Jesus, his mother Mary, and his disciples have been invited to a wedding in Cana. They are there to celebrate the union of two people, to celebrate two becoming one, to celebrate a new family starting a new life together. They are well into the celebration when suddenly the host of the wedding runs out of wine for the guests. A good party needs good wine and it’s almost shameful to run out of wine especially when it’s a wedding party.
Mary knows this, and she knows that her son is God, and thinks to herself that if there’s anyone who can do anything about this problem that’s taking shape, it’s Jesus. So she quietly leans over to Jesus, and asks the question, can you help? Unexpectedly Jesus asks back, “Why are you involving me in this?” It’s not my time yet to reveal who I am. Now we’re not really sure how Mary took this but we do know how she reacted to it.
She involved Jesus whether or not he was ready to be involved. That’s what good mom’s do right? Without his permission, she tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do putting Jesus on the spot. Though Jesus was fully God, he was also fully human and his mother knew he was ready to begin revealing the glory of God even if he didn’t know that quite yet.
Jesus tells the servants to take six ritual washing pots that could hold about 20-30 gallons of water each and fill them to the point of overflowing. He then instructed them to draw some of the water, now miraculously wine, out of these pots and to take it back to the host of the banquet. The host of the wedding banquet was unaware that any of this had happened and when the host had tasted the wine, he was shocked. It was some of the best wine he had ever had.
That makes what Jesus did next all the more special. He pulls aside the host and commends him for saving the best wine for last. Usually at a party you start out with the best wine first and then after everyone has had a little too much you bring out the cheap stuff because at that point no one can tell a difference anyway. Jesus saved the party when the rest of the guests didn’t even know the celebration needed saving by turning water into wine.
Now the story ends here but at the same time it’s just beginning. Jesus would perform other miracles around wine, probably even some that we don’t even know about. But the one thing we know for sure walking away from this story is that water being turned into wine is the sign of Jesus.
Wine in Jewish culture is a symbol of God’s blessing. When there was a lot of wine it meant that things were good. The land received the rain it needed. There was good weather and such. When they’re wasn’t much wine to go around, it meant that the grapes hadn’t thrived that year. The land was more like death than it was like life in a year absent of wine. For Jesus to bless this party with at least 120 gallons of wine and for it to be the best wine showed that Jesus was bringing life to town. It was a sign that God was among them. Life would flourish under Jesus and there would be plenty of wine to go around to celebrate what was to come.
Let’s land on this thought: In ancient Jewish weddings and modern Jewish weddings of today, the Bride and Groom will often drink wine together from the same cup signifying many things, but one of them being their union together. Only the Bride and Groom get to drink from this cup before it’s smashed on the ground. It’s a symbol of their union. No one else gets to drink from this wine that the Bride and Groom do because it’s what they share together and they don’t share it with anyone else. Smashing this cup on the ground is a symbol of this eternal union.
I can’t help but think of the last miracle recorded in scripture around Jesus and wine when I think of this ritual. Jesus shares a cup of wine with the disciples, starting a new covenant with one another together. As they drink this cup they’re sharing in a new covenant together. Again, a covenant full of life. Jesus turning water into wine truly is the sign of Jesus because wine is a symbol of life and Jesus is saving the best of life for last.