Read: John 2:1-12
What if turning water into wine was more than just a miraculous event? This is one of those stories I’ve heard many times, but today, I’m hearing more than just a miracle. As I blog through the Bible this time around, especially the New Testament, I’m trying to get to know the author of each book. In this case, John chose to include this story early on in his writing. Why?
There’s no doubt that John witnessed miracle after miracle, so why did he choose this to be the first miracle presented to those who would read his account of the greatest story ever told? Was it about the wedding or about the wine? What if it were both?
So far, it seems like I’m asking a lot more questions than providing answers. We’ll get to work on the text in just a minute, but first I’d like you to step back a moment and imagine you’re sitting in a room where the Apostle John, the one Jesus loved, is collecting his thoughts. There’s a large table in front of him scattered with parchments and scrolls. He’s reflecting on all the stories, 1,000 days of wandering around with Jesus, the Messiah. Then he looks at you and invites you to sit down, to ask whatever questions you might have. Here’s my first question:
Why turn water into wine?
Easy. They ran out of wine. While this is true, is this the entire story? In the book Multiply, by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving, we are warned about reading too much into the story. We’re encouraged to see the plain meaning when the meaning is plain. Here’s the text:
When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” John 2:3
Weddings are an important celebration, especially in the Jewish culture. They last for days and are filled with traditions to give the bride and groom something to talk about for the rest of their lives.
Weddings mark the beginning of a new relationship. They are the proverbial pin in the map. From this day forward, the couple will be referred to as one. He goes with her and she goes with him. One. Whole. Complete.
John looked at all the notes in front of him and chose this event as the first miracle to set the stage for the gospel. It starts with something happening that has never been seen before and it’s intentionally placed to put us in the right frame of mind.
You probably know the story. Mary points out the fact that there is no more wine as quoted above. This indicates that the wedding planners failed to consider something, they underestimated the number of people or drinks or whatever and now the wonderful memory is about to be tarnished. Jesus’ reaction lets us know that He didn’t want that to happen, but he also didn’t want to make a scene at this time. That is the plain meaning of the story and that is a good thing.
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4
Jesus gives instructions anyway. John doesn’t tell us that He rolled His eyes at His mom or anything, though plenty of preachers have had some fun with this passage. The jugs were filled with water and miraculously turned into wine. When the master of the banquet tasted the wine he was shocked. This was far better than the wine they started with! He explains,
but you have saved the best till now. John 2:10
Exactly! The entire story of the history of the people of God was the original wine for the beginning of the party. Now the best wine is being served: Jesus. What you had was good, but this is even better. It’s miraculous and it’s amazing.
John caps off the story with this statement:
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:11
The disciples got it. They knew before, but now they know much more, though they still have many days and miracles to go! This is just the beginning of a new story, John’s version of the story of Jesus.