The Sign: Turning Water into Wine

water into wineDid you know that according to the Gospel of John, the first miracle Jesus performed was that of turning water into wine? That’s really amazing to me! I mean, think about it! You would think that the first miracle would have been something like giving sight to the blind or making a lame man walk. But according to John, the first miracle was turning water into wine!

What is that telling us? Well, I did some reading in my Greek New Testament and I discovered that the Greek word that is translated into the English word: “miracle” in the Gospel of John in the King James Version of the Bible is more accurately translated as the word: “sign.” In fact, everywhere the King James Version has the words “miracle” or “miracles” in the Gospel of John, a more accurate translation would be the words: “sign” or “signs!” In John’s gospel, the miracles of Jesus were signs that pointed to the greater reality of the deity of Jesus!

But, aside from pointing to the greater reality that Jesus was and is indeed the Son of God, what was the “sign” of turning water into wine? Well, I believe there were couple of things Jesus was doing by turning water into wine (beside the immediate context of supplying the need of the wedding feast, thereby sparing the host of potential social embarrassment)! First of all, I think Jesus was trying to tell us that his presence provides the potential for turning the ordinary (water) into the extraordinary (wine)! If you read the story in John 2, you will discover that the host was amazed because it wasn’t just wine, but it was extraordinary good wine! There really is no such thing as an ordinary Christian life because the presence of Jesus via the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer makes life extraordinary and exciting!

I also think that Jesus was giving an indication of what life is like with him with this sign! He turned water into wine, not because they had ran out of wine for communion; but rather they ran out of wine for a wedding feast! Too many people think that being solemn and sour is the mark of a Christian. But I think Jesus was saying with this sign of turning water into wine that a dominant characteristic of the Christian’s life is joy! A wedding was and is a joyous occasion and wine makes it even more jubilant! The message is this: Don’t be such a “stuff-shirt!” Life in Christ is meant to be joyous and exciting, not dull and boring!

Well, that’s what I think! So the next time you meet someone who is supposedly a Christian, yet there is no joy in their life, it may be because they didn’t “read” this sign right or it may be their wine has run out! The life of faith is not primarily about following rules and laws (although there are rules and laws we must follow), but more so about a joyful relationship with the Father through the Son by way of the Holy Spirit! So loosen up my brother; let your hair down my sister! Enjoy your life (in Christ)! I believe that was the message of the sign of turning water into wine!

Joy in the Journey; Strength from the Struggle

I can remember when I was quite young, my family and I would make long trips to see some of our relatives who lived out of town. We would always have a good time when we made it to our destination. But as I recall, the most enjoyable time on those trips was the coming and going! As we would travel down the highway, we would sing and play games and have a good time! Sure, it was a delight to be with our relatives, but the real joy for us was in the journey!  Today, many people miss out on so much of the joy in life because they are in too big of a rush to get to their destinations! As a consequence, they miss this most important lesson in life: The joy is in the journey! As you rush through the flower gardens of life on your way to the destination that you have labeled success, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers along the way!

Besides missing out on the joy in the journey, when they arrive at their destination (goal; main objective), they are weak and unprepared! Taking shortcuts may get you to your destination quicker, but too many shortcuts short-circuit the learning process because there are some lessons that can only be learned in time and through struggle! A champion Olympic weightlifter will tell you that you can’t develop muscles without training with weights! You start off light, and then you gradually proceed to heavier weights. There is no way around it: If you want to be a champion you must train and training involves struggle and perseverance!

Consider this story:

One day a small opening appeared on a cocoon, a man sat and watched for the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly, he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We would never fly! Remember, the joy is in the journey and the strength comes from the struggle!