John Chapter 2

Saving the best for last!

 

By I Gordon

 

Introduction

 

Let me start with a question… can you think of any miracle Jesus did which was primarily just for somebody’s pleasure? If you are like me, you might draw a blank. Every miracle I could think of was performed on the basis of need, not pleasure. Well, recently I was reading John chapter 2 and it contains a description of the first ever miracle that Jesus did during his ministry. A miracle at a wedding where he turned water into wine… which, on the surface of it at least, seems very much like a miracle performed primarily for the pleasure of the guests there, wouldn’t you agree? We should always bear in mind though that each event which the Holy Spirit has determined to record in the Bible is there for a reason and contains instruction for our lives. So this short study is just a brief look below the surface at this event! Here is the entire passage -

 

John 2:1-11 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”  “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

 

So, in brief, here’s the story. Jesus is at a wedding with His mother and disciples. As is normally the case, the wine soon runs out. Jesus however performs his first miracle and turns water into wine. This new wine is far better than the old which an amazed waiter testifies to!

 

Instruction for us on the personal level…

 

So if we are going to find instruction for our lives, we should firstly ask in what ways wine is used as a symbol in scripture? Go on, think! What came to my mind first of all when I read this passage was ‘joy’. But wine is also used as a symbol of the New Covenant. Here a couple of scriptures which contrast wine with joy –

 

Psalm 4:7 ‘You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.’

Isaiah 24:7-11 The new wine dries up and the vine withers; all the merrymakers groan... the joyful harp is silent. No longer do they drink wine with a song… In the streets they cry out for wine; all joy turns to gloom.

 

You give me joy that’s unspeakable… and I like it!

 

So wine is sometimes used as a symbol for joy. Now, there are obviously natural things in this life that bring us joy. For some it is possessions, leisure activities, or maybe, just maybe, even your work! Well, then again, maybe not! But sadly, like the first wine at the wedding, the joy of these things doesn’t last! In fact, God won’t allow them to last if they are our desperate attempt to fulfil in our lives the place that God alone should hold. He does this because He knows that He has far better things for us! So, just as the new wine that Jesus gave at the wedding was superior to the old, so is the joy that He brings to our life. It is supernatural, not natural… It is lasting, not temporal… and it is far better than the joy we receive from natural pleasures! So what is our response to this? What is the Lord asking from us? Well, simply put, mimic the master of the banquet who declared that ‘you have saved the best till now!‘ The joy of the Lord in our lives is something we too are called to testify to others about!

 

The New Covenant – Better by Far!

 

The new wine was also used by Jesus as a symbol of the new covenant. Here is the passage:

 

Matt 9:16-17 ‘No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

 

The new wine mentioned by Jesus in this passage speaks of the new covenant of grace. It cannot be mixed or contained by the old wineskins (the old covenant of the law.)[1] So we see from Jesus’ miracle at the wedding that the new wine (as a picture of the grace of the new covenant) was going to be far better than the old wine which had now run out (the old Mosaic covenant of the law.) God had again saved His best for last when you look at the grace (New Covenant) as opposed to the law (Mosaic Covenant). The writer of Hebrews brings this out clearly when He writes:

 

Heb 8:6 “But the ministry Jesus has received (as our High Priest) is as superior to theirs (the priests of the Old Testament) as the covenant of which he is mediator (New Covenant – grace) is superior to the old one (Mosaic Covenant – Law), and it is founded on better promises.”  

 

This contrast between the old and new covenants is seen also in the first miracles performed by the mediators of the respective covenants - Moses and Jesus. The first miracle that Moses performed before Pharaoh was to turn water into blood as a sign of judgement. The first miracle that Jesus performed was at this wedding where He turned water into wine as a picture of the joy that comes through the new covenant of grace. ‘The law came through Moses but grace and truth through Jesus Christ.’ As a side note, it is also interesting that the new wine was introduced ‘on the third day.’ This may be a reference to the importance of Jesus’ resurrection because ‘if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.’ (1 Cor 15:17)

 

Things to Come…He has again saved the best for last!

 

Lastly, this wedding should remind us of an even better wedding still to come – the wedding of the lamb! I hope you’ll be there! For no matter what joy you experience in this life, whether through natural or spiritual means, if still will not compare to what is to come. In this life we ‘see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ (1 Cor 13:12)  What is to come is far better than anything we have experienced in this life! Meditate, please, on these next few verses. I just love this passage and will usually find just about any reason (whether it relates to my study or not!) to quote them. I think I am justified in doing it this time!... 

 

Rev 21:2-5  “I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

 

Truly, ‘blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! (Rev 19:9).

 

The ‘old order of things’, the world in which we live, is soon to pass away. Jesus will make ‘all things new’. And like the wedding at Cana in John chapter 2, on that day you will truly know (if you are one of His) that God has once again saved the best for last!

 

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!



[1] The Believers Bible Commentary quotes Arno C. Gaebelein where he writes on this passage “A judaistic Christianity which, with a profession of grace and the Gospel, attempts to keep the law and fosters legal righteousness is a greater abomination in the eyes of God than professing Israel in the past, worshipping idols.”