Turning Water into Wine

Turning Water into Wine

John’s Gospel who written to?

To a Jewish-Christian community.

Written at the end of John’s life.

Why written?

To affirm the divinity of Christ.

Jesus was not just a man anointed by God (this was easy to see), but realising Jesus was God was another matter.

John wanted His readers to embrace Jesus in His entirety and put their faith fully in Him.

The word BELIEVE or one with believe inside it, appears 249 times in the Bible.

– 20 times in the OT

– Matthew 9

– Mark 18

– Luke 9

– 94 times in John

John was wanting his community to abandon their faith in the Temple system completely and put their faith in Jesus.

How does John do this?

John sends his readers on a treasure hunt.

He places cryptic clues laid out for us to follow.  

John uses the word sign instead of “clues”.

These signposts are set up a series of signposts to take us through his story.  

And what are these signs?

They are all occasions when Jesus did what he’d just promised Nathanael that he would do.  

– They are moments when Heaven is opened, when the transforming power of God’s love bursts in to the present world.

  1. The Wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into wine
  2. Jesus heals a Roman centurion’s servant
  3. The healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda
  4. The feeding of the 5,000 in the wilderness
  5. Healing of the man born blind
  6. The raising of Lazarus from the dead

That’s not a typo. John does mention a 7th and final sign: the cross.

The cross is where the glory of God is supremely revealed. 

Jesus is lifted up as the true revelation of God, lifted up in the supreme work of love, of gentle and heartfelt compassion, and the supreme example of the creator’s yearning love for his lost and self-destructive world.

So the “signs” point to the new creation through the cross.  

John does this through a chiastic structure

(1)The Wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into wine + (7)The Cross/Resurrection of Jesus

(2) Jesus heals a Roman centurion’s servant (John 4:46-54) + (6) The raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11)

(3) The healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda + (5) Healing of the man born blind

(4) The feeding of the 5,000 in the wilderness (John 6:1-71)

Similar to Genesis:

Days of Separation

Days of Filling

1. Light/Dark 

4. Sun + moon/stars

2. Sky/water

5. Birds/Fish

3 Land/Sea


John’s mirroring of creation

Jesus’ first sign: Turning water into wine

Jewish weddings happen on Tuesdays.

  • For much of Jewish history, the third day of the week (Tuesday) was considered an especially auspicious day for a wedding. This was so because, concerning the account of the third day of creation, the phrase “… and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10,12) appears twice. Therefore, Tuesday is a doubly good day for a wedding.
  • It would be pointless (but fun) to speculate as to whether or not this was poor planning on the family’s part, or too much drinking on the guests’ part.
  • The custom of the day was for wedding celebrations to ideally last seven days, and many friends of the bride and groom remained for the full period. 

>> What went wrong right at the beginning in the Genesis?

  • The shame brought on creation
  • Running out of wine was not just inconvenient, but a social disaster and disgrace.  The family would have to live with the shame of it for a long time to come; bride and groom might regard it as bringing bad luck on their married life.  


Messianic expectations

In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen.  The mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.  (Amos 9:11, 13)

And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth form the house of the Lord. (Joel 3:18)

And it will happen that the Messiah will begin to be revealed.  And on one vine will be a thousand branches, and one branch will produce a thousand clusters, and one cluster will produce a thousand grapes, and one grape will produce a liter of wine. (2 Baruch 29:1-2)

A Deuterocanonical book

The sign Jesus performed illustrated that he was accepting the role of the messianic bridegroom and that, as such, he was assuming the role of Yahweh, the bridegroom of Israel.

Kickstarted by Mary ahead of time!


By agreeing to provide the wine for the wedding, Jesus also begins to reveal that he is not just the Messiah, he is also the Bridegroom.

As a guest, Jesus was not responsible for providing the food and drink for the wedding party.  This would have been the duty of the bridegroom of Cana and his family. 

Mary is also asking him to assume the role of the Jewish bridegroom.

 places him in the role of the bridegroom, whose responsibility it is to provide the wine. 

The sign Jesus performed illustrated that he was accepting the role of the messianic bridegroom and that, as such, he was assuming the role of Yahweh, the bridegroom of Israel.


It is God himself who provides the wine of the banquet of salvation.  And even more, in Jewish scripture, it is God who is referred to as the Bridegroom of his entire people, (e.g., Isaiah 62:4-6)

Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”[a] or “The Desolate Land.”[b] Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”[c] and “The Bride of God,”[d] for the Lord delights in you
and will claim you as his bride.

Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls;
they will pray day and night, continually.
Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord.


>> wine was the product of the gods. All the gods of antiquity were gods of wine, from Horus of Egypt to Dionysus or Bacchus of ancient Greece and Rome. This Gospel appears to have its origins in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), and there was a strong cult there worshiping Dionysius, the Greek god of wine. This shows the First Century Greeks that Jesus has power over wine, not the drunken, fornicating Dionysius.

Beer is made by men, wine is made by God.

-Martin Luther


God is intricately connected with humanity and hasn’t rejected us

“Woman, what have you and I to do with one another?”


Jesus is going to get His prize us

At the end of the story, the bride got the wine, the bridegroom got the compliments, and Jesus got the glory. That’s how it should be. Woman, what have you and I to do with one another? Everything.


Jesus saves the blushes of humanity.

Marriage – Of course marriage is the heart of family. 

Jesus’ changing of water into wine is designed to say, not just to this couple whose day was about to be ruined but all humanity,..

And it’s all to rescue this poor couple from social embarrassment . . .

They’d appear to be either poor or stingy — or idiots for inviting more people than they could manage to take care of.

Happened on the third day: resurrection day. John frames the story so that it points ahead to the ultimate moment of glory, the resurrection itself. 

Jesus goes far beyond just solving the problem of the lack of some wine for the wedding guests at Cana

Jesus is the transformer redeemer

6 pots = 6th day

6th day Humanity created

The pots were for religious purposes

They were empty and set aside

Jesus transforms them into the most exquisite vessels

the wine replaces the water in the jars which would normally have been used for purification, water to bring you back from the debit of uncleanness to the zero balance of precarious cleanness once more. Instead of mere purification, Jesus gives transformation: a new life altogether, catching up the old and doing something with it you couldn’t have guessed. 

800 bottles of wine (150 GALLONS)



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