Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thirsty for Wine

John 2:1-11.

According to the gospel of John the first miracle of Jesus was to change water into wine. I have often wondered why this would be the first miracle Jesus would choose to perform. Why would he not heal someone or raise someone from the dead? Wouldn’t calming a storm be a more fitting first miracle? Verse 11 tells us that the result of this miracle was that Jesus revealed His glory and His disciples believed in Him. Wouldn’t a healing have been a better foundation for faith? Why did Jesus choose to turn water into wine for a crowd at a wedding who had already drunk enough wine to not notice the quality of the wine they were served (verse 10)?

The hosts had run out of wine. This was a serious breach of hospitality in middle-eastern culture and Jesus’ mother was concerned for the wedding party. This would not look good for them and might have had longer-term relational impacts in the community. Despite Jesus’ initial words (verse 4), He also shares His mother’s concern and decides to do something about it. It may not yet have been the precise time for God in the flesh to reveal His glory in a miracle but He shows compassion for this human situation. So He brings out a 750 ml bottle of table wine and adds it to the banquet table. No, He decides to supply the party with at least 450 litres of wine (the equivalent of 600 bottles of wine). And it is good wine; the best wine that had been served that day and maybe the best wine that has ever been consumed.

Jesus uses the six stone water-pots which were normally used for the Jewish custom of purification (verse 6). In contrast to their usual solemn and legalistic use, Jesus uses them to make wine, which as Psalm 104:15 says “makes man's heart glad.” He blesses a wedding with a gift of joy and ushers in a new joyful Kingdom of God on earth. Wine is freely offered in an abundant supply just as His own blood will one day, when His time has come, be poured out for all.*

Jesus looks deeper than the immediate needs of humans and offers abundance for our true needs. I know that I can joyfully trust Him to supply my true needs.

*Some thoughts in this paragraph have been gleaned from RVG Tasker in the Tyndale Commentary on The Gospel According to St. John. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1977.

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