Water into Wine

Some call it a magic trick, to others it was a casual favor to a friend, but to John it was the way in which Jesus showed forth His glory.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me,” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind the Jews use for ceremonial washing, each holding from 20 to 30 gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” so they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from although the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 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.”

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed His Glory and the disciples put their faith in Him. (John 2:1-11)

What Was That Again?

Aside from the fact that changing water into wine requires supernatural ability, the most astonishing thing about this miracle is that because of it “He thus revealed His Glory and the disciples put their faith in Him.” Helping a friend with a beverage problem as a favor to His mom? Many commentators put this miracle way down their list of great things Jesus did, if they include it at all, but John put it first and attached considerable significance to it. Must be more going on here than meets the eye.

By the way, a couple of interesting bits of trivia will help in our understanding. The 3rd day of the week is Tuesday on the Jewish calendar and is still the preferred day for weddings in Israel. That’s because on the original 3rd day, God pronounced things “good” twice; the only time He did so in the 7 days of Creation. Therefore the 3rd day is known as a day of double blessing, the best day of the week to begin a new life. Also Jewish wedding feasts lasted for 7 days, and to run out of wine so early would have been embarrassing to say the least. That’s probably why Mary asked Jesus to get involved in something that was really not their concern.

And lastly the stone jars held water normally used only for ceremonial washing, a symbolic act of cleansing from sin, not for cleaning off the dust of the road or other dirt. They were placed at the door so a person would not enter a friend’s house in a ceremonially “unclean” state and contaminate the house. By dipping their fingers into the water and wiping them dry, a person would symbolically “wash away their sins” and be ceremonially clean. When we say, “I’m washing my hands of this matter,” we really mean we’re trying to absolve ourselves of any responsibility for it. The phrase comes from this practice, which was soon to be immortalized by Pontius Pilate in the matter of Jesus’ trial and conviction. Some believe that this water would also have contained a sprinkling of ashes from a red heifer, in case anyone had inadvertently touched something dead (see Numbers 19).

Let’s Get Mystical

John was a mystic. His Gospel is highly symbolic in the way it presents facts about the Lord and His ministry. He made no attempt to portray events in their chronological order, chose only 7 miracles, followed by 7 discourses and 7 “I am” statements:
I am the Bread of Life … 6:35,
I am the Light of the World … 8:12,
I am the Gate … 10:7,
I am the Good Shepherd … 10:11,
I am the Resurrection and the Life … 11:25,
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life … 14:6, and
I am the Vine … 15:1.

His entire gospel covers only about 21 days out of 3 1/2; years, devotes 10 chapters to just one week and nearly 1/3 (237) of the 879 verses of John’s Gospel describe just one day. The richness of John’s symbolism makes his gospel a favorite among those who view scripture from a high level of inspiration, and his story of the wedding at Cana is the crowning touch. Let’s look at it through his eyes.

Jesus commanded unnamed servants to completely fill 6 (the number of man) jars that were stone, cold, and empty (a model of our unregenerate hearts; Ezek. 36:25-27) with water. In John 16:5-14 the Holy spirit is described as One who would not speak of himself, but only of Jesus. In fact the only name by which we know the Holy Spirit is actually His job description; Comforter (KJV) or Counselor (NIV). This title is derived from the Greek word parakletos, which can also be translated intercessor or advocate. These servants are a model of the Holy Spirit, Who accomplishes the work of regeneration in our hearts (Titus 3:4-7), filling us with Living Water (John 7:37-39).

The water, normally used for ceremonial cleansing, immediately turned to wine and so that which had formerly only temporarily cleansed a person from sin now became symbolic of the Blood of Jesus that washes us clean forever (Luke 22:20). The master of the banquet remarked that the bridegroom had saved the best till last signifying that the New Covenant that permanently cleanses us (represented by the wine), is far superior to the Old Covenant that only temporarily set aside our sins (represented by the water). Thus by this miracle Jesus truly did reveal His Glory and you can see why the disciples put their faith in Him.

And now you know the adult version.