Water, Wine, Spirit, New Life
Wine has been a favorite drink since biblical days. Wine is served with regular meals and at festive
occasions. Psalm 104 speaks of wine making glad the human heart. Wine symbolizes joy and celebration,
the kind of joy and celebration one experiences at a wedding feast.
On Sunday, the second Sunday after the Epiphany, the gospel (John 2:1-11) presents us with a wedding
story. Jesus, His disciples and His Mother, Mary are guests at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. The wine runs
out and Jesus’ Mother draws his attention to the wedding host’s dilemma, “They have no wine.” Jesus
hears his mother’s intercession for the family, just as He hears our intercession for others. He initially
resists, stating that “His hour had not yet come.” But Mary is unrelenting. Jesus’ hour to inaugurate His
ministry has arrived. She directs the servants to “do whatever he tells you.” Jesus relents and tells the
servants to fill the six ritual purification jars with water. And Jesus miraculously changed pure, tasteless
water into fine wine, the best quality wine; 120 or more gallons. The miracle, the first sign, boldly
proclaimed that Jesus is One with God. Only through the power of God, the Creator, who blew the wind
of His Spirit on the waters before Creation, could the very essence of water be changed.
The steward, surprised by the great taste of the new wine, thought that the host had overturned the old
norm of serving fine wine first then the inferior wine after. Instead, Jesus’ new, fine wine was served
later. The new, fine wine symbolizes the Incarnate Christ, the One sent from God to usher in the new
covenant. The old wine of the old covenant has run out. The old legalistic way of worship was giving way
to a new deeper, more personal way of worshipping God in Spirit and in truth.
The new way of worship is rooted in God’s unending love, and an abundance of “grace upon grace.”
Under the new covenant, God presents Godself as the bridegroom who welcomes us, His bride, in a very
personal way and lavishes His favor on us. Under the new covenant we come to God in Christ, not in
perfection, but as we are, our feelings of emptiness, when we run out of steam or feel lacking. Christ
transforms our emptiness with His new wine of rebirth in Him, and joy and peace. He extravagantly
lavishes on us more than we can ask or imagine, just like He supplied a superabundance of fine wine to
alleviate the wedding host’s embarrassment and uplift the hearts of the wedding guests. May our lives
point others to Christ’s spirit of abundance, joy, love, and grace.