This morning I spoke at our all-age service on John 2:1-11 looking at Jesus turning water into wine, and here’s the PowerPoint:
The first miracle of Jesus took place in Cana of Galilee. The event was a wedding. Cana was a inconspicuous little town that lay outside of Nazareth. Cana had no social prominence in its day. It’s interesting to note: Jesus ministry, like his birth, began in a small, unimportant town, to common every day people.
Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus and his disciples had all been invited to the wedding. Weddings were, and are, a big deal in the Jewish culture. The wedding ceremony would take place late in the evening after a time of feasting. The father of the bride would take his daughter on his arm, and with the wedding party in tow, would parade through the streets of the village so that everyone could come out and congratulate the bride. Finally the wedding party would arrive at the home of the groom. The wedding actually took place in the front door of the grooms house. It was no short ceremony … no the festivities lasted for days. It was a time of great celebration.
After the wedding ceremony the bride and groom walked through the streets accompanied by flaming torches. Their attendants walked with them keeping a canopy over their heads. The wedding party always took the longest route through the village so that as many people as possible could wish them well.
There was no such thing as a honeymoon! No, the couple kept open house for a week. They were treated like royalty. They dressed in fancy clothes and many times actually wore crowns on their heads. Whatever desire they spoke for…they received. Their word was law!
The groom’s family was expected to provide all the refreshments for this week of festivities.
That’s where we pick up today’s Bible reading. Suddenly the host discovers that they are running out of wine. They had more guests than they anticipated. It would have been improper for the culture of this time to not have wine. Jews did not get drunk at these celebrations — drunkenness was considered a disgrace. But the host could have actually been sued for a breach of hospitality to his guest.
We can assume that Jesus’ mother was a close friend of the groom’s mother and she heard about the problem. Jesus’ mother comes to Jesus and says, “Son, we’ve got a problem here, and we need your help. The groom’s family is running out of wine.” The fact that Mary came to Jesus with such a problem is a reminder that Jesus is concerned with the everyday things in life that we face.
Jesus answers his mother in what seems like a harsh way. He was not being harsh, he was just simply already focusing on his life and ministry, and had began to detach himself from his family.
John calls this first miracle a sign. Signs are usually placed in places to give us information, or point us in the direction. The miracles of Christ were always meant to reveal to us the glory of God, and point us to who He truly is.
Let’s take a look at what this first sign means for us today. Notice that first of all:
The wine can run out.
Mary realises the seriousness of the issue. You can hear it in her words… “They have no wine.” To the Jewish people wine symbolised joy. The Jewish rabbis had a saying, ‘Without wine there is no joy.” At the wedding in Cana their joy had run out! It is a reminder of the emptiness of our life without Christ. This statement by the mother of Jesus goes beyond liquid refreshment at a wedding. It is symbolic of our lives. It is a scary thing when the “wine runs out.”
There are times when the wine runs out. The joy is dry! For example, families that once began with exuberant joy are now ending in the pain of divorce – why? There is no more joy in the relationship. You and I have no resources available within ourselves to replace the joy. Only new wine can come from Jesus Christ.
When the wine runs out, Jesus can turn the water into wine.
Mary came to Jesus and told him of the problem that they were facing. I can just imagine her telling the groom’s mother, “You hold on just a minute! I know just what to do with this situation.” She came to Jesus and told him. I love her instructions to the servants. “Whatever he says to you, do it” Just Do It!
Jesus took the waterpots that were filled with ordinary water for handwashing. When the guest arrived someone would pour some of this water over their hands in a symbolic purification. To eat with unwashed hands would have been a defilement. Jesus took this water and made approximately 180 gallons of wine.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus took the water for purification and used it for his first miracle. The water in those pots was merely for an external cleansing. Jesus ministry over the next three years would teach people about an inner cleansing.
Jesus takes the ordinary things and makes it into something amazing. But not just that, if we look at the first miracle of Jesus we see this truth: “Jesus is not just the giver of joy…he is the giver of “abundant” joy.” He not only met their immediate need, but he gave an abundance. Jesus did not just make some ordinary wine. No, the wine that he produced was better than that which they had started the celebration with.
Jesus didn’t just doctor the water so that it tasted like wine. No, the water in those pots was transformed into the finest wine the people had ever tasted. The truth for us is this—Jesus is not going to just doctor up our lives a little bit, just put a plaster on our needs—no he wants to transform your life, just like he transformed that water. Our lives will take on a new nature.
Jesus is all about transforming power. Changing people—that’s what its all about. This Sign teaches us that…
Jesus offers an abundance of new wine at the end.
Sometimes its hard for us to understand God not only meeting our need but providing for us an abundance. That’s the story of grace. There is no measure to grace. There will always be enough grace to meet our needs. That’s the story of God’s love. There is nothing that you can do that will cause God to diminish his love for you.
Understand this principle of God today…God is not just a God of the required—he is a God of the abundance. Malachi 3:10, “Bring all the tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it”
Not “just enough”—an abundance Look at creation – the New Forest, there is an overabundance. God didn’t give us “just enough” beauty, it is all around us. Have you ever been to the seashore and looked out over the ocean. There is far more beauty that our eyes can absorb. Have you ever seen a field of wildflowers? Not just enough to fill a vase in your living room, but more than enough. This is the picture of grace…God always gives more than you will ever need!
So the wine is poured out and all the people who are present rejoice at the richness of this “new wine”. This was completely against custom. The best wine was always offered first. Isn’t that just like our Lord? The best always comes at the end. The grace we once tasted cautiously—we now drink freely. Jesus has poured out in us the richness of his love and forgiveness. There is one among us who is pouring out the rich “wine” and there is enough for everyone!
What do you do when the wine runs out? Mary showed us by example. She told the servants that if they would just do what Jesus commanded they would see a miracle. A miracle that not only met their immediate need…but a miracle of abundance.
Has your joy ran out today? Jesus wants to transform you! Bring your need to him!