Why Turn Water Into Wine?

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:7-11)

Jesus’s first public miracle was when he turned about 150 gallons of water into 150 gallons of fine wine at a wedding in the town of Cana. That’s about 757 bottles.

Sheesh. That’s a lot of wine.

This is the story of choice for anyone who enjoys having a glass of Guinness at their Bible study and doesn’t want anyone to tell them that’s not okay. But let’s leave that whole issue aside for a minute. Believe it or not, there are actually more important things happening in this story.

I’ve always been struck by what a strange first miracle this is for Jesus to perform. I mean, think about it. If you were the son of God and had to decide what your first miracle was going to be, wouldn’t you choose… I don’t know… maybe raising someone from the dead? Or healing a blind person? Or maybe walking on water or something?

Why turn water into wine? You know?

Why that?

C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) had an idea about “why that.” He wrote, “When Christ at Cana makes water into wine…the miracle only has half its effect if it only convinces us that Christ is God. It will have its full effect if whenever we see a vineyard or drink a glass of wine we remember that here is at work He who sat at the wedding party in Cana.”[1]

In other words, God is doing miraculous things all around us all the time. But we take them for granted. Every year, God makes grapes grow, pulls water through them, and turns it into wine. Every year, God grows a whole harvest of food from a few seeds. Every day, God makes sick people well. When Jesus turned water into wine, or multiplied the loaves, or healed the sick, he was simply doing in an an instant what God does all the time—usually a bit more slowly.

So we only experience half the wonder if we see Jesus’s miracles and say, “He must be God!” Look at what John says. He says that it was through this miracle that Jesus first revealed his glory (v. 11). So our response should move beyond mere conclusions about who Jesus is. Our response should be to worship. We should say, “Jesus must be God! And God is amazing! He’s glorious! Look at what he does! He turns water into wine! He turns seeds into food! He makes sick people healthy! Worship him with me!

And of course all of these wonders are meant to point us toward his greatest miracle. We were dead. And he made us alive (Eph. 2:1-5). Every day, all around the world, God makes dead people live again. He causes walking corpses to breathe in grace, come alive, and breathe out praise. May we refuse to take that amazing work of God for granted. May it never become ordinary to us. May we worship him for it every day.

[1] C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, 29.


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