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In John 2, Jesus begins to enter the public eye. In particular, He performs His first of seven signs: turning water to wine. But pay close attention to His actions and you’ll see that He’s doing more than keeping a party alive. He’s previewing the cross.

 

Recall the account. At a wedding His mother remarks to Him, “They have no wine” (John 2:3).

 

At first His response is puzzling. “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

 

It seems He’s refused to help, but the rest of the story reveals that is not the case. So what was He saying?

 

“My hour” is a common phrase used by Jesus throughout the gospel of John. And it always points to one place: the cross.

 

For instance, just prior to the cross, He prayed, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son” (John 17:1).

 

Indeed, at the wedding His hour had not come. But it was a chance for Him to give a preview of His mission to the cross. Notice the many parallels:

     

  • My hour: already discussed.
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  • Woman: At the feast Jesus address His mother. Only one other place in John is a conversation recorded between the two. On the cross He exclaims, “Woman, behold your son” (John 19:26).
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  • Wine: At His last supper He would institute this as a symbol of His blood (1 Cor. 11:25). Moreover, while hanging on the cross, His side was pierced and water and blood flowed out (John 19:34).
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  • Third day: John intentionally records the wedding occurred “on the third day” (John 2:1), linking this occasion to the death and resurrection of Christ on the third day.
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This is why the gospel explains that at the wedding Jesus “manifested His glory” (John 2:11). The glory of Christ is Him upon the cross (see John 17:1), for this is what revealed the depth of His love. It wasn’t the miraculous display of power that made Jesus glorious at the feast, but His foreshadowing of the cross.

 

Indeed, viewed through the lens of the cross, this sign of Jesus takes on deep significance. Recall what happened:

Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. (John 2:6-7)

This water He turns wine.

 

Pause. Did you catch it?

 

Jesus begins with water that was typically used for ceremonial washing. Some Jews had become obsessed about doing all kinds of ritual washing to make sure they were pure. The fact that there were half a dozen large purification water pots nearby indicates the extent of their obsession.

 

I can only imagine: I shook hands with someone unclean, better wash twice. I stole with my left hand, better splash it three times. Or, something along those lines.

 

It is into this context that Jesus acts.

 

Water into wine.

 

Or through the lense of the cross,

 

Ritual washing into redeeming blood.

 

In this first sign Jesus was previewing to His disciples His great act on the cross, teaching us to sing:

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

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