“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)
The first miracle of Jesus Christ at a wedding in a town called, Cana of Galilee speaks beyond the surface event of a social disaster, running out of wine at a party or breach of hospitality to guest. Jesus’ miracles are meant to reveal to us the glory of God, and to point us to who Jesus truly is. The first miracle of Jesus informs us that human source of joy, power, strength are limited because ‘the wine can run out.’ Jesus’ miracle contains deep significance for the family, church, workplace, and nations beyond Cana of Galilee and time. In the New Testament, wine is associated with the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)
We really need to pray that the church’s wine, the Spirit doesn’t run out—that the living, trusting, sacrificing church of Jesus Christ doesn’t lose its fire and within a generation’s time become a hollow shell of itself. For example, John Wesley expressed this fear about Methodism. In studying the writings and practices of John Wesley, we are reminded of his prophetic words near the end of his life: ‘I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.’ (‘Thoughts Upon Methodism,’ 1786). Wesley’s words remind us the death of the church isn’t the worst thing that can happen; the worst thing that can happen is to lose our vitality, “having the form of religion without the power.” The truth is that this happened to the church time after time throughout history and it is happening to us. To have the form of religion points to our water pot of theology, leadership, structure, building and others signs and sets of beliefs and practices. To follow Mary’s instruction and beyond any forms of religion and running to the altar seeking the wine of God’s Spirit, God needs our simple obedience to His commands. When Mary saw that the wine had run out, she directed the servants to her son and said, “Whatsoever he said unto you, do it”” (John 2:5).
The wine of our spirituality can run out. The wine of marriage can run out. The wine of our democracy can run out. The wine of our technology and philosophy can run out. The wine of our wealth and pride can run out. It is shameful, tragic, and divisive when the “wine runs out.” Just as wine symbolised joy to the Jewish people, wine, in the Scriptures, is a symbol of the exuberance and intoxication of the divine life. The reflection is that at Jesus’ first miracle, and beyond liquid refreshment at a wedding, ‘their joy had run out.’ This is a reminder of the emptiness of our life without Jesus Christ.
It is a serious issue when “wine runs out,” When “wine runs out,” joy is dry, peace turns to fear, unity to divisions, love to hatred, hope to hopelessness. When Mary says, “They have no more wine,” using the words of Bishop Baron, ‘she is speaking of all of Israel and indeed all of the human race. They have run out of the exuberance and joyfulness that comes from union with God.’ In the presence of God there is fullness of joy and liberty, lifted up and transfigured. God is interested in every area of our lives. The suffering humanity with no more wine need a voice like Mary, intercessors who will stand between the porch and the altar and tell God that the joy of humanity has run out. The challenge is, would the suffering humanity listen and follow Mary’s advice, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” Human obedience to Jesus’ instructions yields abundant joy and better life. Indeed, whenever Jesus comes into life there comes a new life, abundant life, tasteful and not tasteless.
Beloved, we are in the latter days and the prophetic statement from the wedding host explain this. They said, “You have kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). God is pouring and manifesting His ‘glory in the latter days by pouring out His Spirit on His church. That includes this present generation as we live in an increasingly turbulent world.’ Under a growing persecution, descending darkness, and the contemporary redefinition of Christianity, as ‘followers of Jesus, we are to be filled with his peace, unshaken by evil, our lives shining as lights in the midst of darkness.’ God is saying to someone, receive a testimony of His goodness in the midst of panic, a testimony of holiness in evil times. Let us pray and ask the Lord to pour out the wine of His Spirit on us, our family, workplaces, churches and nations His wine of healing, anointing, deliverance and restoration.