6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
BY SAVING MARY’S FACE, JESUS ALSO FULFILLS THE LAW
Whether she realized it or not—and I think she did—she was also bringing a force greater than a Jewish cultural norm to bear on her Son.
As powerful as the culturally acceptable placement of her FACE into His hands was, it was the responsibility and the opportunity to fulfil the fifth commandment that ultimately moved Jesus to do something that would honor His mother by saving her FACE.
Apparently, when the master of the feast, (similar to the wedding coordinator or food and beverage manager for the reception), tasted the wine, he didn’t know that the wine had been completely depleted and that what he was now tasting was plain old water just a few minutes before.
He expressed surprise at the quality of wine the family was still serving at that point in the wedding feast, which would have increased that family’s honor in his eyes and others that he interacted with.
By turning the water into high quality wine, the family’s deserved shame and loss of FACE was covered, and even more importantly, He also honored His own mother by saving her FACE and fulfiling the law—which was basically honoring His own words.
11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
CHANGING WATER TO WINE ISN’T WHAT REVEALED HIS GLORY
John summarizes all that took place by stating that this was the first sign that Jesus did and that it revealed His glory to His disciples.
Based on the cultural dimensions that I’ve tried to describe as succinctly as possible, I don’t believe it was His ability to turn water in to wine that His disciples perceived as a revelation of His glory.
It was what that supernatural display of power accomplished for people that were unaware of an impending disaster that their own pride actually created.
Not only was the family’s deserved shame covered, their honor in the eyes of those that mattered to them was actually increased, not just maintained by what Jesus did.
For those living in honor/shame based cultures, this was the perfect sign to begin with in order to help people understand the good news that Jesus came to cover both their guilt AND shame before God and to graciously bestow God’s righteousness and honor upon them.
His disciples needed proof that He was uniquely glorious and their witnessing of this sign and what it actually accomplished must have been burned in to their hearts and minds.
In summary, this is what they saw:
—A self-generated disaster that was produced by pride.
—A deserved loss of honor and the condition of shame that they would now live in, along with a potential lawsuit that could devastate them financially and increase the shameful condition they had already brought upon themselves.
—Jesus personally steps in to the environment/context/scene they created that is on the verge of going horribly wrong and diminishing or destroying them emotionally and materially.
—He exercises His power to do for them what they can’t do for themselves.
—The one with all honor and power exerts His power to cover their shame and graciously bestow a greater level of honor than they could ever achieve by their own efforts in the eyes of those that mattered to them.
Although they wouldn’t have understood it fully at that time, His turning water to wine and what it accomplished revealed crucial components of the Gospel for people from honor/shame based cultures.