Why Water, Wine, Fish, and Loaves?

bigstock-Wine-jug-with-bread-and-fish-49877780-1024x683We live in a postmodern culture, now more than ever. The postmodern world view is built upon and supported by the assumption that there can be no absolute truth in the universe.  Everything boils down to individual opinions, therefore truth is ever-changing and completely subjective. Crucial topics of our day such as abortion, sexuality, and religion are no longer black and white issues, but rather are grey and blurred. Truth is no longer defined by reality, but it is now defined by emotion and personal feelings.

Sadly, this extremely popular world view is even seeping into the church. Many professing believers are now claiming that Jesus is not the only way into the Kingdom of God. They say there are many ways. It’s the old, “All roads (or God’s) lead to paradise” ideology.

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5.

They would rather deny the truth of God’s word than to be offensive in any way. Political correctness and social acceptance have become the golden calves of our day. Modern day culture has molded God into their own image. It is an image that is not offensive and is accepting of sinful rebellion. And it is not the God of scripture.

Truth has become arbitrary. Even within the most orthodox churches, there are professing Christians who will say things like, “Well we can never truly know the mind of God, so therefore we cannot make absolute statements about God.” This way of thinking is most predominately seen in Bible Studies or sermons in which the teacher will ask his listeners what they think a verse means to them rather than telling them what the scripture is actually saying.

To justify their lack of reliance of solid truth, many will misquote verses like Deuteronomy 29:29 saying, “Well remember ‘The secret things belong to the LORD our God,’ so we can’t really understand what the scripture is really saying.”

But they neglect to continue reading the verse;

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

There are secret things that God has not revealed to man and we cannot know. However, the revealed things belong to us, that being His Holy Word. We can know the Word of God and we can understand the truth within it. Verses like Deuteronomy 29:29 are used as an excuse for people having a lack of Biblical insight or understanding. Because when we press into the scriptures, seeking the knowledge of God with all our hearts, His truth will be found, and it is in no way ambiguous or up for interpretation.

Lets take for example the miracles of Christ. In the Gospel of John, only seven significant miracles of Christ were recorded. However, there were countless other miracles that Jesus performed that were not recorded.

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25.

John claimed that if all the great things Christ did were to be recorded, the world could not contain all the books that would have been written. So why were the seven miracles John recorded the ones chosen by the disciple from all the countless miracles to be included in his Gospel? For the sake of brevity, lets examine just two of these miracles. Namely Jesus turning water into wine and the feeding of the five thousand.

What was so important about Jesus turning the water into wine in John 2:1-11 and Jesus feeding the five thousand in John 6:5-14? Were these miracles done randomly just to impress the crowds? Was Jesus merely showing off with magic tricks? Or was there a purpose and intent behind these miraculous works?

To answer these questions, one would have to be a student of their Bible. Back in the days of Jesus, most of the Jews differed from our modern-day Christians in that they actually studied and were familiar with their Old Testament, which was all they had at the time seeing that the New Testament was currently being fulfilled in Christ. The first century Jews didn’t rely on pop Christian radio and pithy religious t-shirts for their theology, but rather they were seekers of God’s truth, and not allergic to reading.

When Jesus turned the water to wine at the wedding in Cana, He was intentional about what He was doing. First of all, the pots Christ had the water drawn from were for ceremonial cleansing, and not for drinking. The Pharisees and all the Jews did not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they came in from the market place, they did not eat unless they cleansed themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots. (Mark 7:3–4)

The Jews used stone water pots to hold the water used for ritual purification because they believed that, unlike earthenware pots (Lev. 11:33), they did not become unclean. Unlike the smaller one used by the Samaritan woman to draw water from a well (4:28), these pots at the wedding were large pots, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Such a large amount of water was needed not only to accommodate the guests, but also because the cooking and eating utensils had to be washed (Mark 7:4).

But Jesus cleansed the water, purifying it and turning it into wine. It was a subtle way of Jesus saying that there was no longer a need for these religious and ceremonial cleansing methods. Because soon He Himself would become the only method of purification required for cleanliness before God.

So why did Jesus turn the water to wine? Why not milk or grape juice? And while we are on the topic of food and drink, why did Jesus feed a feast to five thousand people up on that mountain? Both of these questions can be answered by the prophet Isaiah. Four hundred years plus prior to the birth of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah.

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples; a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” Isaiah 25:6.

This would have reminded the witnesses of these miracles about the Lord who was written about in Isaiah 25. When Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding and multiplied the fish and loaves into a feast on the mountain, this would have drawn His audience’s mind to the scriptures. The Jews were awaiting the fulfillment of the Torah and the coming of the Messiah that had been foretold by the prophets like Isaiah.

The miracles of water turned to wine and an abundant feast being prepared for the people were both fulfillments of the words written by Isaiah centuries before. Isaiah was telling the people what to look for clearly as signs pointing to Messiah. Both of these miracles were fulfillments of the Isaiah 25 prophecy. Jesus, in performing these miracles was letting the Jews know that the Messiah you have awaited is here. These were not merely impressive magic tricks. These were Christ’s statements of His Divinity.

When we take the time to be seekers of truth, we go way beyond the scriptures being nice little Sunday school type stories and the reality literally shakes us to our very foundations. Truth becomes undeniable. Bible stories we have heard all of our lives we begin to see as being less about us and more and more about Him. The Bible is not a self-help book, but the revelation of Christ and the very breath of God. And the authority and purpose behind every action of Jesus becomes a clearly seen message given to reveal His foretold Deity. All scripture is absolute truth. And absolute truth can be found only in Christ alone.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” John 5:39.

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