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Why does it matter that Jesus turned water into wine? Not only was it His first miracle, it’s an incredibly significant one as well.
You’ve probably heard all kinds of thoughts about Jesus launching His ministry by turning water into wine, how it justifies drinking wine today, and so on.
You’ve also probably heard a lot that misses the point. Did you know that even today that one miracle has incredible significance…to you?
Let’s jump right in…
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.”John 2:1-11, ESV (emphasis mine)
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.
Why Turn Water Into Wine?
They were at a wedding and the wine ran out. This was not good. His mother, bless her heart, told Him to fix it.
He clearly announced to her that it wasn’t time for Him to do a miracle, but she simply turned to the nearby servants and directed them, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Anyone else picture Mary here like the Italian mama in the Bronx holding a wooden spoon? No? Must just be me, then.
Anyhow, back to the Bible.
So, why wine?
Well, many times in Scripture there are prophecies about wine flowing, new wine, and the fruit of the vine.
God was doing a lot behind the scenes here. First, Jesus was fulfilling prophecies about the wine flowing when the Messiah came.
Next, Jesus was upsetting religious traditions.
And third, He was creating belief (Jn 2:11 says “and his disicples believed in Him”). But He was also already stirring the pot.
Wine was culturally and religiously important. It was something that was made intentionally, with quality, and something the bridegroom was supposed to provide for his guests.
And they ran out.
It could have just been a social faux pas, and everyone would have been okay in a day or two. But Mary wanted Jesus (the real Bridegroom) to do something about it.
Why Ceremonial Washing Jars?
Here’s where it gets really interesting.
Near where Jesus, Mary, and the servants were standing were 6 stone jars that each held 20-30 gallons. This means they were huge, heavy, and held a lot of water when filled.
What was their intended pupose? It was for cermonial washing. Washing of hands and feet, in deference to religious customs taken from Levitical law (Lev 15:11).
One might assume Jesus used them because they were handy, but let’s go just a bit deeper.
Jesus’ very first miracle was already turning religious customs upside down.
The water from the jars was usually for cleaning the outside of the body and Jesus replaced it for something on the inside.
After all, “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” (Mark 7:15, ESV)
These jars held water that cleaned hands and feet before meals, before worship. It took care of the dirt of this world on the outside, but didn’t touch the inside.
Jesus had plans beyond behavior modification. He came to offer complete transformation.
The Old Covenant was no longer enough. (Anyone else just want to jump up and shout “HALLELUJAH!” to that?!)
Why So Much Water Into Wine?
If there were six ceremonial washing jars, each holding 20-30 gallons, that means Jesus turned water into anywhere from 120-180 gallons of wine.
At the end of the night, when the guests were nearly done celebrating and too tipsy to appreciate it.
That’s anywhere from 750-1,000 bottles of wine today (source), to give you some modern perspective. Also, it would have taken a ton of grapes to make! (No, no…I’m not being obvious or hyperbolic here…an actual ton of grapes is what it would have taken to make that much wine!)
It references God’s abundant nature for His chosen people. In the final days, spoken of by the prophets, the mountain will literally drip with wine (Joel 3:18). Their cups were running over.
The Messiah had come and was announcing Himself!
What’s Water Into Wine Mean To You…TODAY?
Even today it’s easy to get caught up in rituals or distracted by the packaging instead of what really matters.
After all, good Christians donate money to missionaries and fund orphanages.
Good Christians volunteer at shelters and donate their old clothes to homeless ministries.
And you really ought to not swear, listen to secular radio, or wear low-cut blouses.
After all, people need to be able to tell you’re a Christian just by looking at you, right?
It can be so easy to work on doing good things and saying the right words, but what really matters is the heart.
If you’re not cussing where people can hear you, but watching movies that use prolific profanity, you’re still indulging a steady diet of filth.
If you’re checking out your outfit but not your attitude, you might be missing the real point (more on that here).
If you’re nice to strangers but shouting at your kids and ignoring your husband, then it’s still ceremonial washing for you and not new wine yet.
And girl, that water isn’t doing you any good. You need wine.
Jesus cares about the inside of you
Jesus’ lesson was incredibly potent that day, but it’s message is one that is still needed now. Stop focusing on doing enough for God or even being enough for God.
Stop focusing on a life that looks clean and shiny from the outside
Not a single guest at the wedding feast did anything to make the wine. No one picked grapes, no one trampled them or strained them out. They simply let the Living Water provide for them. The Bridegroom.
The same holds true today. All the ceremonial cleansing in the world can never make you good enough for salvation. But Jesus freely gives it to you. You just need to accept it.
And once you take it in, you’ll be clean on the inside, where it counts.
Related: 5 Ways To Make God Happy
This is part of the Bible in 90 Days challenge.