Summary: A short talk given to believers. Jesus turned water into wine, thus revealing his glory and his disciples put their faith in him. What are we called to do, as agents of change in our community, that people will put their faith in Jesus too?
In the summer of 2010 I was hanging on every word of Steve Chalke as he preached at the New Wine Summer Conference. He was talking about Jesus being the one who transforms people and transforms situations; and he was calling the Church to once again become fully involved in the world as agents of God’s change and transformation. He used this Bible passage as one example of Jesus being the one who brings about dramatic, complete and overwhelming transformation; and mentioned the first time he preached on this as a young Baptist minister. He was preaching at a strict traditional Baptist Church and knew it wasn’t going too well. Alcohol was a big no-no in the Church. Grape juice was used at communion and no church member was allowed to drink alcohol. As his sermon wore on more and more people in the congregation became fidgety. Several looked aghast, and winced every time Steve mentioned wine. Steve was in full flow. He’d passed the point of no return!
Realising that he needed to make his final point Steve paused for dramatic effect and asked a rhetorical question of the congregation who sat in stony silence. Steve asked: “And what is this event in the life of Jesus all about? What does it mean?” No reply came back, so Steve answered his own question: ‘It means that Jesus is saying to us, “The drinks are on me!”’
Not many people spoke to Steve that day as people filed out of Church, but one of the Church elders took him aside and pointed out the error of Steve’s preaching. Steve countered by saying, “I know where you’re coming from, but surely if Jesus, the Lord, the Son of God, can generate several rounds of drinks at a wedding so can we?” The Church elder was a bit red in the face but very calmly replied: “No Steve, you have to remember that when Jesus did this he was very young”!
I don’t think Steve was at that Church for very long.
Was Jesus saying, “The drinks are on me”? We don’t know what he said, but we do know what he did.
And we know from the Gospel writer John the significance of what he did. Verse 11: “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.”
Jesus revealed his glory. At a moment of severe embarrassment for the host of the wedding – when the wine ran out (2:3); prompted by his mother (2:3-5) Jesus turned 125 gallons (2:6) of water into the very best wine (2:10). Six stone jars, each carrying about 25 gallons of choice wine – not £1.99 a bottle cheap stuff, but the best.
Jesus not only satisfied the guests but he lavished the best upon them. No wonder Steve Chalke interpreted this as Jesus proclaiming, figuratively I guess, “The drinks are on me!”
But most importantly, John, the beloved disciple, the gospel writer says that Jesus ‘thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him’ (2:11). The act of water into wine was a signpost for faith.
Jesus is the ultimate sign-post because he points people to God; and my question for us is to ask what our part is in all of this. Where can we turn water into wine in our community? And I’m not talking about literal attempts at repeating the act.
Where can we – empowered by God – be agents of God’s change and transformation in our community? Where and how can we be sign-posts of faith?
Water into wine was a sign revealing the glory of Jesus. As we emulate Jesus our generosity will be a signpost to who he is. He provided the best wine! In our community do we provide the best acts of service, the best coffee and the best relationships? Lavish generosity points to a generous God.
When we go out into the world, where can we turn situations of water into situations of the best wine? Blessing the lonely neighbour, having a coffee with the struggling parent or the grieving friend? Jesus will use us to point to him, to help as agents of change and transformation as we go out from here.
Do our worship gatherings offer God the very best that we can bring. Do people get a real sense that God is in the house? Are we so passionate about the God that transforms us, that when visitors join us for our worship gatherings they catch a glimpse of his glory?
The food and drink of heaven is here. The drinks are on Jesus! Let’s ourselves be signs that point to him through our generosity, when we go out from here, and in our gatherings together.