Focal Passage: John 2:1–11
As a child, I learned from my church that what separated
Southern Baptists from other Christians was teetotalism. My parents were
teetotalers (except for the small glass of blackberry wine my father drank
while my grandmother made Christmas fruitcakes). Our congregation recited the church covenant’s promise “to
abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drink as a beverage.”
Thus, I find it perplexing that Jesus’ first recorded
miracle was the turning of water into wine. If God is as serious about the
alcohol issue as I was taught, why then is this story in the Bible?
The story tells us that Jesus, His mother, and the disciples
had been invited to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. At some point in the
festivities, Mary approached Jesus and asked Him to relieve the embarrassment of
He had run out of wine. After some protesting, Jesus acted.
Jesus asked that the six stone jars used for purification
purposes and holding some 20 or 30 gallons apiece be filled to the brim with
When the master of ceremony tasted what the servants drew
out of the jars, he complimented the superior quality of the wine. As the story
is told, the wedding guests and the master of ceremony were unaware that a
miracle had occurred; but the disciples knew, and they “put their faith in him”
Some notions die hard.
The Pharisees, and even the disciples of John the Baptist,
clung to the notion that the law represented the best and highest word God had
ever given man. To this notion John the Evangelist tells this otherwise
unreported story of the wedding in Cana — a story that illustrates what John
previously recorded, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We
have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
What was the purpose of the law? Its aim was to produce a
right relationship with God expressed in a right relationship with one another.
The law failed.
It produced a quality of life that was impoverished of
feeling, of sensitivity toward one’s fellow man.
Certainly Jesus did turn water into wine as the story
states, but the real miracle performed in this story is that gallons of law and
guilt were transformed into gallons of grace.
The “new wine” that Jesus offers is a religion of joy.
Being a Christian is like going to a Jewish wedding. The
bridegroom is with us, and he brings joy to our lives.