By Randy Dillon
1¶ And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:2And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.3And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.4¶ Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.5¶ His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.6¶ And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.7Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.8And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.And they bare it.9When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,10And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
The apostle John, son of Zebedee, records seven great miracles in his gospel. Only one of these, the feeding of the 5,000 men, is addressed in another gospel. John records the first of the miracles of Jesus as the event in Cana of galilee at the wedding festivities of an unnamed newlywed couple. All of the miracles recorded lin John are claimed as “sign” miracles. This means that they are not just normal miracles (whatever that term may imply) performed by Jesus, but that they point to something more significant, something deeper than what may be seen on the surface. This applies to the Miracles of turning water into wine as we read in this scripture.
The factual compilation of the John simply related that the wedding reception, which was attended bu Jesus and some of His disciples, the wine ran out; that is it was depleted and there was no more to offer the guests. While today this would not be so very concerning (go to Walmart!) in the time of Jesus this would have been a grave social embarrassment. It would have laid a permanent social stigma on th newlyweds, and in particular, on the groom’s family. It could even up in court! To us this may seem trivial, but we should recognize that this was a social, cultural and even legal calamity in the making.
After Jesus’ mother, Mary, brought the matter to His attention, Jesus instructed the servants to fill several stone waterpots to the brim with water. He then sent to the governor of the feast (think of him as the master of ceremonies) a sample of the wine. The governor declares the wine better than anything that has been served previously. Much attention has been given to the incomprehensible act of turning water into wine. That this is a powerful example of Jesus’ power oven nature is obvious to everyone, but it is also only the surface meaning of the miracle. A deeper understanding involves the symbolism attached to both the water and the wine.
The stone jars containing water were suited only for the external washing of hands and feet, but not necessarily for drinking. Wine, on the other hand, was a common element of the diet. From a symbolic standpoint these elements represent the Old Testament (water is the law) and the New Testament (wine is grace). Like water, the Old Testament law was based on external observances which gave indication of internal righteousness. Like wine, New Testament grace was based on an internal change in the heart, mind and soul of the individual. Water could only wash away temporarily the external dirt as the law could only temporarily relieve a sinner of the consequence of sin. Wine entered into the body like grace to permanently heal, nourish and refresh the sinner by bringing that soul into a state of permanent peace with God.
The governor’s pronouncement that Jesus’ wine was the best is also an important point in this miracle. Normally, the best wine was served first, then as palates dulled, inferior wine was set out. The best wine set out first is like the enticement of sin which seems so pleasing at first, but as it dulls the moral sense of a person it leads to increasingly less satisfaction. Inferior wine served last is symbolic of the end result of sin: sorrow, guilt and despair. The best wine served last is symbolic of the grace offered to the lost sinner. After trying to find satisfaction in oneself and the worst of the world, grace offers the best wine last: freedom from guilt and sin, peace with God and eternal life. When the dull taste of sin becomes bitter, God gives to His own the best: Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Read and study diligently the seven sign miracles in John and you will find many underlying meanings in each “sign” miracle. Examining each one closely is like peeling away the layers on an onion. Each layer brings a new thought, a new understanding, a new appreciation of Jesus