Monday, July 14, 2008

Save The Best For Last!

California has a reputation for producing the best tasting wine in the US especially Napa Valley as Niagara on the Lake would be for us in Ontario. I don't say that because I know that personally. After all, I grew up Baptist and the closest to wine that I got was Welch's grape juice.

However, if you have had a chance to be in a vineyard you will see how it takes months for the grapes to become ripe and then crushed. Wine has to go through the aging process of about 10 years in these great big wooden barrels and here is Jesus producing the best tasting wine in an instant!

At this point this miracle doesn’t seem all that impressive. It certainly isn’t raising someone from the dead like we looked at last week, but that is the beauty of John’s gospel. There would be a significant gathering of people, but not a huge one and only some of Jesus’ disciples get to witness it. One theologian describes it as a ‘sneaky’ miracle. It is really easy to understand this miracle but its significance is really important to see. There is deep theological significance and it shows us exactly what Jesus was about and why He came to earth.

Released From Shame John 2:1-3

Mary expects Jesus to perform a miracle and maybe wants the people there to recognize that there is something very different about Him and that He indeed was the Messiah. Jesus is about 30 years old and we don’t have any miracles that have been recorded earlier. I don’t think this was the case for Jesus growing up with His mother, “Hey Jesus, we need more flour for bread, can you make some?”

For this reason she goes to Jesus who is the oldest male in the family. Normally she would approach Joseph but he is not called upon leading some to think that He may have passed away by this time. There is an early church document from the 3rd century that tells us that Mary was the groom’s aunt and as such she would be part of the wedding family. To run out of wine in this culture at that time would be a huge source of shame for the family, extended family.

Jesus provides the wine at this time and saves the family from great shame.

2. Save The Best For The Last John 2:6

Look at Mark 7:3

The ceremonial washing was more religious than hygienic. This practice was used by the people in order to symbolically recognize that they were clean on the inside. It would be likened to the practice of a priest in a Catholic church who would sprinkle water on his hands before serving the eucharist.

These six stone water jars would be used all week by the guests and so a lot of water was needed for this type of cleansing to take place.

Think about that – there was 120 to 180 gallons of water being turned into wine. It would be comparable to 3 of those big wooden barrels that would be used today that hold about 60 gallons of wine.

That is a lot of wine!! It is important to remember that.

v8-10 The master of the banquet said that this was the best wine that he had tasted and again this is a very significant point as well in that it was kept till the very end of the celebration.


To believe and put your faith as it is written here carries much meaning for this time than these words might be thrown around today. It was not just mental assent. Belief was to trust in someone with your whole life and the Greek meaning behind believing including possession by the person in whom we believe. In other words those who believe in Jesus become His possession. We are no longer our own and it will change the way we live. It will affect the way we spend our money, what we look at and how we spend our free time. It will change the way we think and ultimately our perspective will become more and more His perspective

We need to really understand the significance of weddings and wine especially to the Jewish culture in the first century.

Matthew 22 relates the kingdom of God to a wedding banquet. It may not be the first metaphor that might come to your mind when sharing about God’s kingdom, but this is the one that Jesus chose. Why?

The banquet was a coming metaphor in the OT to talk about the coming kingdom and Jesus knew that. When the new kingdom comes, there will be an incredible banquet like one that you would find at a wedding reception today.

Jesus chose a wedding as the location to make the people think about the kingdom of God.

3. Invitation Please!

Now, what about the wine?

Isaiah 25:6 When God renews His kingdom, there will be a feast prepared with aged wine, the best wine.
Jeremiah 31:31

Israel did not live up to God’s expectations in the OT. In fact, they broke God’s covenant because of their disobedience. However, God does not give up on them and the time of exile will end and the sign is seen earlier in this chapter – Jeremiah 31:12

Here we have it – the grain, the new wine and the oil.

One of the signs will be the presence of wine

Amos 9:11

The clearest picture is found here.

David’s line would continue and His sons will be kings and the Davidic kingdom will be renewed and when that happens it will flow from the hills. Jesus came through the line of David.


When the new covenant comes there will be a lot of wine.

The Jewish people expected that the sign would be a lot of rejoicing and a banquet to inaugurate the new messianic kingdom and so Jesus does just that at a wedding – a lot of wine and a lot of good wine!

This is not just a miracle to help save a family. It is to symbolically recognize that the new covenant has come and Jesus has inaugurated it.

Here is the aha moment. It was symbolic that Jesus used the water from these ceremonial cleansing jars that represented the whole Jewish system of cleansing. The cleansing has now been fulfilled in Jesus. We don’t have to pour water ceremonially over our hands to be clean. We can now confess our sins to Jesus and have them forgiven. He has made it complete and brought pure perfection to being clean.

Remember the master of the banquet said that this was the best tasting wine. That is really important as well. In Hebrews 8:6-8 we see that Jesus brought a superior covenant. It is no longer about Moses, the Law and Judaism. Jesus is now the fulfillment of all that and has shown us a better way.

Maybe you are carrying a lot of shame. Jesus came to take away your shame and wipes the slate clean no matter what shame you carry from bad choices, bad decisions, relationships gone bad…you name it. We don’t have to carry the burden of that weight anymore.

If only people could really believe that Jesus takes away their shame, they would live such rich and full lives. Too often we are all too easily crippled and paralyzed by it and that is what He never intended for us.

God is faithful to His promises….Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos looked forward to the day when God would fulfill His promise. He is a reliable God. He will keep His Word.

Isaiah 25:6; Jeremiah 31:10; Amos 9:12

All three passages talked about the nations, all the peoples of the world

Genesis 12:3 - God has always had his eye on the nations. There is a new attitude about the nations and the importance of bringing the light to everyone.

We need to be about blessing our world.

The Takeaway

The fullness of His acceptance, love and faithfulness comes with understanding we are His and He is not for us only, but for all.

In the miracle of the water being turned into wine, Jesus fulfills the old and brings the new. He takes away our shame, He shows us He is faithful and reminds us that we are to be a blessing to our entire world.

Questions For Discussion

Explain the gospel in terms of a wedding banquet.
Is there shame in your life that you need to be released from? How can Jesus make that a reality in your life?
What is the new expression for your life? What can become new wine in you?

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