Where I live, we experience four seasons. The bleak grey cold of winter, the warm renewal of spring, the hot sweltering days of summer, the glorious crispness and colors of autumn. Each unique and beautiful in their own way. A constantly turning wheel of transformation and change right before our eyes. That idea of transformation, of one thing becoming something else, is the key to unlocking our next “day” of John’s Gospel.
The first glimmer of Jesus either teaching or demonstrating his purpose happens at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:1–11, NASB95)
This well-known story about Jesus has been used to underline the importance of marriage. It has been referenced as permission for Christians to consume wine (and related beverages). Some have used this passage to wonder about how Jesus treated his mother and women in general. Reading “woman” with disdain instead of as the idiom of endearment buried in the language. All of those miss and often hide the primary truth and purpose for Jesus’ miracle.
In the other Gospels, Jesus’ mission statement is declared (see Luke 4:18-19). It is my opinion that Jesus’ miracle at Cana is a demonstration of His mission statement. To change and transform ordinary people, regardless of their state and circumstance, into something entirely different.
That purpose is revealed in the miraculous and unexplained impossible transformation of plain old water into a highly praised wine. One thing becoming something else. A caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, a tadpole into a frog. A sinful human being into a forgiven child of God. Water into wine.
Paul wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a, NASB95) And in Corinthians, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB95) Jesus explains how this transformation happens in a late-night talk with a seeker, but that is for another day.
For today, it is enough to recognize and praise Jesus’ ability to transform those who accept His call with faith. To know that Jesus has the power, the ability, and the desire to transform each one of us into a new creation. Just like He turned plain old water into praiseworthy wine.