John 2:1 "On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee..."
Have you ever wondered this? I mean, God sends His One and Only Son to earth as a baby with the purpose of saving every person ever born, or to be born, from their sins. Hebrews says He is the creator and sustainer of all things. Jesus, who healed the lame, gave sight to the blind, cured leprosy and sent demons packing comes to the critical moment of his first miracle and... let down.
Surely He knew that for the rest of time this particular miracle would bring stark disagreement and even violent debate. This one story, recorded only in John's Gospel has sparked much debate over the centuries. What does the word translated "wine" mean? It can mean fermented or unfermented, so no conclusive evidence there. Teetotalers believe it MUST mean grape juice and others assume it means an alcoholic beverage. Was the "grape juice" saved for the last of the party or the "alcohol"? I just heard an argument that it MUST have been grape juice they were drinking because how could a drunk person tell if the "wine" was good or not? Of course, the counterpoint is that if the master of the ceremony was hammered he wouldn't have been very good at his job.
As for me, I try to keep things simple. I don't believe the Bible indicates that it is a sin to have an alcoholic beverage. I do believe the Bible clearly say that it is a sin to be out of control of your body - to have a self-induced lapse of judgement. That being said, if John says the water turned into wine I'm going to assume it had some alcoholic content. Let's face it, alcohol has been around, well, since the beginning probably. So if it were grape juice why didn't John just say grape juice - they had that back then too.
But really the issue is this; why would God save up 33 years of Jesus life to begin His public ministry with a controversial "miracle" (seems funny calling wine a miracle since I grew up in a teetotaler household) like water to wine. I mean, why not the healing of an entire leper colony for the first one?! Why didn't Jesus reattach a leg or bring someone back from the dead or free a family from an illness or demon possession? We could all get behind that, right? We could all clap for Jesus and talk about how wonderful He is and there would be no debate, no argument, no disagreement Everyone could rally around an actual miracle for Jesus first - this seems like it must have been a mistake. Like Mary was showing off (though how did she know he could perform miracles at this point?) Was she punishing Him for coming late? Jesus even says, "My time has not yet come..." so why does He do this?
Matthew has Jesus healing the sick first. Mark shows Jesus casting out an evil spirit. Luke's Jesus story begins with Him amazing the religious leaders in the Temple at the age of 12! All of these seem Godly and appropriate. So what is John's problem? Did he not know any better?
Actually, I think John got it right. I just noticed this today as I read this story again in my Youversion Bible reading plan for 2013. John says this in verse 11, "What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him." I think a better and more fitting ending to this verse would be, and I believed in Him.
Here's why I think John writes about this unbecoming, improper miracle of Jesus. It's the exact moment when John realizes this guy is who He says He is. Jesus called John and his brother James from their fishing boat to follow Him. They did. They had heard Him say He was the Christ. But this is the moment it stopped being a fantasy, a head thing, something he had to constantly remind himself of, and started being a matter of fact. A matter of the heart. Confirmed by the Spirit and accepted as absolute Truth for John.
This story is important because its your story and mine. We each (whether you've forgotten it or not) had a moment when what we had been told or read or seen became reality to us. Became the Truth. Became the motivator for a changed life. For John it was in the last days of a common wedding ceremony when he watched a jar of water become in the mouth of the of the host the "best" wine. For you it may have been in a hotel with the Gideon Bible in your lap. Or in the back of the church last year or last week. Or in the car with your folks or when you came up out of the water when you were baptized.
Whenever it was and whatever the spark - it's your story. It's personal. It's your first real experience with the Savior and it's as important to you and it was to John. What may seem like a mistake, or at least a misplaced, misdirected miracle was the most important moment in John's life.
When did you first believe?