Significane of Jesus’ First Sign: Water Into Wine – Pt. 1

I recently did a paper of the significance of Jesus’ first sign, where he turns the water into wine at a wedding in Cana. I thought I would share some of the practical functions of the Christian life I found in response to the text.

The wedding at Cana is only found in the gospel of John, chapter two, verses one through eleven:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone water pots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.


One interesting note is that there is no mention of Christ’s mechanical work of this miracle. In the telling of the narrative there is no “indication that John was interested in its mechanism.”[1] It is most certain that Jesus was the provider of the wine, but not one knows the precise process by which Jesus conducted the transformation. Better said, John does not specifically note a work of Christ – only the efficient transformation that takes place. Regenerate grace works in a similar manner in that there is no particular evidence of Christ’s work beyond the fruit of his grace, which is the presence of the Spirit. It is when one tastes the joy of the transformed that the work of Christ is truly beheld.

We are quick to identify belief, and the necessary christian process, as the means of transformation. Wrong. Jesus was the source of the transformation. If we were to speak in all truth, we would say that Christians only talk and act this certain way. Though this does have a rightful place in theology, we must not take it too far. God’s grace has free-range in the souls of men. We would fool ourselves if we claim to know exactly how regeneration works in the life of those whom God has shown grace. Yes, fruits will appear, but this is the only source of judgement. Belief, and adherence to Christian communities and systems, are not by any means true signs of grace. For if Satan desires to really uproot the church, would he not do so from within its very system?

My aim in this is for us not to succumb to shallow theology. God is in pursuit of man’s soul and heart, not his lips and hands. If all you have to say for yourself is that you have muttered a prayer and enacted some Christian service in your life, where is your mention of God’s grace? God works on levels we may not understand or be able to acknowledge. Sometimes, if I dare say: all of the time, God’s grace is indescribably unexplainable; all you are left to say is, “look at the transformation, God’s grace must have been at work here.” Don’t you see that Jesus did not describe the means, he only left the transformation into wine to be seen?

Do not be too quick to assume grace when there is only professed belief, and do not be surprised when such a person goes out from among the believing community. God’s grace is the requisite to true salvation. Yes, faith will uncontrollably flow from true grace, but this does not work in reversal. Profession of faith does not produce grace; it is God who works grace.


 

[1]  C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes On the Greek Text (London: S.P.C.K., 1955), 161.

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