The First Sign: Turning Water into Wine (John 2:1-12)

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Water into wine

Everybody loves a party. A wedding was a big party in Jesus’ time. The wedding celebration could last several days. Mary, the mother of Jesus, seemed to have some responsibility for helping with the wedding feast. They ran out of wine and Mary goes to Jesus with the problem. The implication is that she expects him to do something about it.

His response to her seems troubling to us. He seems kind of rude. He calls her “woman”. If I talked to my mom like that, I’d had gotten smacked. Jesus is not being rude, that’s the way they talked back then. Notice that there are only two places where we see Mary in John’s Gospel, here and at the end. In both places, Jesus calls her “woman.”

I can’t image what it was like for Mary to be the mother of the Son of God. Since he was without sin, he probably wasn’t an unruly kid. But he put the things of God ahead of normal life. In this situation, she has a real problem and she knows that Jesus can do something about it. We often approach God the same way. I have a real problem, and I know that it is within God’s power to do something about it. So I cry out to God, “Please fix my problem!” My attitude should be, “God be glorified through my problem!” I think this is what Jesus is saying to his mom. “My mission as the Son of God is the glory of God.” He tells her, “My hour has not yet come.” Most translations use the word “hour” here. The NIV uses “time.” I can see why translators would use either word. The Greek word “hora” means hour, but it can mean either a literal hour (60 minutes), or a segment of time, or a point in time. Every place where John uses the word, it is used by Jesus in reference to his crucifixion or by John as the narrator in reference to the crucifixion. The one place where it is not used that way is John 19:27. (Then He said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.) That is the other passage where we see Mary. Jesus says several times that his hour has not yet come, but is coming. Then in chapter 12, we see a shift during the final week of Jesus’ life. He says, “The hour has come.”

The point here is the mission. He hasn’t come to fix wine problems, he has come to establish his church and die on a cross. Mary makes a shift from telling Jesus what to do, to trusting him to do whatever is appropriate. She tells the servants to do whatever he says. At that point, Jesus turns the water into wine. The only people who knew about the miracle were the servants and Jesus’ disciples. The miraculous sign displayed his glory to the disciples and they believed in him. He used the problem to further his mission.

Sometimes God fixes our problems in ways that advances his Kingdom. Sometimes, he uses our response to problems to advance his Kingdom. The issue is the Kingdom.

Click here for online Bible John 2:1-12

Article originally posted by Pastor Cliff on Thursday, July 31, 2008