For the gospel writer John, the inclusion of miracle accounts in his gospel is meant to signal to the reader a deeper truth behind the miracle. While he intended to showcase the miracles as true, historical events, John also wanted his reader to see what the miracle revealed about the character of Christ. In fact, John preferred to call these miracles signs. They, like stop signs and other signposts, direct us to something else—something more substantial—about the Lord. This first miracle in John’s book, the turning of water into wine, forces us to ask, “What is John trying to say about Jesus?”
"Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.
Watch Session Five: Jesus Knows Our Hunger
wedding disaster averted
In the time of Jesus’s ministry, weddings played an integral part in the social fabric. Since they lived in a culture based on honor and shame, running out of wine would have cost the family some serious honor. Jesus, choosing to use the purification jars, turned about one hundred and twenty gallons of water into wine. Not only did Jesus turn an overwhelming amount of water into wine, he made it a quality drink. Only a few people knew where the good stuff came from, and the others went about their merry way probably dancing to the ancient Near-Eastern equivalent of the “Cha-Cha Slide.” Disaster averted, the party continued. John stood at the end of the story with a wink for us asking, “Did you get it? Did you get what the miracle meant?”
John used this first miracle to show how Jesus inaugurated his public ministry. When Mary came to Jesus asking him to fix the problem, he called her “woman” not to insult her, but to distance himself from her. It was as if Jesus was telling her, “Mary, I am no longer simply your son, but now I must begin my public ministry as the Son of God. Therefore, I need to wait on God the Father’s timing, not yours.”
Then, Jesus strategically used the Jewish purification jars to represent the old religious system would now be replaced by the gospel, symbolized by the abundant, quality wine. The prophets of old—Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Amos—told us that when the Messiah came and inaugurated his kingdom, new wine would flow readily. The one hundred and twenty gallons of miraculous wine pointed to the coming of the kingdom that Jesus began at a wedding in Cana.
Jesus knew that the wedding party needed immediate help in providing wine, but He showed through the abundance of wine that He knew they had a greater need for the kingdom wine that flows everlasting. Though He removed their shame this one time, this miracle should remind us that what He ultimately offered was the removal of shame for all times.
Where do you most clearly see the abundance provided in the kingdom of God? When do you struggle with believing that God only provides scarcely?
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