“Then Jesus told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” John 2:8-11
Jesus didn’t do anything by mistake during his 33 years. He did everything according to the will of the Father and in the Father’s timing. So what are we to make of the choice of what seems like a “party trick” for his first sign? No one is healed, resurrected, resuscitated, baptized, catechized or sermonized. He gives people who have had too much to drink more wine. Turning water into wine has become a euphemism for the impossible. But it’s no cheap bit of sorcery for Hogwart’s first-years.
This was more than a miracle. It was a statement. Jesus converted ceremonial washing pots, used to fulfill the requirements of the law, into vessels full of wine – joy, gladness. Just as he would fulfill all the requirements of the law with his body and then pour out his blood in sacrifice to bring “life and life abundantly” to those who put their faith and trust in him. In this way, the sign also announced the return of joy to Israel. God entered into covenant relationship with Israel long ago, but the joy of the union was gone. They had left their first love, as we all do at some point. But he has not left us. Not only does he show his faithfulness, but he celebrates the reunion and proclaims himself a source of joy and life that never runs out.
This world can offer no such joy. To be sure, there is wine, good wine, and plenty of other things that bring us pleasure in this life – he knows, he designed us and the grape and dopamine. But if we make these our Gods they will always disappoint. They run out, or consume us, or end with our last breath. When the good stuff is gone, or we can’t afford it, or it lose its appeal, we start getting drunk on the cheap stuff. Like the master of the banquet, we resort to trickery to keep ourselves satisfied. Not so with Jesus, who is the source of joy in this life and eternally.
It might trip a few people out to know that in one sense, Jesus’s ministry began with drinking in celebration and it will culminate with drinking in celebration. (Matt 26:29) One day, those who have put their faith and trust in him, who have been purchased as his bride, will enjoy a wedding feast like no other. And he will drink joy with us again (Rev. 19:6-9).