January 20 2019



John 2:1-11



Everyone knows about Jesus turning water into wine, but not everyone is aware of what water Jesus turned into wine. John tells us specifically that it was the water stored for the Jewish rites of purification. Religion of the day was preoccupied with the idea of purification. To be acceptable to God one needed to be pure. How to become pure and how to prevent contamination occupied people’s minds. Decontamination was achieved by various forms of washing or sacrifice. People were required to wash their hands in a prescribed manner before eating food. This was not specifically a hygiene measure; it was to guard against spiritual uncleanness or contamination by evil forces. In telling us that Jesus turned the water for purification into wine, John is saying that something more than that a physical miracle took place. The way of becoming acceptable to God has changed. It does not depend upon purificatory rituals. Participation in the banquet of God’s kingdom is by grace not by ritual. As later in the chapter (verses 19-21) it is implied that Jesus has replaced the temple as the earthly dwelling place of God, this story shows that Jesus has replaced human effort at becoming acceptable to God with God’s grace. Our being acceptable to God does not depend upon what we do. It is by grace that we are saved. God’s love accepts us as we are, but works to make us what we can become. So, what on the surface looks like a physical miracle of turning water into wine turns out to be a far greater and more wonderful miracle – we are accepted, we join in the marriage feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-8), not because we have made ourselves pure, but simply because we accept the gracious acceptance of God.

  • John 2:11 says that this was the first of the signs that Jesus did.  What did it signify?
  • What is meant by the expression ‘salvation by grace’?
  • How have you experienced the grace of God?
  • Compare being pure in heart (Matthew 5:8) with being ritually pure or clean.