Tuesday, April 8, 2014

EXTRAORDINARY (John Chapter 2)

John 2:11, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.  And his disciples believed in him.”

The immediate transformation of the water into wine by Jesus at the wedding in Cana was a manifestation of His glory.  The miracle, literally an “attesting sign” (cf. John 20:30-31), worked to generate faith in Jesus on the part of His disciples (Cf. John 2:11).

The setting of the miracle was a wedding celebration in Cana.  It happened only three days after the calling of Jesus’ first disciples (Cf. John 2:1).  Jesus’ mother was there along with many others.  A Jewish wedding was foremost amongst the community events in that day.  The accompanying celebration would go on for days.  It was expected that sufficient wine would be made available for the guests.  But the wine ran out, a potential cause for much embarrassment for the bridegroom.

Mary was aware of the problem and brought it to Jesus’ attention (John 2:3).  It is noteworthy that she directed her concern to Jesus.  One can safely assume that she had had many opportunities, throughout His upbringing, to witness His ability to intervene and resolve troublesome situations.  His response to her was “Woman, what does this have to do with me?  My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).  The second part of His response includes a phrase which He would henceforth use on several occasions in reference to His ministry and pending sufferings (Cf. John 4:23, 5:25, 7:30, 8:20, 12:23, 12:27, 17:1, etc.).  In the beginning of his public ministry a transition was made—in the “hour” of His ministry His works would not be governed by mere circumstance or human demands—they were done in full submission to the Father’s sovereign will to accomplish His divine purpose (Cf. John 4:34, 5:17).

The miracle was one that demonstrated Jesus’ creative power (Cf. John 1:3).  The wine had run out.  He directed the servants to “fill the jars with water” (John 2:7).  They were filled to the brim leaving no room to suggest that wine had been merely added to the jars.  Then Jesus commanded the servants to “draw some out and take it to the master of the feast” (John 2:8).  “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 and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then the poor wine.  But you have kept the good wine until now’ (John 2:9-10).

There is a whole field of education, called “viticulture,” devoted to the study of how to prepare the best wine.  Not long after this event, in about 65 AD, the Roman writer Columella produced a detailed work (a twelve volume text) on Roman viticulture called De Re Rustica.  And even today Viticulture is a field of study at a major universities.  It takes a lot to prepare good wine—study, time, energy, etc.  Grape vines need approximately 1300–1500 hours of sunshine and about 27 inches of rainfall to develop.  The process, from beginning to end, takes many months.

Jesus did it all in an instant.  He took ordinary water and made extraordinary wine out of it.  He didn’t need soil, vines, grapes, rain, harvest, preparation, etc.  He skipped all the steps.  “All things were made through him” (John 1:3), good wine was created by Him instantaneously.  The question of the propriety of Jesus’ turning water into wine sometimes clouds the issue with respect to what happened on that occasion.  He was a man, but no ordinary man—He was and is “the Christ, the Son of God” (Cf. John 20:31)—His identity was clearly demonstrated in His miraculous creation of the wine.  The disciples saw that affirmed by His power and believed (John 2:11).  They were ordinary men, but by His transforming influence they would become extraordinary leaders.  He who “does all things well” (Cf. Mark 7:37), has the power, through His creative and transforming influence, to take ordinary men and women and make something extraordinary of their lives (Cf. Ephesians 2:10).

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