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The First Sign

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Can we just start with: Jesus made a lot of wine?
Maybe it’s a little odd to be reading John’s gospel at this point in Advent. We’re reading about Jesus in ministry as we prepare for the Christmas celebration of his coming.
This stock tank is 100 gal. Jesus made between 120 -180 gal of wine. Roughly 1 1/2 of these stock tanks full of wine. That’s a lot of wine!
Why did he make so much wine?
Easy answer: They had run out of wine at the wedding and needed some more. Jesus provided wine for the 7-day wedding festivities to prevent embarrassment to the bride & groom. Being Jesus, he provided wine of such superiority that the master of ceremonies was astonished at how good it was and everyone who hears this story has a nervous chuckle at his comment about most people using the good stuff first and serving cheap stuff later, “after the guests have had too much to drink.”
That’s true enough. But it isn’t the whole truth. In the gospel, we don’t see Jesus using miracles in a casual way. Reading this account forces us to look a little deeper. The author hints that there’s more to this story than you catch on first reading when he says:
John 2:11 NIV
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
How does this event reveal Jesus’ glory?
Shall we just start with: Jesus made a lot of wine?
In , John the Baptist and Jesus’ first disciples start to reveal Jesus’ identity:
John 1:29 NIV
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:33–34 NIV
And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
: 33
John 1:41 NIV
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).
John 1:49 NIV
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
In , the author shows a number of signs that add credibility to the amazing things people are saying about Jesus. Producing an abundance of wine is a connection with Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, the Christ. It fits with the prophecy Jacob spoke at the end of his life about the ruler from the line of Judah:
Genesis 49:10–11 NIV
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.
Genesis 49:10–11 NIV
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.
It fits with what the prophets say
Amos 9:11–13 NIV
“In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the Lord, who will do these things. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills,
Joel 3:18 NIV
“In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias.
Isaiah 25:6 NIV
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.
It fits with
It’s not just a Jewish audience that would sit up and take notice at a super-abundance of wine. Greek and Roman traditions and myths associated wine with the arrival of the gods as well. Dionysius was the God of wine and parties. Nearby, there was a temple to Dionysius at the annual festival of the “gift of god,” "three empty jars were placed in a sealed room and on the following morning were always found full of wine” (Koester p. 85).
Joel 9 :11-13
When the author told and retold this account of what Jesus did at the wedding in Cana, Jews and Gentiles alike would sit up and take notice. How could they not? All of their experiences and expectations lead them to see God is at work when wine is produced in such quantity!
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