Lesson 1: Miracles

To turn water into wine, and what is common into what is holy, is indeed the glory of Christianity. 

– Frederick Robertson

Now that we know Jesus heals to demonstrate his authority to teach and is hospitable to all as a sign of God’s reign on earth…we can finally understand miracles. Without this background, miracles can be interpreted as impressive feats of power. Now we can grasp miracles always point us to a deeper meaning. They invite us to respond to Jesus with faith and trust.  

Devotion: Read John 2:1-12. Far from a flippant act, John defines turning water into wine as “the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory” (2:11). A clue to its importance is found in the comment about the stone jars holding water used in ceremonial washing. On the surface, Jesus is saving the bridegroom’s honor. However, a deeper meaning is clear: the water of Jewish cleansing rituals is turned into wine, a symbol of Jesus’ blood in Communion (Mt 26:28). This miracle is a sign that Jesus transforms the Hebrew Covenant into the New Covenant. 

Jesus looks like a Nazarene carpenter, but he is much more. The bread and wine look ordinary, but God’s presence transforms them. You appear to be just another person, but you are a child of God called to embody God’s reign. What situations in your life might appear simple to an observer but are actually quite complex? How might seeing yourself as God’s representative called to speak God’s words to people transform how you see “beneath the surface” of your upcoming conversations?

Personal Worship Option: Read Rev 19:7-9. Meditate on heaven as a wedding feast. What does the host of the feast desire for you? What should that image teach you about life now?

Dig A Little Deeper:

2:1 Considering John’s use of “the next day” (1:29, 35, 43), the phrase “third day” does not suggest a chronological reference. The early church saw this as foreshadowing the resurrection.  

2:2 The joy of union with God is described as a wedding feast (Is 25:6; 19:9). Wine is both a symbol of God’s presence (Joel 3:18; Lk 22:18; Rev 14:10) and Jesus’ blood (6:53-56).  

2:4 Jesus’ words are not disrespectful but represent a common address to females (4:21). However, it is a very unusual way to address one’s mother (19:25-26). Scholars disagree on what he is communicating to Mary. He points out his time to be fully glorified in resurrection has not yet come (12:27-28). The glory revealed in this miracle (2:11) is a foreshadowing of that later full glorification. What do you think he is saying to her?  

2:5 Mary’s response assumes 1) Jesus has not fully refused or 2) she ignores his comment, pushing him to address the situation. What does it mean for Jesus to honor his mother?

2:6 Custom requires Jews to ritually wash before and after eating. Jesus produces 120 gallons of wine! The early church saw this and feeding the 5000 as a foreshadowing of heaven. (Amos 9:13-14). Why is “abundance” such a powerful image for communicating the presence of God?

2:9 The master of the banquet testifies to the wine’s quality and alcoholic content. Many who do not believe Christians should drink alcohol suggest Jesus makes non-alcoholic wine. This passage argues against this interpretation, since the master suggests the wine Jesus made is the kind that most serve first to intoxicate the guests. Why is this issue important for the church?

2:11 This is the first of seven signs in the gospel (4:546-54; 5:1-18; 6:5-14; 6:16-24; 9:1-7; 11:1-45). The disciples believe in him because they have now seen something greater than what John the Baptist pointed out to them (1:50).

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