Dealing with the basic human impulse to discount miracles

Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose to inaugurate his ministry here on earth by turning water into wine to bail out a pair of embarrassed newly–weds? It used to puzzle me a lot. If I were the Son of God, I would have done something a lot more spectacular.

I would have raised somebody from the dead—or at the very least I would have cured a whole load of people of truly horrific diseases. I couldn’t help but think that when he changed the water into wine, Jesus wasted a golden opportunity to demonstrate the limitless nature of his power.

Theologians frequently talk about the miracle at Cana as prefiguring the institution of the Eucharist—the Holy Communion. And it is true: You can certainly see that in it. What’s more, if Jesus can turn water into wine in industrial quantities—819 liters to be precise—it is proof positive that he can turn the much more modest quantity of bread, wine, and water we put on the altar into his body and blood.

Actually there is much more to the miracle than that. In truth, it was precisely the right miracle with which to start the Son of God’s earthly ministry. This goes without saying, of course. The very idea that our all–knowing, eternal God would make a hash of things is quite outlandish. But in fact nothing demonstrates God’s deep and abiding love for mankind than this extraordinarily kindly act to save a young couple from a trivial embarrassment on their wedding day.

If God were willing to use his limitless power to do something as trivial as saving the face of a bridegroom who had been too improvident to order enough wine for his wedding party, what would he not do for us?

The answer to that question came a mere three years later, of course, when he sacrificed himself to save us from the consequences of being all too human. The miracle at the wedding at Cana is a graphic illustration of just how much God loves the world.

1 comment to Dealing with the basic human impulse to discount miracles

  • The Reverend Peter M. Hawkins

    There are two comments that need to be made about this exegesis on the Miracle at Cana.
    The first is that “miracles” were normal in the time of Christ and the mark of some one important. In his case they were always performed in order to teach as here, in the changing of water into wine, which is done naturally by the grape vine, sun light and natural yeast. The second point is that the teaching here is what has come to the people of God in the Old Covenant is good like necessary water, but now is much improved in the New, like wine.