The Gospel of John. Second Chapter.
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee…When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
So He took water and made it wine and the miracle is only noticed by a few. And this story is so familiar I want to just move on, keep reading. But I am drawn back to the story of water and wine and I discover there are depths here that I have never seen.
“In the ancient Near East, with its scarcity of water, wine was a necessity rather than a luxury, so it came to symbolize sustenance and life. Due to its close relationship to the ongoing life of the community, in association with grain and oil, wine is also representative of the covenant blessings God promised to Israel for obedience, and which He would withhold for disobedience. Finally, wine also represents joy, celebration, and festivity, expressing the abundant blessings of God.” – Martin G. Collins, Forerunner Commentary (emphasis mine)
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
All at once I am flush with conviction because those words go into my soul, you know? Into my doubtful, my fearful places, into my rebellious places. Into the place where I’ve been putting off what I know He wants me to do. So the words of a mother spoken to her son become the words of a Father spoken to His daughter.
Do whatever He tells you
fill the jar to the brim
offer your loaves and fishes
take up your mat and walk
cast your net to the other side
step out of the boat
be still go fast and pray give
forgive love believe
Do whatever He tells you.
I know. It sounds simple. Seems silly that it even needs to be said. But reality? We sit in our place of ‘no more wine’ and will not get up and do whatever He tells us to do. We have need and we weep and we worry and we wonder where He is but we will not obey. We think about it, we say we’ll do it, we tell others it’s what they should do, and honestly? We want to do it, I know we do. We just don’t actually do whatever He tells us to do.
And that is why we have water but no wine
“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.”
And right there my heart loves Him more, again. Right in the place of the best is not behind you but in front of you, always. So when you’ve been looking in the rear view, thinking the good stuff is behind you, you’ll plant your foot right here on this word and weep.
Just when you thought the good wine was gone He reminds you that He is good and He gives nothing cheap, so the best is always yet to come.
And all of that is so good. Conviction to deeper obedience…good. Joy in the best yet to come…so good. But something in the words of this story still nags at me.
Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification…
And no matter how much or how often that water flowed it would never clean more than the outside. It would wash hands but never hearts. That water is everything I ever did to try to wash away what made me unclean, to make me better, to make me good enough. And that thought leads to this…
“Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.”*
And sometimes I’m left on my face at His feet because God turned the story of a wedding into my story and I just don’t know how He does it. But He did and somewhere from the deep of my heart come the only words I can say to worship Him.
You turned my water into wine.