Water Into Wine
Sermon shared by Anne Robertson
Summary: The miracle at Cana is a sign of the mission of Jesus: transformation.
Audience: General adults
Do not use Evelyn Woodís speed reading techniques when reading John. In fact, I donít
recommend that you READ John at all. The only way you will ever know what is going on in
John is if you STUDY John. Donít start new Christians in John. John is a beautiful statement of
faith, but it doesnít mean a flip to someone who hasnít already absorbed Matthew, Mark, and
Luke. John is not for beginners.
John is highly selective about the material that he includes, but because people donít
realize that John is talking in symbols and philosophy and metaphor, they allow themselves to get
caught up in details...like was it really wine or how dare Jesus talk to his mother that way. At
best they end up saying that this is a story about empathy. Jesus sees people who are embarrassed
because they canít provide for their guests, Jesus feels their pain and helps out. Good sermons
can come from all of that, but all of those things stay on the surface. The only way to get at John
is to start out with the assumption that the message John wants to convey is below the surface
and the details of the story are just a means to that end.
So, letís go to the story with that in mind. Letís assume that this is not primarily a story
about a wedding, about drinking, or about who scurried around to do what for whom. Itís in
John, so it must be something more than that. The first thing to notice is that John does not call it
a miracle. In fact, John does not call anything a miracle in his Gospel. Instead, John calls them
signs. He records seven "signs" in his Gospel and changing the water into wine is the first. We
can assume that all that is intentional. This was a sign for people, something that would inform
people about what they might expect from this Nazarene, something that would point them
toward a deeper meaning.
None of the other Gospel writers saw the miracle at Cana as something worth recording.
They were much more impressed with the healings and exorcisms. But John remembered Cana.
John saw in the miracle at Cana a sign that served to define the very purpose for which Christ had
come into the world. The servants at the wedding saw water turned into the finest wine. John
saw a man who in this first sign declared himself as an agent of transformation.
Remember, it is only in the Gospel of John that Jesus is recorded as saying, "I have come
that they might have life and have it more abundantly." This statement, I believe, is what the
miracle at Cana is all about. Water, the basic necessity of life, is changed into wine--the symbol
not just of life, but of abundant, joyous, and celebrative life. If you go into this thinking wine is
evil, you miss the boat completely. Wine in Scripture is a symbol of joy and warmth and
celebration and abundance. In changing the water into wine and allowing the wedding celebration
to continue, Jesus is clueing people in on his mission. Jesus has come to transform the world.
We often think of transformation in terms of opposites. We think of the ugly turned
beautiful as in Beauty and the Beast or the kind Dr. Jekyll transformed into the cruel Mr. Hyde.
Or we think of change to something unrecognizable like the caterpillar transformed into a winged
butterfly or the transformer toys where a boat
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