Water Into Wine

June 6, 2016

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.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told 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, though 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.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.John 2:1-11

Sometimes I think my mental picture of Jesus is a little bit off. While I know and believe that Jesus is both fully God and fully human, I have an easier time thinking of Jesus’ deity…perhaps to the point where I don’t think enough of his humanity.

For instance, John makes it clear to us in chapter 1 Jesus is definitely God by emphasizing that he was present at the beginning and was actively part of creating. John also shows us that he is the One the people of Israel were waiting for; John the Baptizer points the people to him with his words, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” And so, disciples begin to follow him, because who wouldn’t? He is the Messiah!

But John also makes it clear in chapter 2 – our passage for today – that Jesus is fully human, and that he cares for his fellow humans, as is evident in performing his first miracle, helping out in a very human concern.

Jesus and his new disciples have been invited to a wedding. It’s a party, as weddings ought to be: people are celebrating! My Study Bible tells me that it was not uncommon for wedding feasts of that day to last a week, and the beverage of choice for that culture and time is wine. However, there is an embarrassing disruption in the celebration about to occur: the hosts have apparently not planned adequately, and the wine is running out, long before the party was supposed to be over.

Can you imagine it? I picture the bride and groom happily dancing away, celebrating and enjoying their time with their family and friends. But off on the far side of the room, the master of ceremonies has a worried look on his face. He gets the groom’s attention and waves him over, where they have an intense, whispered conversation. Can you picture the groom’s eyes widening in horror and embarrassment?

Jesus’ mother, Mary, is at the feast as well, and is watching this take place—mothers have a sixth sense about things, don’t they?—and she steps over to Jesus and plainly says, “Jesus, they have no more wine, but you can help them out.”

And here is where I see Jesus’ humanity coming out; it feels scandalous even as I suggest it, but can you almost hear Jesus rolling his eyes as he says it? “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” It’s almost as if he is saying, “C’mon, Mom…are you really dragging me into this? I’m just starting my ministry, and I wasn’t planning on crashing onto the scene this way!”

But Mary is undeterred, and she gestures to some of the servants to call them over, and tells them to do whatever her son instructs them. And out of his great love for those involved, Jesus quietly leans in to the servants: “Grab the jars, guys, and head out to the well to fill them up.” Good servants, they do as he asks, lugging the heavy jars back with them.

“Okay, grab a cup. Fill it from the jar, and take it over to the emcee.”

Do you wonder what thoughts were passing through their minds at that moment? But regardless of any doubts they might have had, the servants do what Jesus instructed. They draw out a cup of water, and one of them carries it around the edge of the crowd, bringing over to the emcee. He accepts the cup, takes a sip, and his look of concern breaks, shifting into a grin. What was water has miraculously become wine…and it’s good stuff.

Through the crowd of revelers, he wanders back over to the groom and pushes the cup into his hand. “Buddy, this is the best wine you’ve served! Why did we save it for so late in the party?” The puzzled groom takes a sip, and as he does so, happens to lock eyes with Jesus, who is smiling at him from across the room.

And in my minds’ eye, Jesus gives him a wink, and turns back to his disciples who have watched this all happen and are now blinking their surprise: “Wait a minute…wasn’t that…water in those jugs…?”

Jesus catapulted himself into his miraculous ministry at a party; showing his care for this very human concern. Little did the groom know when he invited Jesus to the celebration, that the very Word who spoke the creation into being, who rules over all things would be present with him, both able and willing to help in this moment, turning embarrassment and need into joy and celebration. And this is what strikes me in this story: Jesus, God in flesh, the one who has the power to supernaturally break the laws of nature he had crafted into the creation was willing to do so out of loving concern for his friend.

About the Author
  • Dave Mulder serves as Professor of Education at Dordt University, where he teaches pre-service teachers in the undergrad program and works with practicing teachers in the Master of Education program. His interests in education are varied, but include educational technology, online learning, STEM education, faith formation, and teaching Christianly. 

What are your thoughts about this topic?
We welcome your ideas and questions about the topics considered here. If you would like to receive others' comments and respond by email, please check the box below the comment form when you submit your own comments.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

There are currently no comments. Why don't you kick things off?