Jesus’ first miracle-that of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana-is a significant moment in Jesus’ ministry. It’s also an important explanation of God’s character and mission. Throughout the Scriptures God’s relationship with His people is compared to a marriage. God wants an intimate connection with us in which we are loved, known and made known.
What we have here us the power of God showing itself in the world to bring about something only God could do. It’s about God acting through Christ in a way that gives us a sign that God is at work here. John wants to show us what Jesus says, does and means. Jesus means life, joy, abundance and peace. John believes that the Christian life is meant to be a comedy, not a tragedy. Despite how dark things appear to be in the world, despite the fact that the path of life will lead Jesus and us through death, things will turn out bright in the end. God is in control, and He will lead us to light and life in Jesus.
Jesus performed His first public miracle, not in the temple but in a Jewish home in Cana; not at a funeral but at a wedding; not at a fast, but at a feast. This is a reminder that the life of a Christian should reflect the joy that characterized Jesus.
The miracle at Cana was the first sign, or evidence, of Jesus’ glory, and the disciples saw and believed. God’s glory was revealed through a miracle that did not heal anyone or cast out demons. It was a miracle of abundance. It was part of His plan for us. Jesus was a man of sorrows and grief, but He was also a man who went to parties and had a good time. His presence at the wedding in Cana is an invitation for the rest of us to join Him at His party and to enter into His joy. Jesus wants to be invited as a vital part of every relationship. Inviting Him at the beginning will strengthen and set the direction for it.
The servants were the only people who recognized what happened. Everyone else enjoyed the wine without knowing where it came from. The servants knew what happened in that situation. If we want to know what Christ is doing in a particular situation we have to be a part of that situation. The work of God’s kingdom comes through those who bring its light into places that are ravaged by sinful human nature.
Jesus was asked by Mary to get involved in an unusual problem. Have you ever asked Jesus to get involved in an unusual problem? No matter what problems we have, Jesus invites us to seek Him as the solution. Mary saw the shadow that she knew could be answered by Jesus’ light. She invited Jesus to change the situation of poverty into a celebration of love that was shown in a wedding that ran up against human limitations.
Jesus performed His first miracle not merely to replenish the wine supply but to save a humble Galilean family from disgrace. Running out of food or wine at a wedding feast was considered a terrible mistake on the part of the groom’s family. In Jesus’ time, a wedding day was a great celebration. The ceremony usually took place late in the evening after a feast. Then there was a procession to the groom’s home, with an open house that went on for at least a week. No wonder the people ran out of wine! We don’t know how or when Jesus turned the water into wine. He simply moves in His own time and in His own way.
Mary spoke to Jesus as her son, but Jesus changed the relationship from son to Saviour. His response- “What does your concern have to do with Me?”-was not meant to demean her but to refocus her perspective. Notice the emphasis on timing when Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come.” Everything Jesus did had a purpose and was on schedule.
Jesus’ response to Mary’s request might seem to be rude or indignant, but it wasn’t. It might have been spoken in a tender manner. He did not intend to refuse to provide wine, but only to delay it a little. Mary’s response indicates that she did not consider Jesus’ words a rebuke. Jesus is still looking for those who will respond to Him with the same simplicity of obedience.
The meaning of Jesus’ comment was that He has started His mission on earth, and all other activities were not as important. He was following a schedule that God created before the creation of the world. The Old Testament prophets described the Messianic age as a time when wine would flow liberally. Jesus was likely referring to the fact that the blessings of the Messianic age would come after His death and resurrection. Jesus’ actions show how vastly different God’s ways are from the world’s. The world starts with the better, which often becomes bitter in the end. But God starts with something ordinary and makes it extraordinary. Whenever Jesus enters a life, He transforms it.
This miracle showed His power and character as the Messiah. It showed His divine power and that He was commissioned by God. This miracle caused many people to believe that He was the Messiah. Those who believe in Him can take comfort in the knowledge that He is always present and He is always with us. We should welcome His presence.
The waterpots were large, low basins for the purpose of Jewish purification. Six of them would have held enough wine for more than 2,400 servings. This miracle foreshadowed the day when Jesus would replace the water of Jewish ritual with new wine that was superior in every way.
The old and new wines represent the old and new creation. The old wine of the law has given out, but the new wine, representing the new creation, has come. Jesus pours out the wine of the “end times” and there is enough for everyone. Jesus is the good wine that allows our lives to grow. As we get older, our faith gives us a taste of life in new ways. We drink a wine that keeps getting better and better. It gives us a longing for the best wine we will drink at God’s banquet table.
When we invite Jesus into every aspect of our lives, He can change our past pain for present comfort and turn our deep sorrow into joy. He can take our wounds and turn them into fresh wisdom. The miracle of turning water into wine reveals Jesus as:
- One who honours the bond of marriage by His presence at the wedding.
- One who bestows His gifts lavishly; if in the physical realm, how much more in the spiritual?
- One whose infinite love is made effective by His equally infinite power
- One who, accordingly, is the Son of God, full of grace and glory.
This was the first of Jesus’ miracles on earth, but it wasn’t his last. When we walk with Jesus every day, we become accustomed to the miracles he performs. He does so many great and wonderful things for us. He supplies everything we need — a roof over our head, and a nice warm bed. We have clothes to wear and plenty to eat and drink. Oh yes, He is so good, but do you know what? He is saving the best for last. What is it? Eternal life. If we put our trust in Jesus as our Savior, we will live forever in heaven with him. Now, that’s what I call “saving the best for last!”
This story is about more than turning water into wine. It’s a sign, and each sign reveals who God is so that people would accept him and the nearness of God that he brings. The people are gathered and want to celebrate, but they don’t have the means to do so. Jesus allows us to celebrate the nearness of God. God has come close and given us the reason and means to celebrate. God has saved the best wine until last.
So what can we do? What is our place in a miracle of plenty? We can be like Mary. We can notice, name, persist and trust. No matter how profound the scarcity, no matter how impossible the situation, we can interfere, pull Jesus aside, ask for help and ready ourselves for action. We can tell God hard truths, even when we’re supposed to be celebrating. We can keep human needs squarely before our eyes, even when denial, apathy or distraction are easier options. Finally, we can invite others to obey Jesus, who we have come to know and trust.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp.1443-1444)
- Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. Part of Wordsearch 12 Bible software package.
- Fredrikson, R.L. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol.27: John (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1985; pp. 64-77)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Jude Siciliano, OP, “First Impressions, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary time -C-.” Retrieved from preacherexchange.org
- Vikki Burke, “The Miracle of Abundance.” Retrieve from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Os Hillman, “How Would Jesus Impact Your Wedding Party?” Retrieved from email@example.com
- The Rev. Jason Cox, “Come and Dine: Epiphany 2-C- 016.” Retrieved from epipscopaldigitalnetwork.com
- “The Wedding Guest.” Retrieved form BibleGateway@e.BibleGateway.com
- Jude Siciliano, OP, “First Impressions, 2nd Sunday -C-, January 20, 2019”. Retrieved from preacherexchange.org
- “Saving the Best for Last.” Retrieved from Sermons4KIds.com
- Debie Thomas, “They Have No Wine.” Retrieved from journeywithjesus.net/lectionary-essays/current/essay
- Dominic Ryan, OP, “Water into Wine.” Retrieved from www.english.op.org/torch/water-into-wine
- “Marriage for All.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org