Yesterday my husband took me wine tasting. We left our son with my mom and drove an hour away to Oregon wine country, winding up a small road to a large venue on beautiful property. There were acres of bare grape branches, just picked for the season and tucked in for the winter.
We sipped glasses and glasses of expensive wine and wandered the property, learning about how this vineyard makes their highly-respected product. I know next to nothing about wine. I know that I like it, that the Bible talks about it and that it is frowned upon to slip an ice cube into your Chardonnay in mixed company. This particular winery is decorated with global awards, their product has been hand-selected by the Whitehouse for presidential dinners and they have a private entrance for celebrities to slip in to upon arrival.
My husband has taken a sudden interest in wine. And when that man likes something, he loves it. He blabbed on and on with our friendly tour guide, asking questions and retaining information that had immediately gone over my head. They told us about how the owners of the winery bought a few acres of forest in France to get special wood for the barrels. Wine sits in it for years before it’s bottled and sold. The cheapest bottle they sell is equivalent to our grocery budget for the week. I started feeling weird about how much time, money and energy was going into something frivolous like wine.
Winding down the mountain on our way home, I asked Matt what he liked about wine so much. I suspected the knowledge and luxury of it was appealing, but wanted to admit that I didn’t really feel like being Those People and felt fine being Bottom Shelf Wine People, or maybe just Tequila People.
“It’s such a spiritual experience. Growing grapes and making wine is a lot like raising a person. It takes a lot of attention and detail and it never goes 100% right. If it comes together, you have something beautiful and extremely valuable to other people and sought after. But, that doesn’t matter with Jesus. He can use anyone and anything.”
This morning we read a story about Jesus taking dirty water and turning it into beautiful, expensive and luxurious wine. No expensive barrel wood. No years of processing. He just does it, out of the power within him. This was, as far as we know, the first miracle Jesus performed in front of people. Providing wine for a wedding.
This story unpacks and foreshadows so many beautiful things about Jesus:
He does not care about being politically correct when he’s making a point. It would’ve been culturally inappropriate for a guest to dishonor the hosts and provide wine, especially something more high quality than what was being served. I think Jesus is foreshadowing himself as the bridegroom.
Jesus loves being with people. In his short time on earth, he still took time to attend what was probably a week-long wedding. Weddings, parties and feasts are beautiful opportunities to be with people, and he is constantly setting the example that this is where the work is done. At the table, over food, in conversations with guests. Ministry is social, the biggest criteria is to be with people. Also, running out of wine would be mortifying and inhospitable; Jesus was responding to a heartfelt need. This paints him as a relational, sensitive God that cares about our hearts.
He uses whatever and whomever he wants. I don’t really know anything about the Jewish ceremonial washing water mentioned in 2:6, but it jumped out to me this morning. I wonder what they use to wash with it, hands, maybe their sandaled, dirty feet? Jesus uses the things we don’t expect him to use and turns it into something beautiful for his purpose. The hard situation you’re in could be blooming into a beautiful, life-changing event. The Bible is heavy-laden with God using people we’d never expect to expose his glory. Scrawny shepherds take down giants, a murderer leads an Exodus to save God’s people and someone who use to torture Christians wrote most of the New Testament. What are you not expecting God to do in your life?
The book of John is a close, personal look into the time Jesus spent on earth. We’re excited to read this along with you guys, especially during the Advent season!