How Jesus’ First Miracle Reveals Our Poverty and His Provision
Morning, everybody. It’s great to see you. It’s uh, appreciate you coming out to today. Also greet those who are joining us online. Thank I wanna thank, uh, Randy and the worship team. I don’t think I could have chosen a better set of songs to set the stage for our study of the scripture. Today. We’re going to be looking at John chapter two.
It’s the account of Jesus’ first public miracle, turning water into wine. So if you have a Bible can pull that up and, uh, put your eyes on it. I’d like to begin our time by reading that. Out loud. And if you would just follow along
so what the scripture says on the third day, and we’ll just pause to say that phrase would make more sense if you also read John chapter one, but it really means third day, the third day, since Jesus had this encounter with Nathaniel. He’s outlining the first week of Jesus’ public ministry. So on the third day, a wedding took place at Caina 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. Dear woman, why do you involve me? Jesus replied. My time 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 20 to 30 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. No. 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 this, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee and his disciples put their faith in him.
some have considered Jesus’ first public miracle, turning water into wine as a luxury miracle asking the question. What did this miracle really accomplish? Was it truly necessary? Was it not just a miracle of convenience or luxury? It’s not as if a demon possessed person, um, Was released and freed from the clutches of Satan or a sick person, freed from a debilitating illness or a dead person brought back to life.
It was water turned into wine for a wedding. What was accomplished here? Was it simply the saving the newlywed couple from the embarrassment of running out of wine? Is that it. Or is it possible that there’s more going on here than at first is then as obvious at first? And I believe that there is, I want us to see in Jesus’ first public miracle, some significant truths about his message and his mission.
Not just for the wedding guests, but for us as well now to do that, our study is going to need to focus center around three questions that we’re going to attempt to answer the first is why did John include this miracle in his gospel? How does it fit in his overall purpose for writing? Our second question then is how are we to understand this seemingly awkward question conversation between Jesus and his mother?
And then finally, we’ll ask. How does the water to wine miracle point to Jesus’ suffering and to our salvation. So let’s start with this first question. Why did John include this miracle in his gospel? And I’ll give you a couple answers. First. First is this it’s not to address the propriety or impropriety of drinking wine.
So let’s just deal with this at, at the outset. No first century reader was wrestling with the question of whether Christians should drink wine. If you drank or enjoy a glass of wine, and if you appeal to this event from Jesus’ life to support that decision, you are not incorrect. Jesus miraculously creates a lot of high-quality wine for his friends to enjoy, but you might also be missing.
The reason for which John includes this miracle in his gospel. There’s something more important going on here now, I’ll just tell you where I am on that question. I made the decision that I’m not going to drink alcoholic beverages at all. And I’ve got a variety of reasons for that. Not the least of which is my desire to stand in solidarity solidarity with my brothers and sisters in recovery.
I’ve got 54 years of life of not drinking except for a sample here and there. And I can’t find a compelling reason why I should start now, but I’ve got a handful of good reasons why I shouldn’t and I don’t hesitate to commend that position to all of you. I do expect to drink eventually one day with Jesus kingdom.
He said to his disciples, I will not own the last at the last supper. The night of his betrayal. I. I will not drink the fruit of the vine again with you until that day we drink it a new in the father’s kingdom. So I think that’s going to be a good time for me to, uh, join Jesus in celebration like that.
But again, this is not a question that any good John’s readers in the first century were wrestling with. So here’s the second reason that I think we need to consider. John doesn’t include this because it was Jesus’ first miracle. Now the beginning is a very good place to start. But John’s goal is not to present a chronological biography of Jesus life.
If it were you might’ve expected it, he would include the details of Jesus, amazing and miraculous, but he does not. His purpose in writing is far bigger than mere biography. It’s a purpose. He’s got a, the purpose for including this water to wine miracle. Which incidentally, none of the other gospel writers talk about it’s.
If you read through the first chapter of John, you make wonder, uh, there’s uh, an unnamed disciple who’s who’s talked about there, uh, as a friend of Andrew’s and some believed that John was that unnamed disciple. Now, if that’s the case, then John was clearly one of the guests at this wedding and hence an eye witness of Jesus doing this.
First miracle. And I suspect that if that’s true that over time, as John got to know Jesus and more of his message and mission, the significance of this miracle became so much more clear in John’s mind that he felt compelled to include it in his gospel. Here’s a third thing to think about. He didn’t include this because he lacked material to write about.
Clearly John had a lot of material from which to choose as he put together his gospel. In fact, he concludes his gospel with a, uh, a statement which, which I think has an apparent touch of hyperbole. He says, Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose, that not even the whole world.
Would have room for the books that would be written. So clearly John had to deliberately pick and choose which events from the life of Jesus, the narrate in his gospel, 21 chapters only gives you so much room. And yes, I know the chapter divisions came later. Certainly John has a purpose for every event, miracle teaching conversation that he has chosen to narrate for us in his gospel will.
Why then. And I think a lot of the answer lies right here. John wanted to convey truth about Jesus Jesus’ message and mission that would bring us to faith and him. So again, yeah, as you move towards the end of his gospel, John says this Jesus did many other miraculous signs. In the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book, but these, these miraculous signs are written that you may believe that Jesus is the son of the Christ, the son of God.
And that by believing you might have life in his name. In other words, everything John has chosen to narrate for us. In his gospel is chosen with very specific salvage ethic intent. That is, he wants them to lead us to salvation that by believing you may have life in his name, he says, and John, at the end of this account of the miracle, it Cain of the wedding miracle.
He calls this the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs. And assign of course, is an indicator, a point or a specific, uh, it’s pointing in a specific direction. Yeah. That direction is that his, his disciples then would put their faith in him. This miracle is a sign and indicator with salvation implications for all who hear it now.
So there’s far more to this miracle than just sparing the newlyweds, the, the embarrassment of this photo, Paul of running out of wine. And I’ll mention just, you have to understand the culturally, why, why a wedding last like a week? In that culture. So it’s probably pretty hard with people coming and going all the time for a week.
It’s hard to judge how much you’re going to need. And I think understanding that helps us understand the context here a little bit more, but this brings it to our second question then how are we to understand the seemingly awkward conversation between Jesus and his mother? And this is so very interesting and I think it’s key.
To understanding this miracle and its purpose. You see, you can’t help, but feel puzzled. Did you feel puzzled? When we read it of Jesus’ conversation with his mom first, he calls her woman to doesn’t feel too, particularly endearing. He seems reluctant to get involved in fixing this lack of wine. When he says, why do you involve me?
And then he makes this seemingly mysterious reference to his time or his hour. Not yet having come my time has not yet come. What’s going on here. Are he and his mom even talking about the same thing. I think we’ll see that in this, this, this conversation lied, lies the key to understanding the deeper meaning of this miraculous science.
So let’s think about this. First of all, I just think it’s very interesting to trace is to think about him, how he addressed his mom here. Now I do my daily Bible reading in the 1984 edition of the new international version. And that’s what I read from this morning. So Jesus addresses his mother with these words, dear woman, but you know what?
In the Greek text, there’s no deer. It’s just woman. So apparently the NIV editors felt they needed to soften the apparent, awkward sound of that designation calling his mom woman. So they added the word. Dear now this Jesus addresses a variety of women throughout the gospels. This exact same way. It’s the Greek word guru NAI woman.
So for instance, in John four you’ll, you’ll see him talk to the Samaritan woman. Believe me, woman, a time is coming. Uh, there’s a Canaanite woman with a demon possessed daughter, and Jesus says, woman, you have great faith, same name, same word goo. And I. She’s a, a crippled woman that Jesus healed says, woman, you are set free.
There was the woman caught in adultery. John narrates that force in chapter eight, he says, woman, where are your accusers? Mary Magdalene? After Jesus’ resurrection at the tomb, he says, Jesus says to her woman, why are you crying? And yet none of those, since the assisted, the NIV editors feel the need to add the word dear.
But apparently they did. And when he’s talking to his mom, Now, interestingly, when you fast forward to the 2011 edition of the new international version, dear woman is changed back to just woman, but with a footnote that reads the Greek word for woman does not denote any disrespect. Well, perhaps not, but it still doesn’t feel like a very endearing way to address your mom.
And I can’t help, but think that Jesus, in this kind of formal way of speaking to her is possibly highlighting that he and Mary are not necessarily entirely on the same page in their thinking. Now she’s appropriately concerned about the matter at hand, but Jesus seems to have more on his mind and that feeling of distance is also felt in Jesus’ next words.
Why do you involve me? Now listen, idiomatic phrase that it’s, it literally is what to you and to me, which doesn’t really make any sense in English, but you could also translate that what has this concern of yours to do with me? And the idea seems to be that Jesus recognizes that he and his mom are not entirely on the same page while she’s concerned about the lack of wine.
At a wedding, he is focused on fulfilling the bigger mission for which the father has sent him into the world. It’s as if Jesus is saying to his mother, mom, you’re thinking about saving this couple from embarrassment, which is fine and good, but I’m thinking on a deeper level of my greater mission to save the world from sin.
And then finally he answers her my. Time has not yet come. It should literally, my hour, my hour has not yet come. What hour? What time? The hour to launch himself publicly as a miracle worker, the hour to go public, the time to show his power to the world. No, you have to see that in the gospel of John, the discussion of Jesus hour or Jesus time coming.
Having come, having not yet come, it’s a clear reference to the events surrounding his suffering death on the cross. That is his, our, and you got to do a quick survey of John’s gospel and you’ll see this. You can page through it with me. And I’ll just talk, talk your real quickly through some of these references to Jesus, our Jesus time in the gospel of John.
So in chapter seven, verse 30 says that this, they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him because his time had not yet come. Similarly in chapter eight, verse 20, he spoke these words while teaching at the temple near the place where the offerings for put in yet no one seized him because his time had not yet come as John, John narrates the story into the final week of Jesus’ life, the forest crucifix, he records these words of Christ in John chapter 1223 and 24 for the hour has come.
For the son of man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies. It remains a single seed, but if it dies, it produces many seeds. So again, we’re seeing that Jesus hour centered on his suffering and death. And now that he’s entered into that final week of ministry, he’s able to announce that the hour has come.
You see this also in chapter 12, verse 27, he says, now my heart is troubled and what shall I say, father saved me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason. I came to this hour, John 13 one John tells us it was just before the Passover feast. Jesus knew that the time had come. For him to leave this world and go to the father, having loved his own, who were in the world.
He now showed them the full extent of his love. And so with these words, John begins his narration of the events surrounding Jesus’ suffering and death, the primary way in which he would show the full extent of his love. Finally, on the night of his betrayal and an arrest, Jesus praise John 17 one father.
The time has come. Glorify your son, that your son may glorify you. And so it should be clear as we surveyed John’s gospel with these verses that he uses that concept of Jesus hour or time to revert, to refer very specifically to his passion, his suffering his death on the cross, in the place of sinners, the event upon which our salvation depends in John’s gospel.
He shows how Jesus from the very beginning. Was moving inexorably and unstoppably toward this hour, the hour of history for which every believer is eternally grateful the hour in which the wine of his blood would be poured out for you and for me. So now jumping back to chapter two in the miracle, it Caina in the first week of Jesus’ public ministry at that wedding.
We’re seven days into it. His focus and mindset takes him three years into the future to those events to take place in his final week of ministry is suffering the shedding of his blood and his death. So how does, uh, how does wine at a wedding point to the saving work of Christ and his death on the cross?
Uh, Share with you a quote from an author. Who’s also the publisher with Lifeway Christian resources rate Clendenen Clinton den, and he suggested Jesus’ words to Mary. And especially the comment about this hour is passion on the cross are almost unintelligible unless we see that he was associating the need for wine at a wedding, with the need for his own.
Sacrificial blood to be shed on the cross in order for us to receive the eternal life that he came to provide. So let’s flesh that out a little bit then with our third question this morning, how does the water to wine miracle point to Jesus suffering and to our salvation? Put it another way. How does the miracle in the first week of his ministry foreshadow the redemptive work.
Is the redemptive work in the final week of his ministry, give you three things to think about. And the first is this the lack of wine as a symbol of our spiritual poverty now lack of wine. That was a temporary problem to be sure, but it’s a picture of a bigger problem. Our spiritual poverty, our spiritual bankruptcy, our sinfulness, and our falling short.
Now here’s something I find very interesting. The word John uses in chapter two to describe the crisis at the wedding was this. He says when the wine was gone, literally ran out or fell short. It’s the very same Greek word used by the apostle Paul. In Romans three 23 to describe the universal human prediction all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Now there’s no way to know if John who wrote his gospel after Paul had already written Romans. There’s no way to know if John was familiar with Paul’s book of Romans. Um, and I don’t want to read more into the text and is truly there. It’s a fairly common word to run out or fall short. Uh, but it certainly seems appropriate to see in the dilemma of the wine, it picture of a bigger problem that of are falling short of God’s Holy and righteous standard.
In addition to that, the old Testament often uses the scarcity of wine as a sign of God’s disfavor judgment. Or as a consequence for the covenantal disobedience of his people, for example, in Deuteronomy 28, Moses recites and blessings that will come to God’s people, if they’re faithful to the covenant, and then he follows it up with curses that will become, uh, come upon them.
If they are unfaithful to the, to the covenant, he says, you will. And then rooted in this curse. He says, you will plant vineyards and cultivate them, but you will not drink the wine. Or gathered the grapes because the worms will eat them. Isaiah predicts a similar consequence for covenantal unfaithfulness.
He says a 10 acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine. Just a few gallons further in Isaiah. He fleshes this out a little bit more. Isaiah 24 says a curse consumes the earth. Its people must bear their guilt, the new wine dries up and the vine Withers. All the MerryMakers grown no longer. Do they drink wine with a song, another prophet Hosea chapter two, verse eight Morins Israel has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the new grain, the wine and the oil.
See the wine has run out. We have all fallen short. Everyone has to come to the point. One point or another, in which we face our own spiritual poverty and see that like the wine at the wedding, our best efforts have fallen short. The wine has run out. We do not measure up. We cannot stand before a Holy and righteous.
God, have you recognized your own spiritual poverty that your wine has run out, that you stand in a desperate state before a righteous God. That’s an uncomfortable, but important moment painful though. It may be it’s a moment to be embraced because the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus won’t mean anything until we face the bad news of our falling short are running out and not measuring up.
The good news of John’s gospel is that in the hour of Jesus’ suffering and death, he would become poor for us. So that we might become rich through his suffering. Paul says a similar thing in John and second Corinthians eight, nine, he says for, you know, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though, he was rich yet for your sakes, he became poor.
So that by his poverty. You might become rich. This was the hour on which Jesus was so resolutely focused the hour in which he would on the cross, embrace our poverty and sin, make it his own so that we could be granted the riches of his righteousness. Here’s the second thing to think about and the significance of this miracle, the quality of wine as a symbol of Jesus’ superiority.
The wine Jesus made with superior of the highest quality. Even the, the steward of the manager of the banquet had to comment upon it. He said, you’ve saved the best for last, the wine then serves as a symbol of the eternal value and efficacy of Jesus’ work and provision on the cross. Jesus provision for us on the cross is far superior superior to what, to all our attempts at self-improvement and self-effort or anything on which we might rely to make ourselves acceptable to God.
It’s interesting to think about those six stone water jars that Jesus used for this miracle. There were huge 20 to 30 gallons each, and they were described by John. With these words, the kind used by Jews for ceremonial washing. What was ceremonial washing? The old Testament has very little to say about this.
In fact, the only real mandate in the law for the use of water for cereal, ceremonial, prayer for vacation was for a person to bathe after they’d had a bodily discharge. That’s about it, but by the time we get to the new Testament, it seems the use of water for ceremonial cleansing had become a complex ordeal of rules and regulations for the washing of hands and of washing of utensils.
Not really to kill germs, but for ceremonial purification. And the gigantic size of these water jars, uh, attest to how big this had become on another occasion. Religious leaders criticized Jesus because his disciples dare to eat without washing their hands. It wasn’t germs. They were concerned with, but the strict adherence to man-made rules and regulations to make one self acceptable to God pure before God.
It’s been suggested that perhaps the empty condition of the water jars, conserved to symbolize the emptiness of that way of life. So by using the stone water jars now to hold wine it’s as if Jesus is saying let’s use those stone jars for a better purpose. And symbolically, we see the stone water jars and all the manmade ritualistic self-effort religious system replaced by something far superior Jesus’ work on the cross is superior to all our attempts to please God on our own, or to make ourselves acceptable to him.
Again, everyone. One of us must come to the place where we realized there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God or on our own to overcome our spiritual poverty by outward rituals, impossible standards, empty religious efforts. And Jesus is illustrating that there’s a big difference.
Between external cleansing of human effort and the internal transformation that only he can provide. There’s nothing we can do on our own to make ourselves acceptable to God. Self-effort sincerity, religious fervor, church, attendance, ritual, observation, any other human activity or endeavor. It’s a dead end approach.
Here’s why it leads to one of two things pride. If you think you’re succeeding. And despair when you realize you’re not, you know, and in the next chapter of John’s gospel, you get to chapter three, Jesus would make clear in his conversation with Nicodemus that only by a spiritual rebirth, can anyone see the kingdom of God?
Thomas Boston, who was a Scottish minister from the early 17 hundreds. He wrote, if you are not born again, all your outward reformation is nothing. You have shut the door, but the thief is still in the house. If you’re working hard to live right. To follow the rules to measure up. There’s something you need to know.
Jesus wine is better. Jesus did for us, what we could never do for herself, for ourselves, his sacrifices, so superior to any and all manmade attempts to reach God his death on the cross that hour. For which he was focused on, which he was focused and towards which he was moving his death on the cross and what he would accomplish there is of eternal value.
It is efficacious to cover all sins for all time for centers of every age, in every country and culture, no matter the sin. And he is the only, the only way to a right relationship with God and the hope of eternal life. He is superior in every way. Thirdly. And finally, the provision of wine as a symbol of God’s favor and blessing, you know, in the old Testament, the abundance of wine was viewed as evidence of God’s favor and blessing, grain, new wine and olive oil are promised to the faithful.
Celebrating and the enjoyment of wine were prescribed as part of Israel’s annual festival, uh, Deuteronomy 14, 26, by whatever you like, cattle, sheep, wine, or other fermented drink or anything you wish then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord, your God and rejoice. Jesus’ suffering and death is the ultimate brushing of God’s favor and blessing on you and me.
Jesus marched toward this hour of suffering and death. For this hour. I have come into the world. He came to die for you. And for me that we might taste God’s favor and blessing now and forever. You know, John and his gospel, as you moved towards the end of it, he narrates quite a bit of what happened of the events in the upper room with Jesus and his disciples on the night that he was betrayed.
He talks about Jesus, washing the disciples. Feet. He talks about the announcement that one of them is going to be Trey him. He predicts Peter’s denial. He gives them quite a bit of teaching and John chapter 14 through 16. But it’s interesting that John doesn’t include a description of that moment in which Jesus held up the glass of wine and said, this is my blood shed for you.
This is the new covenant. In my blood, the other gospels writers give those details. And surely John was present when he heard those words and I can’t help, but wonder if over time as he reflected on Jesus’ suffering and death. And as he considered that first public miracle of water to wine, if he didn’t begin to connect in his heart and his mind.
The wine at Jesus’ first week of ministry and the wine of his blood announced at the last second and shed on the cross, the following day, and also about how there’s no greater expression of God’s love than the cross later he would write in his first epistle first, John three 16. This is how we know what love is.
Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
The wine is more than just the provision of a beverage at a village wedding. It’s a sign John called it that a miraculous sign, a foreshadowing, a taste in Jesus’ first week of ministry of the salvation. He would provide in the God appointed hour of suffering in his final week. Jesus cares, of course, for all of the details of our lives.
He’s not unmoved by the predicament of the wedding, but he knows that his greater purpose is the ultimate provision of God’s favor made available through the wine of his shed blood on the cross.
well, I want to wrap up just by referring you to a verse of scripture from, from the book of Hebrews, the author of Hebrews includes this description of Jesus says for the joy set before him, he endured the cross. You could spend a lot of time pondering that. What is there about suffering and death and pain and shame.
That would be a source of joy for him. Probably a variety of things, but I believe that at least part of the answer is you and me. We are his joy. You are his joy. He died for you and your restoration to the place of God’s favor and blessing is what Jesus’ death was all about. You are his joy. He loves you.
And that is what the wine is all about. Let’s pray.
Jesus, we thank you that in this passage, we see how you are touched by the, by the needs of the people you love on the temporal needs, as well as their eternal needs. And we pause right now to thank you for the sacrifice that you made for us, so that we could be re reunited to our heavenly father and he, to us, that everything that was forfeited and at the fall would be undone and overturned.
Sure. Power of your death on the cross for us. And we worship you. And thank you. With all of our hearts and in all sincerity for what you’ve done for us, I pray for each person here and listening today that we would be touched in a new way with the immensity of your love for us. And in return, we give our love to you and our worship, and we make this prayer in your name.