“A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. [John 2:10-11 (NLT)]
When the catering manager pulled me aside and said we had a problem, my mind rushed through various scenarios that could turn our daughter’s wedding into a fiasco. When he admitted not having the wine I’d ordered weeks earlier, I got nervous but, when he offered to substitute a better wine at a lower price, I heaved a sigh of relief and recalled another wedding when the guests unexpectedly got better wine! This happened 18 years ago but I still remember it whenever I read about Jesus’ miracle at Cana. The guests at our daughter’s wedding had no idea why they enjoyed such good wine and neither did the guests at that wedding 2,000 years ago.
Our daughter had a small destination wedding but weddings in Jesus’ day were a community celebration and the host typically invited as many as he could. The Jewish culture was one of hospitality and the festivities often lasted as long as a week. Not having the right wine was a minor glitch for us but running out of wine at that wedding was a disastrous breach of etiquette for the groom whose responsibility was to provide enough food and drink.
Perhaps Mary knew of the shortage because she was one of the women serving food. In any case, she knew that her son could fix a bad situation and instructed the servants to do whatever He said. Jesus told them to fill six stone jugs with water and then take some to the master of the banquet (whose duty was to oversee the entertainment and supervise the distribution of food and drink) for sampling. Upon tasting the wine, he expressed his surprise that the groom had reserved the best wine for the end when the guests’ palates had dulled.
Jesus’ first miracle tells us a great deal about our Lord. Prior to this, during His 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, He’d refused Satan’s temptation to use His power to satisfy His hunger. In Cana, Jesus used His power to serve others rather than Himself. Out of compassion, He prevented the disgrace of insufficient wine from haunting the newlyweds for the rest of their lives. The vessels Jesus had the servants fill were special stone jars set aside for sacred purposes and reserved for ceremonial washing. The Jews were meticulous about their rituals and these vessels would never have been used for wine. Nevertheless, as Jesus later demonstrated by healing on the Sabbath, touching the unclean, and eating with sinners, compassion and love were the new way to fulfill God’s law.
The servants were told to fill the jugs all the way to the brim. Rather than adding something to the water, Jesus changed it! He doesn’t just improve lives; He transforms them and turns sinners into saints! Because of Jesus, rather than the best wine being served first, it was served last. It was a sign of new and better things to come: a new covenant of grace that was better than the old one of the law. We see Jesus’ humility in a miracle done so quietly that only the servants and His disciples knew what had happened. It was the bridegroom, not Jesus, who got the credit for the superb vintage. We also see the richness of life that Jesus offers. Those six jugs would have provided enough wine, not just for the wedding feast, but for the entire village for several weeks.
Jesus came out of love so it is fitting that His first recorded miracle occurred at a wedding feast—a joyful celebration of love. From the outset of His ministry, it was clear that Jesus’ message was not one of asceticism and severity but one of love, joy, and abundance. Like the better wine served at our daughter’s wedding, there’s no extra cost to us; God’s grace is free. It was Jesus who paid the price for our salvation.
The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation. [Adrian Rogers]