Jn 3 (GW) When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, "They’re out of wine." 4 Jesus said to her, "Why did you come to me? My time has not yet come." 5 His mother told the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." 6 Six stone water jars were there. They were used for Jewish purification rituals. Each jar held 18 to 27 gallons. 7 Jesus told the servers, "Fill the jars with water." The servers filled the jars to the brim. 8 Jesus said to them, "Pour some, and take it to the person in charge." The servers did as they were told. 9 The person in charge tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it had come from, although the servers who had poured the water knew. The person in charge called the groom 10 and said to him, "Everyone serves the best wine first. When people are drunk, the host serves cheap wine. But you have saved the best wine for now." John 2:3-10
I had always wondered why Jesus provided more wine for a drunk audience. I am not one to continue to give drink to someone who is visibly intoxicated, or for that matter even provide drink to someone who is sober. I am not a drinker, I do not hang around with people who drink, I really do not like the whole idea of drinking with the intent of getting drunk. I know some in the church who like to drink beer, others enjoy a glass of wine, and I am sure there are some who may like a mixed drink. I just do not. I really see no value in drinking so much that you become impaired and unable to think clearly and function rationally. The bible teaches to be SOBER and live a godly life.
Other than being obedient to his mother, I really do not know why Jesus would turn water into wine to be served to a drunken wedding crowd, but he did. I have to put myself in this scene and see what I would have done if approached about the wine situation. First I would not have thought about pouring water into stone pots to try to pass it off as wine. I would have had to see where I could procure wine to purchase for the bridle party. Or the more likely scenario I would say back to my mother, what do you expect me to do about it? I would not see it as my duty to provide wine to a drunken crowd. Or to paraphrase a famous quote, Let em drink water. So you see even when it comes to wine procurement I can not be like Jesus.
What can I learn from this, regardless of the theology of water to wine? What jumps out to me in this story is what happened when Jesus was called upon to make a contribution. First he questions his mother as to why she came to him to fix this problem because his time had not yet come to reveal himself to the people. He knew he had the ability and knew that he could do whatever it is that needed to be done, but he was also mindful of the reason why he came into the world and providing wine for a drunken wedding party was not high on his list of things to do before he died. His mother put him in charge by turning to the paid servants and told them to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Okay, again I have to ask myself, what would I do when presented with a paid staff looking to me for direction and instruction. What do you want us to do about this problem? The crowd is hollering for more wine and we are out! How do you want to handle this? Being in charge has it’s responsibilities. You can not say I don’t know, or do whatever you want to do. You have to have a solution or some plan to fix the problem. Now one thing I might have thought about doing was simply telling everyone the wine was gone and there would be no more. But any good host knows that when you are hosting a party it is your responsibility to make sure that the party goers are taken care of. It is a sign of a poor host who does not see to it that the guests are satisfied. That is just proper party etiquette.
Jesus tells the servants to gather up the ceremonial washing jars and fill them to the brim with water. There were 6 of them each holding almost 30 gallons of water would produce approximately 180 gallons of wine. That is a great deal of wine! The narrative does not say when exactly the water became wine it simply says that the servants were to fill the jars and then pour some out and give it to the person in charge of the party to taste. I do not know what the servants may have been thinking when taking a glass of water to the party host but they did as they were told and heard the host say that it was the best wine he had had that day. The servants perhaps looked at each other thinking this guy is drunker than we thought if he thinks water is good wine. Nevertheless the water filled ceremonial washing jars produced fine wine.
Jesus did not get into a theological discussion with his mother about drunkenness or contributing to the moral downfall of a people by providing more wine to a drunken crowd. He simply met the need that was presented to him and exceeded the expectations of even the host. Jesus could have made cheap wine but instead the water became FINE WINE. Sweet wine. The best wine according to the host. I would not expect anything less from Jesus, to be honest. I would expect him to do his very best to provide the very best. After all his life was an example of God’s provision to the world. God cared enough to send his own son, his best offering, not a poor substitution. How could Jesus go against his own character do anything less than his very best? If this first miracle would have resulted in cheap wine being produced, how would Jesus then be viewed in the future? How would we look upon Jesus had he not provided the best wine he could? I don’t know about you but when I ask someone for help I want them to do the very best that they can do and not the very least. Again I can not say that at all times I do the very best I can do. I have to admit that many times I look for excuses to not do what is asked of me. Again I do not know if I could provide wine for a drunken party, but Jesus did. Of course he also died for a sinful world so this is not really a HUGE stretch for him in light of everything else he had done.
Looking at this story from a character perspective I am encouraged to see that when asked for help, Jesus will not overlook any detail. He will not cut corners. He will not offer you a poor substitute but he will provide above and beyond what you asked for. He will do his very best to meet your need. Jesus can take the ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. Those ordinary stone pots became vessels of honor, holding fine wine for the host of this wedding ceremony to pour forth and serve his guests. Although contained in an ordinary stone jar, the wine was of extraordinary value when compared to what had already been served to the quests. What Jesus touched exceeded what was already made available. Those stone jars, up until this time, only held water for the ceremonial washing of the priests in their daily temple work. They were simple wash basins but on this day they served up something sweeter and finer. They held fine wine.
The lesson I take away from this story then is this. In order for my life to have an impact on others, I have two options. I can do all I can to become famous or rich so that I can buy the finest, and throw the fanciest parties, purchase the finest of everything in attempts to wow the crowd or I can simply allow my clay pot to be filled with the sweet water of God’s spirit and then pour it out for others to taste and see that the LORD is good and not me. It is what is on the inside that matters more than what is on the outside. If one were to look at my resume or lists of accomplishments they would be underwhelmed because I can not say that I have done anything great. However I do want my life to be worthy of something. Although I do not care if I am ever rich or famous I do want to contain the sweet wine of God’s spirit. I do want to have something to offer a thirsty crowd when they come to me looking for a drink. I want to be able to pour out the refreshing of God’s love when all other sources of hope and expectations have run dry. I want to be a river of blessing to those who are in need of a blessing. I would like to be a well-spring of refreshment to those who are in need of refreshing.
Jesus did not fill just one jar, he filled every jar that sat around empty. He instructed that all those jars were to be filled to full. Jesus wants to fill everyone with His Spirit. He wants everyone to be full to over flowing. He desires that no one should be sitting on the sidelines and living an unfulfilled life. Jesus’ desire is for all of us to be filled with the sweetness of his Spirit. Those six jars became something more that day when Jesus had need of them. You and I can also become extraordinary if we are willing and ready to be used by Jesus when he has need of us. We can be more than we are, we can even be more than what we ever dreamed we could be. Even though our everyday use may seem ordinary and dull, there will come a time when Jesus will call upon you to be extraordinary. If we are empty to our own ambitions and desires, if we are emptied of our own selfish motives, if we are emptied to ways of the world and instead engaged in the work of the Lord (even if it is only washing the priests at the temple) then one day, in the hands of Jesus, our ordinariness can become extraordinary.
However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves. 2 Cor 4:7 (AMP)
You see we hold a treasure inside these earthly vessels. We hold the treasures of heaven itself within our mortal beings if we are filled with the sweet wine of God’s spirit. It is that same spirit which raised Christ from the dead that will quicken our mortal bodies and enrich our very lives. The servants knew that the stone pots only contained water, therefore the fact that those pots produced wine had to be attributed to Jesus and to nothing else. The servants knew that there was no power in the pots to produce wine from ordinary water, but they knew who told them to fill the pots. What may have started out as unbelief turned to belief once the host tasted the water and praised the groom for the fine wine that he was now serving. Those ordinary pots, filled with ordinary water, carried by ordinary servants, presented at an ordinary wedding ceremony were anything but ordinary because they had been blessed by God himself through Jesus Christ. We too are no longer looked upon as ordinary by God if we are filled with the Spirit of God but rather God views us as extraordinary. Praise be to God!