A Miracle With A Message- John 2:1-10

In John chapter 2, Jesus performs His first miracle at a wedding in Cana. Miracles are generally understood to serve as verification of Jesus power and of who he is, but the miracle performed here does more than that, it tells us something, it is a miracle with a message. Verses one and two serve as an introduction to the story, informing us that a wedding was taking place and that Jesus, His mother and His disciples were at this wedding. In verse 3, we find that the wedding had run out of wine (weddings were often a weeklong celebration), and Jesus’ mother says to Him “They have no more wine”, with the implication here being that she is asking Him to do something about it. Is she asking for a miracle here? Probably not, for it is now only the fifth day since the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus (John 1:32-33) and the first time she has seen Him since then, so she is probably unaware of this, she is simply asking Him to do what He can to help them. His response, in verse 4, seems rather enigmatic, beginning with His calling her “dear woman”. Some see this as disrespectful or rude, but the literal translation of this Greek word is “my lady”, and it was a perfectly normal and proper way for a son to address his mother. He then asks her “why do you involve me? My time has not yet come”. Why does He respond in this way, is He being disrespectful here? Absolutely not. As His mother, she has asked Him to do whatever He can to help them get more wine, and He knows He must honor His mother by obeying her request, but He also knows who He is and what His mission is, and is not ready to reveal who He is at this point (hence His response “My time has not yet come”). He knows He must honor His mother (one of the Ten Commandments), so He must now perform this miracle even though He is reluctant to do so. His mother then tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them. Nearby stood six stone water jars, which John tells us are “the kind used by the Jews for purification”. This is a critical detail in the story and helps us understand the message Jesus is giving us in the working of this miracle. These jars were the kind used in Jewish purification rituals. Anyone who was “defiled” (from contact with anything “unclean”) must be purified with water, must have their defilement cleansed before being able to enter the temple, to come into the presence of God. Jesus takes the water in these jars and changes it into wine. The “practical” reason for this miracle is to provide more wine for the wedding, but something much more profound is also going on here. In Matthew 26:28, Jesus, at the Last Supper, tells His disciples that “this cup (of wine) is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”. The wine here is equated with blood, the wine “represents” the blood of Jesus, and in the same way, the wine at the wedding also “represents” blood. In John 2, the wine replaces the water, water that was used for purification from defilement, water which cleansed and enabled the one cleansed by it to enter into the presence of God. By replacing the water with wine, Jesus is telling us here that the method for cleansing from defilement has now changed, that no longer will water cleanse from defilement, it now will require blood to do so. We are now able to enter into the presence of God because blood was shed to cleanse us from all defilement. This was a miracle with a message, not simply the providing of wine for a wedding, but an announcement by Jesus that a new order of things had begun, that the Old Testament system was no longer in effect, that His coming had changed everything. The story then concludes, in verse 10, with what is commonly seen as a superfluous remark, but this is not so, for every word in the Scripture tell us something, none of it is superfluous. The gist of the remark is that it is normal to serve the “superior” wine first, then the “inferior” wine later when no one would notice, but in this case the wine which came later was the “superior” one. So just what is this verse “telling” us? We return to the concept of purification, for the Old Testament also provided another means of purification from more serious sins in the sacrifice of an animal. The blood of bulls and goats was also used as a means of purification from defilement. Remember here that wine symbolizes blood, and the superior wine which comes later here is the blood of Jesus the Lamb of God, while the inferior wine which comes sooner is the blood of bulls and goats of the Old Testament sacrifices. The “message” in this miracle is that now that Jesus has come there is a new order of things, that purification from defilement, that cleansing from sin would now come in one way and one way only, through the shed blood of the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The old order of purification from defilement was no longer valid, the blood of bulls and goats and water of the temple would no longer cleanse from sin, only the blood of the New Covenant would do so, and this is the message which Jesus gives in the performing of this miracle.

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