The First Sign – Turning Water to Wine
Home Church Devotional 5/10/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 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 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.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11 (ESV)
We are in the time of year considered by many to be the wedding time of year. Late spring and summer are the chosen time of many couples to stand before God, family and friends and declare their undying love for one another. Before they can declare their undying love however, there is much that must be done. Planning and preparations must be done to ensure a memorable time for both bride and groom and their respective families. The last thing one wants on their wedding day is for something to go wrong or to be forgotten. The planning is exhausting for the couple and the families. Little things become big problems, little details slip through the cracks, big problems seem insurmountable and the list goes on and on. In our passage this morning we find just the situation no one wants to face. The potential for embarrassment and ridicule.
Jesus and His disciples have been invited to attend a wedding in the village of Cana, located in Galilee. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also in attendance, though it appears she has an important role in the wedding. The family has run out of wine. Perhaps Mary is simply a concerned friend but whatever the case may be, this is a serious issue. Weddings in ancient Israel were quite different than weddings as we know them. The ceremony and wedding feast would take place on the same evening. Following the ceremony, the couple was then paraded through the streets of town to their home. This usually took place at night. Flaming torches were used and the longest route to the home was taken to attract more attention and to allow the community more time to join in the joyful event.
Weddings in Israel would be celebrated for as long as a week! The wedding celebration was known for its happy, festive spirit that swept through the gathering community and surrounded the newly married couple. During the weeklong celebration the couple would continue to wear their wedding garments, usually a gown and robe, as they entertained their guests. The entire community was expected to participate and celebrate with the newlywed couple and their newfound happiness. It is into this background that Jesus and the disciples are thrust into the foreground as Mary comes with her news the wine has run out. Imagine the potential disaster facing this family and newlywed couple.
In this passage we have a contrast of concerns: Mary has a social concern, the wine is already gone, and the celebration has just begun; while Jesus has a deeper concern, the spiritual needs for people. Mary’s concern is a legitimate concern, good, germ-free drinking water was scarce in the Middle East and wine was used as a substitute. Without wine the situation would affect everyone at the celebration. The couple and family would be faced with the shame of running out of wine and without wine the joyful spirit of the guests would be dampened. And with her role in the wedding, Mary to would face same and ridicule.
Jesus, however, sees a unique opportunity to begin to familiarize His mother with the truth of who He was: the Son of God who had entered the world for a particular moment of time, His death on the cross. At the very beginning of His ministry Jesus began to teach everyone, beginning with the one closest to His heart, His mother, about His divine purpose. The response of Jesus is very telling, “My hour has not yet come.” He is the Son of God and His mission has to do with God and the things of the Spirit, not with His mother Mary and her social concerns, earthly possessions and material things. Speaking plainly, they have nothing in common.
Mary’s concern is a picture of the social concerns of people even in our time. People are concerned with health, comfort, having plenty, peace under their own terms and justice that meets their idea of what is just. Jesus, on the other hand, is concerned with life, assurance, fulfillment, love and completeness. What people fail to see in our time is that ALL of this is possible through Jesus Christ. Meeting the physical and material needs of people is not enough; Christ meets the deeper needs of all people.
Jesus reveals His power by turning ordinary water, kept in jars used for ceremonial washing, into wine, but no ordinary wine, this is the best wine of the celebration! What’s more only the disciples and the servants know where this wine has come from. The process, though simple, is astonishing. Jesus gives the command to prepare the water by filling the jars to the brim, leaving no room to think wine had been added to the jars. Then comes the more difficult part of this simple procedure, the obedience of the servants to draw water from the jars and serve it to the master of the feast. In tasting the wine, the master declares it to be the best wine of the celebration!
So, what is there for today’s believer in this passage? First, only in Jesus can we have ALL of our needs met; not just the physical and material needs, though they may not always be as we want them, but our spiritual needs as well. Through Christ we have redemption, made whole and complete before God the Father. Secondly, we must first be obedient to Jesus in ALL things. We cannot pick and choose which commands we will obey; we cannot follow Jesus part time or when it “feels right.” Obedience is a full-time requirement for following Jesus. Thirdly, pictured here is the joy of eternal life found in Christ alone. We are the body of Christ and we make up the bride of Christ. In Revelation 19: 7 – 10, we read of the marriage supper of the Lamb. The bride of Christ, believers today, are gathered together to be joined in marriage to the bridegroom, the Lamb, Jesus Christ the Son of God.
So, depending upon your perspective, the events of our world seem to be suggesting that things are falling apart; for the believer today, however, things are simply falling into place. In Christ Jesus we have assurance of our salvation, assurance of our wholeness and completeness, assurance of our fulfillment and assurance of the love, mercy and grace of God the Father. If you are viewing this video or reading this note and do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior; if you do not have the assurances mentioned here, today is the perfect time to receive Him and believe in His name. Please, feel free to reach out and we will be happy to introduce you to Christ Jesus. Amen.