Andrew Fountain - A Different take on turning Water into Wine

  • Why does Jesus answer Mary in such an odd way? It is almost rude and seems very out of character.
  • Yet it turns out that this answer is what unlocks the challenge to us in the story.


Sermon Outline - A Different Take on turning Water into Wine

To engage with Jesus today like those those first followers did.

Quick Recap

  1. The extraordinary poem hidden in the first 18 verses of John [1:1–18]
    • In our modern, organized minds, we want the truth laid out in 7 simple steps. But what the Bible often gives us is a Michelangelo painting
  2. Why the very first believers were so drawn to Jesus [1:19–51]

Water to Wine at a Wedding

  1. A close reading of the story
  2. Some beautifully woven details
  3. The main point, and how it speaks to us

John 2:1–11

  1. Now on the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,
  2. and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
  3. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.”
  4. Jesus said, “Dear woman, What has this to do with me? My time has not yet come.”
  5. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”
  6. Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
  7. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the water jars with water.” So they filled them up to the very top.
  8. Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the head steward,” and they took it.
  9. When the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called the bridegroom
  10. and he said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper wine when the guests are drunk. You have kept the good wine until this moment in time!
  11. Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs, in Cana of Galilee.
    In this way he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.


  1. Seems like it was a family connection because Mary is in the know about the status of the wine supply.
    Wedding feasts could go on for a week!
  2. This was not just a major embarassment for the groom’s family (who had to foot the bill), the bride’s family could actually sue them in court! It did happen.
    • Looks like the family connection with Mary was on the groom’s side
    • There is evidence that Joseph had died. Jesus was the provider. (At the cross he asked John to be the one to have this role.)
    • No evidence of miracles up till now (dispite apocraphal story invented 100’s of years later about clay pigeons)
  3. This verse is going to be very important!
    • First: had Jesus time come? Not quiet yet.
    • Rude? Certainly unusual.
    • They would never call mother “woman”, not rude, but distant!
    • Ambiguous —could be taken as rude:
      • “What is there between me and you?”
      • “What is the connection between us?”
      • “What do we have to do with each other?”
      • Or not rude
        “why are you saying this to me?”
        “What has this to do with me?”
    • She is about to show a faith that will trigger the start of Jesus’ supernatural ministry.
    • Emagine Garry Kasparov, who was world chess champion for 15 years, had a daughter who was competing for the title
      • If he knew she was going to win, and wanted her to get the maximum glory, would he sit close to her so people might suspect him whispering?
      • No, he would want her to do it herself.
    • Jesus is deliberatedly ambiguous so as to really stretch her.
      • Nobody could accuse him of asking a leading question “So you have faith for a miracle do you Mum?”
    • Jesus is effectivly challenging her to clear out the false:
      • Don’t ask me because I am your mother
      • Don’t ask me because it’s my duty as guest at the wedding
      • Don’t forget that you have never seen me do a miracle
  4. Faith and obedience.
    • Tom’s dad (Don Garlington) did a Ph.D. thesis on faith and obedience
      • Some say “doing” is good works, and “faith” is just resting
      • Don showed conclusively that in the Bible faith and doing are woven together
    • So what Mary did, was an amazing act of faith
      • Make Jesus your Lord!
      • It triggered a series of events, leading to the miracle
      • No mention of his mother again in John until the cross—John in no way supports worship of Mary!
    • In the Greek there is a sequence of “A said to B”, which comes out very well in the English —colour coded
      • A chain of events, initiated by Mary’s faith in v.5
  5. Around 1000 modern bottles of wine.
    • Why does John point out the quantity? —could not be a mistake or trick
    • Would only have drunk a fraction. Financial boon for the new couple who probably sold it
  6. Notice “very top” —why might that be important —didn’t just pour a bit in while Jesus slipped in a jug of real wine
    • What moment do you thing the miracle happened?
  7. Three time references (underlined in orange) See full page version
  8. —10. There is a beautiful symmetry, as we know John loves
    • Challenge to Mary’s faith
      • Her faith in action, leading to the miracle
    • Result: v.3–4 is turned upside down
    • Why stress he did not know where it came from? (not trying to be kind)
    • What is the point of v.10? —real miracle, but also some spiritual significance
  9. John is an artist, as we have seen, and this is the setting for the jewel
  • How to respond
    • Be like Mary:
      • Don’t try to bully God —God, you have to help me right now!
        I claim this blessing from you and you have to give it right now!
      • Put a guilt trip—I’m going to tell everyone you are going to answer my prayer, so that if you fail to, you will be so embarrased God!
      • Put God in a box: You did this for other people. You have to be consistent
    • Simply trust, whatever
      • I know your character is good and you love me!
      • I am going to serve and trust you totally
      • I release you to be God and do whatever you want (realease is an odd expression but...)
        • I am good with whatever you choose
    • This does not mean we should not be specific in our prayers!
      • It is about a combinaiton of
        • attentively obeying Jesus
        • releasing the outcome

Water to Wine at a Wedding

  1. A close reading of the story
  2. Some beautifully woven details
  3. The main point, and how it speaks to us

2. Some beautifully woven details

v.1 Third day

  • New Creation allusion
  1. Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.”
  2. Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?”
  3. But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body.

New Creation Imagery

  • Remember that the first 18 verses have strong creation imagery
    “in the beginning” “light”
    “New Creation, born of God in a new way”

Eve and Mary

  • Calling her “woman”
  • Mary is actually the one promised to Eve
  • Just as Eve was the first to sin, Jesus allows the woman to be the initiator in this first new-creation miracle
  • This lifts up womankind in the New Creation

Bridegroom: John 3

  • Wedding imagery linked to the new creation
  1. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my joy, and it is complete.

The Kingdom: Joel 3:18

On that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine,

and the hills will flow with milk.

Isaiah 25:6–9

  1. On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    • a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    • of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
  2. And he will swallow up on this mountain
    • the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    • the veil that is spread over all nations.
  3. He will swallow up death forever;
    • and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    • and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
      • for the Lord has spoken.
  • Jesus did not multiply vinegar at a funeral!

Links to John’s prolog (1:1–18)

  • Joh 1:14 We saw his glory — the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.
  • Joh 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.
  • This is such a wonderful picture of salvation
    • Trying to cleanse yourself through washing (law)
    • Receiving an abundance of the very best
    • Do you remember Moses’ first public miracle? —he turned water into blood and all the fish died
    • Do you want to chose Moses or Jesus?
      • Faith is about following his words! Making him your Lord

Water to Wine at a Wedding

  1. A close reading of the story
  2. Some beautifully woven details
  3. The main point, and how it speaks to us

Themes in John

  1. The life of God has come down to earth, so we can partake in the divine
    • John is very clear that we should get thet this is supernatural, and pointed to Jesus being from Heaven
  2. Not a re-hash of the old, but a totally new creation
    • see below
  3. This life is received by faith—believing in Jesus. How does that happen?
  1. We will see many themes of old to new creation at the start of John
    • The wine
    • New birth from above ch.3
    • Living water ch.4
  2. John is most interested in how people respond to Jesus, and what faith looks like.
    Some verses at the end summarize this mission:

John 20

  1. Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.”
  2. Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
  3. But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
    and that by believing you may have life in his name.

How do you respond today?

  • Are you with Mary?
  • Are you offended by God? (as she could have been)
  • Remember what her faith looked like: “Whatever he tells you, do it.”
  • In other words, give your problems to him in total trust, not demanding, but believing he is good!

Updated on 2019-09-30 by Andrew Fountain