Last Sunday was the day of Epiphany that marks Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana, turning water into wine. I don’t understand how anyone can make a Biblical case against alcohol, given that Jesus, who knew no sin, made wine. And this isn’t just wine for medicinal purposes or because the water wasn’t safe, excuses I’ve heard anti-alcohol Christians make. (Another ancient religion, Islam forbids wine altogether, so it wasn’t a necessity for life.) This was specifically alcohol for celebratory reasons.
But what I noticed this time is the distinction made here between “poor wine” and “good wine.” The text affirms that some wine, as with other human artifacts, is better than others, an affirmation of quality, of aesthetic judgment. And when Jesus makes wine through a miracle, it is specifically “good wine.”
But these observations just skim the surface of this text.
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. [John 2]
The miracle is “the first of his signs.” So what does it signify?
The water was for the rites of purification, the Jewish ritual that points ahead to Baptism! Christ washes us, purifies us, with water and with His blood, like the blood and water that came out of His pierced side (John 19:34). The wine surely points ahead to Holy Communion. The “good wine” that He gives us, for our purification, is His blood. Thus, we are all members of His Church, His bride, and we all take part in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).