When Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, it was the very first miracle Jesus performed that is written in the Bible. I love this story for so many little beautiful reasons. One reason being, it is in this story that we find Jesus in a situation that would make most fundamental religious Christians, well, let us say, a little uncomfortable. Just imagine this, Jesus the Son of God, God Incarnate, One With God and is God and we find him hanging outside of the church, and not afraid of the everyday life, and, even more so, we find this God who holds the titles Holy, Just, Pure and Righteous, is at a party, a party with real alcoholic wine being served and being drunk to excess that can last 7 days. And you know what? He didn’t sit there judging everyone for getting drunk, he didn’t try and preach to them about their sins and drunkenness, nor did he tell them what’s wrong about being drunk or try to shut it down (not that I’m encouraging drunkenness, but it certainly makes us think about our approach to people in situations).
Another reason I love this story is that he does something that was certainly taboo at the time. He takes the water that was to be used for religious purification purposes only; water that was to only be used by the priests and priest alone. I can only liken this act to converting the baptism pool at church into wine before a baptism is to be placed. Are you taken back by this irreligious God yet? No? Okay, let’s continue, on top of all that, the total amount of wine that Jesus made was about 120-180 gallons or 450 to 680 liters of wine, which is equivalent to 600–900 bottles of the finest wine. So let’s take a modern day equivalent to the finest wine. A cheap-priced wine costs about $5 -15 per bottle. That alone would be worth over $13,000, so a finest wine could cost 100’s of dollars, if not 1000’s, per bottle. But let’s say we were to buy the finest wine at a supermarket, the most expensive common bottle of wine I have seen was around $100. This value for the wine would be over $90,000, a price fit for kings or a mega celebrity, and this is the wine that was only provided well after everyone was drunk.
Those reasons are not my number one reason for why I love this story, there is something so much more than controversy at a party, or a miracle as big at this, but within this story we can see an amazing insight into the heart of God. But before I share that, let us read the story first to refresh our memories…
John 2:2-10 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
It’s an incredible thing, what Jesus did, no doubt about that. Can you just fathom being there and seeing Jesus converting water into wine? But, one thing we have missed or I have never heard growing up in the western church is the human aspect of this story.
Today it is not widely known that when it came to Jewish weddings of the time, the groom had only one responsibility for the whole wedding and that was to provide the alcohol for the reception. Now before we judge this groom for running out of wine, it is not the easiest thing to accomplish, especially when weddings can go on for up to 7 days, But the pressure on the groom was so great that to get this wrong and run out of wine in the middle of the celebration would have been classed as social suicide. This would have created great shame towards the groom and the bride and it would have ruined the whole marriage; this failure to provide the necessary wine would always be held over their heads by the community for the rest of their lives. So when Jesus turned the water into wine, he was not showing how much he can party but he actually rescued the groom and the bride from this horrible situation.
Then when you take into the consideration what is stated in verse 10 “Everyone serves the good wine first”, implying that no one in their right mind would give the good wine at the end party, for in their mind, the common thing to do was to swap the good wine to the cheaper wine to reduce the costs.
So when Jesus turned the water to the finest of wines at the end of the wedding and then not telling anyone and glorifying himself but rather letting the master of the feast think it was the groom that provided the wine, Jesus not only rescued the groom and his marriage, but he caused the groom to become a hero, an instant celebrity. It created huge honor and respect for the groom and it surely would have set the groom, the bride, and their marriage up for life.
Wow! What a God, he is surely good!