Dan Popp
Water, wine and worlds
By Dan Popp
March 11, 2018

... by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water.... (2 Peter 3:5b, NAS95)

When John opened his narrative about Jesus, he borrowed the most powerful and sacred introduction known to man: "In the beginning, God...." And without any asterisks or reservations he makes the boldest claim ever made: that a carpenter from Galilee was the One who created the heavens and the earth. "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." (John 1:3) Believe John or not, you can't accuse him of being tentative.

When the Evangelist goes on to talk about the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, he's not done pressing this point about His divinity. You know the story. The Lord is invited to a wedding celebration, the hosts run out of wine, and His mom prevails upon Him to do something.
    Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. (John 2:6-11)
The first miracle of Christ is very first miracle, in miniature.

If we were making up this story we might say that Jesus waved His hands and said, "Abracadabra!" and suddenly everyone's glass was filled with wine. But God doesn't do magic tricks. At Cana the Word did the same thing He'd done at the creation of the world. "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." (Genesis 1:2) Yes, God created everything ex nihilo – from nothing – but not directly from nothing. As He would later do with Adam, first He made the raw material, then He fashioned it. We would relate to this formless stuff as a boundless ocean of water.

At the wedding, the fact that John counts six waterpots doesn't seem like a coincidence. It's hard to imagine a better allusion to the six-day creation of the earth from water than six pots from the earth, full of water. From this enormous quantity of water (maybe 180 gallons) Jesus made wine. Just like, from the vast "deep" He made the world.

But the thing about wine is, it takes time. You can have grape juice today, but if you want wine you'll have to wait. "New wine" is sweet wine – the word in Acts 2:13 is gleukos – it's not yet "good wine." And Jesus provided good, mellowed, aged wine, no doubt the best anyone at this feast had ever tasted.

How can this be? The wine was H2O only seconds ago. And yet, to judge it by human taste buds, the wine is several years old, at least. Ah, I think we've found the problem. We're using ordinary measuring tools to gauge the extraordinary. When we ask whether Adam was created with a beard, or whether, if God made a tree it would have rings in it, the issue isn't that the Almighty is trying to "fool us" by making new things appear old. Stop thinking about magic tricks. The issue is that the makeshift, uncalibrated way we're calculating age won't work.

I wonder how the scoffer, putting himself in the place of God, would create an adult man who didn't look older than he is. Ditto a universe. If you've convinced yourself that planets are made by agglomerating molecules over billions of years like a giant cheese ball, then a fully formed planet must look like an old cheese ball to you, no matter how young it is. If a brand new world or man or beverage seem like they must've been around a while, sorry. That can't be helped. It was your own assumptions, not the Creator, that led you into error.

What Jesus worked at Cana was a "sign," a miracle that tells a story. What story? The original story. It was a declaration that the One who had made the earth "out of water" in six days was here, among us.

I'm sure He, too, looked much younger than He is.

© Dan Popp


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