- JOHN 2:10b-11 (NKJV): “‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.”
- PROVERBS 23:35 (NLT): “And you will say, ‘They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?’”
MISSING THE WHOLE POINT
IN A RECENT NEWSPAPER COLUMN, someone asked (for a friend, of course) on what page the Bible relates the story of how Jesus, the Son of God, turned everyday plain water into delicious wine.
The question was to be taken humorously, as if today, “We need our wine to help us through the day; even the Lord blessed the water and made it wine, so it must be okay to imbibe!”
Of course, people turn to something to cope, and the times are difficult.
Alcohol is as easy a comfort as any. It’s plentiful, legal, and socially acceptable. Why, overindulging on occasion is cause for celebration. Friends will say, “Throw off the shackles and live a little!”
Forget for the moment that in Israel in that day, wine contained a very low alcohol content and was not considered strong drink, unless one imbibed in large quantities.
However, in the minds of some scoffers, the idea remains that God endorsed revelry and drunkenness, when He most certainly did not.
For many people today, alcohol is used to fill the emptiness in their lives, to help them forget their troubles, or give them a “lift” in spirit.
FOR THE COMMITTED CHRISTIAN, the comical question should serve as a time for sober reflection (pun intended).
Let’s drill deeper into the story, found in John 2:1-11. Jesus, His mother Mary, and His disciples were attending a wedding in Cana, when the wine ran out. Mary said to Jesus the equivalent of, “Do something.” Then to the servants, she said, “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you to do.”
He told the waiters to fill the purification jars with water and then serve a dipper to the master of the feast, who proclaimed the wine the best of the bunch.
Jesus appeared reluctant to step in but obeyed His mother and “did something.”
Problem solved. The wedding master was spared the embarrassment of running out of wine, Jesus showed obedience to His mother, and, more importantly, Jesus gave us a lesson about His plan for our future.
GOD’S FUTURE KINGDOM
THE QUESTION THEN is WHY Jesus used this occasion to perform His first public miracle.
According to one reputable source, our Lord was illustrating the wonderful time of joy in His future Kingdom, when all sorrow and sadness will be banished.
Some biblical support:
- JOEL 3:18 (ESV): “And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Shittim.”
- JEREMIAH 31:12 (NIV): “They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.
- MATTHEW 26:29 (NASB2020): “But I say to you, ‘I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it with you, new, in My Father’s kingdom.’”
FILLING THE EMPTINESS
MANY OF US KNOW all too well the emptiness that fills our lives before we knew the Lord. In my testimony, I’m clear in admitting “that was me” for decades.
I lost two marriages, many relationships that I prized at the time and thought would lead to marriage, plus my drinking interfered with raising my two precious daughters in the loving manner — with wise insight and teaching — they deserved. I went through too many jobs, mostly by latching onto sinking ships just before disaster struck. I had no self-esteem. I was lost.
But, no problem! Relief was just a Martini away, and, boy, could I fix them fast! I chilled my glasses (plural) and the gin, and stored the vermouth and olives in the refrigerator. No need for measuring and stirring (James Bond, you had it wrong!).
As time went on, and my drinking increased, I’d find myself sleeping on the living room floor where I had collapsed the night before.
Then, I had to rouse myself, freshen up, and head off to a day’s work.
I do not say any of that with pride. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ in November 2010, His first act was to tell me what I knew all along He would: “You, son, must stop!”
It took three years of struggle to give up the Martinis, and I’ve been dry since January 2014.
THERE IS AN IMPORTANT lesson in Christ’s miracle that should not get lost. It is not about the sweetness of fermented grapes nor the intoxicating power of alchoholic beverages, nor a lecture on the addictive nature of strong drink.
The lesson is that deep within the human soul is an emptiness that God placed there so we would search for Him. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV): “He has placed eternity in their hearts.”)
When we short-circuit that search and land on alcohol instead of Jesus, we short-change ourselves and wind up with a poor substitute. (That’s equally true when the substitute is something else, like workaholism, gambling, sports, adultery — anything that takes the place of our Lord.)
The real gift is Jesus, Himself.
In Ezekiel, He promised to change hard hearts into soft loving hearts (Ezekiel 36:26). In John, He changed water into wine (John 2:10). In 2 Corinthians and Ephesians, He tells us to change our old selves into our new selves (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:24).
While we are called to seek the Lord, in the end, our salvation rests in His hands.
His message to us was at least twofold: (1) I am God, and I can change water into wine with just a word, just as a spoke the universe into being, and (2) The wine I made was a symbolic representation of joy and fellowship, not an invitation to debauchery and drunkenness.
Don’t miss the point our Lord made because of the “cutesy” jocular question mentioned earlier.
PSALMS 118:23 (ESV): “This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our sight.”
O LORD, OUR GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL HEAVENLY FATHER, we are so dependent on Your goodness for our lives, our safety, our health, our salvation! Without Your caring nature, we would be eternally lost. With Your caring nature, we who call on You are promised eternal life with You. O Lord, as the song says, “We scare can take it in.” Bless us, O Lord, can keep us safely by Your side. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, AMEN