Water to Wine
I want to look at the first miracle that's recorded in the earthly ministry of Christ…that miracle which occurred at a wedding in Cana where water was turned into wine. Weddings are festive occasions. Our Lord really shows God's support of the wedding ceremony by His attendance at the wedding in Cana. The actual ceremony itself was something God honors and God attends. My understanding is that often weddings in the Jewish culture were held on Wednesdays, of all things, in the middle of the week. It was a day given over to celebration of the wedding of a young couple.
Back in this day Cana was a much smaller village than it is even today. And perhaps even the entire village turns out for the wedding between a bride and a groom, both of whom are either related or certainly befriended by the residents. It seems as though the mother of Jesus also is acquainted with this family, or she is attending the wedding. And we learn Jesus and His disciples, who are from Galilee at this point, have also been invited to this wedding.
So it's an exciting and festive occasion, and an occasion where (if you know the story) the wine that is served at the celebration of the wedding runs out, and Jesus is asked by his mother to take care of it, to do something about it…an embarrassment actually to the bridegroom. As you read the story you come to understand there is a host of the wedding, a master of the reception, if you will. But we discover the bridegroom is the one in charge of the celebration or the reception and the one who is really in charge of the elements such as the wine being handed out. It is a crisis, therefore, certainly an embarrassment potentially because they have run out of the wine too soon. More guests or just not enough provisions to begin with.
On the great scale of things a very trivial, small thing, but the Bible is a very small book, so it doesn't waste time with trivial things. We just have to discover what appears maybe to be a minor thing is there for a very important purpose, and we are to discover some things as we look at the miracle, this first miracle, of the water being turned into wine…what it is we learn about Jesus. There are some great principles here as we look at this today.
I want to invite you to read with me as we look at John, chapter 2, beginning in the first verse, it says, "On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine.' Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.'"
Now I want to just stop right there because Jesus' response to his mother in our western ear certainly sounds that it's rude. It sounds abrupt. We know that culturally it was accepted to call your mother by the name mother. But here He doesn't call her mother. He calls her woman. Now in and of itself that's not rude, and we know Christ lived His entire life without sin, so we know it is not sinful what He has done. But it is very interesting, isn't it? He doesn't address her as mother, but what I guess in the western culture would be the equivalent of ma'am. Woman in the western culture in our ear sounds very rude and very dismissive, but in that culture it's the equivalent of us saying, "Yes ma'am and no ma'am."
But it is important that he doesn't address her by the family title, and that's there for a very important reason. We see throughout the ministry of Christ that whenever He is approached in a family context He always broadens it. There is a time when He is ministering in a home and they come to Him and say, "Your mother and brothers are outside waiting on you." Now in a normal family context that might mean you need to stop what you're doing and you need to go to your family. But if you'll remember if you've studied that, Jesus says, "Here is my mother and brothers right in front of me."
Right here what Jesus is showing in John, the first four verses, is He is showing He is an obedient son…an obedient son. Now you might say, "Well, that's not very obedient being so abrupt and so brusque with his mother." But He is being obedient, it's just He's showing His obedience to His Father. Notice what He says. He says, "My hour has not yet come." In other words, even though a family has come and made a request of Me, I'm not going to do anything at all outside of the will of My Father. I'm not going to allow a flesh-and-blood connection to overrule the spiritual connection and spiritual provisions the Father has made for Me.
He would tell us all throughout the gospels, "I have come to do the will of My Father; I and My Father are one, and nothing is going to stand in the way of that." You know you and I especially in this room ought to be very thankful for that because that means that He did not allow His Jewish-ness to overrule His reaching out to the Gentile world. He did not just bring salvation only to the Sons of Abraham, but He brought it to all of those the Father desired to be saved.
So we see here He is letting us know, and John the apostle when he wrote this, he knows how that's going to sound when it's read. The Lord knows how it's going to sound when He said that. He wants us to know above everything else, obeying the will of the Father was His priority. He's not going to pull a rabbit out of a hat, He's not going to just do a little trick He might have the power to do just because a mother, just because someone who had an earthly connection with Him came to Him. Boy what a powerful lesson that is for us. Our top priority really is above even our own family, above even our own friends, above our job, above our career. Our top priority is to be to the Father, to our Heavenly Father. What He tells us to do should be the motivating and driving factor of our life.
Now Mary hears this, and she doesn't get mad. It's as though she is in tune with the Savior because in verse 5 she makes a statement to the servants. She says in verse 5, "His mother said to the servants, 'Whatever He says to you, do it.'" Now the 'it' has been added for our English, but literally it says, "Whatever He says to you, do…do." In other words, this is the Savior. This is the Messiah. I trust Him. I trust He's going to take care of this situation. He's just indicated to me that He's only going to do what's in the Father's will and I know that the Father's will is the best in this situation. So whatever He says to you, you just simply do that.
Isn't it interesting that after Jesus saying, "What does this concern Me?" You know, "My hour has not come." He turns around and He turns the water into wine. You know He could have just said, "You know listen, Mom, I know. I'll take care of it." Jesus is teaching. He's showing His Messiah-ship. He's showing He's about the will of His Father, and He's about to show that in the performance of this first miracle.
There are some important lessons for us to learn as we read through the text here this morning, some important principles we can take with us as we consider this matter of water to wine. You know in the graphic that's before you, some things you'll notice, of course you have the clear water pouring and turning into the red wine, but if you're clever and cynical like me you're wondering, "Well, I don't think they had a glass goblet in the first century." Well that's true, but unless you're an artist how are you going to show it turning into wine if it goes into a clay jar? And the second thing, we do have clear goblets today, and Jesus still metaphorically turns the water into wine. That's what I want to show you today.
The first principle, even as we go forward, is that commands as a rule precede blessings. Commands precede blessings. We have a command here. Verse 6, "Now there were set there six water pots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, 'Fill the water pots with water.'" This is the command He gives. A seemly strange command, but in order for the blessing to come, simple obedience needs to take place. You think about it, often Jesus would give commands before the blessing. There is a command to follow and a blessing that followed after that command.
For instance, the blind man…Jesus applies that mudpack to his eyes. And what does he say, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." He didn't say, "Okay, that's good enough. Here's your eyesight." He gives him a seemly disconnected command which Jesus follows. The man with the limp arm, Jesus says, "Stretch out your hand." Rather than just healing his hand He first gives him a command, and it's when he obeys the command that the blessing follows.
You remember that young girl, Tabitha who is dead and lying on the bed, and Jesus says, "Tabitha," literally little girl, "Arise." And her blessing of life comes in obeying the simple command. To Lazarus, Jesus says, "Lazarus, come forth." And the blessing to Lazarus' life follows the simple obedience to the command. And so it's true with the lost, it's true with those who have not found Christ in a personal relationship. The command is very simple, and the command is followed by a blessing. The Bible tells us the command is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. There's a command followed by a blessing. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. A command followed by a blessing.
And you know it's true for the church also. Jesus gives a command over there in Matthew 28:19. He says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; [and here's the blessing] and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." The command is to go and make disciples by baptizing them, by teaching them, and the blessing is, "I'll never leave you. I'll be with you until the end of all things," Jesus says. So commands precede blessing, and the command here is, "Fill the water pot…fill the water pots."
You know there's a second principle, it's sort of a sub-principle, I guess (if you will) and that is that commands are to be obeyed and not questioned. I think that's a problem we often have in our life and certainly the world often has with the commands of God because sometimes the command does seem unrelated to the issue.
You're having problems with your children. They're wayward, and the command of Scripture is to give them over to God and to trust Jesus with them. And you're thinking, "Man, that's so unconnected. I have an immediate problem. I need immediate help, and you're telling me to just give it back over to Jesus." The problem here seems very similar, and the solution Jesus is offering (His command) seems so disconnected.
Listen, they wanted wine, not water. He says, "Fill the water pots." You know the water pots are down just a little bit. Maybe just a brief discussion, those are there for purification purposes. They would come and ceremonially, they would cleanse themselves. It represented a purification from sins, which is very, very deep when you realize what Jesus is about to do, and really the ultimate purpose of this miracle. And here they are going through this ceremony with water trying to wash away their sins, but water doesn't wash away your sins. Does it? No, you need something redder than that. But it seems somewhat like it has nothing to do with what their problem is at the time.
I mean, it's a wedding, not a purification ceremony. Why do they need more water there? And listen, there are critics who abound today, who question the ways of our Lord, who rebel at His ageless commands. Why? Because they don't seem to have anything to do with our problem right now. But you have to learn commands are to be obeyed and not questioned…not questioned. Sometimes we don't see the connection between simple trust and rescue.
You know, we wonder, "How can church attendance, church involvement…how's that going to help my already too busy, already out-of-control life?" It doesn't seem that 'A' has anything to do with 'B' often, but the Bible says that commands are to be obeyed and not questioned. "Fill the water pots with water." Christ sees a connection between the water and the wine, although we don't always see it. He sees a connection between the command that He gives us to live in our daily life and the rescue we need and the provision we need in life; although, we don't always see it.
Sometimes the command seems to have nothing to do with reality, and yet what we don't understand is how we're going to turn water into wine. It's the wine we need in life, and Jesus is telling us to do something with water and we're wondering what one has to do with the other. Listen, many troubled souls think simply to believe in Jesus is too little a thing. We need penance, or lots of tears, or a broken heart, or a dramatic story, but to just simply trust Jesus with your life, to just receive a free gift, that just doesn't seem to make sense. One doesn't seem to have anything to do with the other. But oh the principle, when Jesus is about to give a blessing, He issues a command that is to be obeyed and not questioned. So Mary has said, "Whatever He tells you to do, do."
My friend I tell you this morning, whatever Scripture tells you to do, do. Just do. There are blessings that will follow the simple obedience to the command even when the command doesn't seem to have anything to do with your problem. "I need money for my family. What is studying the Bible going to do for me? It's going to take time out that I need to be spending working. I need my relationship restored. What is coming to church going to have to help me with? I need somebody to talk to my estranged spouse or my relationship. I need somebody to deal with it immediately." And often we don't see the connection, but it's because we don't know how to turn water into wine. But Jesus does.
Notice at the last part of verse 7. I think this is so key…it's a small thing, but again, John records. It's something he remembered. It's something he wanted us to remember. Jesus said to them, "Fill the water pots with water," and notice this, "and they, [the servants] filled them up to the brim." Oh my friend, is there a lesson here? Yeah, I think so. Listen, they filled it up until it was ready to overflow. In other words, they obeyed, but not half-heartedly. All right? Not the minimum required, but all they could do. That's what obeying the command is always about. It's not the minimum obedience, but it's complete obedience.
The Bible tells us to believe. Well then believe with all your might. Trust Him with all your whole heart. Don't just trust Him on Sunday. Don't just trust Him with Bible things, but trust Him with every aspect of your life. Trust Him completely. Let your trust go to the brim when it comes to trusting the Lord. We're to preach the gospel, but Paul tells us we're to preach it in season and out of season. In other words, when it's acceptable, and when it's unacceptable; when it's easy to do, and when it's not easy to do.
You share your faith not just with someone who is already a Christian, but someone who will repulse you for trying to share your faith. You don't just say, "I'll be a witness." Be a witness to the full. Always be ready to give an account for the life that exists in you. Do it zealously. We're told to repent, and repentance by its very definition is a deep and lasting change, not just a sorrow, not just an, "I got caught." But a, "I'm going to change my life. I am going to do something now to overcome this addiction, to overcome this sin, to overcome my mouth, to overcome my temper, to overcome the things that are blocking me from full fellowship with God. I'm going to pour everything I have into it. I'm going to fill it to the brim. I'm going to obey and I'm going to leave no part of that obedience undone."
Join the church. Man, when you join the church join everything about it…the Sunday school, the fellowships, the business meetings. Don't just pick a part out and say, "Well, I have that taken care of." If you're going to join…join it all. Get entirely involved in the plans and the purposes of God. When you do, realize this, when you determine you're going to obey the commands of God, you're going to obey them to the brim, you have to understand our actions alone are not sufficient. We do fill it to the brim, but my friends, these servants brought water, and it stayed water. It was water they poured into those purification jars. And it was water when they were through pouring it in. All they could do was obey.
The guests would not have thought cold water to be the proper liquid. It would be like going to a reception, going to a fellowship and there not being a pot of coffee for the preacher. You know, water is not going to do it. Sprite is not going to take care of it. Okay? These guests were not going to be happy with somebody dipping water out of the purification jar that I just put my hands in…and 400 other people in the village just put their hands in. And it's doing all they can do, but when they've done all they can do it's insufficient. It's insufficient. It took the power of the Word to make it effectual, to make it into wine.
After all that sinners can do and all that saints can do, after we've done all we can do, nothing can save without the power of the Word. When Paul has planted and Apollos has watered, there's still no increase without God. We are to plant. We are to water, but we are to know there's no increase until God gives it. It is God who blesses the effort.
We preach with power. We labor for souls. We fill the water pots, but there's no power in any of it until Jesus Christ displays it. He is the one who turns our water into wine. We fill the water pots with water, and He will turn it into wine. He always can do it. He alone can do it. His servants who have filled the water pots, by the way, are the first ones to testify that it is so because they know they just put water in there.
You know that was a weak effort when you taught that Sunday school class to those 5th and 6th graders, those 3rd and 4th graders, and then here comes one who receives Christ as salvation. You know all you did was pour water in the water pot, and that salvation was an act of God. It wasn't the cleverness of your tongue.
Something happened, and your water became wine. Something happened and your efforts became a blessing in someone's life. You lived your life in front of them, and you know more the sins you committed in front of them than the godliness you displayed in front of them, but you did the best you could. You lived your life the fullest you could, but it's still water. But Christ can take that and He can make it into the wine they so desperately need.
Transcribed by Digital Sermon Transcription