John 2 Running Out of Wine and Other Messes Jesus Cares About
John 2:1-12On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and 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 and 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.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
I’ve been in church my whole life and the discussions about the story of Jesus turning water into wine kind of crack me up. Here are a few that I’ve heard: What was the symbolism of this? What is the deeper meaning? Why did he start with this miracle? Why did John include this in his short narrative when there were so many other things Jesus did? Why did he use ceremonial cleansing jugs? Why did he call Mary, woman? What is the significance of the 6 jars? Had people been washing their hands in the jars? And most importantly: How can we make this fit in with our strict alcohol prohibition? LOL It is funny how hard we work to find deeper meaning when the literal, obvious, meaning should cause us to have our mind blown.
It is important to remember that the verse numbers and chapters were not part of John’s original writing. They are just there so modern readers have an easier time reading stuff out of context! LOL The story of Jesus turning water into wine, is part of the same narrative where Jesus called his disciples in chapter 1. John introduces his narrative by saying, “Jesus is God and he came to show us who God is and give us an opportunity to have a relationship with him”. John basically gives us a heads up: pay close attention to everything Jesus did and taught because he embodies everything God wants us to know. I think if church people really believed that Jesus turned water into wine, we would spend more time being in awe of this beautiful amazing miracle and take it at face value: God came to earth in human form! He has power over all of the elements and he cares about everyday things like his family being embarrassed by running out of wine at a wedding celebration. Basically, I think John included this miracle because it totally rocked! It’s simple and relatable. It’s about an everyday messy problem and Jesus cared and ruled over it.
But why aren't church people excited about this miracle? Why do so many people try to change it?
I think that the hardest thing Christians are called on to believe is that God is with us. That when we set out to follow him, he promises to stay with us in all of our messes. He cares and we don't deserve it, we can't control him, and we can't earn his love. All we can do is live in gratitude for what he has done. In our pride, we all want more.
We want our lives to be comfortable and easy (so not messy) and we want to control the uncertainty of our futures. We want to find deep theology that no one else understands. We want to be special and set apart.
What Jesus offers us is something different, better, and harder to fully comprehend: a relationship with him.
I think that what I'm talking about is the reason why so many of the most broken and sinful people flocked to Jesus and the religious elite scorned him. If there really is a God that created this whole universe, messy people like me know that we have no hope of impressing him or getting in by our ability to obey rules. We are banking on Jesus' crazy promise that if we follow him, he'll get us in.