What Do You Believe About Miracles?
In theology there is a hermeneutical or interpretational principle called "the law of first mention." This law tells us that when a certain word or concept appears in Scriptures, to gain a clue as to its meaning, determine how it is used in its first appearance. Considering the miracles of Jesus, one would go to Cana of Galilee and observe the very first miracle of Christ as he turns the water into wine.
While observing, one would be a wise student if he determined as much as possible concerning the reason for this first miracle. For example, why did it take place? What was the reason for it? What purpose did it have? What practical and prophetical significance was there?
There are those today that believe miracles have a rather common occurrence. There are charismatic figures who demand one or more miracles in each of their meetings. Some have even been guilty of fabricating "miracles" to impress their audiences.
Miracles are not as common as these personalities would have you to believe. Yet I strongly believe in miracles, and know that they continue to take place. It is very important to be grounded and have a foundational understanding of what miracles are all about.
Miracles may fall into two major categories. There are "creation miracles" and there are "providential miracles." The creation miracle was and still is less common than the providential miracle. The turning of water into wine was a creation miracle, the feeding of the 5000 was a creation miracle, as was the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch was a miracle of providence. God the Spirit directed Philip to the Gaza strip at just the right time to encounter the eunuch and lead him to Christ. An example of a providential miracle occurring today would be when a person has a financial need and prays for help. God in turn begins to speak to someone else that may be geographically removed by many miles from the person that has the need. That person senses the need of the one who has prayed for the help and then puts a check in the mail for the exact amount. These miracles of providence are more common. Perhaps the reason is that this gives the Lord an opportunity to use people to touch people.
This first miracle, as already mentioned, is a creation miracle and is also one of the seven sign miracles.
In this study may we consider the occasion of the miracle, the occurrence of the miracle, and the outcome of the miracle.
I. THE OCCASION OF THE MIRACLE vv. 1-3
There was on the third day a marriage in Cana of Galilee. John gives the chronology for several days of the events taking place. Just as this miracle took place on the third day, so also did the miracle of the resurrection.
Verse number two tells us that Jesus was called to the wedding. Perhaps the call was issued because of their need for the wine. Otherwise He would have come as an invited guest. Then again, the "call" may have been a proper invitation that He received. In either case He was there and was immediately made aware of a very practical, basic need that they had.
TO MEET A PRACTICAL NEED
The wine was a symbol for joy. They wanted to experience the gladness of the wedding but were hindered by not having the wine. Their need could have been attributed to their poverty. Things that we would consider as common to us may have been uncommon to them. Today, weddings can be very expensive and may have also been then. In this particular wedding they may have started out with a smaller quantity of wine than they anticipated that they needed, and found as the festivities increased to be very much in want.
It is therefore reasonable to believe that this first miracle took place, at least in part, to satisfy a very practical need.
TO MEET A PROPHETICAL NEED
Another purpose of the miracle may have been to meet a prophetical need. Everything that Jesus Christ was doing had significance. Theologians recognize this miracle as being the first of the sign miracles. The signs have been seen as reflecting Jesusí lordship over quality (water into wine), space (the healing of the noblemanís son at a distance), time (the healing of a man who had been lame for 38 years), quantity (the feeding of the five thousand), nature (walking on the sea), misfortune (the healing of the man born blind), and death (the raising of Lazarus). The purpose of the signs was to manifest His glory and to motivate His disciples to believe in Him (2:11).
Prophetically, this miracle may have also been a clear message to the future, that each marriage needs the joy that comes only from Jesus. There also are teachings pertaining to Israel, that would require a study all of its own, considering the prophetical.
II. THE OCCURRENCE OF THE MIRACLE vv. 4-8
Mary indicated to Jesus the need that they had for the wine. The response given by Jesus has prompted many various interpretations from theologians. Some have said that this was an attempt on the part of Mary to get a public statement from Jesus clearing her of giving birth to an illegitimate child. Others say this was a mild rebuke telling Mary it was not the proper time for her to involve Christ.
To interpret this passage in such a manner could not be supported but only implied.
"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come."
With the use of "woman" it is generally understood that that expression is not a harsh reference to His mother, but just as respectful as if He had said, "Mother."
The use of the word "woman" in our culture would often carries with it a negative connotation. As we read this statement, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" and with our colloquial way of interpreting that statement, it is almost like Him saying, "Woman, donít bother me!" That is not the interpretation, nor the spirit of Jesus. To paraphrase what I interpret as the actual meaning of what Jesus was saying, it would read something like this, "Mother, what is it that I can do to help you?"
The further expression "mine hour is not yet come" could simply mean, "Iím not dead yet, Iím still available."
Immediately after making that statement, "His mother said unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it."
THE MIRACLE WAS A CO-OPERATIVE EFFORT
The Lordís work, in most instances, is a cooperative effort. It involves people working with people, or, better, people working with God. Revelation 22:17 gives an example of this, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come Ö" Our text shows that the Lord instructed the people to cooperate with Him by doing what they could do. He then performed the miracle of turning the water into wine, which they could not do.
In our churches today, God blesses people who are busy, but who are also dependant upon Him. There are two dangerous extremes in serving God ineffectively. One, when we serve alone, not sensing the need for God, and two, when we think God does not need us. God does not use humanoids, nor robots to do His work: God uses people!
Many of our churches are suffering because they can neither cooperate with God nor with each other.
Had the servants not obeyed the Lord in filling the water pots, the Lord would not have performed the miracle. When we fail to fill our spiritual water pots, we do not experience the miracle of the water being turned into wine. The filling of the spiritual water pots may be in the form of reading your Bible, tithing, church faithfulness, praying, or witnessing. The filling of the water pots demonstrates a faithful obedience to the Lord. May we fill the "water pots" that God gives us and receive the joy of Godís blessings.
THE MIRACLE WAS A CREATIVE EFFORT
The same servants who had a part in putting in had a part in taking out. They put in the water; they took out the wine. They put in their "abilities," they took out Godís "abilities." We give the Lord what we have; He gives us back what He has!
As mentioned earlier, this miracle was the first miracle, and also the beginning of the Lordís earthly ministry. In performing this creation miracle, God took the existing water and transformed it into wine. A creation miracle of the highest magnitude transpires when a poor wretched sinner is transformed into a saved saint!
The servants were told to do two things: Fill up and draw out. Then they were told to take it to the governor of the feast, who in our day would be the headwaiter. The governor was to taste the wine without an explanation that the water had been turned to wine. The servants had seen a miracle, but also trusted the "quality" of the miracle even before it was proven.
III. THE OUTCOME OF THE MIRACLE vv. 9-12
The governor of the feast was much impressed with how very good the wine was. The truth being known, there could have been none any better. Whatever God does, He does well. He does His very best. When God created man, he was not an inferior representative of man as we know him today. Instead, Adam was of perfect body, soul, and spirit. The evolutionist must fantasize a less than perfect specimen to add credibility to his absurd theory.
THE MIRACLE SERVED A FUNCTION
Primarily, the purpose or function of the miracle was to meet the very humble request of Mary and the wedding party. They simply needed the wine. When God performed the rest of the miracles, while upon the earth, they too were to meet some very practical needs . They also were performed to meet a spiritual need or teach a spiritual lesson.
THE MIRACLE STRENGTHENED THEIR FAITH
Can you imagine what it must have been like to observe Christ turning the water into wine? There was no hocus pocus involved and the people knew that to be the case. When God really moves in our services, there is no "spiritual hocus pocus" involved! Many times we have to conjure up a service; so we think! If we will let God into our services, He will perform all the miracles needed to make our services Spiritual.
When it is obvious, as it was at the first miracle, that God is in control, our faith will be strengthened.
Material From Dr. Max Alderman, Ph.D