John 2:1-11(NRSV); Water into Wine: The Miracle of Grace (Pt 1)

By the Rev. Bob Gochenour (September 7, 2014)


The wedding at Cana was a huge social event.

The bride and groom had planned a gala event: they wanted the party to be the best thing that happened in Cana all year.

They reserved the best synagogue in town.

They booked the best caterer and reviewed the menu carefully.

The flowers were selected with care; the decorations were first class, every detail was perfect.

They reviewed the guest list very carefully and made sure that every person was assigned to the correct seat.

They made sure that not a single family member was left out—all the in-laws and out-laws were assigned their appropriate place.

Mary was invited to the wedding—probably a distant relative.

The bride and groom wanted to give the proper honor to this widow—her husband Joseph had been dead for some time.

The invitation to Jesus appears to be a last minute addition.

Almost a side note: Jesus and his disciple were also invited.

We will seat them in the back of the room—far away from the action, the bride and groom, and the important people.

At this point in John’s Gospel, Jesus is an enigma.

Jesus is the Carpenter’s Son— trained by Joseph to be a carpenter.

Jesus is not following in his dad’s footsteps—he chooses to be a lay preacher, wandering the towns and teaching.

Rumor in Cana—Jesus is a disappointment to his family.

He is not married, he does not have a family, no steady income, he is not a carpenter, and he is not doing anything significant.

At the age of 30, what is he waiting for?

The bride and groom are stuck: Jesus is still the widow’s son and must be invited.

He is not a significant guest—not given a seat of honor.

John also clues us in that Jesus was still under the radar: he had not started his public ministry yet.

Jesus is like water—an ordinary Jewish man, living in 1st century Israel with no claim to fame, no miracles, no great public ministry, no popularity, and nothing to attract any notice at all.

Jesus is still wrapped in the silent years—that time between his birth and his public ministry.


Then the crisis comes: The wedding of Cana runs out of wine!

The 7 day party screeches to a halt— the bride and groom are about to experience a blemish that will mark them the rest of their lives.

Wine is symbol of God’s blessing upon married couple.

Running out of wine could be the end of the marriage—they may even believe that they have God’s curse upon them.

Apparently, Mary becomes aware of the crisis before everyone else did.

Perhaps, sitting in the back of the room, close to the kitchen and near the caterers and servants, Mary perceives the problem before the other guests.

Mary says to Jesus: “They have no wine.”

Jesus’ response is instructive: “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?” My hour has not yet come.”

Jesus was not planning on starting his public ministry yet.

The lack of wine was not on his “to do list” for that day.

Jesus seemed to be content in sitting in the back of the room; in-cognito, staying under the radar.

“My hour has not yet come” refers to his death on the cross and the subsequent victory of the resurrection and glorification.

Jesus is basically saying that this problem was none of their business.


Mary ignores Jesus’ complaints and acts like a typical Jewish mother.

Jesus, you are the head of our household, take care of this!

Mary’s intervention—listen to Jesus; do what he says.

She did not expect a miracle from Jesus—she just expected him to take his daddy Josephs’ role and help the marriage couple out.

That is when Jesus’ heavenly Father took over.

For what happened next was a miracle of God’s grace.

The miracle of Grace—the water becomes wine.

The miracle of Grace rescues the wedding party at Cana.

All of the guests continue to celebrate this great gala.

The wedding couple receive the blessings of God

GRACE = God provides free gifts of love and care.

It is the experience of receiving God’s loving kindness, known as the “hesed”—God steadfast care, and long-suffering love for us.

The bride and groom received a miracle of God’s GRACE.

John’s story points to another miracle of Grace.

Jesus himself is transformed from water to wine.

The very last verse of this story reveals John’s purpose in sharing this story: “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciple believed in him.”

Jesus is no longer the water found in these six stone jars.

Jesus is no longer the “nobody” sitting in the back of the room.

Jesus is no longer flying under the radar—stuck in his silent years.

Jesus is no longer the disappointing son of the widow Mary, the son who refused to follow in his daddy’s footsteps, the son that hadn’t accomplished anything of note—no wife, no children, no job of significance.

JESUS IS THE NEW WINE: The Messiah who brings God’s grace.

Jesus is the new wine: a miracle worker who reveals God’s care.

Jesus is the new wine: a rabbi who reveals God’s glory.

Jesus is the new wine: The promised Messiah who brings salvation to the whole world.


This story has long been associated with the Last Supper.

As Jesus joins the disciples in celebrating the Passover feast; he brings new meaning to the old miracles of God.

The Passover feast was an annual memorial feast that celebrated God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery.

This feast featured special foods that reminded the Hebrew people of the bitterness of slavery and bondage in Egypt.

The feast also reminded the Hebrew people how God intervened and gave them GRACE: deliverance from Pharaoh and freedom in the Promised land.

Each feast featured 5 cups of wine.

The first 4 cups were drunk as toasts to God as thanksgiving for his deliverance from slavery.

Each cup of wine represented the joy of God received from the deliverance from slavery.

There were 4 cups to remind the people of the four phrases of redemption as found in Exodus 6:6-7.

The first cup symbolized the joy from vs 6a: “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians.”

The second symbolized the joy from vs. 6b: “And deliver you from slavery to them.”

The third cup symbolized the joy from vs. 6c: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.”

The fourth cup symbolized the joy from vs. 7: “I will take you as my people, and I will be your God.”

As each cup is lifted, Jesus prayed this traditional prayer:
“Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who gives us the fruit of the vine.”

The way one would say “Amen” is by drinking the full cup of wine.


The 5th cup was the Cup of Elijah—this cup was not drunk.

It served as a promised hope that someday Elijah would come to announce that the coming of the Messiah was at hand—all Jews were preparing the way for the Messiah.

Jesus took that Elijah cup and gave it to his disciples and said: “Drink from this all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.”

Jesus has transformed the Elijah cup into the Cup of the New Covenant.

Jesus has transformed himself from water into wine.

Jesus is the new wine: The new Passover cup/Last Supper.

Jesus is the new wine: Redeems Israel from slavery.

Jesus is the new wine: He brings joy to us all!

Jesus is the new wine: God saved the best for last!


Stewardship point: We celebrate the Miracle of Grace!

God has already given us everything we need in Jesus.

Jesus is the new wine: the Savior of the World/ our Savior!

He gave us this new wine: joy, love, care, hesed, Grace!

We respond with Thanksgiving to the God of Grace:

       Giving our lives/ time/ talents/ treasure.     

We respond by saying “amen” and drinking this cup of wine.

We accept this miracle of grace: Jesus is our Messiah!