Changing ceremonial water into wine

Posted Nov 26, 2018

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Daily Scripture

John 2:1-11

1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and 2 Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.”

4 Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.”

5 His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. 9 The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.

The headwaiter called the groom 10 and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” 11 This was the first miraculous sign that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

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Reflection Questions

About this story Pastor Hamilton wrote, “Why does John tell us the jars were used for Jewish rites of purification? He could have said simply, ‘There were six stone jars’…. John’s story is not just about Jesus changing water into wine, but it is instead about how life in Christ is richer and more joyful than the ritualistic religion of first-century Judaism.”*

  • John pointedly noted that Jesus changed water in jars used for ritual purification (verse 6) into “good wine” (verse 10). It was a sign that he offered a better way than his day’s rigid, repressive ritual system. Did you, in your growing up years or later, ever experience faith as rigid and repressive, draining life of joy and satisfaction? When has Jesus changed “water into wine” in your spiritual walk?
  • John called this event “the first miraculous sign that Jesus did.” Jesus did not do things like changing the water into the “good wine” as an end in themselves. They were signs that pointed to God’s kingdom. John, wrote N. T. Wright, “is setting up a series of signposts to take us through his story. The signs are all occasions … when the transforming power of God’s love bursts in to the present world.”** What qualities of God’s kingdom do you see this sign pointing toward?


Lord Jesus, fill me to the brim with the joyous, freeing quality of life you came to offer us. I want to do as your mother told the servants to do and do whatever you tell me. Amen.

* Adam Hamilton, John: The Gospel of Light and Life. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015, p. 35.

 ** Wright, N.T. John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-10 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 21). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

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Roberta Lyle

Roberta Lyle

Roberta Lyle has been on the Resurrection staff since 2006. She serves as the Program Director for Local Impact Ministries, concentrating on Education, Life Skills and Youth Focused Ministries.

We spent the holiday weekend visiting my husband's parents in Texas. I asked my mother-in-law what Christmas traditions her family had when she was growing up. She mentioned that going to church was not part of their traditions because of a bad experience her father Edward had as a boy. Edward remembered waiting outside the church while his father was inside, meeting with a priest about a woodworking job. Edward was standing on a low wall and holding onto an iron fence, looking towards the church when another priest walked up behind him and whacked him in the back of the legs with his walking stick. That one cruel act forever influenced Edward's view of the church as an institution filled with unkind, judgemental people.

I had a very different experience growing up. I vividly remember several Sunday school teachers who were devout and very kind. I looked forward to going to class every Sunday and spending time with friends who went to different schools during the week. I enjoyed the crafts and learning songs and although I didn't know it at the time received a grounding in the Christian faith that determined my path for life.

As a teenager the two men who led our youth group spoke honestly about their struggles to live out their faith as parents and in their weekday jobs. As a teenager I was seeing more and more that adults had lots of struggles and I couldn't imagine going through life without faith so in 8th grade I gave my life to Jesus.

In the years that have followed I've had the benefit of sharing life, growing in faith and making life long friend through Women's Circles, Bible and Disciple Studies and small groups. All of my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive and I can't imagine what trajectory my life might have taken if my early experiences hadn't been so positive.

In today's story Jesus' makes the water change into wine in an instant. I know that some people do have miraculous conversions where their life changes in a moment, but I suspect that most of us look at our faith stories and see a slow, not always steady progression, more like the normal fermentation process for wine. After my mother-in-law shared the story of her father's painful experience with the church she said how thankful she was that she's met people through the years who have given her a different view of the church and the nature of God. Her days are now filled with caring for my father-in-law, who has advanced Alzheimer's, but she has a joyful outlook and peace that comes from a deep sustaining faith. My prayer is that I will someday get to the point where I could respond to what I'm called to do without hesitation and such devotion.

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