The four gospels contain numerous accounts of the miraculous. Everywhere Jesus went He cast out demons and healed the sick, even going as far as to raise the dead. He also did some crazy things with fish on certain occasions, whether it was catching them, feeding a few thousand people with a small quantity or finding money inside of them. Most of these miracles though could either be categorized as healings, helps, signs or by weirdness. And it is the weird ones that I am interested in looking at and there are actually quite a few of them; for example, the coin in the fish’s mouth, spitting in the dirt to heal a blind man and walking on water. To start off though, I want to look at the water into wine miracle at the wedding feast in Cana.
This particular story is recorded in John 2 and there are several aspects about it that are weird. Firstly, it appears to be helping inebriated people get even more intoxicated than they already were. Verse ten suggests that the wine had been flowing generously before it had run out. Secondly, Jesus’ words, “My time has not yet come” are immediately followed by Him doing the miracle anyway. Thirdly, at a glance turning water into wine seems more like a cool party trick than a miracle. John said that Jesus performed so many miracles that he could not possibly document them all, yet he chose to include this one right at the beginning of his book. Why?
The key I believe to understanding the water into wine miracle is twofold. First we need to recognize that His actions were recognized as a ‘sign’ (verse 11,) thus there is symbolic significance contained within the narrative. Secondly, verse 6 tells us that the water containers were not the usual clay pots used for storing drinking water in but were very large stone pots used for the purification rituals. What I find interesting is that wine later becomes symbolic of the blood of Jesus and the New Covenant:
Then He took the cup (of wine), and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the new covenant.” – Matthew 26:27-28.
Consider this then, what would have happened when people were looking for water for the ceremonial cleansings? The account does not tell us that Jesus said to fill one or a few of the waterpots but to fill all of them. I can imagine someone going, “Um, sorry guys there is no more ceremonial water left for purification because of Jesus’ wine…” Verse 7 tells us that the waterpots were “filled up to the brim”, in other words, there was no more space left for anything else. This I believe then is the sign behind the miracle. The new covenant was coming making the old soon to be obsolete. Verse 10 in the story is particularly interesting in that it has a double meaning behind it.
The servants drew some wine out and took it to the master of ceremonies, who then told the bridegroom, “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”.
Jesus is the better wine, filled to the brim and running over that never runs out as the unfortunate hosts wine had done. His time had not yet come but He still did the miracle because the old wine had run dry. In His death a new covenant would soon be established by His blood (symbolized by wine). The union of God and man (how appropriate that this occurred at a wedding) was never going to be fully realized through the law, only Christ could accomplish it.
What do you think?