John 2:1–11 Three days later, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. 2Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
3When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.”
4Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My time has not come yet.”
5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6Six stone water jars, which the Jews used for ceremonial cleansing, were standing there, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. 8Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” And they did.
9When the master of the banquet tasted the water that had now become wine, he did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew). The master of the banquet called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have had plenty to drink, then the cheaper wine. You saved the good wine until now!”
11This, the beginning of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
The parents have tried for so long to have a child. Finally, they are excited to announce to their friends and family that God has blessed them with that child. Then months later comes the heart-wrenching news that the new mother suffered a miscarriage.
The father of four learns he has cancer. He seeks treatment and the Lord blesses the treatment, so the doctor’s report is that the father is now cancer-free. Then half a year later, the cancer comes back with a vengeance. This time, there is no cure.
The couple is getting ready to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. It was a long, hard struggle to get to this milestone. Then the wife tells the husband that she met someone at work. He pays more attention to her. She wants a divorce.
We have a God who changes water into blood. “In the sight of Pharaoh and his officials, Aaron lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile. All the water in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians were not able to drink water from the Nile. There was blood in the entire land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:20-21). God takes the beautiful, life-giving waters of the Nile River and turns them ugly, cesspools of death.
God is there when the son we shipped off to fight in a war overseas comes home missing an arm or a leg or the desire to live. God is there in the hospital room when the doctor breaks the news that the disease is terminal. God is there in the courtroom when the divorce papers are signed breaking what he had joined together. He is there converting pleasure to pain, hope to heartache, life to loss.
We have a God who changes water into blood.
We also have a God who changes water into wine. At the wedding in Cana: “six stone water jars, which the Jews used for ceremonial cleansing, were standing there, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus told them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ So they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ And they did. … The water had now become wine” (John 2:6-9) God takes an impending disaster and turns the wedding into an even greater cause for celebration.
God is there in the courtroom blessing the childless couple with their adopted son. God is there when the runaway daughter returns home to her parents. God is there when the child whom the doctors said would never live more than a few weeks celebrates another birthday. He is there converting the ordinary to the extraordinary, the mundane to marvelous, the inconsequential to incredible.
We have a God who changes water into wine.
This is the same God. It may be difficult to understand how our God works, but in both situations, God is there to help you.
As far as miracles go, changing water into wine at a wedding party doesn’t seem to be all that important. Yet there is comfort for us in how Jesus chose to reveal his extraordinary power for the first time in a very ordinary situation. There comes a time for each of us when the wine runs out. Yet we have a Savior who cares enough to help us in both the ordinary and extraordinary issues of life.
Jesus is attending the wedding of a regular couple. It doesn’t seem that they were noteworthy enough for St. John to even record their names. The wedding takes place in Cana in Galilee. Not in Jerusalem. Not in the temple. Not in Rome. In lowly Cana, in the backwoods of Galilee in the north. Jesus takes six stone jars water jars which the Jews used for ceremonial cleansing for their hands and bodies and has the servants fill them to the brim with water from Cana’s well.
All very ordinary.
Doesn’t it seem like our lives are often dominated by common, ordinary things? Homework, memory work, bus rides and basketball practices? Trudging off to work, dealing with traffic, struggling to pay the bills and taking our medication? Do you find it difficult to believe that the God who laid the earth’s foundation, who enters the storehouses of snow, who brings forth the constellations in their seasons, who raises his voice to the clouds and sends lightning bolts on their way (Job 38), is the same God who is interested in the petty grind of your daily life?
Jesus uses this ordinary setting for his extraordinary first miracle. And what does Jesus choose to do for his very first miracle to announce his divine presence among humanity? Does he move mountains? Does he cause the sun to stand still in the sky? Nothing outwardly extravagant for everyone to see and get excited over. There is a lack of wine at a small-town wedding for a humble couple and Jesus quietly creates an abundance of delicious wine.
Jesus chooses this very ordinary setting to reveal his glory (John 2:11). Moses could not look upon the glory of Lord and live (Exodus 33:20). Sinners cannot face the glory of the Holy Lord. Yet, here the holy Lord reveals his glory in a way people can witness him without being destroyed. The holy Lord covers his glory with human flesh so sinful people can walk shoulder to shoulder with their God. St. John writes of Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Jesus does not first reveal his glory in stilling the storm, healing the sick, casting out demons or raising the dead. Our incarnate God – the Lord covered with flesh – reveals his glory at a wedding by turning water into wine.
So much of our lives are made up of unexciting, uninspiring moments. Routine. Tedious. Commonplace. Like a hamster running on its wheel in its cage.
But Jesus is there amid our humdrum, everyday lives. God’s merciful concern extends to the mundane needs of our day-to-day lives. He doesn’t promise to give us anything extravagant. He literally promises us only “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Part of God’s glory is that amid the mundane, he still “graciously gives us all things” (Romans 8:32). This is also a part of God’s glory. No detail of our lives is too unimportant to escape the notice of our Savior. While God may not often (or ever) do something so obviously miraculous as turn water into wine, he is at work in the little details of our life reveals his glory perhaps in something as simple as “daily bread.”
The other night in our Lutheran Book Club, we were asking the question of where in the world is God in the life of the nursing home patient suffering from dementia. We’ll call him “Fred”. Fred’s dementia confines him to a wheelchair. He cannot get dressed, go to the bathroom or feed himself. His mind and body have withered. He barely speaks. He rarely recognizes what’s going in his life.
The question was asked about what good could come from this?
It seems like God has turned Fred’s life from water into blood.
Yet, Fred’s son comes regularly to see to his father. While he is there, he does everything the nurses would do for his dad. He dresses him. Feeds him. Takes him to the bathroom. God is allowing Fred’s son the opportunity to “honor his father” and keep God’s fourth commandment (Exodus 20:12).
Fred’s son brings his children with him weekly to see their grandpa. They color pictures for grandpa. They read stories to grandpa. It isn’t a lot of fun for them to be quiet in the nursing home. It smells kind of funny. It is pretty depressing for a little child. But they see the love their father has for their grandfather. God is allowing them grow to respect their dad for the respect their dad displays to their granddad.
Fred’s pastor comes to visit him regularly. The pastor sits close to Fred. He tells him what is going on in his life and in the life of Fred’s church. He shares God’s Word about sin and grace, suffering and patience, with Fred. He prays for Fred. Though Fred’s eyes are usually glazed over and he doesn’t speak, every once in a while, a brightness returns to Fred’s eyes and his mouth moves along with the words of the Lord’s Prayer or one of the hymns the pastor sings to Fred. God is allowing the pastor to tend for all of God’s sheep, no matter who they are or what they are like.
Something else was mentioned in our book club that I hadn’t thought of before. The doctors, nurses and staff have employment because of Fred and others like Fred. God is allowing them to fulfill their vocations in caring for the needs of his people.
Mary, the servants and the disciples, were probably the only ones who realized that Jesus had performed this miracle. Everyone else was happy with the wine, but they were going on with the wedding.
It seems like God has turned Fred’s life from water into blood. But, when you really examine Fred’s life, you realize that Jesus is performing lots of little miracles through the faith and actions of His people. Fred’s son, grandchildren, pastor and Christian staff realize they are being used by Jesus, so that in that whatever they do, they are doing it all for the glory to God (1 Corinthians 1:31).
And Jesus is revealing his glory (John 2:11).
Jesus is turning water into wine.
We might ask, “Where in the world is God?” He is right there – helping you.
The greatest way that Jesus helps you is by forgiving your sin, dying to appease the wrath of his Father and rising from the dead to open heaven to you. That’s what Jesus means when he says to his mother, “My time has not come yet” (John 2:4). His time is the time of his glory – the hour of his death. This is why Jesus came.
He came to turn water into blood. He uses Fred’s dementia, your mother’s cancer, your sister’s car accident, to cut the ties that bind us to this earth and bring his saints home to heaven.
He came to turn water into wine. He uses water and his Word to change eternal destinations. He uses bread and wine with his Word to strengthen faith and give hope. He uses his Word to offer forgiveness and peace.
Turning water into blood or turning water into wine are both tied to Jesus’ glory revealed at the time of his death and resurrection. This is why Jesus came. He did not come to fix every little problem, including a wedding party that ran dry before its time. He came to die as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 2:29). And in dying, he takes care of everything else. “He would did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32)?
Miracles do not come cheaply. They are signs of who Jesus is and what he has come to do. They all point to the cross. They point out that Jesus is with you in the mundane, the menacing or the marvelous. He is there to help you. Amen.