Why Water To Wine?
Just to start - this is not one of those to drink or not to drink arguments. First of all, I prefer a nice and crispy Pale-Ale over a glass of wine any day. However, due to the fact that I cannot indulge to simply "gladden my heart" (Ps. 104:15), I must refrain. While it would be nice to be like those of you who can, I cannot. Moving on...
I think I have figured out why the Gospels are ordered the way they are. (It works for me, at least). It actually has to do with wine. I was going to post this blog before I even realized this part, which shows that I may have grown in patience over the last few years, and it is actually paying off! The wedding at Cana is only in the Gospel of John. Hmmm. But the story about the Pharisees complaining to Jesus about His disciples not fasting, followed by Jesus' whole new wine and old wineskins analogy is in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
I have an idea why - you can take it or leave it.
The Pharisees were known for keeping to law to the point where they did not really know what grace (or joy) meant. They were pretty ramped up that Jesus' disciples did not fast like they did, so felt that they must not be as holy. Well in Matthew 19, Mark 2, and Luke 5, Jesus explains to them that the bride (symbolism = church) and bridegroom (Jesus) were together celebrating at their wedding, so there's no need to fast. Then He goes on to vaguely explain to them that they are pretty much old wineskins with their legal pharisaical mindset.
Jesus wants to pour Himself into us, and if we are still holding onto the law, we will burst and the wine will run out - we can't hold Him. We need to shed our old ways, get new wineskin - a new mindset that receives grace and intimacy with our Bridegroom - and gain greater joy!
So, after three chapters of this exact same story, we get to the book of John. He starts of Chapter 2 with this:
"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee....the wine was gone” John 2:1
We have been reading about the whole wedding idea for three chapters, and how when new wine is poured into old wineskins, since they have been stretched out, they burst, and the wine runs out. Here, the wine ran out. Meaning, it is time for Jesus to show them a new way of living in new wineskins so they can hold the wine that is coming (Him). The water that had been used for ceremonial washing (read, legal living), was in the big stone jars, but was gone as well.
Ok - back up a bit. "On the third day" - do you recognize that one? Just a refresher, on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. This is how we get the wedding in the first place. Without this monumental third day, there would be no wedding with our Father because we cannot become one with Him without Jesus. He is using this first miracle to show us why He came - for the bride to be with the Bridegroom!
Then, we hear that the wine was gone and this: “Nearby stood six stone stone jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing" (John 2:6). These jars were used by the Jews so that they were clean before they ate. They were empty. It doesn’t say they were empty, but Jesus told his disciples to fill them, so I am assuming they were empty. There is a lot here, so I am going to separate the points.
First, once Jesus has fulfilled His mission, we no longer need "ceremonial washing" because He will have cleansed us from our sin once and for all. So he has His disciples fill them up with water - the disciples, who, the previous three books of the Bible had been made fun of for feasting and having fun and celebrating at the wedding by the Pharisees. When we live by the law, we feel the need to wash ourselves, to try to be good and righteous and therefore look down on those who are not doing this. But, after Jesus came, He made a new way to get to the Father - new wine. And, in order for us to hold this, we need to get ride of our old way of thinking and accept His grace - joy - peace - and adopt a nonjudgemental attitude because we earned none of this.
Then He says "Fill the pots with water... Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host" (Jn 2:7-8 MSG).
Now check out Romans 6:5-10, which says; “When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind, when we came up out of the water, we entered into a new country of grace… When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus, when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.” (Romans 6:2-4 MSG)
Jesus told his disciples to draw water out of the jars with the pitchers after they had filled them. Why didn’t he just have them put their pitchers under the hose or sink in order to fill the pitchers up? I think He was showing them - and everyone - the new way. He wanted to bury the old way of doing things by dunking the pitchers into then water. I think He wanted to bury the idea of ceremonial washing. Here, He shows them how to be baptised/buried with Him - go under the water, get dunked, and be made new. (Yes, I know baptism is not how we are saved, but you get the point)!
Do you get the importance of this being the first miracle? I never did before this week, so if you didn't either, we're together in our ignorance. Or, I'm way off base and just inventing things, which has happened once or twice before...
Life application time. "Nearby stood six stone jars".
Did you ever read the children's book about filling buckets? If you didn't, you've still probably heard about when someone is grumpy they probably need their love tank filled? Jesus asks His disciples to fill the jars. If we are His disciples, this is our job. See the empty jars around us and fill them by loving them - even if they are so empty that they are driving everyone away, or living on the streets, or in jail... We fill and let Jesus do the rest. Then we will see the joy as others begin to catch "the first glimpse of His glory" (Jn 2:11 MSG)