On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.”
Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.”
His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.
The headwaiter called the groom and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” This was the first miraculous sign that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
There are a couple of things here. First, is the idea of signs. John wrote that this was the “first miraculous sign” of Jesus. The word “sign” is unique to John’s Gospel. The other Gospels use the word “miracle.” Just like we would expect, a sign points away from itself to something else. John specifically used this word to point the readers to a bigger story. That story, the story John was telling through his Gospel, was that G_d’s New Creation Project1 began in the life and ministry of Jesus. The changing of water to “good wine” was the first pointer to that unfolding story.
The second thing I want to look at is the wine that Jesus made. According to the headwaiter, the best wine is served first and then, after everyone’s got a buzz on, the “second-rate wine” is brought out. But here, Jesus creates the best wine at the end of the party.
This ties into the “sign” that John mentions. It’s not just the idea that Jesus turned water into wine. The true “sign” is wine itself. It represents G_d’s intentions and plans. The wine, as we know, represents the blood of Christ. It points to Jesus giving his life for the complete reconciliation of creation (see 2Corinthians 5.17-19; Colossians 1.19-20). It’s better than the previous wine/blood, because the sacrifices under the old religious system had to continue every year. But the “better wine,” the “supremely good” wine that represents the blood of Christ, was shed only once for all time (Hebrews 10.1-18).
This sign pointed to the time when one sacrifice would be made for all time and G_d would reconcile all creation back to G_dself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
1. I first heard this turn of phrase from Bishop Tom Wright. He talks about it in this interview.