The first miracle of Jesus was changing water into wine. As we approach the new year festivities, I often hear that quoted as an excuse to indulge in some alcoholic drinks for celebratory purposes. If Jesus Himself created wine, then surely we are justified in having a sip or two.
Consistent with our theme of the last few days, we ask ourselves, why put this in the Bible? And why such a seemingly peculiar, out-of-character miracle as the first? Surely the purpose of Jesus on earth was much greater than to be a winemaker?
The passage reads as follows:
Joh 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
Joh 2:2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.
Joh 2:3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
Joh 2:4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
Joh 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Joh 2:6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
Joh 2:7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
Joh 2:8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.
Joh 2:9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom
Joh 2:10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
Joh 2:11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
I just love this passage. Not because it supposedly provides an excuse for people to get smashed, but because it positively oozes the gospel message. I can hear the collective gasps as you read this, what does this have to do with the Gospel, you ask? Allow me to share a little bit of Gods incredible wisdom.
Jesus is starting His ministry here. And it involves the two Holy Sacraments that He establishes for His church during His ministry.
Firstly, it starts with water. Jesus was baptized in water, and left it as a symbol of His covenant with His church. It is the starting point for those in His care, as part of His covenant. It is a symbol of our readiness to enter His Kingdom:
Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
The covenant was sealed with His blood. The blood that satisfied the law, that satisfied the penalty to be paid for our sins. At the last meal with His disciples, He establishes Holy Communion, allowing us to solemnly remember His words:
Mat 26:27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,
Mat 26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Mat 26:29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
So, back to the first miracle. It starts with the wine that has run out. Just like we have no hope to ever be able to pay the penalty for our sin, have nothing to celebrate with and have no ideas what to do about it, without Jesus. We have run out. Our sins have dried us up, like a stone. Then, a cry for help, from His own mother. Initially Jesus does not want to help, but He relents. One can only surmize that this parallels the history of God’s people. He sends a Messiah, because His people need a Savior. The servants are told to obey Jesus, just like we are to obey Him.
The water jars are those used for purification under OT law, and Jesus orders them to be filled up with water. He uses those purification symbols of the OT law to start His ministry, to show us why He is here. Just like His atonement for our sins, and the Holy Spirit fills the vessels of our selves, He has those purification vessels filled with water. Jesus then tells the servants to draw some water, as He tells us in the great commission to water baptize all who are His (Matt 28:19), to the glory of His Father. It relates back to John 3:5 quoted above, that unless we are purified, and have been reborn with the Spirit and demonstrated by water, we cannot enter the Heavenly Feast.
The master of the feast here is like God the Father:
“Mat 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son..”. At the time of the first miracle, the master of the feast is happy with the quality of the wine served up. He calls it the best wine. When Jesus offered His blood, the Father was happy with the quality of the sacrifice. It is simply the best possible.
Then, in conclusion, we read that Jesus was glorified, and His disciples believed in Him. Jesus was glorified indeed through His life and ministry on earth. He left us with more than enough to believe and to trust in.
The first miracle is a terrific description of the Gospel, and sets the tone for Jesus’ ministry forever. The ritual of purification happens through both water and wine, it prepares us for our wedding feast in Heaven as the bride of Christ. The Master of the feast is God, He has given us both the water, to symbolyize our purification, and the wine, the blood of Jesus, to be able to partake in the feast.
Jesus offered His blood as penalty for our sins, to satisfy our Heavenly Host. In one instant it is water, at our baptism, that turns into our partaking of His blood sacrifice, which the wine in Holy Communion symbolizes.
As we enter the new year, I ask that you prayerfully consider the meaning of the first miracle. Let that first miracle become the miracle for your life. Be purified through the water that Christ turned into His blood, the fruit of the vine of which He is the vinedresser (John 15).
May God bless you and your family, and may you do all that you do to the glory of God, in 2007.