In John 2:1-12 is the first miracle done by Jesus that John records. It is the miracle of water to wine, which seems less than significant compared to all the other miracles. Personally, I made this connection in my study and came to appreciate the miracle so much more now.
John keeps track of the miracles that he records in his Gospel (2:11; 4:54), so the inclusion of this detailed miracle is purposeful. Why would John include such a seemingly insignificant miracle in his Gospel? Out of eight miracles John records, why is the transformation of water to wine one of them?
The Jewish John may have given an underlying allusion in this miracle. What would a Jew think of when he reads of water to wine? Is this miracle not reminiscent of water to blood done by Moses? When Pharaoh refused to allow the Hebrew people to be removed, God through Moses sent the plagues. The first was turning the water of the Nile into blood so that the water was undrinkable (Exo. 7:17-18).
Is it not significant that John began his gospel’s miracles with water to wine when (God through) Moses began his miraculous plagues with water to blood. Wine and blood looking so similar, the visual certainly is an allusion to the plagues by Moses! Jesus began like Moses began! Moses ushered in a new era with a new covenant and Jesus is like him ushering a new and better era and a new and better covenant.
Notice the key differences between Moses’ and Jesus’ first work. Blood was a symbol of death and it made life difficult without water. Wine was a symbol of prosperity and gladness and made it more enjoyable to drink (as opposed to water). Though the same color they are opposites. Blood in the Nile is ominous and was an omen of worst things to come, but water to wine is a blessing and a promise of better things to come. Instead of God’s wrath through Moses we see God’s blessing through Jesus. Instead of sorrow we see joy.
Do you recall the final plague of the Ten Plagues? The first plague was water to blood. The first miracle of John is water to wine. What was the final miracle in John’s gospel?
The final plague upon Egypt was the death of the firstborn. Do we not see the death of the firstborn in Jesus’ life? Jesus, the firstborn, died! Egypt mourned their children’s deaths, but the death of Christ is a cause of celebration. The firstborn died and paradoxically we all should celebrate because the death was for the sins of the world.
It doesn’t stop there. The eighth and final miracle of John’s Gospel is the resurrection. Instead of ending on death like the Plagues, we end on the new life of our Savior which not only does he have but he also offers to all the world. The Ten Plagues ended with the dreadful death of the firstborn, but the Eight Blessings of John end with the resurrection of the firstborn.
The water to blood miracle signaled the beginning of the deliverance of God’s people. The Jews were going to be freed from slavery to Egypt. In that way, water to wine signaled the beginning of the deliverance of God’s people. The Jews (and Gentiles) can be freed from slavery to sin.
Leave it to God, the greatest storyteller ever, to craft such an amazing connection in history. When God gave the Ten Plagues upon Egypt, even then, he knew his Son would die for the sins of the world. He gave us these connections so we may believe and have life in his name.