The Great Inclusive "Sign"
We take this first of His signs. Take all the signs of John as the showing forth of His glory and all of them were in terms of grace and truth. We have pointed out that of six words in the Greek which are translated in some versions "miracle," John's favorite word is the one which means sign. There was a hidden meaning. So the miracles of Christ in John are signs; they are meant to be teaching factors, instructing instruments conveying some meaning.
So we look at the eight signs of John and find that they are manifestations of His glory in terms of grace and truth; and the first one is basic to them all and basic to the whole gospel. That is, all the rest are gathered up in the first one, and the whole gospel is gathered up in the first sign. That is why I think it was done outside of Judea. We have pointed out that what was said and done in John's gospel in the main was said and done in Judea, but you find the first movements in John are not in Judea, and two, perhaps three, of these signs were outside of Judea, but they are in a special way related to the Church and are formative of the disciples, and have to do with that realm which is what we call "Church" ground. Perhaps the best way to explain that will be to let it come to us as we go on. But let us repeat that the first sign in Cana of Galilee outside of Judea is a comprehensive one, has in it all the features of John's gospel, is basic to all the other signs, and carries us right on to the end. Note that phrase that comes up in it - "the ruler of the feast." The man there referred to was not the master of ceremonies, but was simply the man who had charge of the food and drink, and had to taste things to see that they were all right. He tasted the good and wine before the guests partook, to see if they were all right. What he said was a very significant thing. He said: "Thou hast kept the good wine until now" - "You have kept the best wine till the last," that is not the usual order. When you take that with its larger significance you are seeing the end of Christ. The end of Christ is going to be the best; I mean the end of Christ's coming into our experience is going to lift us on to a level where everything is at its best. Supposing that suddenly there disappeared all those elements of clash, discord, every element of lack of fellowship, schism, warfare in all its principle and spirit, lust and passion and corruption, and there spread over this whole realm a state of absolute peace and harmony, with everybody in perfect understanding and friendliness and joy and gladness, and the thought of evil had disappeared, what a wonderful thing that would be. We could put up with this world under those conditions! Well, that is the best wine that is coming. That is the end of Christ; it is that which is kept for the ultimate issue of all that precedes in the work of Christ, and all that is gathered up in the sign in Cana of Galilee in spiritual principles.
There are all kinds of things in principle gathered up in this miracle, and each one of them represents a movement toward that glorious end where there will be a testimony to the transcendence of the Lord Jesus over anything according to nature. The usual thing is so-and-so, but the order is changed with the Lord Jesus. You come out into something unusual at the end with Him, the best wine kept to the last. When you and I get into the glory we shall say: This is the best wine kept till the last.
The Third Day - Fullness of Divine Testimony
Now briefly, look at this first sign. First of all it says: "And the third day there was a marriage." Is that just a natural observation? Is that merely to give us a movement of time? I do not think so. I think it is in keeping with various other similar references in this gospel. "Now Jesus, eight days before the Passover ..." Why that? Why these time movements? Well, briefly here without being too full, we may say that this third day represents a taking up of the contents of the two days before. The third day means that there is a full Testimony; three is the fullness of Divine Testimony, it is the Divine perfection, the Divine fullness; and on the third day this fullness of Divine Testimony in representation comes in through this sign. It takes up what has gone before, brings it to fullness of crystallized expression. What has gone before? Well, the beginning of John is the doctrine of the Person of Christ. Who He is, what He is; that has gone before. Then there is the gathering of disciples by the Lord. The heavenly Testimony to Christ, the Testimony of man to Christ, and now a gathered company. Simon, Philip, Nathanael, Andrew. I should like to stay with each one of them to indicate their significance. You must dwell upon that.
(continued with # 7 - "Fullness out of Emptiness, Life out of Death, Joy out of Sorrow, Glory out of Shame")