To me he was a “bread and water God.” Words such as fun and feasting, lavish, generous, happy and celebrating would have been foreign to me. I would have said his purpose was to run a tight ship, without a lot of fun being had, and his passion was, well, only aroused when he became angry.
I was so wrong.
Jesus makes two statements that define his purpose and his passion much more accurately than my dimwit ideas:
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins. (Mark 2:22)
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matt. 5:17)
Jesus is first saying he is bringing new wine, a new way of doing things. But he is also saying he is not doing away with the old wine, the old way of doing things. But instead—and do not miss this—he is fulfilling God’s original purpose and passion. He is fulfilling the Old Testament ways, as in filling-to-the-full, even to overflowing.
He is going to live out in full Technicolor the purpose of all those Old Testament laws.
And because he is Jesus, and typically gives us real-life demonstrations just in case we are too myopic to understand his meaning, his first miracle is to change ordinary water into spectacular wine. Ordinary to spectacular.
No, he is no bread and water God. He is a God of feasts, celebrations, and lavish love. And he always has been. That crusty Old Testament prophet Isaiah recorded God’s own words about his purpose and passion:
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine — the best of meats and the finest of wines. (Isa. 25:6)
You gotta love that, don’t you?
In John 2 we see Jesus at a wedding banquet … having fun. But the wine has run out and his mother Mary comes to him with the problem. Jesus responds by taking six big jars of ordinary water and turning them into—are you ready?—eight hundred bottles of the finest wine. Eight hundred bottles. Of “a banquet of aged wines — the finest of wines.”
This is no bread and water Jesus we serve.
Now to be sure there are times when bread and water are just the right thing for me. Jesus knows when I need just that, and so for a season my “feasts” may consist of bread and water. But later, when I have grown spiritually, and closer to Jesus, precisely because of that season of bread and water, I have always—always—looked back and realized that season, too, was a lavish feast of love. One that I needed so desperately, but just did not know it.
Next week we will dive more deeply into Jesus’ “first sign” of water to wine. But for now I want to ask you to think about two things: