January 18, 2009

The Subtle Testimony of Water to Wine - Jan 18, 2009


Last week in our study of John, chapter one, we heard John the Baptist declare that Jesus is both the Lamb of God and the Son of God.

This week we continue our study of John’s Gospel in chapter two. Here we will hear the testimony of Jesus’ first miraculous sign: water changed into wine.


Greetings. May you all fully realize the joy of the Father’s forgiveness though the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who comes by the message of Jesus. Amen.

Though I only saw the back of it in my rearview mirror, the sign must have said “Bump”. What it should have said was “Chasm”.

I was driving down the empty South Dakota highway in the middle of summer. The road crews had been out in force, but now they were done for the day. Without a flagger on the side of the road, I totally missed the warning sign.

When my big Chevy Citation shot out into the void of space, it hung for a moment and then pounced onto the grooved cement of the highway’s foundation. Sparks flew from the rusty muffler that cushioned the car’s fall.

The road crew had removed part of the highway’s surface, down about 8 inches I would guess. Though, in the rearview mirror the drop off looked more like a foot.

Since I wasn’t driving a Ferrari, it was pretty funny – for a moment. Then I saw the cement wall ahead and the meager packed dirt along it’s edge that was supposed to put my car back on the surface of the roadway. There wasn’t enough time to stop. I figured my muffler was gone for sure.

With a jarring jump, I was back on the painted surface of the highway - muffler intact, thank the Lord. That car was ugly enough. It didn’t need to sound ugly too.

The signs on the side of the highway are important because they points us to things that we need to see. The sign can be bright, shiny and new, or old crusty and worn. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s seen and understood. You see, the sign doesn’t matter as much as what it points us to.

In our sermon reading for today, the “sign” of water changed into wine grabs our attention. It points us to Jesus and says, “This Man comes from God.”


Holy Spirit, as we approach your Word today give us a humble spirit so that we consider them with care. Help us to understand everything that You reveal about Jesus in this part of your Word. Build our trust in Christ through this time of meditation. Amen.

John 2:1-11 (NIV)

1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, “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.”
11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.


As any wine maker will tell you, making wine isn’t all that hard to do – but it takes time. When you buy wine at the supermarket, you there are no dry mixes. It can’t be mixed up from a powder like Kool-Aid.

The yeast needs time to eat up the fermentable sugars in whatever fruit juice is being used. Then the wine needs time to clarify and for all sorts of chemical reactions to take place. The wine might be SAFE to drink before it has been properly aged, but it won’t be GOOD.

For the average human being, making water into wine takes months, sometimes years. For Jesus, it took but a moment. And we’re not just talking about a bottle or two. We are told that Jesus had the servants fill six stone water jars up with water. Each jar held 20-30 gallons. That adds up to at least 120 gallons of wine. That much wine would fill about 605 standard size wine bottles.

And this wasn’t just a quantity of wine, this wine was of the highest quality. It was of such noticeable quality that it shocked the master of the banquet when he tasted it. He called for the groom and expressed his disappointment that this prize wine had been saved until this late time in the feast. “You have saved the BEST till now”, he said.

Wine in an instant. Lots of wine. Really good wine. All these details point us to the power of God. That power was at work in this Man, Jesus. That much was clear. Now, was it because Jesus was God’s prophet? Or was there even more to it?

Because we have the New Testament of the Bible we know that Jesus was able to do this miracle, not just because He was God’s prophet, but because He was God Himself. Son of Mary, yes, but also the very Son of God.


This first miracle was astonishing to those who realized what had happened. But overall, this first of Jesus’ miraculous signs was subtle. It was not done out in the open for all the people to see. Jesus simply drew the dots, if you will, and let the anyone who saw connect them.

Jesus’ mother Mary had been invited to the wedding. So had Jesus and His disciples. While they were celebrating the wine ran out.

Perhaps the wedding couple was poor. Perhaps they were simply unprepared. Either way, it would have been a very embarrassing thing to run out of wine in the middle of the celebration.

Jesus’ mother was troubled when she found out that the wine had run out. Mary knew what it was like to be in a potentially embarrassing and hard to explain situation. She had once found herself pregnant without ever having slept with a man. Mary knew what it was like to have to make do with what little she had. The cradle of her firstborn Son had been a straw-stuffed feed trough. Mary knew what it was like to do without. While we don’t know for sure why, the Bible doesn’t mention Joseph after the visit to the Temple when Jesus was twelve. It is quite likely that Mary was now a widow.

Yes, Mary could put herself in the wedding couple’s shoes. She could understand their predicament. And searching her mind for solutions, it didn’t take her long to think of her Son. Jesus could do SOMETHING about this wine situation.

I’m curious as to what exactly Mary expected Jesus to do. It’s hard to say. From Jesus’ response to Mary it certainly seems that she expected Him to do something extraordinary. Something miraculous. Something that would reveal who He was and who His true Father was.

In response to Mary, Jesus said,

“Dear woman, why do you involve me? …My time has not yet come” (John 2:4 NIV).

Even from the tender age of twelve Jesus had been concerned with doing what His Heavenly Father had put Him here to do. Jesus was dedicated to carrying out the plan which would bring sinners forgiveness, and save them from an eternity of sorrow.

Now a full grown man, Jesus was just as focused on His Father’s plan. And He knew that right now was not the time or the place to reveal His identity in an outward show of His astounding power.

In His voice we hear a gentle rebuke, but a rebuke all the same.

“Dear woman, why do you involve me? …My time has not yet come” (John 2:4 NIV).

And yet, even though she had overstepped her bounds a bit, Jesus did not dismiss His mother’s concern altogether. Though His higher concern was carrying out the Father’s plan in just the right way, Jesus was also concerned with responding to His earthly mother. Yes, Jesus was sensitive to the small problem that this wedding couple had unknowingly bumped into.

So, with grace and eloquence, Jesus found a way to do it all. He satisfied His mother’s request. He provided a lasting gift for the wedding couple. And He did it all in an unpretentious way. Jesus’ first miraculous sign showing Himself to be the Messiah was a quiet, hidden miracle.

If only we could imitate our Savior in this. If we could have the wisdom and grace to kindly listen – even to words spoken out of turn. If we could take all words – even the words of blustering fools and diligently wring out the value from them. If only we too could ponder what our Heavenly Father would have us do, and then faithfully do that - regardless of what others are saying and doing. May God give us the wisdom and grace to imitate Christ in this way. To listen, to evaluate, to find the Father’s will and to do it.


In the Gospel of John, John calls seven of Jesus’ miracles, “signs”. He considers these miracles of Jesus to be more than supernatural occurrences. John considers them to be like bright blinking arrows pointing to Jesus. They point to Him and announce, “Clearly, this Man does the works of God. Now listen, for His words come from God also.”

Sadly, not all who saw these signs believed what they indicated. In John 12 it says,

“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.” (John 12:37 NIV).

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together and discussed all that Jesus was doing.

“’What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him,’” (John 11:47b-48 NIV).

Jesus could have perform that first miracle in Cana in a way that stole the spotlight form the bride and groom. He could have performed this astounding miracle so all could see His unlimited power as the Son of God. But Jesus didn’t for two reasons. First of all, He knew that wouldn’t be the right way to reveal Himself to the world. That wasn’t the Father’s plan. Secondly, while drama and sparkle would get Him fame and applause, that wasn’t what Jesus was seeking. Jesus wanted people to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. He wanted true devotion, not people to come to His show.

Jesus knew that true devotion is not produced from the mere seeing of miracles. True devotion springs from faith. And faith comes from seeing and believing what the miraculous signs of Jesus point to.

This is the Messiah. The promised Savior. The Son of God.

That’s why your voice has power. When you talk about your Savior to friends and family, your voice has real power because it can serve as a sign that points to the Savior.

Imagine an old sign on the side of the road. It’s been there for years. It’s faded. It’s got some bullet holes in it and a sticker or two on it. But it says, “Stop”. And when people see it and understand what it means, they stop.

When you tell people about how everyone on the planet was born a sinner and was doomed to hell, but then God’s Son became one of us to win us forgiveness for us, and lead us to heaven – that Gospel is a sign which lights up like neon and points to salvation.

Each of you has your own witness to bear, your own sign to hold. You know how God has had mercy on you. And you can talk about that easily enough. Your sign might not be perfect, but if it points to the Savior, its good enough. That’s what counts. He’s what counts. And His Holy Spirit will work through you when you hold up His cross for others to see.

In Cana, the disciples who had recently joined up with Jesus saw the sign of water to wine. They understood what that sign pointed to. Because it pointed to Jesus as the Son of God, their faith was built stronger. This man WAS from God. This man IS from God. He is our Savior.

I invite you to pray with me.


Holy Spirit give us eyes to see the miracles that Jesus is still doing in the lives of His people. Father, give us the honor of pointing others to Your Son with every part of our lives. Jesus, be near us today and every day. Hear our praise. Direct our lives. Remake us in Your image, dear Savior. Amen.

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