The Signs of Jesus (I)
The Wedding
John 2:1-11

One thing that surprised me when I first came to Japan was that not only the starting time, but also the finishing time of parties was so clearly structured. In my country, a party, any kind of party, starts when the first people arrive, and finishes when the last people leave – which in some cases might be the next day!

But here, both the starting and finishing time of all kinds of parties is just as precise as the JR timetable.

But neither of these two customs can compare to weddings in the Middle East.

We have just read about a wedding that took place there about 2000 years ago. Let's have a quick look at what happened.

This wedding was in Galilee, and Jesus’ mother was there. The original text implies that she was already there at the beginning, and it is quite possible that she was involved in the organization of the wedding.

Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. The celebrations must have been well under way, when a problem suddenly arose. In the middle of this wedding reception, they ran out of wine.

Now, we need to understand that weddings were incredibly important social occasions at this time and place. Believe it or not, it was usual for a wedding party to last as long as a week! People would gather from near and far. They would walk, or maybe ride a donkey. The journey could be long and hard.

And hospitality at the wedding was like a sacred duty. It was the host's responsibility to honor the guests by making sure they had lots of food and drink. It would have been an insult to the guests if the host ran out of food or wine. In fact, this custom was so serious that if it was broken, guests could actually take out legal proceedings against the host.

So, when Mary told Jesus that the wine had run out, it was obviously a serious problem. In the Bible, wine is symbolic of rejoicing. It is a symbol of abundance. And more than anything, such rejoicing and abundance is the result of God pouring out His blessing on His people. But now, there was no more wine! A big problem!

Nearby, there were six stone jars which were used for ceremonial washing.

The Jewish tradition required several kinds of ceremonial washings. Of course, we wash our hands before a meal to clean them and get rid of germs. But strict Jews would wash their hands not only before a meal, but also between courses, and after the meal. Eating utensils would also be washed at these times. This washing was not only to get rid of germs, but was a ceremonial washing. It signified the cleansing or purifying of the soul.

These stone jars would have been used for this ceremonial washing. They were handmade. People had made them. And they were made from stone. They were filled with water which was used to wash dirty things.

But these water jars had no clean water in them. They were just empty, hard, stone. They were not able to do what they were supposed to do.

So what did Jesus do? He ordered that they be filled with water. That is in itself is not so surprising, because that is what they were for. However, the problem that Mary raised was not that there was no more ceremonial water, but that there was no more wine for the party.

So I expect that the servants were a little confused by Jesus’ command. But if that was the case, they must have been shocked by what He said next. After the containers were filled, Jesus then told the servants to draw some of the water out and take it to the master of the banquet.

Now, the master must have been stressing out more than anyone else that there was no more wine. So, you can imagine how those servants must have felt as they carried the water to their boss? They had filled the jars with water. They had drawn the water out. They knew that what they were going to give their boss was that same water. And what is more, this is the water that was used to wash hands and dishes with.[Boom, boom, boom!]

But the servants still took the water to him. They took it because Jesus had told them to. But the real reason that they obeyed Jesus was because Jesus mother had told them to. They didn't go because they trusted Jesus personally, but because of their respect for his mother.

But what happened next was beyond their expectations. In fact, it was also beyond the expectations of the master of the banquet. For when he tasted what was brought to him, it was not water, but the highest quality wine. The master of the banquet did not know where it had come from. But he could recognize its superior quality.

So what had Jesus done?

The water jars were there for ceremonial washing - the human effort to be cleansed on the inside, to have a clean heart. But the jars were empty, and they were stone hard. They were like the very hearts of people that needed cleansing: empty and hard.

Those jars, and the water in those jars, could not bring about a satisfactory solution to the problem of hearts that were empty of love and hardened by sin.

But Jesus had the jars filled with water. He did not say any magic words. He did not wave his arms meaningfully in the air. He did not even touch the water. But He transformed that water into the finest wine.

Jesus took something that seemed ordinary and transformed it into something extraordinary.

No one knew where the wine had come from. Neither the guests, nor the bride and groom knew. And the master of ceremonies did not know.

However, the servants knew. Although the master of the banquet was surprised at the quality of the wine, the servants were surprised because it had actually been water.

So we see here that it wasn't to the influential and important people, but to the humble, serving people to whom God revealed himself. Here it was to the servants. Years earlier it was to humble shepherds when Jesus was born. Later it would be to the sick, to the outcast, to the hungry and homeless. And it is the same here today.

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--

So, as Jesus reveals Himself, what is it that He is saying?

In a word, we can’t clean our own hearts. Through this changing of the water into wine, Jesus was saying that our own human attempts to try to make ourselves right with God are empty. God is perfect and unconditional love, and though he has made us in his own image, our own hearts have become hardened like stone, they are empty of love. And so we are unable to create within ourselves a true righteousness and love.

But Jesus came and took that which was empty, He took that which was hardened, and He filled it to the top. In fact, there would have been about 600 L of water there. So when Jesus provides blessing, He is not stingy. He does not hold back. He blesses abundantly, without restraint.

And then he transformed that water. He renewed it. Jesus replaced the tool by which people tried to cleanse themselves with the best wine. And remember that wine here is a symbol of abundance and rejoicing. It is the symbol of God’s blessing.

Jesus took a custom and fulfilled in that custom the fullness of its true purpose.

Some 500 years before this, the prophet Ezekiel recorded for us what Jesus was going to do.

Ezekiel 36:25-27
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

John described what Jesus did at the wedding as the first of His signs. As a sign, the ultimate purpose of the transformation of the water was therefore not to simply provide wine at a wedding, but to reveal who Jesus really was, and to inform us of the true purpose of His coming.

In fact, John tells us later that: (John 20:30-31)

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

By the way, I think that it is interesting that this is how Jesus chose to reveal His identity and His mission. It was a wedding: a time of celebration, hope and joy. A wedding is a time of union, when people gather together to recognize and to celebrate a new relationship.

That is why Jesus chose a wedding to reveal Himself. By changing the water into wine, Jesus was showing that he was replacing the system of empty human attempts to be reconciled with God. Jesus was showing that through the sacrifice He would later make on the cross, there would be no need to undertake the ritualistic washing ceremonies, or the animal sacrifices anymore.

Yet even now, in our own way, we make sacrifices to try to look right. Through our work, through our relationships, through hobbies and our religion, we try hard to make ourselves look good.

The human need for cleansing has not changed. But our best efforts cannot change what is inside us. We cannot reach into our own hearts and wash clean the stain of our own sin.

That is why Jesus came: to personally take care of the problem. He Himself provided the solution. Jesus Himself was that solution!

1 Peter 3:18 tells us that:

"(For) Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit"

Did you notice that this sign was undertaken on the third day. Jesus was showing the new life that He came to give. For it was also on the third day that Jesus rose again from the grave following his crucifixion.

And when His new disciples saw what Jesus had done, we are told that they put their faith in Him. They came to believe that it was indeed Jesus who could restore dead hearts with cleansing and new life.

I wonder about the servants though. We are not told what happened to them. They had obeyed Jesus because of what Mary had said. But then they saw what Jesus did. They witnessed His sign. Now, they had the chance to trust Jesus, not because of what someone else had said, but because of their own personal experience with Him. This sign told them that they could trust Him because of who He is.

Friends, this is why Jesus came. He came to personally cleanse us. He came to perfectly accomplish what we cannot do for ourselves. And His invitation to receive His gift of eternal life is very personal. Jesus offers you the abundance of His grace. He offers you the joy of new, eternal life. He offers you God’s personal blessing.

Is that what you are looking for? What is the condition of your heart now? Remember, when Jesus blesses, His blessing is deep, and His blessing is wide. He takes the ordinary, and He makes it extraordinary. Jesus is the One who can transform a hard and empty heart and make it overflow with God’s deepest love. Whether you have known Him for a long time, or this is your first sign, Jesus can meet your deepest needs. All you have to do is hold out your cup and ask Him to fill it.




























ヨハネ1:12 しかし、この方を受け入れた人々、すなわち、その名を信じた人々には、神の子どもとされる特権をお与えになった。









実際、ヨハネは後にこう言っています。(ヨハネ 20:30-31)