John 2:11 "This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him."
When we study God's word, one of the principles for Bible study is what is called: "the principle of first mention". In John's Gospel, we find what is Jesus' first miracle or what he deems "sign": namely the turning of water into wine. Why this miracle? What is its significance? That was what we began considering in yesterday’s post. We noted several details in our effort to better understand Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine:
1. The Old Testament had predicted what would be the advent of what it calls “The New Covenant”. The New Covenant age was to be a yet-future time whereby the Holy Spirit would be poured out in power on all kinds of people, salvation would be more internalized, transformation of the human heart would be effected and a figure called “Messiah” would somehow factor into the New Covenant promises. Jesus’ arrival on the scene of history came to inaugurate the New Covenant age. Symbolism such as wine, water and the Person of the Spirit Himself characterized such predictions (Jeremiah 31:12, 31-34; Joel 2:28-32).
2. Jesus’ purpose in performing this miracle was to indicate Himself as being the Mediator of the New Covenant. It is interesting to note in the records of the Four Gospels how this major theme of Jesus Christ as Mediator of the New Covenant is expressed in this miracle (John 2:1-11) and at His institution of the Lord’s Table in Luke 22:20. It is in these passages we find twin bookends declaring Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Mediator of the New Covenant.
3. Without a doubt, the New Testament book of Acts and Epistles explain Jesus as Mediator of the New Covenant. The Apostle Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 quotes Joel 2:28-31 as the inauguration of the New Covenant age as seen in the sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Book of Hebrews chapter 9:15 expresses how Jesus is Mediator of a “better covenant”.
4. We finally had considered briefly the place of the miraculous in our world. We defined a miracle as an irregular event directly done by God in a religiously significant context that is accompanied by visible signs and serves to attest God’s messenger and message. Far from being a violation of the laws of nature, a miracle entails God working with, through or on the limits of the natural laws we find expressed in creation. Jesus’ direct working with water to transform it into wine is a grand example of a type of miracle called “a sign”. Such an event fits our definition.
Today’s post will close out our study of understanding Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine. We will aim to draw out life-applicable lessons from this critical event.
Why the miracle of Cana is critical to understanding the identity of Jesus
John 2:11 reads - "This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him." James Montgomery Boice notes in his book “God the Redeemer”, page 138, concerning this miracle: “The Bible is never hesitant to put the twin truths
of the full deity and true humanity of the Lord Jesus together. These truths are also illustrated through various events in Christ’s ministry. For instance, in the second chapter of John’s Gospel the Lord is at a wedding (Jn 2:1-11). Few things could be more human than that. Yet when the wine is exhausted and the host about to be embarrassed, Jesus makes new and better wine from the water in the great stone waterpots used for the Jewish purifications.” The great commentator Alexander Maclaren notes on this text: “Ay! and not only can this Master transform the water at the marriage feast into the wine of gladness, but the cups that we all carry, into which our tears have dropped – upon these too He can lay His hand and change them into cups of blessing and salvation.”
Two phrases in John 2:11 are crucial in transporting the chief meaning of this text into our lives. Like railroad tracks, the following two phrases carry forth the freight of the significance of this miracle: “and manifested His glory” followed by “and His disciples believed in Him”.
As Jesus would say much later on in John 11:40 to one of the sisters of Lazarus, Martha: “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Many today would tell us: “seeing in believing”; however, in this instance, it’s quite the reverse, namely: “believing is seeing”.
As we behold what is the beginnings of the manifestation of Jesus’ glory in this miracle, we find it to be the seed form of the full realization of that glory expressed by John in John 1:14. He had given to us the full garden of Christ’s glory in His journey from eternity into time, from eternal Deity without flesh to now and ever more being eternal Deity enfleshed. Such truths are mind-expanding. The wedding of Cana miracle gives us a fresh start at seeing how the manifestation of such glory began to be publicly seen.
Life applications concerning Jesus’ miracle at the Wedding of Cana
Over the last couple of days we have attempted to dive the depths of John 2:1-11. It is fair to say no bottom was found. I’m certain that this won’t be the last time this particular text is expounded upon in this blog site. Nevertheless, I believe we can draw the following life-applications from Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine:
1. Jesus loves to meet people in the ordinary events of life to demonstrate His extraordinary power.
2. Jesus is our Mediator who grants access to the life-changing power of His New Covenant, which means we have all-sufficient power to live the Christian life and live through this life in preparation for the next life.
3. Human relationships find their fullest purpose in connection with Jesus Christ. Think about it: Mary’s relationship with Jesus became fuller (from that of parent/child to disciple/Lord). The wedding ceremony is brought to bear as illustrating what would be Christ’s relationship to His church (see Ephesians 5:22-33).
4. Our faith is fed by this miracle, and as a result, we are prepared to follow Jesus further and deeper into the appreciation of His Person and work.
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