“This, the first of
his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in
There’s a story about a drunken coal miner who repented of his sins and became a follower of Jesus Christ. After getting baptized, he stopped drinking “cold turkey” and started telling everyone what Jesus had done for him. One of his old drinking buddies thought he could trick him into picking up the bottle again. He pulled him aside and asked, “Do you believe that Jesus turned water into wine?” The new and improved coal miner replied, “I certainly do! In my home, Jesus has turned wine into furniture, decent clothes, and food for my children!”
No doubt, Jesus Christ is in the transformation business. In John 2, the Apostle John records Jesus’ first public miracle, a miracle that he calls “a sign.” Surprisingly, Jesus’ first public miracle had nothing to do with the healing of an outcast leper or the opening of a blind man’s eyes. It didn't even involve calming a storm, walking on water or raising someone from the dead. Instead, it was a rather discreet miracle that went unnoticed by most people at a wedding feast: Jesus transformed over one hundred gallons of water into wine.
The scene opens in John 2:1 with Jesus and his five new
disciples attending a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Cana was located just a few
miles from Jesus’ hometown of
Believe me when I say: This was a crisis and Mary was frantic. This wasn’t as simple as a modern-day bartender running out of booze at a wedding reception. In a culture where there was much poverty and most people worked very hard six days a week, the wedding feast was the highlight of the year. That being the case, during the seven-day celebration, the groom’s family was expected to provide enough food and drink for everyone. Hospitality was considered a sacred duty. If at any point they ran out of food or wine, it was deeply embarrassing… humiliating for their entire family. So much so that, in some cases, the local authorities would fine the groom’s family for failing to adequately provide for their guests.
Initially, Jesus expressed a hesitation to nip the crisis in the bud by performing a miracle. But, before too long, he got involved. He instructed the wedding servers to fill six large jars to the brim with water. And once they did, Jesus transformed the water (between 120 and 180 gallons) into wine. And it wasn’t the cheap stuff! After tasting Jesus’ miracle wine, the wedding coordinator declared, “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.”
Now, John doesn’t want us to spend all our time oohing and aahing about the miracle itself. Sure, it’s cool that Jesus transformed over 100 gallons of standing water into some of the best wine ever. But it’s a SIGN pointing to something deeper, greater and more life-changing. So, as cool as the miracle is, even cooler are the deeper spiritual truths that Jesus revealed to his disciples at the wedding AND to his disciples today—including us.
Truth #1: The miraculous sign points to Christ as the SOURCE of lasting JOY. In the Old Testament, wine is a symbol of joy (e.g., Judges 9:13 a d Psalm 104:15). So, if Jesus had preached a sermon right after performing his first sign, I bet he would have said something like this: “The world’s joy looks and tastes great in the beginning. And there seems to be plenty of it. But sooner or later, it runs out and leaves you empty. But the joy that I give you is new every morning and completely satisfying. My joy will never leave you empty. Taste and see that MY joy is good”
#2: The miraculous sign points to the INFERIOR nature of the Old Testament law
Truth #3: The miraculous sign points to Jesus’ power to TRANSFORM us from the inside out. In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul describes our bodies as “jars of clay.” And throughout Scripture we are told that God does His greatest work inside our jars of clay. The Lord doesn’t waste His time styling our hair or trimming our unruly eyebrows or giving us a mani-pedi. God spends His time softening our hard hearts, opening our stubborn minds and renewing a steadfast spirit within us.
If Jesus had preached a sermon after transforming the water into wine, I suspect He would have also said something like this: “Your heart inside your jar of clay is like the water in this jar. I transformed the water in this jar into something much, much better. And, in the same way, I can transform your heart into something much, much better. If you’ll let Me, I will reach inside your jar of clay and soften your hard heart, open your closed mind and give you a brand new spirit. I make good wine. But I make even better hearts.”
Dane Davis is the
pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us at our new worship location in