I have never written a biography, but I do understand that writing a biography is a bit of a craft.
You have to collect all the pieces of information you can so that you can have a well-rounded and sober picture of the person the biography is about, then you must then decide on what stories to include and which ones to dispose of. And finally, what order of events to produce. It’s a tough job.
Now consider that the passage above came from an ancient ‘biography’ of Jesus written by John who later said ‘Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.’
The whole world would not have room for the books that could be written about Jesus’ life? Granted this is before e-readers, but regardless the task of writing this ancient biography of Jesus is getting harder.
That brings me to my first question about this story of turning water into wine.
Why? Seriously, why include this? And why include this as the first recorded miracle that Jesus did?
If Jesus is the greatest movement leader of all time, then surely as his first miracle John could have recorded something a bit better. Raising someone from the dead or even healing someone, would be cool. Include some lightning maybe, I like lightning.
Why have him making wine?
Well, I suppose the first answer is that it must have happened. I mean, if we got together and decided to make up a religion or write a collection of stories that would keep people going to church and holding up the standards we expect, we would not write something like this.
If you start to search online for what people think about this story you will find that a good portion of the blogs are about whether Jesus made alcoholic wine or grape juice! Seriously, if today’s church made these stories up, they would not have had Jesus make 150 gallons of wine for a party as his first miracle. On the face of it, it seems to go against the church’s generally accepted stance on levels of alcohol consumption.
Can you imagine the field day the media would have if the Pope went to a wedding and brought 750 bottles of wine with him?
It must have happened. There is no other reason you would put this here. You certainly wouldn’t make it up. It’s absurd!!
Essentially, Jesus’ first miracle seems to be a solution to social embarrassment.
The marriage ceremony in Galilee was different to what our view of a wedding is here in Ireland today. Two things in particular we should note. One, the marriage ceremony was considerably longer, during which time there was feasting and celebration. Two, the food and drinks were provided for the guests for the duration of this banquet.
Hence, when Jesus’ mother comes to tell him of the lack of wine it is mostly an issue of trying to keep the hosts of the wedding from the embarrassment of ending the celebration early.
Yet Jesus, after a slight hesitation, accepts the seemingly insignificant request and takes action.
By Jesus Christ not healing the sick, not raising the dead, not feeding the hungry, not flashing a bolt of lightning; but by creating 500 bottles of the most incredible wine to keep a party really really going strong—by him choosing that as his first miracle, what is he saying to us?
Have you noticed that the bible continually talks about tasting?
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.” “The kingdom of heaven is a feast.” “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” “Your words were found, and I ate them.” “Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Jesus wants you to taste and see that the Lord is good.
Jesus calls us to life and life to the full, not a boring life where we all try really hard not to do stuff and beat ourselves up when we step out of line. But life to the full.
Do you think the Christian life is boring? Do you think I don’t mind coming to church sometimes but I’m not really going live every day for Jesus – I still want to have fun sometimes!? Is it a chore? Are you trying to hold Jesus at arm’s length so you can down your last few pints?
If that’s the case then, can I suggest that you don’t have a full picture of what Jesus is offering you? Life and life to the full. He can truly satisfy our every need, every thirst and hunger of our lives.
Why include this story about Jesus? What is John trying to tell us?
Jesus is the greatest host we could hope for. He serves the best food and the most wonderful wine. He offers us life and life to the full. He is the master of the banquet. The Lord of Hosts.
In Isaiah, we are told that at the end of time
‘The Lord of Hosts will give a feast for all the people on this mountain. At the feast, there will be the best foods and wines. The meat will be good and tender, the wine pure and clear.’
‘Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.’
The thoughts and views expressed in this are the author’s own.