On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him (John 2:1-11 ESV).
Not long after His baptism in the Jordan and the calling of the first disciples, Jesus attends this wedding at Cana. As we walk through this Epiphany season, we walk along with Jesus as He reveals Himself more and more to those around Him and to us.
Jesus hadn’t intended to yet manifest His glory, but His mother urges Him to do something. After all, the happy couple should not be embarrassed by the fact that there is no more wine. What a way to mar the occasion! Jesus protests, “My hour has not yet come,” yet His mother instructs the servants to do whatever He says. In that moment when joy could turn so easily to sorrow and embarrassment, Jesus reveals something more about Himself. He takes the jars of purification, which were used to fulfill Jewish ceremonial law concerning hand-washing, and He does something quite unexpected, quite new with them. He has them filled with water as they were intended to be, but when the servants draw from them, they draw out not the “water of the Law, but the wine of the Gospel,” (a paraphrase from my pastor, Rev. Markus Fischer’s, sermon this past weekend). Jesus reveals that He has control over the elements of this world. He can change water into wine! But more than that, Jesus reveals His glory.
This is an interesting phrase in John’s Gospel, because when we hear the word “glory,” we might have a different idea of what that means. What is His glory? How is it revealed? What exactly about turning water into wine reveals His glory? Is it the mere fact of the miracle, or is it something more? In John’s Gospel, the moment of Jesus’ glory, of His lifting up, is not the Mount of Transfiguration, is not the moment of resurrection, but is His death upon the cross. Christ’s glory lies not in miracles or impressive acts, but in death. Why? Because His glory lies in His death for sinners when He accomplishes all that we could not and sets us right with God, saving us from death itself. As He turns the water of the Law into the wine of the Gospel, Jesus previews His ultimate glory: that He will take on the curse of the Law — death itself — and turn it into life for us. He will change the bitter, dirty water of the Law which cannot save into the best and finest wine of the Gospel proclaimed for you — Jesus died for you, and so you shall live forever! Oh taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 38:4a)!
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, glorified One, grant us to see Your glory in Your cross so that we may ever know You as our Savior and live under Your Gospel of grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.