Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. John 2:6-8. NLT
This was Jesus’ first miracle. Early into the span of a week-long wedding fest, the hosts ran out of wine. In a shame and honor culture, this was a big deal. Jesus had compassion on this family as he has compassion on each of our families, in the dailyness of our lives.
Jesus performed a miracle for the hosts, for the bride and groom, and it involved using six stone water jars that stood nearby. Each held thirty gallons of water that were used exclusively for ceremonial washing. But that was not their purpose that day. Jesus told the servants to fill them with water, then to dip their pitchers into the liquid and distribute the drink to the guests.
The water became wine. Why would Jesus do this as His first miracle? He didn’t reach out to heal the sick, or to spiritually deliver a demonized man, or to even feed the poor. This seemingly frivolous act can leave us a bit confused but there are beautiful symbolisms and layers to explore.
Jesus told the servants to fill each stone jar to the brim with water. Six jars, holding thirty gallons each, produced approximately a thousand pitchers of wine. An over-abundance. This new wine wasn’t of the cheap variety either. It was expensive and of the highest quality.
This was the first time, publicly, that He messed with Jewish traditions. He took vessels set apart for holy things and used them for something else. In the next three years, He would turn ceremonial laws upside down. He would stretch Jewish leaders to the max when He chose to work on the Sabbath or when He introduced talk about the heart being more important than rule-keeping.
The physical manifestation of new wine happened at a wedding in Cana. But the spiritual manifestation had been prophesied long ago. ‘Israel will live in safety; Jacob will dwell secure in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew.’ Deuteronomy 33:28 Do you remember that on the day of Pentecost, the crowd believed Jesus’ disciples to be drunk with wine when the Holy Spirit descended upon them? This ‘running over the Spirit’ still happens as I pray for God to make me a new wineskin, flexible to hold the full outpouring of His Spirit.
If I’m clinging to a number of traditions and habits like ceremonial jars, show me. I empty myself of all self-works and look to You for the new wine of Your Spirit. Amen