John refers to himself as the beloved disciple six times in his gospel. It was his way of saying that he was close with Jesus. Jesus had many followers and you could think of them as Facebook friends. They liked to like his status updates but also felt no sense of loyalty when things got rough. And then he had his handpicked twelve. These were his close friends. They had dinner together and were deeply involved in his life. But inside the twelve he had an inner three. Peter, James, and John. These were his closest friends. Jesus invited them into his life in ways no one else experienced.
So when John says that Jesus loved him what he means he was one of Jesus’ best friends. And that’s the perspective we get when we read the Gospel of John. Think about it. There are lots of people who could tell stories about you because they knew you back in the day but there are few people who can tell those story with such nuance that it revels you in a deeper and truer way. That’s what John does in his gospel. He tells the Jesus story the way a best friend would. The way only a best friend can.
Today we look at Jesus first sign turning water into wine.
Let’s dig in.
Ok, before we go any further stop and read John 2:1-11.
Awesome. Let’s hit the highlights.
Weddings are a big deal and they were an even bigger deal back in Jesus day. They lasted for about a week. A week long party. Think about that. Think about how expensive a week long wedding would be. The wedding party was a very important social custom. John tells us that Jesus, his mom, and his disciples are there.
At some point during this party they ran out of wine. This is a huge problem because it was the responsibility of the bridegroom’s family to supply the party with adequate party resources. A failure to do so would bring shame on the bridegroom’s family because they were unable to be a generous and gracious host. On top of that they were legally liable to throw a party of a certain standard. So running out of wine is not just a party killer but it’s socially and legally disastrous for the family.
But notice Jesus’ mother’s response to the crisis, “When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine’.” (John 2:3) I love that verse. Jesus’ mom taps him on the shoulder and says, “Hey, fix it.” She has complete confidence in Jesus’ ability to remedy this potentially disastrous situation. But Jesus pushes back and saying, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4) As a side note, calling your mother woman was a respectful title in Jesus’ day. So Jesus respectfully says, “It’s not time for my miracles to begin.” And yet his mother tells the servants of the party, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) That’s generally good advice for all of us. Do whatever Jesus tells us.
Jesus acts. He listens to his mother and performs his first sign. He instructs the servants to fill six jars with about twenty gallons of water each and begin to serve it. Imagine being one of those servants. Jesus is just now coming on the scene so he doesn’t have a reputation of performing miracles. They are simply trusting his mother. And so they begin to serve the water.
The Good Stuff
And here’s what happened, “When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants 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 for now’.” (John 2:9-10) In other words, you have saved the best for last.
And here is where it gets good. John wants to use this story to show us that Jesus is the transformer. Jesus has come to do things differently. He has come to bring the best wine now. And the wine is meant to be understood as revelation. Up to this point to greatest revelation God had given his people was the Mosaic Law. And that corresponds with the first wine. John wants the reader to know that Jesus is a better revelation of God. Jesus is the good wine. That as good as the law was Jesus is better. That through Jesus God is revealing more of himself.
The first sign of John’s Gospel is Jesus the transformer. That is the first miracle John records for us is of transformation. It’s as if John is saying, “If you want to understand Jesus you have to know him first as the transformer.” Jesus forever changed the way we interact with God and the way God interacts with us. In other words Jesus is in the business of transformation.
Jesus’ action of turning water into wine demonstrates his intention of transforming to not only the religious system of the day but also the hearts of people.