The Bible has tons of surface stories where we learn about everything from getting swallowed by a big fish, to how to stitch tabernacle curtains, to who killed who, to what do do if your house gets mold (yep, even that is in there!). The entire Bible is accurate as both a historical document and in the exact representation of who God is and what He is about. It points to a God who loves His people so much, that He has a plan to save them, by offering up His Son, Jesus, to cover their sins. Throughout Scripture, God shows us repeatable patterns of how He responds to certain situations as well as paints picture stories to help us to understand concepts more clearly.
14 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3: 14-17
Many of us are familiar with Jesus’ first miracle in Canaan where He changed water into wine. On the surface, we may see Jesus as the life of the party, bringing wine to the people after they had run out of their own stash. Jesus appears to be promoting drinking and perhaps even drunkenness. Hmmm…. So, when we have a question as to what the content really means, we first need to think about the attributes of God, consider other references to what He may be talking about in His Word, and then weigh out the story in relation to His character; i.e., we need to search a bit deeper to see what was really going on.
(On a side note, people have studied the type of wine back in the days of Jesus and many scholars agree that the wine was a highly diluted version compared to our wine today. An example of the variance estimated is two margaritas today would equal 20 of their glasses of wine. There is some debate still on the actual % of alcoholic concentration).
The surface story is…
“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 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 10 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.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” John 2:1-11
Let’s dig a bit as if God is trying to show us a picture story of a deeper message…
“27 And [Jesus] took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”” Matthew 26:27-29 (From the Last Supper / Passover)
25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Cor 11:25-26
What can we conclude about the correlation between the story of the miracle at Canaan to the sacrifice of Jesus?
First, we can see that the wedding had wine for two days prior. Wedding feasts often went on for up to a week, so at this particular wedding, they ran out already by the end of day two.
Second, we see that Jesus presented the wedding couple with the best wine last, on the third day, and He made it in the jars which were used for the purification rites in order that others might be acceptable to God.
Third, we see that Jesus compares wine to His blood at the Last Supper and tells us that it is poured out to forgive our sins.
Fourth, we know from much of the Old Testament, that blood sacrifices were required over and over again in order to cleanse people from their sins.
Fifth, in the passage above, we see that when Jesus’ mom asked Him to do something, He makes a strange statement about it, “Woman, my hour has not yet come;” however, as we think about it, He seems to be making a direct reference to Himself on the cross when His hour did come… ““And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.? ” Mark 14:41
Sixth, we know that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, defeating sin and death with His sacrifice.
So, we can conclude that this first miracle was not the surface story of turning water to wine so that people can have a good time. We can now see that God was trying to show us a story of how the previous wine (sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament) wasn’t very good wine (blood), but on the third day, Jesus, Himself, presented the best wine for last (in purified vessels), His pure and holy blood as the final sacrifice for our sins. His time did come and we are eternally grateful that it did!
Father God, Thank you that all stories point to Jesus and your redemptive work through Him. Help us to better understand your Scripture to receive the deeper meaning to understand and admire you more. You are a God of perfect order and perfect timing. It is amazing when we can see exact parallels such as this one. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.