Christ’s Miracle of Changing Water Into Wine
Text: John 2:1-11
When we step into John 2, we’re stepping into the commencement of the the Saviour’s public ministry in Galilee, and his first public miracle which happens to take place at a wedding feast. Now if you know anything about weddings in those days, you will know that they lasted several days, which no doubt meant there was a challenge in providing the necessary supplies to cover the needs of the entire event. On this occasion those needs aren’t met as well as intended, for they run out of wine.
The prominence of Mary in this scene, indicates the strong possibility that she was a close relative or close friend of those putting on this wedding.
v4 – the language appears harsh in english, but not so in greek. It’s more like ‘lady’, and to charge the Lord with harshness here would be to forget that He used the same term when charging John to take care of her while He hung upon the Cross. Here He speaks to her as her Lord. “what have I to do with thee” – Hebraism that was used to indicate a difference in thinking or opinion. It’s not easy to translate, but what is clear is that the Lord gives a mild reproof, and may essentially have been, ‘if I intervene it will be in my time and for my purpose’.
You see, according to scripture, concerning the events surrounding the virgin birth of our Lord, we read that she, “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Lk 2:19). She knew that He was Messiah, she has now observed the Forerunner, the baptism, and now there are those who have become His followers, and Mary is anxious that the whole nation know that this is the Messiah!
There are few people as motivated to brag as a proud mother. When a mother is proud of her child, it takes everything in her power to not brag about it, and some would sicken others with their boasting. Well, Mary was anxious that the world know Jesus is the Messiah, and the Lord is essentially saying, ‘if I intervene it will be in my time and for my purpose, my hour isn’t even come’.
And John is going to speak a lot of of this hour, which we will discover in ch 12 refers to the hour of his suffering and the glory of His death. And the concern of Jesus was not vain popularity, but manifesting the glory of His redemptive work, and this is highlighted in v11 – “the beginning of the signs” (the first of the eight signs John records).
1:14 John had said that they beheld His glory, and this is the beginning of the unveiling of that glory.
I. THE MYSTERY OF IT
Did He create alcoholic wine? Most can’t think of wine except it be alcoholic. But the word itself doesn’t tell us. The word was used to refer to the fruit on the vine, fresh pressed grape juice, a beverage made from the syrup left after boiling the fluid and alcohol out of the juice, to alcoholic wine.
Now since this miracle was essentially an act of creation, and since alcoholic wine is only alcoholic because of the decaying process of fermentation, that one could argue the Lord would not have created something in a decayed state. Dr. Alan Cairns believes this and Dr. John MacArthur also believes in the strong possibility of this.
We must keep in mind that the terms ‘wine’ or ‘strong drink’ needs to be interpreted by context. We should keep in mind that regardless of what people say, scripture is quite negative about beverages which in context we know is alcoholic.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Prov 20:1 “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” Prov 23:31-32 “It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” Prov 31:4-5
But let’s say for a moment that it was alcoholic. Historically, wine in Palestine would be fermented for a 2-6%. It could be fermented to 14% max, but that made it like vinegar. And even though it was weaker, it was still often diluted. Is that what Christians are drinking today? No. They’re indulging in large glasses of 12-14% wine, which was barbaric to the Jew. And the arguments for maintaining the liberty to drink alcoholic wine often reflect two things, i) carnality, ii) inconsideration for the weaker brethren.
II. THE MOMENT OF IT
i) The Moment Identified – At what point does the miracle take place? Often with the miracles of the Lord, we find Him saying something, or praying something, or touching the person, etc, and at that point we see the miracle take place. But in this I want you to see that the Lord doesn’t do any of that. He commands the servants to fill the water pots with water and then serve it, and it seems that as they serve it or when it’s in the cup, the miracle takes place v9
There is not action or word. It takes place by a act of His will at the point that it’s served. Jn 17:24
ii) The Moment Illustrated – a lot of people want to see or fully understand salvation before they embrace it, but you can’t do that. Note that if these servants demanded that the water be wine before they served it, they would never have experienced the miracle – v9.
The miracle takes place either as they serve it out, or when it was in the cup. And when you stand outside Christ and look at His salvation from outside, it may not seem like much. But when you take a step of faith, you realize that what seemed like dull water before, is actually the best tasting beverage you’ve ever had. That’s the experience of every Christian. We didn’t realize how great it would be to be a Christian before we became Christians. We realized our need, we acted on His promise to save us by faith, and thereafter began to realize that His salvation is the best thing ever to happen to us – v11 “believed on him”.
III. THE MEANING OF IT
The Jews hadn’t seen a miracle in centuries. And the purpose of the miracle isn’t to get caught up in the miracle, but to look to the one who performed it.
Was it a coincidence that this first miracle involved the very emblem He would later take to point to His shed blood? Was it a coincidence that when dealing with His mother, the Lord spoke of the hour of His glorification where He would shed His blood for the remission of many?
i) Christ’s ability to change the nature of something – The water was just water. It was tasteless, i.e. it was lifeless. And that’s how man is. Man without Christ is lifeless. But Christ has the power to change the very nature of it and give life where there was no life. This is the power of the Creator John spoke of 1:3.
ii) Christ’s ability to meet the need of man – In this miracle we have a group of people in need, depicting that Christ came into the world to meet the need of men. They had taken all that there was on offer and they were left thirsty and in need of more – that’s a picture of the world. If you drink the world’s wine, and go after the delights it offers, you will always feel you’re in need. You will never be satisfied. You take that which is good first and it leads to that which is worse (v10), and that’s what the world does. If you’re here without Christ, as you live your life that way, you are as happy as you will ever be. And part of God’s Hell is the existence of desires and cravings that are left unfulfilled.
You come here tonight and you have a need, and while your need amy seem insurmountable, I’m glad to point you to a Saviour with whom nothing is insurmountable. I point you to one that has both the power and will to receive sinners.
iii) Christ’s abundance of grace – in these 6 water pots there was something in the region of 100-150 gallons in total. And we reminded of the Lord’s abundance to supply the need. But this abundance does not diminish the quality, because this wine was better than anything they had tasted before. And this is what Christ’s grace supplies. Sinner, where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. If you go to Hell it’s not because of the lack in Jesus Christ, it’s because you’re unwillingness to receive His supply.
Close – the first miracle of Moses was to turn water into blood, as a sign of judgment upon Egypt. Now we have seen the first miracle of Jesus is to turn water into wine. Moses brought the Law which only calls for our judgement, whereas Jesus brought grace which brings us mercy. And we’re taught by the NT that wine is symbolic of cleansing as we see in the Good Samaritan, “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” Luke 10:34.
And that is why it is symbolic of the blood of Jesus. It’s the very thing you need sinner. You need the wine that flowed from the veins of the Son of God. Without the wine of Jesus there is no cleansing for sin. And as we come to the Table of the Lord tonight, we rejoice in the cup which symbolizes the cleansing of the blood of Jesus.
Perhaps there’s a backslider here tonight, and you desperately need fresh cleansing. Praise God there’s provision, just as there was at the wedding at Cana. Jesus makes provision that is able to meet the need of ALL you sin.