Scripture: John 2:1-11
- Students will learn about Jesus’ first miracle in Cana.
- Students will learn about Jesus’ wedding parables and experience a 1st century Jewish engagement, wedding and wedding feast.
- What was a Jewish wedding like in Jesus’ time?
- How does knowing about Jewish weddings customs help you understand his first miracle and his parables?
Materials: 1st century wedding clothing, mats/cushions, canopy, actors, coin, real or pretend torches, foods such as grapes, challah bread, dates, almonds, lamb, rice, etc. for the wedding feast.
Procedure: Have actors dressed in 1st century attire play the roles of a bride, groom, and groom’s father. The father welcomes the students and then the students watch as a young man (groom) comes to ask permission to marry the daughter. Show students the plain ring that is used for engagement. The father and groom then discuss a contract, dowry (sheep and goats), and date. Have the father explain that the engagement lasts about a year while the son builds an expansion to his father’s house to live in. Explain that the engagement is so binding that a divorce is required to break the engagement.
Transition so that it seems like a year has passed. Have the father act like it has been a year since seeing the students. He welcomes them to his home and explains that the son has gone to get his bride. Girls are set aside and boys are seated on mats. Men and the groom are heard coming laughing and bearing torches. Three witnesses stand with the groom and veiled bride beneath a canopy. The two are betrothed and the groom gives the bride a coin as part of the custom. He should say, “Be thee betrothed to me according to the laws of Moses and Israel.” Tell students that the wedding lasts seven days. Then students take part in a wedding feast. During the feast, have a server tell the story of Jesus’ first miracle. It should be told as though recollecting a personal and recent event. Also take the time to retell the parable of the ten bridesmaids.
During the feast, students can sit on mats/cushions. Serve foods such as rice, challah bread, olives, clementines, dolmas (stuffed grapevine leaves), lamb, duck, almond cookies (mampool), melon balls, raisins, dates, almonds, grape juice.
Students can dance to Jewish music. Dances that you can research to teach students include the Krenzl and Mizinke, and the gladdening of the bride.
- How is a Jewish wedding feast different from weddings in your culture? How are they similar?
- How does a groom show his dedication to his bride? How does the bride show her dedication to her groom?
- What do you learn about Jesus’ character from this story?
- What does the parable of the ten bridesmaids teach you about heaven? Note: You may want to emphasize that the bride did not know when her groom would come for her since this is different than many modern weddings and adds significance to the parable’s meaning
- Explain to students the importance of fruit juices during the 1st century due to the poor water quality. Give students a cup and some grapes. Have them try to squeeze the grapes to make grape juice. Emphasize how labor intensive this would have been in the 1st century and different methods were invented to press the grapes. Often grapes were stomped on and the juice would flow down a crevice into a basin. Especially note how little juice comes out of lots of grapes because the fiber and skin is not used. Students can also try baking challah bread according to Jewish tradition. Students can research the significance of the challah braids and the three sections used to braid this.
- Have students learn one of the traditional Jewish wedding dances, practice it and perform it.