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“Turn this water into wine. Come on… What you waiting for, your pal Jesus did it!”

January 16, 2016

“Hey, Vicar. How about conjuring up a some wine over here?”

“Turn this water into wine. Come on… What you waiting for, your pal Jesus did it.”

“Sorry mate, I’m in sales not management!”

I wish I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that one. In the pub, at parties, especially at a wedding reception after the drink’s been flowing for a while. It’s often followed by an offer of a drink, so it’s not all bad. Really, I don’t mind. It’s an easy opener, a way in to getting to know the fellas at the bar.

But what of that strange Bible story of Jesus turning water into wine (John 2.1-11)? It is an odd story but what does it mean?

I’ve often heard preachers take the safe line and explain how Jesus, in blessing that wedding, blesses all weddings. In a sense that he is blessing the very institution of marriage. True, but what about the drink? Well, that showed Jesus power over this world and through this miracle, “Jesus showed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (John 2.11 CEV)

But, but, but… Jesus didn’t just provide a little extra wine. They were already drunk! Why wasn’t Jesus ‘sensible’? Why didn’t he just provide the guests with a little more; not too much, perhaps just one more glass then home? But no. Jesus turns 60 to 90 gallons of water into wine! I don’t think I have ever seen that much wine all together, outside of a wine merchant’s that is. That is a huge amount. Enough to make them all ill for a week or more.

Jesus was exuberant in his generosity. That is certainly one of the messages from this story. That God in Jesus is generous beyond all expectations and dreams. The wine was good too, the very best. Again a sign of God’s generosity. This miracle of turning water into wine was a blessing on the groom and on everyone at that wedding. So, wine is a blessing, not as we too easily think a curse. Wine and the good things of life are blessings. Blessings to be enjoyed. Blessings to be accepted graciously to honour the giver.

Wine and joy and happiness are blessings from God. But they can come and they can go. I need to remember not to be a puritan about the good things of this earth. But equally I mustn’t worship them, or see them as necessary for my happiness, or as indicators of God’s love for me. If I do that I forget the rest of Jesus story.

After this wedding Jesus and his friends left Galilee. They attracted crowds but also suffered hardship, rejection and ultimately came to the cross. All through this God did not take away his love and blessing from his Son and his friends. God was there in the laughter and in the tears, redeeming both. In the parties and the hard times I’ve found that God is with me. He works extravagantly in both to show his love for me, all people and all things. He is generous beyond all imagining.

I need to remember not to search for God only in the good times, otherwise He will be missing from much of my life. I need God with me today as I meet, pray and plan with my ministry team. I need God with me when I’m worshipping later with young parents and their children. Then later I’m seeing a wedding couple; then arranging a funeral for a much loved member of my church family. That’s one Saturday, each day is different but I know I need, really need, God with me for every moment. If he’s only there in the good times then I’m well and truly stuffed.

Thankfully, He is there, with me, in me in the joys and the sorrows. Just as he will have been with that wedding couple throughout the joys and sorrows of their life together. I pray for the Spirit to give me the wisdom to take both equally. To have the faith of Job, and be able to say, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1.21 ERV).

  1. Thank you Nigel, this is lovely, inspiring, encouraging and hopeful – who could want for more?

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