In the introduction to his Gospel, the Apostle John says a daring thing for a Jew. ‘The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.’ Jews hold Moses in the highest regard for through him, God gave His commandments in spectacular style at Mt Sinai. But now one greater than even Moses had come, a greater revelation of God’s saving grace, the ultimate Way and Truth and Life. Moses had given people water from the rock. From stone purification jars now rendered obsolete by His coming, Jesus, Lamb of God would give them wine!
Water is a necessity to survive in the wilderness. Wine is a rich and sweet pleasure, the fruit of living under God’s blessing in the Promised Land! What was before was necessary, what has come now is a delight! Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana is a sign the Messiah has come. Our sins can be washed away for He offered the sufficient sacrifice on the cross. We can experience the joy of God’s loving provision for Jesus lives and intercedes for us.
The Gospel begins. The Kingdom comes. Let God’s people rejoice and be glad!
At first this miracle seems like a concession which Jesus does almost reluctantly for His mother but we should not be confused by His modesty here. John calls it a sign prompting people to put their faith in Him as Saviour and Lord. Let’s consider it under three headings:
A celebration of love.
Jesus here and elsewhere affirms marriage between one man and one woman for life as an ideal ordained by our Creator from the very beginning, a profound, sacred and beautiful thing to be honoured and celebrated. While the Bible cautions against getting drunk, it also uses wine as a symbol of blessing and hospitality. At a wedding a couple have formally declared and promised lifelong love before God, family and friends. Let’s celebrate with a feast!
In New Testament times, a Jewish bride would prepare herself and wait at home for the Groom to come and bring her to the ceremony. The New Testament says Jesus is like a Bridegroom come for His Bride. All Christians are together His Church, His beloved Bride for Whom He willingly laid down His life. He is come to bring us home to be with Him in His Father’s heavenly house forever. God the Son has given His life to save us because He loves us - this is the greatest cause for jubilation ever!
We see here not just a celebration of love, but also a generous provision. Studying Greek in first year of theological college was the first time this came home to me just how much extra wine Jesus provided for this ‘happy couple’ and their guests – it was between 600-900 bottles – how’s that for a wedding present! We’re reminded of David’ s line in Ps23, ‘my cup overflows’. God is not mean or skimpy with His blessing. ‘Seek first His kingdom’ says Jesus ‘and ALL these other things’ will be provided too. Paul writes in Romans 8 if God gave His Son to be our Saviour will He not also give us ALL THINGS? He does not drip feed the Spirit, He POURS the Spirit out on the Church. Eyewitness John writes in the previous chapter, ‘From the fulness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.’
Enough wine to extend the wedding reception for a week or more! A spring bubbling inside to revive and refresh us again and again for time and eternity! Here is pictured the goodness and kindness and generosity of our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ His Son, our Saviour and Master.
Observe with me one more thing in this account and it this, a remarkable transformation. Jesus takes something bland, poor, ordinary and turns it into something exquisite, rich and sparkling.
Could this be a picture of the kind of transformation many think is only a dream? We confess we are dissatisfied with ourselves. We imagine if only this or that were different about us we might be happier. Some go to extravagant, even drastic lengths to change their appearance on the outside but Jesus offers the possibility of something deeper and better. He offers a conscience eased with His forgiveness, a relationship mended with God our Father, a life restored with purpose and meaning in His service, an identity that is us made good and beautiful in Him. He writes God’s Law in our hearts. His Spirit assures us we are children of God and produces in us fruits of love and joy and peace and patience and kindness.
Water cannot satisfy when our thirst is for wine. All the cosmetic surgery in the world cannot make us happy on the inside.
Jesus took a bunch of unpromising misfits from Galilee and transformed them not just into better, happier people, but into a force that would change the world. What profound changes might He bring to us as individuals and fellowships and communities if we trust Him and submit to His rule?