribed manner and pretending the water would run to their wrist and back to the palm. By doing this they were counted as ceremonially cleansed.
Earthen or clay jars were not used for this as it was thought, based upon Leviticus 11:33 to become unclean if anything dead or common (unclean) touched them or fell into them. Yet stoneware, being hewn out of rock was not subject to these laws, so stoneware was to be used for the water used in this ceremonial ritual.
But in this case, it the meaning goes beyond what type of pot was used to carry the water, for the pots used were stoneware, which were hewn out of rock. This would naturally bring us to the conclusion that these pots would be representative or a symbol of Christ. The Rock had long been a symbol of the messiah, since the days of Moses when water had gushed from the Rock and that Rock represented the Messiah, so the stoneware pots used in this living parable by Christ would represent Him.
Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. Here in lies another significant lesson for each of us. By being filled to the brim so that not another drop could be added without spilling, kept those in witness of this miracle from saying, that something had been added after to make the water as sweet as the freshest wine possible. This is also symbolizing the fact that Christ came filled to the brim with goodness and mercy to be shared with all mankind as he attempted through his life and ministry to show us the character of the father. That what he shares with the rest of the world is not diluted by others but is the pure word of the Gospel message given to all that understand.
There is one more lesson from the pots, for because they were hewn out of rock and not made of earthenware (pottery), they were valued at a greater value. Throughout Scripture, clay pots are associated with humanity. I am potter and you are the clay, the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah both bring this aspect out in Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:4, 6; Jeremiah 43:9. Therefore the Stoneware is of greater value but God still loved humanity so much he was willing to bestow upon them a blessing far greater than they could imagine. This is what we will look at next in our post on the book of John as we continue to study about the wedding feat in Cana.