I love what Jesus did at the wedding in Cana. It was His first miracle. As the wedding festivities came to a close, they ran out of wine, so Jesus turned water into wine—over 150 gallons of the best wine the people had ever tasted (John 2:1–11).
It seems that Jesus could not resist when people asked Him for help. Compassion just poured from Him as He went out of His way to give them the greatest joy ever. The story of Jesus turning water to wine tells me that God will make the good experiences we have here—our joys and loves—not only abundant but also the best they can be. In the story, we discover an explosion of excessive and sweet joy, the kind we all search for.
If we are not attentive, we may focus on a debate over whether the wine was fermented or unfermented. New wine or old? However, we must read between the lines, or we will miss the point. The prophets of old believed that fresh, sweet new wine would flow in abundance in the world to come:
And in that day
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the streambeds of Judah
shall flow with water;
and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord
and water the Valley of Shittim.Joel 3:18, ESV
This abundance of fresh new wine was not yet available, but everyone was waiting for the day when it would flow. At the wedding, Jesus says that the hour has not yet come, at least not all the way (John 12:23), but He lets a little of His glory slip, drawing from heaven’s bounty. The new wine breaks out and cascades into the present.
Even so now, though the hour has not yet come, we may get a taste of this new wine. Have you tasted it in the real acts of love and joy we experience all around us? I experienced it as I held my newborn daughter, joy flooding over me. I’ve tasted it in the innocent laughter of my children, the affection of love found at last, the joyful delight of falling deeply in love, and the fellowship and cheer of true friends. Every joy experienced here is a gift from God and therefore eternal (James 1:17). I believe we can enjoy such tastes already. It’s true that eternity begins here, but the earthly moments of joy are not fully achieved. While we may find that this ordinary wine runs out or is but a faint substitute, the promise remains alive: the hills will drip with sweet wine. I long for it—not just for a foretaste but for the full realization of joy with no measure or end.
This world does not give us excess, the exquisite, or the ideal, but Jesus revealed these at the wedding in Cana, at least to those who were paying attention. Though we enjoy moments of love and joy here, those who have enough faith to believe in the new and refreshing wine look to a joy a thousand times greater, anticipating the best of the best, the fullest love, and experiences better than we can imagine. Such an explosion of extravagant joy may seem impossible until we see God entering our joy and enlarging life’s happiness.
In the story, the wedding coordinator was surprised that the best wine he had ever tasted was saved for the end of the wedding. We too will experience the best wine at the very end because God will have then entered our joys, making them lavishly abundant. The best is yet to come, for on that day, the mountains will drip sweet wine. I lick my lips in anticipation.
Craig Ashton Jr.