Our world is full of signs. Road signs. Warning signs. Route signs. Advertising signs. Signs on shops and businesses and even on churches. Our fridge has a triangular warning sign on it which reads, “Beware of the penguins.” But that’s another story. John calls this first miracle a sign. Signs give us information, or point us in the right direction. John labels this story of Jesus changing water into wine as “the first sign”. In his gospel, John highlights 7 such signs for a very good reason. John 20:30-31 “There are many other signs which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” Christ’s miracles are signs which reveal God’s glory to us, and point us to who Jesus really is. These signs are here to encourage us to believe that Jesus really is the Christ, the Son of God, so that by our believing in Him, God will give us eternal life! And this miracle is the first sign. It speaks to us of
The Problems we face
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.”
The wine had run out. This would be a huge disruption. The host family would look very bad. In that culture, they had failed to meet their duties of hospitality. Perhaps they were poor. No excuse! Perhaps they miscalculated. No excuse! Whatever the reason, this was a crisis in their culture. The family would even be liable for a lawsuit – just because they ran out of wine!
God cares about the ordinariness of life
Don’t misunderstand Jesus’s initial reluctance to help!
4 “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
Jesus knew He could help! He also knew that once He did intervene with divine power there would be no going back. Any miracle would reveal who he really was. It would be the first step on the road to Calvary!
Jesus does care about our everyday needs. He cares about people – which is why Mary went to Jesus with this problem with the wine in the first place. Jesus cares about ALL our needs, not just our spiritual needs. He cares about a host being unnecessarily embarrassed. He cares about people enjoying themselves. Jesus is the kind of person you would invite to your party. He knows how to have a good time. In the New Testament we often see Jesus at parties and he is always the life and soul of the party. He enjoyed himself so much that his enemies even accused him of being a “glutton and drunkard” (Matthew 11:19). Wherever Jesus went there was life and joy. His mission was that his joy might be in us and that our joy might be complete (John 15:11). God is a God of irrepressible joy, and Jesus came to bring that joy to all those who are thirsty for life.
Jesus wants to takes care of our needs both great and small. There is nothing too ordinary to pray about. He is just as concerned about the little problems of your life as he is the big problems. God is such a great God, He is easily able to take care of all the details of our lives. He sees every sparrow each time they land on the ground. He keeps track of the number of hairs on your head. He calls the stars by name. He is a great God who is too big not to be concerned about the everyday things of your life.
This miracle was not a ’necessity’. It was a luxury. This is not an emergency demanding immediate and dramatic action. Running out of wine was a problem. But it wasn’t exactly a disaster. The point is that God cares about our “non-critical” problems! He cares about the details of our lives that we might be tempted to think aren’t all that important. Prayer is not like calling 999. Something that you only do if you have a real emergency. Some people think it would be wrong to “bother” God with our petty everyday problems. That is not true. Jesus works in ordinary problems and ordinary requests. Jesus works with ordinary people and events and materials. Jesus uses the stuff of everyday life to accomplish the extraordinary! If we are ONLY looking for Jesus’ glorious workings in the spectacular and the miraculous and the astounding, staggering, stupendous eye-popping, thrilling, dramatic events of life then we are going to miss most of his glorious working! If Jesus isn’t the Lord of the mundane and the everyday then he really isn’t the Lord at all. If you are an ordinary person with ordinary needs and ordinary requests, then that’s great because those are exactly the kinds of situations where Jesus delights to reveal his glory. Jesus begins with ordinary things and he makes the ordinary– extraordinary!
The wine ran out – what a powerful picture of the lives of so many people! A picture of
To the Jewish people wine symbolized joy. The Jewish rabbis had a saying, ‘Without wine there is no joy.” Here is a reminder of the emptiness of a life without Christ. It’s scary when the “wine runs out.” What a vivid picture of emptiness!
Life has its empty spots. Underneath all the glitter and glamour; deep beneath the surface many people have lost dreams and hopes. At times all of us have to wrestle with the issue of emptiness. Empty marriages and empty careers are common. Life can still leave us empty. Many people are often
“Running on Empty”
That can be true even of Christians. The wine has run out. Joy has run out. We can so easily become worn out and burned out! Hopelessness and depression can set in! Just living the Christian life or serving in the church can wear us out! … Doing God’s Will… Walking in His Way… Turning away from sin… … Changing your lifestyle… Changing your mindset… Your wine begins to run out…!
The new life in Christ ought to be like a wedding feast that never ends…! But we can run out of wine…! Run out of joy… Run out of hope… We can find ourselves spiritually empty and exhausted…our Praise can become Passive… our Testimony can become Tired… our Witness can become Weak…! We’ve run out of wine…! How can we restore the “joy” that we’ve lost?
God’s answer to our problems
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 realise 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.”
The first miracle Jesus performed is not a healing or a deliverance, but a simple nature miracle. I have no problems in saying that this is history. I believe that this miracle really happened as John said it did. Water turned into wine! But in passing, this story is NOT about whether Christians should drink alcoholic drinks or should abstain from alcoholic drinks! Two facts are clear – wine in Jesus’s day contained MUCH less alcohol than modern wine does, but also this WAS wine and not grape juice! Don’t get distracted from the point of the story. And the point of the miracle is TRANSFORMATION!
11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Jesus changed water into wine. But the disciples were also transformed. Jesus has just begun his ministry and just called these four disciples. They felt compelled to follow him, but they still hadn’t completely made up their minds. Maybe Jesus was sent by God, maybe not. John tells us the disciples “saw and believed.” They saw Jesus turn water into abundant, fine wine and, in doing so, revealing his glory. They were transformed from a state of unbelief to a state of belief. This is a miracle of transformation. He turned water into wine. He turned grim faces into relieved smiles.
I remember a dear saint in Tunbridge Wells, CLAUD MARTIN. Whenever we had a time of open prayer he would pray the same prayer. It could have been boring and repetitive if it had not been such a glorious and inspiring prayer. Because Claud would always pray about “the transforming power of God” – “the power of God which saves from the guttermost to the uttermost!!!” “The transforming power of God!
Jesus is in the business of turning water into wine, sinners into saints, fear into courage, sorrow into joy, defeat into victory, despair into hope and death into life.
Jesus can turn your sadness to gladness. He turns frowns into smiles. He turns whimpers of fear into songs of hope. He turns deserts into gardens and sorrow into joy. He turns death into life – life in all its fullness. If you are unfulfilled; if your heart is heavy; if your life is full of wrongdoing and your relationships are a mess—it is a time to let Jesus take your sadness and make you glad.
Jesus can turn your ineffectiveness to usefulness. If you feel that you are in a rut and your life is unproductive; if you feel you are running on empty—it is time to let Jesus take your uselessness and make you useful. Jesus can turn your hopelessness to wholeness. No matter how hard you are finding life …. Jesus cares! If life seems to be getting worse rather than better; even if you feel you are ready to give up —it is time to let Jesus turn the water of your life into the best wine!
This transformation speaks to us about
“the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from…the 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.”
It was unheard of to save the best wine until the end! It was so much better than anybody expected! Jesus does not merely content himself with producing MEDIOCRE wine, he creates wine of superior quality – the best wine of all!
And here is a picture of the nature of eternal life –
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Good News Bible: I have come in order that you might have life- life in all its fullness.
RSV: “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” This statement is what the miracle at Cana is all about. Water, the basic necessity of life, is changed into wine–the symbol not just of life, but of abundant, joyful celebration. If you go into this thinking wine is evil, you miss the boat completely. Wine in Scripture is a symbol of joy and warmth and celebration and abundance. In changing the water into wine and allowing the wedding celebration to continue, Jesus is revealing the nature of His mission. Jesus has come to transform the world. Jesus offers us not just life, but abundant life…joyful life…life lived in freedom and depth and richness. God wants the water of our lives transformed into wine!
Excellence and Abundance
There is no limit to God’s grace. What Jesus gives is never just enough, it is always more than enough, with plenty left over. God is extravagant. There were six jars filled to the brim, each containing 20 to 30 gallons. 120 or even 180 gallons. 5000, maybe 7000 glasses of wine. That is a lot of wine. There is no way the guests could have consumed that much wine. Why did Jesus give so much wine? Because he is an extravagant giver. He never gives just enough; he always gives abundantly. What the guests had tasted cautiously before, they now drank in abundance. Same as when Jesus fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fishes. 5,000 men AND their families were fed. And when everyone had eaten their fill, there were still twelve baskets of bread and fish left over. Jesus gave them more than they could possibly eat. But that is the way God gives.
God’s grace means that he is generous to a fault. This means that you can ask him for anything. Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God gives “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”. God just loves to bless us!
This is a story of the superabundance of God’s grace, of the extravagance of His grace, and of the new possibilities that God offers all who will put their trust in His grace.
No wedding party can drink 180 gallons of wine. No sinner can exhaust God’s grace!!
How can we find God’s answer in our lives??
Take your problem to Jesus
Whatever problems we are facing – we should simply bring them to Jesus. It is interesting that Jesus waited until their resources had run dry before he performed the miracle. Only when the people come to the end of their own supplies are they ready to receive what Jesus has to give. The cost of food in the kingdom is hunger for the bread of heaven, instead of the pre-packaged sliced bread of the world. Do you want it? Are you hungry? The cost of the new wine that Jesus is offering is thirst. Are you thirsty? Do you want something more? If so, when you come to Jesus you have come to the right place, for he is the God of abundance and life. He gives extravagantly. To receive this wine all you have to do is come to him with your thirst.
Isaiah 55: 6 ¶ Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Take your problem to Jesus – and then listen to the words of Mary to the servants:
Do whatever He tells you
If your life is empty, if ever you feel you are “running on empty”, Jesus longs to work His miracles in your life! The transforming power of God! Life in all its fullness! Excellence. Abundance. Water into wine. All we have to do is bring our problems to Jesus – and do whatever He tells us!