Have you ever been to a circus?

Modern circuses are amazing spectacles of sights, sounds, animals, acrobatics, and a sensory-overwhelming experience. I remember one experience going to a circus a long time ago. It was incredible!

Photo by Benjamin Lehman from Pexels

The food was amazing.  The lighting was absolutely astonishing—I didn’t know circuses could be that elaborate.  The sound was crystal clear, and bone-rattling at times.  They had cameras and video screens EVERYWHERE so we could marvel at the action below in the three rings. I was enraptured!

Looking back, my main complaint was I didn’t actually see the circus. I hardly paid attention to it from watching all the technical aspects.  I mean, literally, everyone was looking down into the three rings and I’m the only joker looking up—slack jawed—at the ceiling and the sea of audio, video, and lighting equipment. 

When I did look down, it was at the band or the tech booth with the audio, lighting, and video.  I kinda missed the circus for looking at the sideshows.

The passage we find ourselves at today in John is full of sideshows where we can miss the point by our own distraction. In John 2:1-11, we have the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding.

For different groups of my readers, you’ll be distracted by some or all of the following sideshows:

  1. Jewish social customs
  2. Jewish weddings
  3. Alcohol consumption in general
  4. Jesus drinking alcohol in specific

They’re interesting sideshows and can prove interesting and maybe even beneficial but NEVER forget the Holy Spirit’s point of the Gospel according to John: that we might believe in Jesus as God’s Son and our Savior.  This story in John 2:1-11 is more than a sideshow.  It has a purpose.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman,  why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

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, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

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.

John 1:1-11
New International Version
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels

Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding. Does it seem like a strange miracle?

This is Jesus’ first recorded miracle. And His first miracle was one just to keep the party going! The groom’s family would have faced public ridicule for running out of wine, but they also could have been sued by the bride’s family.

Jesus turns a potential lawsuit into a lavish celebration!

His first miracle proving His identity was solving a very personal, embarrassing, and potentially legal problem for someone else.

But was that it?

The Greek word translated “signs” (at the end of our passage today) refers to a sign or token distinguishing a person or a thing from others.  This “sign” for John the Apostle (our human author) is a road marker saying, “Look here!”

This miracle of turning the Galilean water into the best wine imaginable was not just to keep the party going—although it certainly did—it was to point to something beyond itself.  These “signs” were put up so those around Jesus, and we today, would look at them and “BELIEVE!”

This was the first road sign proving Jesus’ identity as more than a mere human.  These signs, or miracles to use the term from the other three Gospel accounts, do not exist just to make people go “Wow!”.  Not at all.  They are powerful acts for those with eyes to see the proof of the reality of Jesus’ real identity. 

Jesus saved a party on that third day in Cana. This sign, humanly speaking, said, Keep celebrating!”  But spiritually, this sign pointed to the One who reached down out of eternity and turned the “water” of our lives into wine.

Christian brother or sister, do you live like someone who’s had their water turned into wine?  Are you truly set free?  I mean: do you really act like you’ve been set free.  Do we look like we’ve been set free?  Do we live like people who are enjoying the sweet wine of God’s riches at Christ’s expense? 

Jesus came to give us life, not misery.  He came to give us freedom, not chains.  He came so we could be vessels worthy of His wine.  Take those chains off and stop diluting the wine. 🙂  We have been released from the penalty of death, hell, and sin.  Let’s live like it.