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If you've ever been to a wedding reception, you probably remember having lots of food to eat and wedding punch to drink. Can you imagine how embarrassed the bride and bridegroom would be if people were standing in line to get punch and were told the punch had run out? The wedding guests would know that the hosts hadn't planned properly, and in a hot climate like Israel, their thirst would certainly aggravate the situation. This is what occurred at this wedding in the village of Cana that Jesus, His mother and disciples attended.
When Mary told Jesus about the wine running out, Jesus responded with words we wouldn't have expected. "How does that concern you and me?" Jesus asked. "My time has not yet come" (John 2:4). If we read through the whole Gospel of John, we discover that Jesus spoke often about His "time" coming, and it becomes obvious that He was always referring to the time when He would die for the sins of the world. So when Jesus responded to Mary's statement about the lack of wine, He must have been thinking about people lacking, not wine, but something that wouldn't be provided until He died. It's possible that Jesus was referring to His own blood, which was symbolized by wine at the Last Supper. Or He may have been speaking about the Holy Spirit, who is sometimes symbolized by wine in the New Testament. Everyone needs to have his sins forgiven through the shedding of Jesus' blood and be born again by the Holy Spirit. Both of those are much greater needs than wine running out at a wedding feast. Jesus was concerned about much more important things than Mary was.
Jesus, however, must have been somewhat concerned about the lack of wine at the wedding feast because He performed a miracle to solve the problem. That miracle may also have had a deeper spiritual meaning, because Jesus didn't change just any water into wine---He changed water that was used by the Jews for the purpose of purification rites into wine. Because of the many laws that God gave the Jews to keep, they were very conscious (or aware) of their sinfulness, and they were always trying to keep themselves symbolically purified by various washings with water. But since Jesus died for us, cleansing us from all the guilt of our sins, we don't need any other way of getting spiritually clean. Knowing that we're cleansed, we can now enjoy ourselves, drinking Jesus' good wine. Now we can really celebrate!
But isn't it wrong to drink anything that is alcoholic? If so, why did Jesus change water into wine that day?
Historians tell us that the Jews always diluted their wine with water, so the amount of alcohol in their wine was very small. It was more like what we today call "grape juice" than what we today call wine. We must also remember that, other than water, wine was practically the only beverage people could drink back in Jesus' day, and the water that was available was often contaminated and undrinkable in the villages and cities. We have many choices of beverages today, so no one has to drink wine. Christians don't all agree if it is wrong for them to drink alcoholic beverages, but one thing all true Christians agree on is this: the Bible very clearly says that it is a sin to get drunk. Getting drunk starts with one drink, and if that one drink begins to cloud a person's thinking, he might more easily yield to the temptation for another drink and then another. The safest thing to do is completely abstain from all alcoholic drinks.
Alcohol has caused a lot of heartaches to multitudes of people. Many babies have been born with deformities because their mothers drank alcohol when they were pregnant. Many innocent people have been killed by drunk drivers. Many families have been ruined by parents who became addicted to alcohol. Because alcohol is responsible for so much that is evil and sinful, my advice to Christians is to abstain from drinking it at all. John certainly didn't record this miracle of Jesus changing water into watered-down wine for the purpose of encouraging Christians to drink modern alcoholic beverages. He recorded this miracle to prove that Jesus was the Son of God and to remind us of the wonderful salvation He's provided for us!
Q. Did you notice that the wine Jesus made was described by the master of ceremonies as being better than the first wine that ran out? Does this teach us anything about God?
A. Perhaps it does. It shows us that when God does something, He does a quality job, and He wants us to enjoy the best He has to offer us. He has provided a wonderful salvation for us that includes loads of benefits for all eternity, not just a temporary fixer-upper salvation that puts a band-aid on our problem. He doesn't want us to have mediocre families, but quality families, with truly loving relationships. Are you enjoying all the benefits of what God has to offer us?
Q. Does this miracle of Jesus' changing water into wine teach us anything about God's power?
A. Yes, it shows us that God can change anything into something else. If you believe in Jesus, He has changed you from a child of Satan into His own child. One day God will change your physical body into a brand new body that glows with His glory.
Application: Because of this first miracle, Jesus' disciples believed in Him. For us, this miracle is one more proof that Jesus truly is the Son of God, and because we believe He is, we should trust and obey Him.