If you were Jesus, how would you announce your ministry? Would you hold a huge press conference? Start big…raise someone from the dead? Peel back your flesh to reveal the brightness of your glory? Turn water into wine at a wedding?
“On the third day…” John tells us Jesus is at a wedding.
Crisis ensues. The wine runs out. Major faux pas.
“They have no wine,” the mother of Jesus says to Him.
Though He has not yet performed any miracles, she knows He can do something about this. We know so little about the childhood and early adulthood of Jesus. What had she seen? How long she must have been waiting for what the angel revealed to her thirty years earlier to come to pass.
“Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Jesus replies. Not disrespectfully, but matter-of-factly. His mother does not fully know, but Jesus knows, that His time will involve His suffering and bloodshed.
One might think that is the end of the discussion. Not Mary. She turns to the servants and says, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Do. Whatever. He. Tells. You.
Tucked in the corner of the room are six stone water jars used for Jewish rights of purification; ceremonial cleaning according to the law. Jesus instructs them to fill the jars with water. The men aren’t sure how this will help with the wine situation, but they obey. They fill them to the brim.
Next, He tells them to draw some out and take it to the master of the feast. Again, it doesn’t make sense, but again, they do what He tells them.
Holding their breath, all eyes are glued to the master as the ladle reaches his lips. They know it is only water in the jars. They filled them with their own hands. What will he say?
“You have kept the good wine until now,” he says. Exhale. Shame diverted. Not only wine but the best wine.
The first of His signs. It might seem a strange way to begin the unfolding of who He is, but it is a beautiful picture of what Jesus is here for and what He will do.
The jars for ceremonial washing were continuously emptied and filled. Emptied and filled. A washing that is repeated over and over again. It is never complete. Jesus came to change that. It won’t be long when it will be His hour. He will turn the constant re-cleansing into a one-time restoration. But it won’t be with more water. It will be with His blood.
Fast forward to the last supper, pouring wine into a goblet as part of the Passover tradition to commemorate the lambs blood over the Jewish doorposts that saved them from certain death and ushered in their freedom from slavery, Jesus says, “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
A problem we can’t solve on our own, Jesus comes to solve for us. The cleansing of sins we can’t accomplish on our own, no matter how many times we wash, Jesus came to take care of once and for all with His blood. But His bloodshed isn’t the end of it, on the third day, He will rise from the dead. Death will be defeated.
And because of this work of Jesus we become the bride. We are welcomed into an eternal celebration. “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” (Revelation 19:7-8)
Water to wine. Old to new. Never enough to never again. This, the first of His signs.
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