Summary: By turning water into wine, Jesus was renewing the supply so the party could continue. In our lives, Jesus wants to change us so that our supply of joy can last forever.

May 19, 2002 John 2:1-11

“Running on empty”


In every marriage ceremony, there is always at least one mistake. A young couple, very much in love, were getting married. Sue, the wife to be, was very nervous about the big occasion and so the pastor chose one verse that he felt would be a great encouragement to them. The verse was 1 Jn 4:18 which says: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

Rather unwisely, the pastor asked the best man to read it out and to say that the pastor had felt that this was a very apt verse for Sue and that he would be preaching on it later in the service. The best man was not a regular churchgoer. And so he did not know the difference between the Gospel of John and the first letter of John. As instructed, he introduced his reading by saying that the pastor felt this was a very apt verse for Sue. Instead of reading 1 Jn. 4:18, he read John 4:18, which says, “You have five husbands and the one that you now have is not your husband.” – contributed by Martin Dale

There is no such thing as a perfect wedding. There are always going to be problems – some of them small and some of them large.

This morning, we come to look in on a wedding that had a big problem. They were quickly running out of refreshments for all the guests that they had invited to the party. In particular, they were running out of wine. And once they ran out of wine, the celebration would be over. The joy would be gone. They were running on empty.

Among you that are gathered here, I would imagine that there are some people who are running on empty. You thought that you had enough resources to carry you to the end of your journey, but your reserves have just about been depleted. Your joy is just about gone. It’s going to take a miracle in order to renew the supply of joy in your life. This morning, Jesus wants to work a miracle in your life. He wants to fill you with new wine – He wants to restore your joy so that you will have more than enough joy to make it the rest of the way.

Let’s take a look at the miracle that Jesus did at a wedding in Cana. As we do, you will discover 4 steps that must happen in your life before Jesus can fill your life with overflowing joy.

1. Admit that there is a problem. (vs. 1-3a)

Weddings in Israel at that time were long celebrations usually lasting a week. Instead of getting married and going off by themselves, they were surrounded by their friends and family for the first week of their married life. How would you like to have your mother-in-law watching your every move after having just gotten married? During that week, they had a huge celebration. It was a week-long feast. The parents of the groom were responsible for providing all the food and drink that would be needed for the celebration.

Though we don’t know the names of the bride and groom at this particular wedding, we are familiar with some of the people that were present there. Mary, Jesus’ mother was there, and it is very possible that she was the hostess for the event. Jesus and His first disciples, having been invited to the celebration, arrived on the 3rd day – almost at the halfway point of the feast.

From a human perspective, it would look like Jesus had bad timing. For He arrived just as the supplies for the feasting were about to run out. Friends, Jesus always arrives just as the supplies for the feast are about to run out. That’s when people recognize that they have a need for Him. In this case, the particular supply that was running short was the wine. To the Jewish people, wine symbolized joy. A joyous celebration without wine was not a possibility.

When the wine runs out, the party stops. You may have seen the TV ads where the celebration ends when a particular item is missing. In one ad the dancing stops when they run out of “Pringles”. In another, the necessary ingredient for joy is cheese. In still another, all hope is lost when the frosted mini-chex run out. Every society has its own idea of what symbolizes joy. I don’t know what it says about our society to think that our joy is symbolized by potato chips, cheese and cereal. For them, wine symbolized joy, and they were running out.

I can imagine that that bride, if she even knew about the shortage, might have been getting pretty anxious. I can hear her saying to her mother, “My wedding day is not supposed to be like this! I’m supposed to be filled with joy. But instead, I’m worrying about what everyone is going to say about us when they discover that we have run out of wine.”

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William Nuce

commented on Apr 13, 2008

Chris, I loved your approach to this well known but often overlooked passage. Well Done!

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