~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
This post is the first of a series on the miracles of Jesus. Each week I will look at one miracle performed by Jesus to explore its meaning and significance. I’ll be using several resources to help me out, including an excellent new book by Pastor Jared C. Wilson titled “The Wonder Working God,” published by Crossway.
The Bible begins and ends with a wedding (Genesis 2:22-24; Rev. 19:6-9), so it is no wonder that Jesus chose a wedding to mark the beginning of his public ministry and as the occasion for his first miracle. We do not know much about the circumstances surrounding this event, only that “there was a wedding at Cana” and that “Jesus was invited along with his disciples” (John 2:2) You may remember the crisis event of this story is that the host has run out of wine. Jesus’ mother asks his help, but he responds sharply “woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.(2:4)”
Nonetheless, Jesus intervenes. He has the servants fill the jars with water, draw some, and take it to the master of the feast, who handled the wedding’s affairs. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine he exclaimed to the bridegroom everyone serves the good wine first… but you have keep the good wine until now(2:10).”
John follows up this narrative with an explanation. He writes that Jesus did this, the first of his signs, at Cana in Galilee, to “manifested his glory.” That upon seeing this take place “the disciples believed in him” (2:11). So, we immediately learn something about Jesus’ miracles. They manifest his glory, expressing the very nature of his being.
Not only do Jesus miracles teach us about him and who he really is, but they also teach us something about the world. We tend to think of miracles as supernatural expressions that break our normal laws of nature. In fact, it may be far more helpful to think of them as singular moments when our broken nature is actually returned to normal. Jared Wilson writes “what are miracles then, but glimpses of the way the world is meant to be, glimpses of the way the world is actually becoming.” And that Jesus Christ comes “bending, it seems, the very laws of nature. In fact, he is straightening them out.”
So what about the water into wine? How does this miracle reveal Jesus’ glory? What does it teach us about our world?
We could say that Jesus enjoys making people happy by giving them the “good stuff,” or that he didn’t want the host to be embarrassed for running out of wine. While these both may be pleasant byproducts of the event itself, they do not begin to scratch the surface of the divine truth teeming just below.
The real meaning I believe is found by studying Jesus’ words spoken to his mother. His response is nearly a rebuke as he says “woman, what does this have to do with me. My hour is not yet come.” The phrase “my hour” or “my time” is only ever used by Jesus to refer to one of two things. He is either thinking of the cross and what he will bear upon it, or of the full revelation of his glory on some future day. In this case I think it is both.
As Jesus surveys the wedding celebration, the feast they are consuming, the wine they are imbibing, and the marriage union they are enjoying, he is reminded of a future banquet that has been promised. He is anxiously anticipating sharing with his people the marriage supper, when on the last day believers from all time and all places will feast in the presence of their victorious Lord.
But in order for that great hope to be achieved, something is required of Jesus. He must provide the wine of sacrifice for the salvation of his people. In actuality it will be his blood shed on the cross that allows the party to commence in the heavenly realm.
To put this into simple language: When Mary, the mother of Jesus asks him to help with the wine at the wedding, she seems to interrupt his train of thought. She sees an earthly problem, wine that has run out. Yet for him, this celebration and her need, are a palpable reminder of what he must go through for his people. For this party at Cana to continue Jesus turns water into wine, a small expression of his power. Yet, in order for the ultimate wedding feast to take place, the heavenly banquet he has in mind for his people, a far greater sacrifice is needed. Jesus will become both the bridegroom and the feast, the Divine Provider on both ends. He will sacrifice himself in order that his people might partake of his body and his blood, receiving him as the source of their very life.
In the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus is not performing a neat trick. He isn’t just providing for a need. His glory is shining through as this signals the immediate presence of the ancient promise, that he will intervene to provide for what we are lacking most, an inability to save ourselves and overcome our sin. He will provide the sacrifice that will allow the party to commence, and the new wine that will flow forever. Not just the good stuff, but the best stuff.