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.
The headwaiter is surprised at how good this miraculous wine of Jesus tastes, and therefore notes how it would have been customary to serve this wine first. It was Jewish custom to serve the best wine first, and then once the guests were mildly inebriated and unperceptive, they would serve the cheap and watered down wine. Practically seen, Christ is not a deceiver. Jesus “at the very outset” proposes things that may bitter and hard” (Matthew 7:14, 10:37, 16:24, 24:9). He does not flatter those and then – once they are somewhat intoxicated on the amazement of his miracles – serve cheap wine and belittle their fellowship. In Christ, the best is always yet to come. His glory is able to be eternally unraveled, and he will not lead his followers into disappointment. He will glorify those whom he has given this new wine unto completion and perfection (Romans 8:30, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 12:2).
As follower of Christ, we ought not shy away from the harsh words of Jesus. They may be hard to swallow, but the called will respond. The sheep will flock to the Shepherd. We are not trying to convince or coerce – making the gospel palatable; rather, we are revealing the Shepherd as to retrieve the scattered sheep. This is our missiology. Although Jesus may call people to a radical and seemingly harsh discipleship, this is the promise of the joyful wine to come to the ears of the sheep. May we not sacrifice the voice of the Shepherd in hopes to satisfy those who seek the Shepherd for what He can offer rather than who He is.