The Bible’s New Testament: The Gospel of John III – Jesus Takes One for Mom: The Water into Wine Miracle
When I was in junior high, my dad worked for an import/export business owned by a Chinese family. One night, the boss asked Dad if his family would like to join his family for dinner in Chinatown. Understandably, Dad was flattered and Mom was interested. My brother already had plans. I was looking forward to ordering pizza.
The invite had made clear that Dad’s sons were welcome as well. I was touched but was wondering how long I should wait to order that pizza. No, Dad clarified, by “invited” my boss means “expected.” It would be insulting to turn down the invitation. I had no idea what restaurant we were headed to but I was positive there would be nothing I would eat. Tough, Dad said. You will eat what is placed in front of you and you will like it. Mom basically nodded.
On the second floor of the restaurant, we gathered at a round table that fit about 12. As the courses I arrived, I wanted nothing to do with the shark fin soup, the shrimp dish or, especially, the plate of partridges (heads intact), whose opened beaks were pointed in my direction, asking for the help I too desperately needed. Why did my parents feel the need to torture me this way? If only I could magically change some of this food to a pizza or at least chicken nuggets.
The Gospel of John discusses a few of Jesus’ miracles unmentioned in any of the other Gospels. The set-up for one of these involves a wedding, to which Jesus, his disciples, and his mother go. When the wine runs out, she tells her son, “They have no more wine.” Although it’s not mentioned, you can practically tell she’s saying: look, you may be the son of God and a lot of people may fall at your feet, but you can perform miracles and these people are in need, so get this done. Now. You can amost picture him rolling his eyes when he responds, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” (2:4).
I have to admit, I rather enjoyed the image of Jesus pouting and resisting like a teenager. This provided another glimpse of the human side to this man that made him more real for me. He also concedes like a good son: he gives directions to servants to fill six 20-to-30 gallon jugs with water, to which Jesus turns into wine (2:6-7).
Since wine is so important to Christian services (and the Last Supper), it seems strange that this miracle only surfaces in John. It’s also one of the few I knew about prior to reading the new Testament. Still, it’s an engaging scene—even if you choose not be believe in the wine miracle. At its heart, it’s a story about a mother and son spending time together, with the son basically forced to comply. See, even Jesus sucked it up and did things to please his mother.
When I was at dinner, I did my best to put on a good show for Dad’s boss and his family. I nibbled on things here and there and consumed a TON of rice that night. Still, even though I could have been a better sport, my dad’s boss was happy to have me there—family being so important in their culture. I may not have been happy about it at the time, but I am glad I went.