Turning Water into Wine: A Servant’s Viewpoint

Jesus’ First Miracle
A branch of the Judas Tree with pink blossoms in sharp focus.

I’ve been thinking about the story of Jesus turning water into wine during a wedding in Galilee.

Looking at this miracle from the servants’ viewpoint is actually a lot of fun.

The Jewish Custom

An Israelite wedding celebration 20 centuries ago lasted several days. The bridegroom’s family threw a lavish banquet each day, overflowing with wonderful food and plenty to drink.

And then—unexpectedly—the wine ran out.

Socially, this was devastating. To fail to provide enough wine for your guests’ enjoyment during your son’s wedding humiliated the entire family. It dishonored all your invited guests. This shameful breach of hospitality would forever taint the bride and groom’s memory of their wedding celebration.

The Servants’ Response to the Crisis

Pewter pitcher and goblet.Perplexed and embarrassed, the servants quietly told Mary, Jesus’ mother. She seemed to be a very close, trusted friend of the family. Perhaps she had helped plan the wedding. In any case, the servants knew her well enough to confide in her.

I think full wine goblets and pitchers still graced the guests’ tables, but it would all be drunk soon—and there wasn’t any more wine anywhere, on the entire premises.

Mary’s response to the looming crisis must have seemed very peculiar. Indicating her eldest son, she said, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) Then I think she smiled and returned to her dinner. Remember, Jesus had just started his public ministry. His quirk of performing divine miracles to solve life’s “little problems”—like leprosy and lifelong blindness—-were totally unknown to the public. These people had no clue how He could help fix this catastrophe.

Meditative Insights

Thinking about this miracle, I find myself viewing everything from the servants’ perspective.

A red wine glass tipped on it's side on a white tablecloth.Here are my thoughts and a few questions:

  • This miracle was so quiet only the bridegroom’s servants knew about it.
  • Jesus didn’t pray. Nor did He spread His hands over the ceremonial stone water jars and proclaim “Become wine!” Instead, He said only two things:

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so,  (John 2:6-8 NIV)

  •  When the servant drew water out of the jar to take to the master of the banquet, was it still water, or dark and pungent like wine?
  • Did it darken as he carried it? Or did the water become wine as the master grasped the   goblet?
  •  Excited about this miracle, who did the servants tell? Only the other servants! No one else at the banquet even knew about the wine running out.
  • Were the servants secretly gleeful as they refilled glasses? Or announced with a musical lilt, “Table five needs more wine!” Was there giggling excitement as they debated about who got to serve the guests the wine this time?
  • Was there reverent awe and humility whenever a servant came up and quietly asked Jesus, “May I refile your cup sir?”

The servants knew they had been used by a godly man to perform an amazing miracle. I think they enjoyed themselves more that day than any of the  guests.

Jesus’ “Water to Wine” Miracle Required Two Things

For the water to miraculously change into wine, two things needed to happen.

1) Jesus had to decide out of compassion to release His divine, miracle-producing power.

2) The servants needed to obey both of Jesus’ commands.

Two large clay jars outside in the sun.Filling up six ceremonial stone water jars to the brim with water isn’t a minor task. I don’t know how full they were, but the bible says each jar would hold between 20 to 30 gallons. Jesus’ first instruction sounded a little nuts. What does water have to do with wine? But the servants must have mentally shrugged their shoulders and complied.

As a result of their obedience, Jesus produced between 120-180 gallons of the best tasting wine ever served at that Cana wedding celebration.

Perhaps you’ve already realized this, but almost every miracle occurring in the Bible contains an element of human obedience. Humans obey grumpily (2 Kings 5) or fearfully (Exodus 4:1-9) or even skeptically (Luke 5:1-11). But they obey and then God’s miracles happen.

Water into wine—you gotta love it.

So how many secret miracles has Jesus performed in my life or yours?

It’s a secret.

All images are from Pixabay.com.

Resources:

A modern day wooden boat on the Sea of Galilee.

This last set of images is of the Sea of Galilee, near where this wedding took place 2000 years ago.

These images didn’t fit well with my post, but I liked them so much, I am including these images anyway.

Bible Challenge:

Other than creation, can you think of any miracles in the bible that didn’t contain some element of human obedience or people praying and asking God to intervene? I haven’t been able to think of a single miracle..

A dirt road leading toward the Sea of Galilee.A green meadow with the Sea of Galilee in the distance.

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