When Life Runs Out of Wine and John 2.1-12

An epic drought baked Zimbabwe for four years in the early 1980’s. Water sources in the Hwang National Game Preserve were reduced to eight sinkholes. The last animals to survive were those able to reach the subterranean water. Who were the last beasts standing? The Elephants. They would lay on their sides and thrust their trunks into the holes (five to eight feet down) to find water. Eventually, however, the water level dropped beyond the reach of their trunks. Gary Haynes, writing for the Natural History magazine, said all he could do was helplessly watch as 200 majestic beasts at one sinkhole lay on their sides perishing of thirst. The Old Testament documents spiritual drought this way: “My soul thirsts for God.” The Apostle John simply says, “They have no wine” (verse 3). 

“When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine’” (verse 3). Eventually life runs out of wine. Wine in the ancient world was a symbol of solid joy that reaches and renews lives, homes, relationships, communities, and even the land. Therefore, when Jesus’ mom says, “They have no wine” at this wedding, it is a big deal. Joy just left the wedding.

But there is more. John intentionally patterns Jesus’ first week of ministry on the planet after the first week of original creation in Genesis 1. Guess what happens immediately in Genesis 2 after the first work of creation? The wedding of Adam and Eve. Everything about that ancient wedding was solid joy. But the first thing said about this wedding at the end of Jesus’ first week of ministry is, “They have no wine (joy).” In other words, in this world Jesus has come too, there is something fundamentally wrong with our lives, marriages, homes, relationships, and all levels of life itself. There is no wine.

Why does life eventually run out of wine? The answer is found in verse 6, “Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.” This is 120-180 gallons of six huge ugly stone water jars right in the middle of a wedding. Why? To remind everyone they are still dirty. Verse 6 is saying, “Even when you are in the middle of one of life’s greatest celebrations and joys, you are still dirty.” The stain of Sin runs deep. It is the greatest threat to solid joy. Eventually life runs out of joy, because of the stain of Sin.

Eventually life runs out of joy, but Jesus does not. Jesus turns water into wine: “When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine (verse 9)…This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee (verse 11).” In this story of a new creation, Jesus releases solid joy where it has run out, where there is none, where the stain of Sin runs deep. In other words, the first sign of who Jesus is and what he has come to do, is the end of the drought of joy. The real Jesus releases joy into in the world, turns water into wine, by the “hour” (v.4) of his death and resurrection. Real Christianity ends the drought of joy by removing the stain of Sin at the “hour” (v.4) of his death and resurrection. Jesus is the ultimate Master of Joy. Stop spending your life trying to do the impossible, turning water into wine, and come unto the only One who can.