The Holy Spirit makes a distinct effort through the Apostle John to record the details of the first miracle of Jesus Christ when He transformed water into wine. Though one of the immediate results of this miraculous feat was that the disciples of Jesus believed on Him, it has also brought encouragement and hope to those of us who follow Him today.
Since this was the first direct manifestation of the Lord’s miraculous power on the earth, it is crucial that we examine the details as given to us by God in order to understand what it means to us in the here and now. Why was the first miracle of Jesus performed at a wedding, and why was it the transforming of water into wine? This treatise will expound on the first miracle of our Lord as a foreshadowing of the eternal life that comes only through Jesus Christ and the hope of our joyous gathering together with Him at the end of the present age.
It was while Jesus and His disciples were gathered together at a wedding in Galilee that the guests had finished drinking all the wine and wanted more. The wedding celebration was on the verge of coming to an embarrassing and unsatisfied end if wine could not be found to maintain the momentum of the occasion. When promoted by the implied request of His mother, Jesus responded by directing the servants to fill some large stone pots full of water. When the water was drawn from the pots, they were found full to the brim with the finest wine, and the joy of the celebration was sustained.
Examining the First Miracle of Jesus
The wonderful aspects of the first miracle of Jesus are lost if we pay attention only to the miracle itself and fail to observe the significance and meanings of the details given to us by the Holy Spirit. The method of understanding this event is found in examining the problem and resolution as they relate to the environment, the object of transformation, and those who directly benefited from the miracle.
We must first examine the environment that so wonderfully conveys our future hope in Christ. It was a wedding! The wedding itself symbolizes a time of joy, happiness, love and unity–celebration for the two becoming one. Present at the celebration were Jesus, His mother, and His disciples, as well as the bride and groom, a number of servants and a large amount of unidentified guests. At first the wedding was going fine, but then the wine ran out, and the joyful continuation of the festivity was at risk because the guests wanted more wine. This is always the end result of man’s effort without the intervention of Jesus Christ, for that offered by the world is only a temporal satisfaction that is incomplete and lacking. The world can never satisfy our deepest longing for the life that comes through Christ.
The mother of Jesus approached Him with the problem and then left the solution to Him, believing that He would somehow resolve the dilemma. It is only when we turn to Christ and we rely on Him that we enter into those blessings that are symbolized by His response. Our Lord reacted to the predicament by directing the servants to fill six stone water pots with water, pots that were set aside for purification according to the manner of the Jews (John 2:6). The amount of pots is very significant, since the numeral six in the scriptures often represents the number of man. These stone pots were a symbol of the methods of outer purification that rely on the works and traditions of men rather than the inner transformation that comes through the work of Chris. Without the transforming power of Jesus, these stone pots could not accomplish anything and in fact convey the necessity of relying completely on Christ.
When we focus our attention on the wine as the object of the transformation, we are directed toward the true means to purification and eternal life offered to mankind through the work of Christ. It is the wine that reveals the means by which we receive salvation and enter into the joy and life of Christ. The wine was used to symbolize the blood of Christ at the Last Supper, when our Lord said of the wine, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). The transforming of the water into wine within the six purification pots by our Lord shows us that the true method of purification is in His blood, shed at Calvary for the sins of mankind.
In addition, wine was often used as a symbol of joy and life in the scriptures, and the substance of this wine created by the work of Christ was of such a fine quality, that it induced the governor of the wedding to declare to the bridegroom, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). This conveys the idea that the joy and life of Christ is much greater than that developed or offered by the world. It is given in its fullness without measure, and there is plenty for all.
At the Last Supper, Christ also declared to His disciples, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). This brings us to the culmination of the first miracle, its deepest and most apparent analogy: The marriage supper of the Lamb when we will drink the wine of gladness with our Lord, sitting down at this great festivity and supper with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the saints of God. This is that joyful day when the daystar will arise in our hearts and we will be resurrected in the likeness of Jesus Christ to eternal life. There will be a great gathering together and celebration for the marriage between Christ and His church. As those predestined to be one with Christ through the Spirit, together with the heavenly Jerusalem as our crown, we are His bride.
As at the wedding in Cana of Galilee where Jesus performed His first miracle, it was only those who were guests that would partake of His blessing and taste the new wine of eternal joy and peace. All of us created in the image of God are now invited to the wedding supper of the great King, yet when the day arrives for the wedding, all those who have refused the invitation will be shut out into the outer darkness.
Final Thoughts on the First Miracle of Jesus
The first miracle of Jesus was not just a kind gesture of keeping a wedding from going sour, nor was it only performed for the specific purpose of developing faith in Himself among His disciples. Rather, it was a highly significant manifestation of His glory executed by the predetermined council of the Most High God, encouraging us who follow the Lord today. We are to meditate on the hope that it sets before us of that great day in which Christ will appear in His kingdom and we will be with Him in His glory. In this special miracle of our Lord we are able to comprehend the beginning of the greater miracle of purification and sanctification through the blood of Christ that is its antitype. It is through that purification and sanctification that we will become one with Christ at the greater marriage of Jesus with His church and enter into the eternal joy of the Lord.
© Robert Alan King at BibleCommentator.com, previously published in War Cry (December 1997) and The Priest (September 1996). All rights reserved.