not understand people who say they cannot believe Jesus turned water into
wine at Cana of Galilee. This was the first miracle Jesus performed and yet I see that same
miracle happening every day. I was driving home from Vision Valley last
Friday after the opening of our new "Stringybark Lodge" when I
drove past a market garden. Some market gardeners were working in the rain on
the rows of growing vegetables. I said, "There you go God once again:
turning water into vegetables." I was down at our Cottee Orchard near
Renmark in South Australia where we have over 100,000 orange trees in
production. We were pumping up the brown, salty Murray river water onto our
orange trees and God was turning it into bright, sparkly yellow orange juice.
Water into orange juice! Some miracle worker! The same water was being turned
in other rows of trees into lemon juice, and on 10,000 almond trees into
almonds. Down the road on a neighbour's vineyard, the water was being turned
wine! God is doing a miracle of transformation every day!
Cana was a village in the hills of Galilee. Its location is now called Khirbet
Qana, about six kilometres north of Nazareth. A wedding is always a gala
occasion. In a village like Cana it would be a community celebration. A few
years ago, I joined with more than a thousand Jews in a kibbutz near Cana in
a wedding celebration, with all the feasting and dancing and much drinking of
wine and Coca-Cola! The wedding meals was provided for all guests. Both then
and now, wine was important. To fail in providing adequately for the guests
would involve social disgrace and at this wedding the supply of wine ran
In the closely knit communities of Jesus' day, such an error would never be
forgotten and would haunt the newly married couple all their lives. The
situation prompted Mary's urgency when she informed Jesus of the emergency.
The miracle of the water being turned into wine has a number of deep meanings
and the Apostle John put it at the beginning of his Gospel for that reason.
The miracles of Jesus are numerous, but this miracle is always in the top
1. WHY A SIGN FOR HIS FOLLOWERS?
John's Gospel starts with this event to give an indication of what the
rest of the Gospel will show. It is the sign that Jesus gave at the wedding
of Cana in Galilee. It was the first recorded miracle of Jesus. Some scholars
reject anything looking like a miracle. John says that this miracle was a
"sign" that pointed to something beyond itself, that there is a
deeper meaning. John 2:11 "This, the first of His miraculous signs,
Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and His
disciples put their faith in Him." Here is a sign, a frontispiece to the
Note when it happened. At a wedding feast, which typically lasted for
up to six days of open house celebration involving the whole village as I
Note where it happened. John 2:1 "On the third day a wedding took
place at Cana in Galilee". Cana was a small village, but today it is
larger with an aircraft electrics factory employing many. "Jesus' mother
was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the
wedding." Mary was possibly a relative of the groom so that is why Jesus
and his disciples were invited.
Note what happened. Mary asked Jesus to help because, to the family's
embarrassment, the supply of wine ran out. Jesus simply went to six large
stone jars which each contained 20-30 gallons of water for drinking or
cleansing, and told the servants to fill them to the brim with water and to
draw it out again and give it to the master of ceremonies who remarked what
good wine it was!
6 "Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for
ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said
to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to
the brim. 8 Then He told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the
master of the banquet." They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet
tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it
had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he
called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice
wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to
drink; but you have saved the best till now." The toastmaster was in
charge of the distribution of food and drink at such a large social occasion.
He was astounded by the high quality of the wine since generally a poorer
quality was served once the taste of the guests became dulled.
2. WHAT DOES THIS SIGN MEAN?.
Many have spoken of this sign indicating the interests of Jesus. Jesus is
interested in ordinary people and everyday events: weddings, funerals, work,
fishing, harvesting, drawing water from a well, farming, sewing patches on
garments and so on.
All of His teaching is illustrated from the activities of ordinary people
whom He understood and loved. This sign was a quiet affair. Neither the
bridegroom nor the toastmaster knew what had happened. The servants filling
the water-pots and drawing the wine knew.
Others have used this sign to indicate the methods that Jesus uses. He works
with humans in solving peoples' problems. He used the hands of people to fill
the water pots, to draw from them, and to give to others. He takes whatever
we already possess and uses that, multiplies that, and satisfies our needs
abundantly. He fills our emptiness with a quality never before realised.
Others have used this sign to indicate the mission of Jesus. His purpose was
to reveal to His disciples who He was. 11 "This, the first of His
miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His
glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him." People who put their
faith in Jesus see His glory. They understand exactly who He is. Put your
faith in Jesus and you know!
Others have seen in this miracle an example of the abundance of God's grace.
One characteristic of John's writing is that beneath John's simple stories
"there is a deeper meaning which is only open to those who have eyes to
see." Wm Barclay One detail was the six stone water-pots containing the
water which turned to wine. Each large stone water-pot held between twenty
and thirty gallons of water. Jesus turned all that water into wine. That was
anything up to one hundred and eighty gallons of wine! Not 180 bottles of
wine, but 180 gallons of wine! When the grace of Jesus comes to us there is
A further meaning is that Jesus Christ can fill your inner emptiness. Today
some reject Jesus Christ. Some people claim a superior intellect thinking
they have no need for God. Some wrap themselves in pagan secularism that is a
cover for their immorality, thinking that if they deny the existence of God
they will be free from His moral laws. Some live pampering their own
pleasures in thoughtless hedonism careless of the needs of others. Others
believe in every faith except the true one and seek refuge in a tangle of
conflicting ideologies. Despite this they remain empty within.
Paradoxically there is greater interest in Jesus and His teachings than ever.
The International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Jan '97 p24 indicates
there are 65,571 books in libraries with "Jesus" in their titles!
Over 25,000 books on Jesus have been published in the past 25 years, and that
in 1996 alone, 1,500 new books on Jesus were published. People look to Jesus
to find an answer to inner emptiness. But is Jesus filling your emptiness?
Where, on a scale of one to ten, would you rate your life now? If the
interviewer asks you, what number will you record? One poll revealed
Australians average 6.7. That seems to me to be pitifully low! Australians
should be living life to the full, enjoying it to the uttermost, living with
confidence in the future. We live in a land of peace with no social conflict,
with bountiful natural resources, with the highest rate of home ownership in
the world. We still have more people employed than at any time in our
history. But too many people rate their satisfaction with life low. They are
empty within. But there is always a super-abundance of God's grace to meet
our every need. Beyond all our dreaming, His grace is abundant!
To others, the nature of the miracle is very plain. Jesus had come to bring
about conversion: water to wine, sinners to saints. This is a miracle of
transformation. Note it occurred in almost complete obscurity. Few know when
or how it happened, but they know that it did happen. That is the same with
many transformed lives I see. Quietly, in their own home, or on a bus, or at
work, the changing friendship of Jesus over-whelms them and they are born
again as brand new creatures, now made children of God.
The effect of this miracle is noteworthy. It marked the beginning of a
ministry accompanied by supernatural power; and it proved so convincing to
the new disciples that they "put their faith in him." The deed
helped confirm the conclusion they had drawn from their previous interviews
with him: Jesus must be the Messiah.
3. IS THERE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT SUCH A SIGN?
In "Archaeological Diggings" Feb/Mar 1997, edited by Australian
David Down, there is an article entitled "Houses Of The Wealthy In
Jerusalem." It tells of the discovery in 1970 by Israeli archaeologist
Nahman Avigad and his team of the remains of houses destroyed by fire dating
from the Revolt of 66?70AD. Seven houses of two and three storeys, bathrooms,
baptisteries (mikveh) and large cisterns have been excavated. Pottery, Jewish
coins, and an inscription found in situ "Belonging To Bar Kathros"
indicated it was a high priest's house torched by the Romans in 70AD. A coin
from 69AD was found inside the house giving us accurate evidence of its
The Jewish Historian Josephus' wrote: "The Romans surmounted the last
wall without bloodshed, and, seeing none to oppose them, were truly
perplexed. Pouring into the alleys, sword in hand, they massacred
indiscriminately all whom they met, and burnt the houses with all who had
taken refuge within." War 6.403
In "The Burnt House" a skeleton of a woman was in the kitchen. A
seven branched menorah or candlestick, the earliest such depiction known, was
painted on the wall. In the kitchen were several large, lathe-turned stone
vessels. Professor Avigad states, "we were astonished by the rich and
attractive variety of the stone vessels." p176 Why would Jews need such
expensive stone wares each capable of holding twenty to thirty gallons? The
answer is in the Jewish laws of ritual purity: stone vessels "afford
protection from" impurity. These stone vessels reflect the "six
stone jars" prepared "for the Jewish rites of Purification"
(John 2:6) found at the wedding of Cana in Galilee. Charlesworth p106-8 Here
are identical authentic vessels from the time of Jesus, identical to the ones
in which Jesus had turned water into wine.
The disciples knew that was the difference they saw in the lives of those
whom Jesus touched. Whoever came to Jesus, found their lives transformed. The
early Christians saw the difference in their lives, not just once, but every
day. They quoted from the Old Testament: Lam 3:22 "Because of the Lord's
great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new
every morning; great is your faithfulness." Do you wish to discover the
transforming touch of Jesus in your life? Give your life into His hands now!
He who can change water into wine, can change your life also