So I’m off to the next pericope [Doh! Sorry about that, out come the technical terms to make me appear smarter than your average Marine. A pericope in regards to the Gospels is a set of verses that form one coherent unit. Capiche?] in the Gospel of John which happens to be the part where Jesus turns water into wine. Here’s the thing, Jesus didn’t just turn water into wine, he turned water into a lot of wine! We’re talking gallons and gallons of wine.
Here is the specific calculation. Jesus told the servants to fill six stone jars with water. Each of these jars could hold between two and three measures. A measure was approximately eight gallons. Each jar could hold between 16 and 24 gallons. Multiply that times 6 jars and you have 96 to 144 gallons of water that Jesus turned into wine! Talking about a profusion of wine. This was after they’d already run out of all the wine the master of the feast had prepared. Why did Jesus make so much wine out of water?
Notice what John says is the purpose of this first sign, in it Jesus manifested his glory (vs. 11) which means “demonstrated” or “revealed.” So in changing water to great wine Jesus is revealing the fact that he alone could take water and turn it into wine, that the guests at this wedding feast are in the presence of someone very unusual [hint, hint].
As the IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels points out, “wine and its quantity are important symbols. In the Old Testament and Judaism abundant wine (and oil or milk) is a sign of the age of salvation.”
- “They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more.” (Jeremiah 31:12 ESV)
- ““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.”
(Amos 9:13–14 ESV)
Why was Jesus making Cana literally drip with gallons and gallons of sweet wine? He was demonstrating in an unforgettable way [seriously, if YOU saw someone turn 144 gallons of tap water into wine, would you forget it?] that he was the Messiah who was coming to uber-bless Israel. Here is how the IVP Dictionary puts it:
“John’s account of Jesus’ conversion of such a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast is one way of announcing that the kingdom of God, the eschatological time of salvation, had arrived in the presence of the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus shows himself to be the Son of God come down from heaven bringing the blessing of the eschatological age symbolized by abundant wine.”
Changing all that water into buckets and buckets of wine was an unforgettable sign to those present [and those who no doubt heard about it, and we who read about it] that the Messiah and the Age of Blessing had arrived.