When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.” – John 2:3
Have you ever wondered why Jesus’ first sign in John is the changing of water to wine? Many preachers have pointed to his support of marriage; that it happened at a wedding feast and Christ is supporting marriages through his attendance and blessing. That could be true, but the setting is not the reason.
It would have been normal for the feast at a wedding to be a community affair. Many guests would attend, and it would last for a week. Quite possibly the groom and his best man did not calculate well enough the need for wine. Or maybe the folks who attended were a rather rambunctious crowd who enjoyed a glass or four with their dinner. Or quite possibly it symbolizes the reality that every celebration we have in this life falls short. That is the verb used there for running out, “falling short” (Read Romans 3:23 for another use of this verb.) That regardless of our merriment or joy, so much goes wrong in this life that we want to be better or even perfect. A wedding ceremony can go great. The food fabulous. Then the parents fight, the guests get tired, the gifts run out, and the honeymoon comes where the bride and the groom have their first spat.
With even greater symbolism, Jesus does not go to Costco to by a few boxes of wine. He takes what is there and uses it for his glory to make a point for us. Taking the wash basins, the huge vats used for water to wash the guest’s feet and hands, and to clean the utensils, Jesus has them filled to the brim. He takes the things appointed by the Law for us to clean ourselves, and does something different. The ability to wash ourselves becomes the very thing that has run out. The thing needed or wanted, that could not be supplied by us. Jesus filling up the places gone empty with his glory to grant to us the very things we have used up to try and make our lives perfect.
It would have been normal for people to wash their hands between courses at these events. Never mind that their fingers continued to get dirty. They had drunk all the wine and needed more. An insatiable appetite for the gifts God gives that we usually never give him thanks for those things. Jesus steps into this type of need, this place of lacking, and he pours himself out into that use of finding the broken and barren cisterns of life, mending, and then filling them up with all of his goodness and grace.
The wedding at Cana has very little to do with wine, weddings, or wishful thinking. It has everything to do with a Jesus who came for you, for all your brokenness and lack, and he became for you the source of all your needs in this life. Casting aside all the attempts for you to make yourself clean and perfect, he becomes the perfection for you to allow you to drink from his goodness for no other reason than because he wants to give of himself to you.