What was Jesus thinking when He introduced His power to perform miracles by changing water into wine? Did He not realize the controversy that would arise between oenophiles and teetotalers? Of course He did. But the message He intended to convey was more profound than petty quarrels over temperance.
In John 10:10 Jesus says that He came so that we might “have life and have it abundantly”. Why would anyone be satisfied merely to arrive at the moment of their final earthly breath with stress-induced white knuckles?
The progression of the elements highlighted in the account of Jesus’ first miracle helps us to understand more clearly His greater message.
At the wedding feast Jesus began with water. Under normal conditions, a human being can survive for only three to five days without it. Water is plain, simple and basic, containing no frills; however, it is essential for survival.
Next Jesus instructed the servants to present the contents of the vessels to the headwaiter of the feast. The headwaiter not only declared the water to be wine but wine of finer quality. In culinary circles wine is not merely a beverage, it represents the finer things in life. It is not plain, simple or basic; it is complex, refined and elegant. Wine is not necessary for survival but it does add flavor to life.
While a standard 750 ml bottle of wine can be purchased for as little as two or three dollars, the broader term “fine wine” refers to those typically retailing in excess of $30–$50. Some bottles have sold for over $200,000.00! I believe that the latter is the quality of wine Jesus provided at the wedding in Cana.
This miracle illustrates that Jesus did not come only to provide a life of laborious survival but rather a life of abundance. Abundant life isn’t intended to be something after which we strive. It is already available, presented at the cross when He uttered the words, “It is finished”.
However, we dare not cheapen Jesus’ message by limiting the definition of “abundant life” to material wealth or to a life of extravagant leisure. God may, from time to time, present us with a wonderful material gift but the true indicators of abundant life are peace, joy and contentment. We access the abundant life by removing our focus from the trials of life and then fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and on His Kingdom. As we grow closer to Jesus, He just might change our water into wine as well.