Water to Wine: A Sign
Rev. Michael A. Trask
The Text for my message today is the account of Jesus making water into wine at the wedding in Cana. The very last verse of that text says, and I quote “This, the first of his Signs, Jesus did in Cana in Galilee”? John uses the term “sign” to refer to miracles. So what is this miracle of Jesus a sign of? That he is God? Of course. Such control over reality meant that we were being visited by none other than the author of reality. But why would he choose to make wine as his first miracle and furthermore, why would he do it at wedding? It would seem that this “sign” has more to reveal to us.
Let’s go to today’s old Testament lesson” verses 4 and 5 of that. You can follow along if you wish. List to what God says to Israel.
“you shall no more be termed Forsaken, and you land no more be termed Desolate. By you shall be called “my Delight is in her” and your Land “married” (ah… he’s talking marriage) For the Lord delights in you and your land will be married. For as a Young Man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride shall your God rejoice over you.
Okay, so God is talking to Israel in exile....off in babylon. As his people they had been unfaithful to him. They had broken away from him. They consorted with other Gods. But now by the waters of babylon they wept. Now they realized what they had done. And God is saying with undying love: I’m going to bring you back, I’m going to come get you.
When God set out to describe his love for us human beings, he reached for the closest thing to real love that we on earth can know: The lifelong commitment and dedication to love another which is marriage. It’s not merely an affection or a pleasant feeling we receive. It’s something we vow to do. Marriage is the life long commitment to continue loving the other regardless of the circumstance...in sickeness and health, riches or poverty. Marital love is tenacious, long-suffering, patient, firm, profound and unmatched. But marital love is the closest we will ever get to real love. God says in the scripture... “it’s like that. It’s like marriage. That’s how I feel about you...that’s the kind of love I have for you”
But it has not always been the kind of love we have had for him. And that’s been the problem all along. The human race keeps rebuffing the God of life and choosing to go after others. This too is reflected in the history of Israel. I’m going to read Jeremiah 31:31-34. God explains his disappointment at the wandering eye of his people Israel.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. …… For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Paul gives us a new testament explanation of this in Ephesians 5. He says
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
This is what God has vowed to do: to redeem his bride to pull her out of the gutter of unbelief , sin and death; to cleanse her and wash her and array her in the Garments of salvation. We and all believers are the church. We are the bride of Christ. Even now through the regular forgiveness of our sins we are being preparing for the day when he comes to take us to the wedding banquet.
Is there any question as to why Jesus first miracle was at a wedding? Any Question at all? Any question why a number of his parables were about weddings.....Having the right clothing for a wedding, Receiving an invitation for a wedding, having oil in your lamps to greet the bridegroom when he comes for the wedding?
It makes complete sense that Jesus, the Great Bridegroom who was to be at the very center of the marriage of God to man in eternity would do his first miracle at a wedding. That’s what he was about! That’s why he was here. He began with a wedding, and it would end with a wedding... Here’s the end of it in Revelation 21:
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (that’s us). And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man (the marriage has happened!) He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
The reason we have tears, the reason we have mourning, suffering, crying and pain is because we his creatures have broke away from our creator, even as Israel of old lay down and wept at the waters of Babylon we too realize how we are apart from him. But the Lord is coming. He has vowed to love us even to date…his own death on a cross. Blood shed, body broken for our redemption. So this vale of tears shall pass and change over to Joy. That’s why he made wine. Wine is brought out at time of joy. Jesus would bring us joy.
So let’s review the sign of the first miracle. As I see it, it has three aspects.
1. It shows he is God. Nobody could do that unless he were God.
2. Since he did it at a wedding, he was showing us his intentions towards us. He wants to live with us…. Marry us as it were.
3. He made wine because he intends to give us joy,
Right here, at this beginning of his ministry, Jesus would show what he was on about. He is the God who came to reclaim his people, to save them and unite the to himself and to give them joy. AMEN