The Face of Grace
Pencil sketch by JC Chambers
Part nine in a study of God's grace from the book of John.
What is the significance of Jesus’ miracles?
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My time has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” John 2:1-11
In Jesus’ day, Jewish weddings could last as long a week, even two. Running out of wine at such an event was a major embarrassment. Because she wanted to spare the wedding host this indignity, Mary called Jesus’ attention to the dwindling supply of wine. In response to His mother’s request, Jesus performed His first miracle. He turned six stone jars of water into approximately one hundred fifty gallons of wine.
Jesus’ miracle catalyzed faith in His followers . . . “his disciples put their faith in him.”
When we consider the subject of miracles, we naturally wonder why they aren’t more frequent. Most of us have never received or even witnessed a miracle. Why is this so? Does God continue to perform miracles to produce faith?
In the book Miracles C.S. Lewis insightfully observes,
“You are probably quite right in thinking that you will never see a miracle done . . . They come on great occasions: they are found at the great ganglions of history - not of political or social history, but of that spiritual history which cannot be fully known by men. If your own life does not happen to be near one of those martyrs, it would be a different matter. But why you or I? Unless you live near a railway, you will not see trains go past your windows. How likely is it that you or I will be present when a peace-treaty is signed, when a great scientific discovery is made, when a dictator commits suicide? That we should see a miracle is even less likely. Nor, if we understand, shall we be anxious to do so. ‘Nothing almost sees miracles but misery.’ Miracles and martyrdoms tend to bunch about the same areas of history - areas we have naturally no wish to frequent.”
Jesus’ miracles are divine fingerprints. His miraculous deeds and resurrection identify Him as God the Son, qualifying Him to inaugurate a new covenant with the world. Only God Himself can make or break covenants.
Jesus viewed the cross as the means by which God would repeal the Old Covenant and replace it with the New Covenant. The response, “My time has not yet come” reveals that Jesus is mindful of His approaching death and resurrection. Supplying wine is a metaphor for shedding blood. Biblical covenants were ratified by the shedding of blood. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20
Jesus’ miracles encourage us to believe that on this side of the cross, God operates according to a new agreement, a New Covenant in which He promises to “forgive” (be “hileos” . . . .gracious, merciful, non-reactive to) our unrighteous attitudes and actions and to “remember” our sins “no more.” Hebrews 8:12
In our day, it is often suggested that if we have enough faith, we can persuade God to give us a miracle. This is backwards. The miracles Jesus performed enable us to place our faith in Him. “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Heb 2:3-4
Faith doesn’t exist for miracles. Miracles exist for faith.
Jesus did what He did so that we might trust what He said.