Water into Wine

Jesus First Miracle

I recently had time to reflect on the first miracle of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of John. Part of an assessment task I had been given. It is where Jesus turned water into wine. Below is the scripture and I can assure you, there is so much more in this than simply, water being turned into wine at a wedding. And the more I reflected on it, the more relevant it became to us, in this time of our lives and as such, I have turned my assignment into this Sunday’s delivery.

During the last few weeks, as we have all been isolated in our homes. I am sure all of us, have each experienced a range of emotions, doubt, negativity and loneliness being but a few. I am more than certain, we each have prayed and put forward our hopes and desires to God, as well as our need for our return to normality, a return to our comfort and a wonder if, when and how our Prayers will be answered.  

As you read the below verse, take your time and let the words sink in. Really try picture yourself there watching the event unfold. Allow the images to form in your head to appreciate, not just what is being said, But what is being taught. What it is showing us and how it relates to us. 

John 2:1-11

1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,

2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so,

9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside

10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 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

In this scripture we read about Jesus’s first publicly performed miracle, where Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding. The miracle is more than just a feat to assist wedding guests and save face for the bride and groom.  

Imagine, if you were capable of miracles and it was your first display to show people what you could do. Where would you choose to perform it? Would you choose a wedding??  In Jesus time in Cana, a public display for a wedding was a big celebrated event. It was a great showing and display in itself.

Like Jesus, I would like to think I would conduct a quiet, humble display of my awesome power. But I doubt I would do anything less than, shooting fireworks out of my hands into the sky, making shapes as suggested by the captivated crowd I had gathered. I would more than likely do something, that I knew as many people would see and ensure I would get the recognition for. Effectively shouting, Look at me, follow me, how great am I.

I dare say though, the people attracted and watching wouldn’t be interested in what I said or why I did it. They would just want me to do it again and again. I also don’t think doing it at a wedding would be the first place I would think of. Although we’ll soon recognise, it was the perfect place and all part of the plan. Gods Plan.

Jesus, performed this miracle with no fanfare. Not even wanting recognition of what he had done. You see Jesus was not in it, to glorify himself. Something we always seem to want. An appreciation for our work of what we have done or are doing, all of us, young and old. This desire for being appreciated is so strong, it at times causes division.

I wonder if we encourage this need for recognition as parents and members of the community, by rewarding good behaviour for our kids cleaning their rooms, or for obtaining great sporting or exam results. Surely the reward is achieved in the satisfaction of simply knowing, both for the person and the witnesses. But we choose to glorify it further. Further feeding our self pride.

When I originally started to learn the guitar, I had a 50 dollar one. I wanted a good one though, flashy with a recognisable brand. Leesh promised me that if I learnt to play Marry Me, by Train (it was the song Leesh walked down the aisle to at our wedding), she would get me one. As time went by, I learnt and Leesh bought me the guitar, $500 dollars worth.

But surely the bigger gift was the learnt skill of playing guitar and the literal musical sound to both of our ears and the special meaning it had. All achieved with the humble, 50 dollar guitar. That should have been enough. Yet this was over looked and forgotten as the glory and attention turned to the new guitar.  We so easily get attracted away from Christ, by the flashy big bright lights and the events in the world, we forget the priceless moments and real treasures we have.

As we continue to read about the miracle, its important to understand a little bit more about the moment historically. We learn from the bible this scripture is set in the town of Cana in Galilee a 2 day walk from the River Jordan, John 2:1. We find we are at a wedding, which Jesus had been invited to with his mother and other disciples. We also understand that Mary, Jesus mother, more than likely had a close affiliation to the bride and groom due to her interests of provisions and manner she spoke to the hired servants. Imagine your mothers and relatives as they fuss over family gatherings like Christmas day and birthday gatherings. Working hard to ensure the celebration was a success and a joyful moment remembered by all who attended.

Little is known about whose wedding it was or how a wedding in 1st century Palestine was performed. However, the ceremony and accompanying feast of the wedding was believed to be very important and sometimes spanned several days. The ceremony usually begun at twilight with the feast occurring at the home of the bridegroom. The fact this wedding was limited to a single day event tells us this was not a rich persons wedding, but of a poor person who could not afford a great show or event. Just an average normal member of society. Jesus happily attended, as one of us.

Looking at the context of this scripture, we know that this event occurs after Jesus was baptised in the Jordan and we understand that, this is the first publicly recorded miracle performed by Jesus. We know Jesus mother, Mary, was aware of who, her son was and that Jesus already had some followers, who believe him to be the messiah.

Returning to the scripture, we come straight into an important piece, Jesus Mother has just been made aware that the wine has run out. Her first instinct, is to tell Jesus, “they have no more wine”. This we can agree is more than a statement, it is a petition for help. However, Jesus replies that it is not his concern and not his time. Stating, Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come. On hearing this, Mary informs the servants. “Do whatever he tells you.

This brief conversation is eye opening. Especially to us during this current world pandemic.

However, first it’s important to understand that Jesus was not talking back to his mother rudely or with attitude. It is easy in our culture to interpret this as rude and disrespectful. However, in Jesus time, the term woman used here, was a polite term like Ma’am. So rest assured, Jesus was speaking respectfully to his mother. 

The translating of languages over different cultures can cause confusion sometimes, but the words spoken here by Jesus were clear and have the same overall meaning in that Jesus was telling his mother that he is independent from her and that she cannot tell him what to do and when. The conversation tells us that a plan was in place and it was part of a schedule. That then lets us know, that Jesus was aware of Gods plan and it was a well organised and precise plan, to achieve a great purpose and that God was in control of. Unlike us.

We can do all the planning and preparing we want. But we still do not have absolute control of what happens in our lives. Just like the planners of this 1st century wedding. They would have sat down and planned and prepared. Yet, we find the above situation arises.  

This conversation between Mary and Jesus informs us, that like Mary, we have no right to tell Jesus what to do or when or how for that matter and Marys Response is what our response needs to be as it is perfect.

Mary does not get in a tit for tat argument with Jesus about what she thinks he needs to do. She does not stamp her authority as the mother with an invested interest in ensuring a great celebration for the bride and groom. She does not plead and beg asking over and over.

No, she accepts the answer to her plea for help, and in full faith, and trust, she displays comfort and hope as she simply tells the servants, “Do what he tells you.” She would not have said this if she did not have faith.

An incredible example for us. Tell God your worries, hand them to him. In the meantime, keep your faith, trust and hope in Christ real. Like Mary. She maintained her faith and hope, Knowing Jesus loves her, but understanding he has a plan and that plan may not be what she or you think it should be or happen how she or you think it should happen. She submitted to Gods will, as he is in control.

How do you pray about your concerns or ask God for Help. Do you ask God for solutions? Do you tell him what you think needs to happen, how and when? How has they worked for you? You know, Gods Plans are not always in line with our desires. We naturally seek from God solutions based off our own needs, desires and wishes. Can I encourage you to take Marys approach? Pray with acceptance of the situation and ask him for patience, comfort, hope, strength, perseverance and guidance in understanding God is in control and that he works for his glory.  Ask these things to ensure your ability to act in readiness when your called by him both in life and death.  

Mary further tells us what to do, just like she tells the servants, “Do what he tells you.” What has Jesus told us? Jesus has told us, to follow him, love our neighbours, look to him. Listen to him. How do we listen, through his word. The Bible. You’re doing it right now.

Jesus now takes over centre stage. He tells the Servants, to fill up six nearby Stone water jars, holding when we convert gallons to Litres around 113 litres of water, and that’s on the lower side of estimation.

Please also note, these jars were not ordinary jars, they were ceremonial washing Jars. They were used to clean and make pure everything in the Jewish household so they could ensure whatever was placed inside the jars, was worthy and pleasing to God.  It is also interestingly to add that there were six. God created humans on the sixth day. Read into that what you will. It’s a point worth pondering though.

We see as Jesus spoke, the servants listened with no doubt or question. They obeyed his word through action. They acted without knowing what the plan was. They trusted and simply listened to him.

We see Jesus say one word before another action is undertaken, The word Now. At this moment Jesus turned water into wine. He did not touch it, pray over it or add anything to it. It was a simple voice command. Don’t forget we are at a wedding celebration, there would have been loud music, talking, singing, laughing and dancing. An area filled with distractions, yet, focus was maintained on Jesus and his word. As such the servants listened and were used to perform a miracle.

As all this was going on. Jesus did not yell, did not ask for silence. The scripture Doesn’t even say he moved.

Only Mary, the disciples present, and the few servants knew what was happing. I cannot help but see this as the word around us, today. The world… everyone, Busy working, driving, playing, watching, dancing caught in their own moments, for their self. A world concerned with selfishness, money, power and popularity. A world ignorant of Jesus, apart from us his disciples, listening and watching, aware of his love, glory and teachings and the joy, peace and comfort he can bring to our lives.

Anyone in the world can seek Jesus out, however they choose not to. They choose to remain in their distracted state. Like at this wedding. Any person there could have made enquiries about the wine and Jesus. I guarantee the servants would have been amazed as well as the disciples. They would have been talking about it with each other and anyone willing to listen. A miracle had just occurred in front of their eyes. How would you be reacting?

The wine created was so good the master of the banquet even made an announcement to the Bride groom. The announcer so caught up in the moment of pleasure didn’t even ask the bridegroom where the wine had come from or the servant that handed it to him.

Anyone, could have asked the question, “where did the wine come from?” what is the source? Especially the bridegroom, as he would have known full well it was not the one, he was supplying. He happily accepted the glory for it though, as it gave him a feeling of pride and personal recognition, self glory.

Whilst on this moment in the scripture. It is worth mentioning the words said by the announcer, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”  I wonder, taking into consideration this was a Jewish wedding. Did this statement recorded, hint and reflect the changing of the guard… The Old Covenant succumbing to the new covenant of Jesus Christ. His ministry replacing the old stale thirst for many, free for all to have and partake of, sharing in the abundance of joy and satisfaction of Christ. What do you think?

Alas, the guests chose to continue in their merry state as they were being satisfied by the fruits of this world. They would have known Jesus was there as well as Mary. They most probably even heard rumours about the coming messiah. It was a Jewish wedding. I myself have not gone to a wedding whereby the end, I didn’t know of someone. It’s part of the nights conversation, if you didn’t know someone, someone would tell you who they were and half a life story of that person. It didn’t mean I would go over and hang out. Again, like the world today. Everyone knows of Jesus. But not everyone takes the time to seek him out.

Before I finish, I want to bring up an important aspect of the water to wine and the large amount made. By relating this to Old and New testament scripture, we can link the Miracle of Moses, turning water into blood, this miracle of Jesus turning water into wine and the offering of wine at Christs last supper as his blood. It’s called typology, through typology we can relate, Moses as the saviour of the Jewish people, through their escape from Egypt. To Jesus, at the last supper, providing his disciples with wine representing his blood as the spiritual saviour of his people, sacrificing his life for us. All people of the world. In so doing providing this saving grace freely and abundantly, because he loves us. Just like the reason for the large amount of wine he provided at the wedding. Abundance.

It is imperative to acknowledge that Jesus performs the miracle on his say so, without attention to himself. However, for the miracle to be performed the servants needed to listen to him and follow his instructions, like Mary had earlier told them. This is true of today’s world, we need to listen to and follow Jesus to experience his abundant gifts of Love, joy, comfort and peace. It is also important to see the hope that Mary had in taking her concerns to Jesus looking for help. Just like we need to do to comfort ourselves in the hope Jesus offers us today. As he will surely provide in abundance to us, the guests of his marriage, as the bridegroom and the church.

This is why, it is no accident that this first miracle was at a wedding. Jesus the Bridegroom. The bride, the universal church. The guests, us his disciples. All are invited to attend, However, some will not reply or seek the way, which we know, there is only one. Jesus Christ

Genesis 2;24, a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become one flesh. Marriage is intended to last a lifetime. This is a beautiful reminder of this promise of eternal life Jesus offers us.

Encouragingly, Don’t forget the disciples were present during this miracle as well as the others Jesus performed, including the many witnesses. They even had the benefit to listen to him teach and be in his company daily.

Yet, we read through the scriptures, the Disciples faith was not always faultless and steadfast. Interestingly the times of weakness, were influenced by human and worldly concerns and distractions of the world. Not the concerns of Christ… Surely this tells us something. The answer to these testing times can be found in the counsel of Jesus Christ.

This tells us, it is okay if you are feeling week in your faith presently or previously and in the future. It tells us, if you are struggling or have prayers you think are not being answered, Turn to Jesus. Look to him, Focus on his word. Ask yourself am I asking something for my glory or his. Am I asking for a solution for my own self-interest or that of God. Take comfort in Jesus’s counsel and knock on his door as it is always open. You may not get an immediate response but be assured he is working and active in the background and hears you.  

As Christian’s we can use this scripture, being Gods word, to cement our viewpoint and the truth in that this miracle represents a loving God, providing abundance joy to his people, because he loves and cares for them and wants to be their provider and saviour. We can see the wine abundantly provided and given out for free, without cost or repayment, we also relate the blood of Jesus, as he sacrifices himself freely for us. We acknowledge this every time we participate in communion.

But most importantly we see Jesus save us from judgement. Like he saved the newlyweds and their families, on that night from a life of embarrassment and ridicule by running out of wine. Jesus saves us from the judgement of our sin before God and the embarrassment and ridicule that accompanies that, when it’s time to give our account on our death.

Through Gods word we clearly see that Jesus is in control and he acts in our interests, when the time is right for him, not us. As it is his plan and willing, we do for him, not the other way around. We see, Jesus is at work in the background and when we discard the distractions of our world, we can see the glory of God and how his plan is perfect and even though it may not be what we want or think should happen. It is for our benefit and saving grace. In preparation for eternal life at a seat in the kingdom of Heaven.

If your up for it, I encourage you to check out Psalm 117 and reflect on what it means to you and your relationship with Christ.

Prayer

Lord, help us to focus on you, to find comfort in your words and to accept you are in control. Help us to be willing and able to be used in your plan with the full confidence as your disciple.

Thank you for saving us from judgement and for being the light, that you offer us in life which at times can be dark, loud, confusing, scary and lonely. Please provide me with the strength you know I need, the patience you know I lack and the perseverance I at times seem to need more and more of.

Thank you for the abundance of joy you have already provided to me in my life and help me to continue to follow and look to you as I share in further moments of joy, love and peace.

Keep me active in your word and will.

Amen

Ashley Ray