Christ’s First Miracle: Water to Wine 

February: John 2-4

Shortly after the calling of the twelve, Jesus went to a wedding in Cana. The symbolism of the wedding feast and especially Christ as the bridegroom is used in the Old Testament referring to the coming Messiah in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Joel.  

In Jeremiah 33:7-16, he prophesies about the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon. Portions of that scripture block say, “I will cause…the captivity of Israel to return, and I will build them…I will cleanse them…The voice of joy…the voice of the bridegroom, the voice of the bride…shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts…At that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up out of David.” Christ would be the bridegroom and those that followed him the bride, connected in a covenantal relationship. 

We do not know how Christ’s family was connected to this event, although there is much speculation, we do know that Mary his mother was responsible for the wine. When they ran out before the end of the feast, Mary calls her son and explains, “We have no wine.” (v.3) 

Jesus’s reply seems a little curt. “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come” (v.4) The Joseph Smith Translation softens the meaning somewhat which reads, “Woman, what wilt though have me to do for thee?” So, although his hour had not yet come, and he could not do some great, showy miracle for the people at the feast, he would do as his mother asked. 

Mary’s response shows her faith in her son. She turns to the servants and tells them “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Christ tells them to fill six large waterpots of stone “after the manner of the purifying of the Jews.” (v.6) This phrase meant that fresh water placed in these jars would still be considered living water, which meant it could be used for ritual purposes either for washing of feet or for the mikveh, a baptism performed before ritual ceremonies. (See Leviticus 11:36) Water put in the more common clay vessels would be considered unclean and could still be used for household activities that were not spiritual in nature. 

Not only did the servants obey, “they filled them up to the brim.” (v.7) 

With that done, Jesus tells them to serve the living water to the governor of the feast first. He drank of the “living water” Jesus gave him and declared it “good wine”, in fact, better than there was at first. (v.9-10) 

The miracle ends with the guests unaware a miracle had occurred. John calls this the “beginning of miracles” but the guests had no idea a miracle occurred. On the other hand, “the disciples believed on him.” (v.11) This water or wine served to the guests at the wedding feast, reminds us of the sacrament we take weekly. Some Sundays we are the guests. Out of habit, we take it, but it does not change us. Others realize the miracle that allows us to partake of the living water and believe more in his words because of it. 

In London, on my mission, I met a little old man who loved to write poems. He wrote one used by John Bytheway that reflects this idea well. 

Sacrament Poem 

There was envy in the glances that a lovely woman cast, 

At the hairdo of a neighbor while the Sacrament was passed. 

And a teenaged girl I noticed, though a timid lass & shy, 

Watched a youthful priest intently through the corner of her eye; 

As he sat behind the table where the water trays were spread. 

She was not remembering Jesus nor the prayer the priest had said. 

There was nothing reverential in the things the cub scout drew, 

on the pages of the hymn book till the Sacrament was through. 

Not a thought of Jesus’ passion entered careless elders’ minds, 

As they whispered to each other & the girls they sat behind. 

And the high priest’s brow was furrowed as he stole a secret glance, 

At his checkbook’s dismal story of his failures in finance. 

There were hundreds in the chapel, but the worshippers were few, 

And I couldn’t help but wonder what the Lord Himself would do. 

I couldn’t help but wonder what the Lord Himself would say, 

Had he walked into a meeting where His saints behaved that way. 

Would His loving eyes be saddened, would His countenance be grim; 

While He there observed & listened to a meeting meant for Him? 

Author:  O. Willard Pilling 

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