The wedding feast at Cana is the first sign that Jesus gives in John’s gospel and I always found it a strange sign. After all, with all the disease and injustice in the world, why would you choose turning water into wine as your first sign? What kind of Messiah would do that? Then I thought about it and realized something. My kind of Messiah would do that.
Not just because he made a lot of wine but for everything that stands for. The psalmist tells us that God gave us wine to bring cheer to human hearts. It means that all of God’s signs point to joy. Wine is always associated with life. It is no surprise that what we will become the promise of life in the precious blood of our Lord starts with wine. Wine means the burgeoning of faith and hope in this life.
And not only did Jesus make wine, he made a lot of it. Something like 150 gallons! Later in the Gospel he will say that he came not only that we might have life, but life more abundant. Abudanza! We are to experience this life and drink it to the dregs.
Thus, the Christian life is not meant to be small, insignificant and tasteless. It is meant to be large, bold and life changing. Our experience of Jesus Christ should transform each moment of every day. We should like at each encounter, every opportunity as a chance to develop something extraordinary. Like a grape about to burst it bounds, life in Christ promises something exceptional.
How do we live this life of extraordinary capability and possibility? We must follow the instructions of Mary to the servants. “Do whatever he tells you.” If we can accomplish that we will turn water into wine.
The first step in “Doing in whatever he tells you” is to actually do it. That is often the hardest part. Think of those poor servers knowing that they are out of wine and thinking that pouring water into those jars is not going to solve the problem. But for some reason they do it. “Doing whatever he tells you” is often like that. It sounds to us as somehow off, but that is often a sign that it may not be our idea, but God’s. If it is a life-giving and loving idea, yet still out of the ordinary or our comfort zone, listen carefully. If it tells you to go where you did not expect to go, to reconcile with the one you did not expect to reconcile, to give more than you thought you possessed, “Do whatever he tells you.” It may take you into service or a pilgrimage or a relationship you did not expect, but if you want to make water into wine, you must have the courage to follow in faith.
Secondly, you must pray about it. Those moments when God is ready to take hold of your life will go unnoticed unless you are in the midst of prayer. Prayer attunes us to when God is calling for more and when God is willing to give us more than we expect. Embedded in our communication with God is the promise of life more abundant.
And finally, we must trust. Our results are likely to take longer than Jesus turning water into wine. We need to be deeply convicted that the Lord is calling us on a path and have sturdy legs to maintain staying on that path. But Jesus will unfold like a tapestry the life of exciting and bold love we long for.
I believe that every single person here is intelligent enough, capable enough and reasonable enough to turn water into water. But if you want to live a different life; if you want not just to be friendly but a friend; if you want to not just give enough, or more, but give everything. If you want to build your life on bold beautiful love; if you want to live the way God created us to be, then learn to “Do whatever he tells you” and you will be making water into wine.