Water Into Wine
John 2:6-11 MKJV And there were six stone waterpots there, according to the purification of the Jews, each containing two or three measures. (7) Jesus said to them, fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. (8) And He said to them, now draw out and carry it to the master of the feast. And they carried it. (9) When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water which was made wine (and did not know where it was from, but the servants who drew the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. (10) And he said to him, every man at the beginning sets forth good wine, and when men have drunk well, then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now. (11) This beginning of miracles Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. And it revealed His glory. And His disciples believed on Him.
In Australia we have a mournful bush ballad by Slim Dusty called “The Pub With No Beer” - which goes “there is nothing so lonesome and nothing so drear, as to stand at the bar of the pub with no beer” (or something like that). Running out of alcohol is a social disaster – especially on a festive occasion. It is not life threatening but it robs the joy from the occasion. Jesus enters into this wedding crisis simply to bring joy when everything was “lonesome and drear”.
This miracle is celebrated as part of the “Feast of Epiphany” (around January 6th) in the traditional church calendar and was in the news recently when some stone waterpots similar to these were discovered at one of the likely locations of Cana of Galilee.
The stone waterpots did not absorb their contents like clay pots did so there was no chance of contamination or mixing, thus they were ritually clean and used for purification. Their actual volume is uncertain but was between 12-25 gallons each. About the same as a “beer keg” I believe! So we can think of this as 6 beer kegs of wine. That is a LOT by anyone’s counting and to the wine steward it was “good wine”, which should not be surprising for Jesus did ‘all things well
The point of the miracle at Cana is that Jesus began to exercise His powers and did so in beautiful and good ways that caused people to believe. This is Jesus showing His glory! (Verse 11)
Jesus did not show His glory by arriving in a gold carriage with three hundred bodyguards. Rather He showed His glory by providing the drinks at a poor man’s wedding and saving the face and the honor of an average Galilean peasant. Jesus did not come to be admired in pomp and circumstance, or to be served; rather He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:25-28 MKJV But Jesus called them and said, You know that the rulers of the nations exercise dominion over them, and they who are great exercise authority over them. (26) However, it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. (27) And whoever desires to be chief among you, let him be your servant; (28) even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
If Jesus is interested in the problems of a humble Galilean peasant wedding then He is interested in our problems as well. If Jesus “bothers” with Samaritans and lepers, then He will “bother” with us as well. If Jesus wants joy at a wedding in Cana then He wants joy everywhere. Jesus is not a party-pooping Pharisee but a giver of the good and abundant life!
The wedding at Cana puts the lie to the central notions of that grim and joyless and serious bondage that is religious conformity. Jesus did not declare His glory at the wedding by reciting the book of Jeremiah from memory or by delivering a sermon. He showed His glory by miraculously providing the drinks!
Christianity that is strained, serious, bug-eyed and joyless is “off’. Something has gone very wrong if joy and fun and peace and kindness and warmth are absent.
We often see Jesus attending parties in the gospel, to the extent that He was even accused of being a glutton and a drunkard.
Matthew 11:18-19 MKJV For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon. (19) The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man who is a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But her children justified wisdom.
[In this context “eating” = eating meat, and “drinking” = drinking wine, thus Jesus was not a vegetarian or a teetotaler – though John the Baptist was, due to his Nazarite vow (Luke 1:15).]
Jesus miraculously brought joy into humble ordinary circumstances and thus declared His glory. In doing so He also declared the nature of His New Covenant and the end of strenuous, joyless, conformity to religious expectations.
There are many lessons and analogies here as well such as:
- John the Baptist came with the water of repentance, but Jesus comes with New Wine of the Holy Spirit.
- To experience God’s grace we need to be obedient and “fill the waterpots” first.
- Jesus provides the best; God’s provisions partake of His excellence.
- Jesus is the giver of joy and our social situations are important to Him.
- Jesus does not just do “religious stuff” He can do very ordinary things as well that help people to live well.
Blessings in Jesus,