How did Jesus change the water into wine? When did he do it? Who saw it? Let’s try to find out. Look at John 2, verses 6-10.
The details in the Gospel of John are somewhat scant, aren’t they? Jesus follows his mom’s lead, tells the servants to fill some large jars with water and they take the water-turned-wine to the master of the banquet, who declares that it is the best wine.
Saving the best wine for last is very unusual. The Master of the banquet doesn’t seem to know about the miracle. And he probably didn’t care at this point. If he knew there was a problem, it was solved. The wedding could continue, now with the best wine!
So who saw the miracle happen? As we saw in the first post in this week’s series on John 2:1-11, The Chosen depicts Jesus as asking everyone to leave the room where they jars were located, and privately, all by himself with no one looking, he dips his hands into the water, thus changing the water into wine. The text of the Gospel of John, however, doesn’t tell us if that’s how he did it. So, I wonder, could it be that people saw Jesus perform the miracle? At this point, we know the servants were involved, but we don’t know how much they saw.
The Gospel of John tells us that the servants knew what happened. They were there when that woman told her son to get involved. They were there when the women told them to do whatever her son said to do. They were there when her son asked them to fill the jars, those big earthen jars with water. They knew the issue at hand was the absence of wine, and they found it bizarre when this man tells them to fill the jars with water. Shouldn’t he have been telling them to go out to find more wine? Why water? The issue was wine, not water. But they are servants, and their position in society and at this banquet is to do what they are told. They tended to be people on the margins of society, the underlings. The woman had that look in her eye, and they did what she said, which was to do what the man said. So the servants fetch water from the town well, bucket after bucket after bucket. Till the jars were full.
The Gospel of John doesn’t tell us precisely how the miracle happened. Did the servants pour their smaller jars of water from the well into the big jars at the wedding, and when the water hit the inside of the jar, the water turned into wine? Could the servants see the transformation happening with each pour? Or did Jesus wait until all the jars were totally filled to do the miracle? At what point did the servants know the miracle had happened? Maybe when Jesus told them to draw some out. They had to see the red color then, right? But perhaps they didn’t yet taste it themselves, and they were surprised along with the master when he took his first sip.
The important issue is not how or when it happened, or even who saw it happen. The important issue is why Jesus changed the water into wine. It’s quite a unique miracle, and yet it is not the only time that Jesus will do a miracle like this. On at least one other occasion, he will take one boy’s small packed lunch of some bread and fish, meant to feed one person, and Jesus would multiply it to feed thousands. But Jesus is not in the business of providing food and drink for the world. His followers rightly would take on that concern for those in need, and that is why we continue to pursue ministries of feeding those in need. Jesus could have gone around Israel, turning water into wine all over the place, putting the vineyards out of business in the process. But no. He had another reason for this miracle.
We’ll find out his other reason in the next post.