Let’s imagine I was at a soccer game with your family, and sure enough, your son broke his leg in the first half and was taken to the bench to wait for an ambulance. And let’s imagine also that I accompanied you to the sidelines and reached down, touched his leg, and healed him … and then he scored the winning goal in the second half! You’d be impressed, right? Anyone seeing what happened would be amazed and wondered where that power came from.
The purpose of miracles was not to simply be nice in a given situation – like providing wine or healing someone, or even raising someone back to life for their blessing and benefit. It was rather to be given as a sign – an evidence of divine authority and power that validated Christ and his message.
In fact, there is a clear purpose statement in the book of John as to why John wrote this Gospel. He says in 20:30-31, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
The Gospel of John is often spoken of as having two major sections – a “book of signs” through the first 12 chapters, and then the “book of glory” through the remaining content. The first portion contains a total of seven signs that all lead toward a culminating “sign” in chapters 18-20 – the glorification of Jesus on the cross and through the resurrection.
Here are the seven signs of the first 12 chapters …
Water to wine (2:1-12)
Healing of the official’s son (4:43-54)
Healing a paralyzed man (5:1-15)
Feeding 5000 (6:1-15)
Walking on water (6:16-24)
Healing a man born blind (9:1-12)
Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44)
So our reading today talks about the first of these signs – the water turned into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Wedding festivals were big events that went on for even seven days. It was quite a celebration and gathering of people. And though the text does not indicate the identity of those being married, Mary, Jesus, and the disciples attend.
For some reason, there is a shortage of wine – a terrible social embarrassment and shame upon the master of the banquet. Mary asks Jesus to intervene. We cannot be certain as to why she did this or exactly what Mary knew or understood. It may not be anything more than she believed her son to be a very resourceful person who could advise for a plan of action.
In any event, Jesus orders that six large jars be filled with water. These were not containers of water for drinking, but rather for ceremonial, traditional washings. It is these that end up being turned into six containers of the finest wine. The master of the banquet did not see what had happened or where this fine wine came from, as he goes to the bridegroom wondering why the best wine was kept until the last – a backwards way of operating!
Let me make two simple points today:
1. Jesus could have performed this miracle in front of a much larger crowd than that which actually witnessed it – which appears to only be but a few servants and the disciples. As Christ says in this passage, it was not his time for that … this would come with the seventh of the signs in the raising of Lazarus. No, this miracle was really directed toward the disciples – that group who would travel with him over the next three years. Here in this context they had only been with him for a couple of days … but they saw this, and John records, “and his disciples believed in him.”
2. It is interesting that the first of the miracles is at a wedding feast, as the grand culmination of all things eventuates in the book of Revelation as the marriage feast of the Lamb. So, as the title of the first sermon in our series communicates, Jesus is “the true bridegroom.” Here is the scene in Revelation … in heaven, around the throne, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”
There is no reason for us to not believe – not with all that we know of the story! And this wedding reception is really something to look forward to attending!
Jesus Changes Water Into Wine (John 2:1-12)
2:1 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.
12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.