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Perspectives: Can you read this sign?


When Jesus turned the water into wine, it was called the first of his miraculous signs. A sign is meant to communicate something to us. We look for signs to tell us many things, like what kind of store is in a building, the name of a street, or directions to a ferry. Jesus turned water into wine. The question is, what is this sign telling us?

Here was the situation: Jesus and his mother were at a wedding with his disciples. Wedding feasts in that era could last for days. The family putting on the feast was responsible for all the food and drink. But to the great embarrassment of the hosting family in our true story, they ran out of wine.

Jesus’ mother spoke to him about the situation, implying that Jesus should do something about it. Jesus replied to his mom that it wasn’t the right time yet for this kind of thing. Yet Jesus’ Mom told the servants nearby to do whatever he told them to do.

Jesus then told the servants to fill up six large stone ceremonial jars with water. That would total about 120-180 gallons. Then he asked them to draw off a little water and take it to the master of the feast. When the master of the feast tasted the water that had been turned into wine, he said to the bridegroom, “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.”

So the question is, can you read this sign? What is this a sign of? First off, let’s take a closer look at the basic situation. They ran out of wine at a wedding feast. This was a no-no. But why did it happen? More guests than expected? Bad planning? Someone stole the wine? Regardless, it was an embarrassing position to be in.

And why would they want more wine? They really didn’t need it. Jesus didn’t make more wine until the people had already “drunk freely”. And then to make 120-160 gallons? It seems to me that the only reason to make more wine in this situation was to save the bridegroom from the humiliation of running out. The whole town and all the far-flung relatives had to have been there, and the family’s reputation was at risk.

What do you make of Jesus saying to his mom that his time hadn’t come? In the light of that, why did Jesus do this miracle? Just to save someone the shame of a problem that they most likely could have avoided? Would Jesus do that?

Jesus would, and he did. Jesus did a miracle to save some people from embarrassment. It was the wrong time, for not a great reason, and something that was not his responsibility. Yet Jesus turned the water into wine to show his compassion and power. This sign is communicating to us that not only will Jesus forgive the sins of those who put their faith in him, but he will also cover their shame. He is our Savior. What Jesus did with the wine, he can do for us, too. Jesus can, and is willing to, radically change us so others will say, “He saved the best until now.”

“What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” John 2:11 (NIV)

The Rev. Steven Ganz is pastor of Clover Pass Community Church.


Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.