Every day, nearly 1,000 children under five die from diarrhea and illnesses caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation and unsafe hygiene practices. Just as water meant life in biblical times, so too does water mean life today.
"In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the valley of acacias." Joel 3:18 (NIV)
Jesus Turns Water Into Wine (John 2:1-11)
At first glance, it seems strange that Jesus’ first recorded miracle was so … frivolous. Turning water into wine? At a party where the guests may have had enough to drink already (2:10)?
At Cana, Jesus transformed a symbol of spiritual purification into an even more powerful symbol of new life—abundant, overflowing, and all-encompassing.
Initially, Jesus seemed to feel the same way. He appeared to dismiss His own mother’s request, saying, “My hour has not yet come” (2:4). The foreboding reference to His own death was lost on those within earshot.
Perhaps out of deference to His mother, Jesus intervened after all. He instructed the servants to fill six stone jars. These weren’t just any jars. They were ritual purification jars; the water they normally held was used to wash away impurity. In Jesus’ hands, they served an altogether different purpose: bringing new life to the party.
Jesus’ miracle made no more sense to the master of ceremonies than it does to us. It was extravagant. Gratuitous. Excessive. And that’s the point. The jars of choice wine became a picture of God’s abundant grace, illustrating that Jesus did not come just to meet our spiritual needs. He came that we might flourish in every way. He came to offer hope and joy, for this life and the next.
The God who took on flesh in order to save us from sin and death wants us to experience life right here, in the flesh.
Turning Water Into Life
Over the next six weeks, we’ll read five stories from southern Zambia that highlight the perils of life without clean water as well as the transformation water can bring to an entire community.
Half of those living in rural Zambia—4.2 million people—don’t have access to safe drinking water. Only one in three can access basic sanitation facilities. As we’ll see in these stories, the availability (or lack) of clean water can mean the difference between life and death.
Some of the people we’ll meet in these stories include:
Isaac and Everness
Isaac, 30, is a water, sanitation, and hygiene coordinator for World Vision in Zambia. Everness, 50, is a volunteer hygiene promoter.
Timothy and Clara
Timothy, 14, and Clara, 12, live in the village of Haalumba in southern Zambia, where World Vision has partnered with community members to provide a safe, sustainable supply of water.
Andoni is a pastor serving in Zambia for whom every new borehole is an opportunity to share God’s love—and introduce people to the source of living water.
Francis and Wise
Francis and Wise are two young boys from Haangumba in southern Zambia whose lives are tragically impacted by the contaminated water in their village.
Spend time, either by yourself or with your small group, reflecting on this week’s passage using the following discussion questions:
- Did anything surprise you about the story of Jesus turning water into wine?
- What do you think is significant about this being Jesus' first miracle?
- How does this story challenge some of the perceptions we might have of Jesus?
- What do you think this miracle says about the kind of life Jesus wants people to experience?
- Since we are called to imitate Jesus’ example (1 Peter 2:21), what can we learn from His miracle at Cana about serving others?
Take a few moments each day to meditate on the following Scripture passages:
Monday: Psalm 33:6-9
In this song of praise, the author declares God’s power over the waters of creation.
Tuesday: Psalm 107:33-38
The psalmist praises God’s ability to turn deserts into springs. Jesus exhibits a similar power when He turns everyday water into choice wine.
Wednesday: Isaiah 35:1-7
Gushing springs of water feature prominently in Isaiah’s vision of renewal.
Thursday: Isaiah 55:1-3
Isaiah invites the exiles of Judah to come to God for refreshment.
Friday: Jeremiah 31:7-12
God promises to bring His people safely home, leading them alongside streams of life-giving water.