Practically everyone has heard the story of Jesus turning water into wine. It has served as fodder for many jokes and a point of argument against those who believe Christians shouldn’t consume alcoholic beverages. For a church gathering in a bar, it serves as the perfect illustration of the many layers of the Bible and the need to dig deeper to reveal all that it has for us.
At its best, the Bible is not read like a novel, historical non-fiction, a biography, a self-help guide, or a cookbook. While it can fill those roles, its strength lies in its ability to connect us with God. While its writing and assembly has a long and storied history, the fact that it is here today for us, with its origins so long ago, shows divine providence. So, it is the perfect medium through which we can find the answers we seek about God -- our relationship with God, what God expects and wants from us, and how God works in our lives. And there is no better illustration of all of that than Jesus Christ, who was of God yet human, and who provides us the opportunity for the relationship with God that we want and God wants. The seemingly simple story of Jesus turning water into wine yields so much more when we open it and allow it to breathe.
The first layer of story provides a rich tapestry of meaning for us today – how God is there for us…how no problem in our lives is too small for God to address… how God provides what we need even without us asking and how that provision is even better than what we would expect or would have asked for… how we should do as God asks us without questions, delay, or objection…how God can use all of us to solve problems for others…how we should be humble in using our God-given strengths…and how the best things in life are God-given, yet we often don’t know it (or appreciate it). It shows Jesus as human yet divine. His humanness makes his death and resurrection real, but it also shows how he can relate to us.
Digging deeper we find rich symbolism of Jesus as the Messiah and Savior, of the blood of the new covenant (wine), of his ultimate sacrifice, of salvation, of his death and resurrection, of the renewal provided by baptism by water, of the living water which was to come, and the real purification that only Jesus can provide.
In order to discover all that the Bible has to offer, we have to dig, dissect, and deliberate when we read it. And, prayer helps. It is a living document whose value for each of us is just waiting to be revealed.