Journey in John – Day 2
In John’s intentional telling of his account of Jesus’ life, he describes the first miracle Jesus did. The setting was at a wedding. It was a wedding where the host of the party ran out of wine. In our day that sounds like a bit of a bummer, in their day it was socially and relationally devastating. It would have been a huge embarrassment to the bride and groom, but a bigger issue for the bride’s father who was supposed to be throwing the lavish party.
It’s interesting that Jesus’ first miracle in the book of John happens behind the scenes. On the surface it doesn’t have any salvific ties or significance. The miracle seems to be simply saving the host of the reception from the cultural faux pas of running out of wine. Nobody gets ‘saved.’ Nobody ‘meets Jesus’ and gives their life to him; which was often times the purpose and result of Jesus’ miracles. But not this time. Not in this, Jesus’ first miracle.
As I was reading this morning, I noticed something different; something more. I had always skimmed over verse 6 where John describes the setting of the miracle. Listen to what he says,
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. (John 2:6)
The water Jesus turns into wine was water that was used for Jewish rites of purification! The Jewish people were very concerned with what it took for them to stand before God as holy. One of the things that was necessary, was for them to be ceremonially clean. There were a number of things involved in this, but one of those things was washing with special water… therefore, good Jewish families and communities had massive jars full of water to wash with. And this is the water Jesus chooses to turn into WINE.
Maybe Jesus is making more of a statement about salvation than was originally thought.
Jesus takes a prominent symbol of their religion and changes it. He takes the symbol of their cleanliness, their pursuit to be in right relationship with God, a symbol of their efforts and what they could do… and he turns it into a picture of JOY. Wine is the symbol of hospitality and welcome. Maybe Jesus is saying more in this first miracle than originally met the eye. Maybe he is declaring that he will continually welcome the prostitute and the tax collector; the sinner and the saint. Jesus begins his ministry by breaking down barriers; barriers between people and barriers between people and God! He turns symbols of separation into uniting, joyful celebration. Maybe he is declaring that his Kingdom is going to be more like feast, than typical religion. Maybe he is declaring that they will have no need for ceremonial washing anymore, but they will be washed in wine (his blood shed) instead.
I think Jesus chose his first miracle perfectly. It declared his purpose and set in order his entire ministry…
I’m resting this morning in the God who welcomes us. I’m in awe of a God who takes our religious pursuits and points us to the giver of JOY.