I always remember this story, only found in John, to be seemingly out of place among Jesus’ other miracles of healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, casting out demons and raising the dead. Comparatively, what Godly good does turning water into wine serve? For that matter, why is this the first miracle of Jesus that John chooses to introduce Him by? The Law of Firsts would suggest that there is a significance here that is at the heart of John’s testimony about who Jesus is and our divine purpose in knowing Him. Indeed, this story holds much deeper meaning in these mere eleven verses than I could have ever imagined on my own and I am so very humbled that the Father, through His Spirit, would reveal to me what I’m about to share with you.
This story is really about the redemption of the Genesis story. In the beginning, before sin, it is written, ‘So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…” And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.’ (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:7) Jesus´ death and resurrection is a means to redeem not only our original value as sons and daughters of God but also to restore us to our original purpose and destiny, i.e. to multiply the glory of His love over the earth through relationship with the Father and one another.
It all begins, “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee…” In the very first eight words of verse one is the heart of the Good News of the gospel message, the loving gift and invitation of relationship, communion, with the Father of all creation. On the third day, the day of Christ’s resurrection, the purification, reconciliation and restoration of His bride began. The day of Israel’s betrothal had finally come and all were invited in, through faith in the blood of the Messiah, to this union. The way had been made. Everyone could now become one with the God who is One, in Spirit and truth.
In the second verse, “Now both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding,” is highlighted that this union is of free will invitation only. God will never force Himself upon us. We invite Him in as He has invited us, and as Jesus was invited to the wedding in Cana. Recognizing our need for relationship with our creator and our lack of ability within ourselves to be sufficient without Him brings us to this place of inviting Him in and is exhibited in the following verse.
“And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said, “They have no wine.” Wine, in the context of the message here, represents love. Love is the fundamental character of God and it is why mercy triumphs over judgement, it is the power of transformation in our lives and it is to be the motive of our hearts. The Father´s love is what brings restoration of our original image and likeness which was that of our Creator. Mankind, without God, can’t possibly love Him or one another in our own fallen, self-centered version of love. Our love without Him is always self-serving and insufficient, in essence, we have no “wine” to offer the Bridegroom, but thank the Lord, that again, He has made a way where there was none. “He will provide for Himself…” (Gen. 22:8)
Now before any miraculous transformation can take place, the motive in seeking it must be pure. It must come from a place of humility and sincerity and we also must willingly accept His perfect timing. He is the Master Gardener and we are His garden. He plants, grows and tends to us in just the right way, at just the right time, so we can’t allow our desires and reasoning to dictate to God, but rather allow His to dictate to us. This is the key, in verse four, when Jesus said to His mother, “’Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.’” Mary’s concern represents a temporal, fleeting need, that if met, would shortly need to be met again but Jesus’ purpose is to satisfy an eternal need with reconciliation of fellowship with the Father. This is why our transformation is called, “being born again.” We can’t seek God simply to fix broken situations that benefit us in moments of trial or need. We must seek Him for the sake of relationship because He is our answer, because only in Him are we made complete and when we seek God to move on our behalf or on behalf of others, we have to accept that only in His perfect timing will what we are seeking be perfected. The natural by-product of our salvation is the resolution of many temporal issues but its ultimate purpose is “to bring many sons and daughters to glory.” (Heb. 2:10)
In order for God to able to restore us, we must be fully surrendered to His will but this surrender should not be burdensome because as Romans 8:28 reminds us, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,” so in John 2:5, “’Whatever He says to you, do it.’” should be an exciting admonition not a frightening one. From this place of total surrender God’s character becomes realized in us and we begin to blossom into the “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isa. 61:3b)
We are represented in verse six, as we are without him, full of unfulfilled purpose and Godly potential. We are represented by six stone waterpots meant to hold water used for the purification of others. This imagery so succinctly captures the state and purpose of mankind because the number six represents fallen man and the substance of stone, the state of his heart before God’s transforming life replaces it with compassionate (fleshy) ones (Ez. 36:26). The purpose of the pots is to be filled with purifying water, a type and shadow of the water of the Word, which is the Spirit of Christ. The vessel is sanctified by what it contains and from that purity, it purifies all it touches. From this place, we can begin to fulfill our original purpose and multiply the image and likeness of God over the face of the earth until the whole earth is filled with His glory.
Now in verse seven, the servants are told by Jesus to fill up the waterpots and “they filled them to the rim” scripture says. This is so important to note here because in order for us to multiply His glory and share His love with those lost in darkness it must come from our fullness in Him. We can never spread the Kingdom of God through our own strength and from our own means but by the Spirit whom He gives without measure (John 3:34) for we are filled to all fullness in Him (Col. 2:10) and from Him we share God’s love that has been poured into our hearts (Rom. 5:5) through the Spirit. There is so much freedom in knowing that our purpose in Him is accomplished, not from our own strength, our own resources or our own reasoning but from His. He has provided everything and we need only supply our surrender, which is rest from striving.
“And He said to them, ‘Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.’ And they took it.” (John 2:8) Since we are now full of Him, we can now draw from Him the pure water and share it with others. Notice here though that to do this requires obedience in faith. The servants here knew they were bringing the master of the feast water and they had to trust completely in the One who commanded them and step out in that faith before any transformation had taken place. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” is demonstrated perfectly for us at this point in the story. How faith works in the Kingdom is to step out in what God says, not what we think or think we see, but trusting in His faithfulness and then what God has promised comes to pass. Hear, trust, obey and then you will see. The Kingdom is advanced by love through faith.
It’s interesting to realize that by the time the master of the feast received the water and before tasting it, it had become wine and the master never knew from where it had come but the ones who had brought it did (John 2:9). Even though the master didn’t know the origin of the new wine, when he tasted it, he immediately recognized its quality. This is exactly how the world is presented with the dilemma of God’s love revealed in our lives. When we are motivated by God’s selfless love alone and act from that place, people can see that the life we live is so different but incredibly real. It elicits a curiosity that draws them to find out where this unusually bright and consistent light and peace that surrounds us comes from.
This reaction of the unbeliever when confronted by the reality of God’s love is modeled in the statement in verse ten that the master of the feast made to the bridegroom (a type and shadow of God) in his statement, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” Since wine in this story represents love, the master was essentially saying, “Mankind always puts the best love he has to offer out first to impress people and once they are placated and dazzled by it then they are less inclined to notice when the quality and quantity of it has diminished but you have brought out your best love now when people are at their worst!” God’s love is at its full strength especially when we are not and God’s love continues to get better and yields more of itself as it is walked in. This is why it is God’s goodness that leads men to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and not our bludgeoning them with the word of God.
Verse eleven states, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” This infectious chain of love transformation, from unbeliever into believer, from believer to unbeliever, is just the beginning of miracles that one will see in a life truly surrendered to the omnipotent power of God’s love. Let us start every day thanking God for His miraculous and transformative love, that we are blessed to walk in share with all the lives we touch. Let the whole earth be filled with His glory!