One of today’s readings, John 2, presents a miracle story, which was the first miracle that Jesus performed. The story goes like this: Jesus was invited to the wedding. When the party ran out of the wine, the bridegroom got into a panic. Jesus performed a miracle that transformed water into wine. The party went very well.
What do you think is the main theme of the story? I would say, it is transformation. Under the theme of transformation, I have identified three points of the story. The first point is “Jesus” who turned water into wine. As we know and believe, Jesus transforms not only water but also people. The second is “the change” that was not superficial but substantial and wholistic. Jesus turned water not into wine-flavoured water, but into real wine. Jesus does not do cosmetic surgery on us, but transforms our hearts. The third point is “the ending” of the celebration, which was full of joy. Jesus rescued the bridegroom from impending shame by sustaining the joy of the wedding. It was well, thanks to Jesus. Jesus liberates us from sin, guilt and shame, and fills us with joy and gratitude. It is well, thanks to Jesus.
Jesus Transforms us
As we say Jesus transforms people, it would be also said that Jesus transforms people through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let me explain a little bit more about what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit.
“Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)
When Jesus was with the disciples at the last supper, he knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. So, he said to them,
“Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’” (John 13:33)
Then, Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards” (John 13:36).
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2)
And Jesus gives the disciples the promise of the Holy Spirit.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.” (John 14:16)
Now Jesus explains who the Holy Spirit is.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, not only reminds us of all that Jesus said, but also sustains us and renews us.
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-8)
So, when we say “Jesus transforms people,” it means that Jesus transforms people through the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. This is the first point of the first miracle that Jesus performed not only water but also people through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, who turned water into wine, transforms people to be his followers. Jesus, who turned water into wine, transforms us to be more faithful disciples. Jesus, who turned water into wine, transforms each one of us to be a better person.
We are transformed substantially
The second point of the first miracle that Jesus performed at Cana is that: “the change” that Jesus made in us is not superficial but substantial and wholistic. Wasn’t it something that happened in us, as we confessed Jesus as Lord and Saviour? The change that Jesus makes in people is not on their appearances, but on their hearts. Isn’t it something that we need, if we want to be a better person? When we are renewed by the Holy Spirit, we “gain new strength so that we may mount up with wings like eagles, so that we may run and not get tired, so that we may walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31). Isn’t it what we pray for, as we go on this journey of life?
When our hearts are touched by Jesus, our inner being is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16), and there are significant changes in our values, worldview, and self-identity. When Jesus touched my heart, it changed my values. I was worried about what to eat, what to drink and what to wear, but now I seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). When Jesus touched my heart, it changed my worldview. I was confused with several contending worldviews, but now I am convinced that God created heavens and the earth in the beginning. (Genesis 1:1). When Jesus touched my heart, it changed my identity. I was someone from nowhere, but now I know that I am a child of God. I know that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). When Jesus took the throne of my heart, the purpose of my life was changed, which used to be for the sake of me, but now it is for the sake of Him.
We are filled with Joy
The third point is “the ending” of the celebration, which was full of joy. Jesus rescued the bridegroom from impending shame, and sustained the joy of the celebration. Life is like a wedding feast, which is to be joyful, but most of time we experience running out of wine. So, we need Jesus. We need Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine.
Interestingly, however, Jesus performed a miracle on us, before He does on our circumstances. Jesus sees us as water to be transformed. Jesus turns our heart of ignorance into a heart of caring so that our life may be filled with love. Jesus turns our stubborn heart into an attentive heart, so that our life may be filled with joy.
As we experience such miracles taking place in us, we feel grateful for His goodness and mercy. There are various analogies that portray the miracles taking place in our hearts.
“The scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes.” (Isaiah 35:7)
“I will open rivers on the bare heights, and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land fountains of water.” (Isaiah 41:18)
The third point of the first miracle is “the ending” of the celebration, which was full of joy. Likewise, as we follow Jesus, we experience joy, which I would call sacred joy, no matter what circumstances we may be placed in.
Jesus turned water into wine. Likewise, he turns the dry land into fountains of water, the wilderness into a pool of water, the scorched land into a pool, and the thirsty ground into springs of water. So, we have reasons to be joyful always.
The First Miracle
Immediately after his baptism, he proclaimed that “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near” (Matt 4:17). That was his first proclamation in his public ministry, which emphasized the presence of the Kingdom. On the other hand, Jesus performed his first miracle at Cana, by turning water into wine, which points out the significant of transformation of those who will be part of the Kingdom.
So now we know that the first proclamation and the first miracle go hand in hand. The one is the proclamation of the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven. The other is the proclamation of the way people are gathered into the Kingdom.
Do you think you need a miracle to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of the living God? Transforming a person is a miracle in itself, which means, you don’t need a miracle to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. You will become a miracle as you confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
And, the miracle of miracles is the resurrection of Jesus, who triumphed over death and the grave. So, whenever we encounter the stories of Jesus, we get inspired and encouraged so that we too triumph over various life issues that we face every day. Whenever we listen to the Gospel, we get motivated and empowered so that we are able to “press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:14).
As we were renewed by the Holy Spirit, we became Jesus’ followers. As we are transformed day by day, we become more faithful disciples. As we are touched by the love of God, we become a better person. That’s a miracle. So, you are miracles, and so am I.
Readings: John 2: 1-11, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Rev Joohong Kim. Crossway Community Church. Jan 2019.