The year was 1957. IBM had created a device which would change the world as we know it. This device was large by today’s standards, taking up several cabinets of space. This machine was also expensive, costing nearly $80,000 to purchase. What is this large and expensive machine that changed the world? An electronic calculator.
Now, I realize that we do not normally consider the calculator to be a world changing device, but that is because we have grown up with it. We have grown accustomed to it, and thus we take it for granted. If you were born prior to 1957, all math was done in your head. If you are like me, you grew up in elementary school learning to add, subtract, multiply, or divide by hand. And if you are like me, math became difficult for you when dealing with numbers that outstretched your number of fingers and toes! Because of my difficulty with math, I welcomed the day I got to use my first calculator to aid in solving problems in school. It was as liberating as it was accurate. It also opened new vistas into deeper fields of mathematics (things like trigonometry and calculus) which would be nearly impossible without the use of a machine. The machine IBM invented in 1957 did not invent math … it was based on the same numbers and truths as long division … but it did reinvent how higher math was computed, placing a powerful tool in the hands of people everywhere.
In John 2:1-11, Jesus performed a miracle filled with symbolism to reveal to His followers that He was creating a New Covenant by which mankind would relate to God. For centuries, God’s people had related to Him under the Old Covenant based on the Old Testament Law which was filled with the Ten Commandments, ritual cleansing, and animal sacrifices. While the miracle of John 2 may look like Jesus was simply providing some good wine to a few thirsty guests at a wedding feast, a closer look reveals that Jesus was actually highlighting a significant truth about His identity and the gift He was offering. By taking the water from the Old Covenant ceremonial jars and turning it into something new (and better), Jesus was actually foreshadowing the fact that He was creating a New Covenant that would change the spiritual lives of all who would embrace it. This New Covenant would be very expensive, costing Jesus His blood. This New Covenant that Jesus was establishing was what we know of as Christianity.
Now, I realize that as Americans, we can take for granted the amazing revolution that life in Christ creates, but that is because many of us have grown up with it. If you lived your life before the time of Christ, all spiritual interaction with God was based on strict adherence to the Law. If you are like me, you find God’s Law beautiful but too lofty to adhere to 100 percent of the time. Because of our inability to keep God’s Law, we should welcome the amazing extension of God’s grace to us in Christ. It is as liberating as it is holy. It provides forgiveness for our sins once and for all in Christ and opens new vistas for our spiritual lives including mission, purpose, a close and personal relationship with God, and gracious provision to actually live out the Christian life. The New Covenant did not invent holiness—it was based on the same righteousness prescribed in the Law—but it did reinvent how our spiritual lives would be lived out, placing the powerful life of Christ in the hearts of people everywhere.
Like wine out of water, Jesus has saved the best for last. Take a moment and praise God for creating us as people who are arriving at the feast of history at this time. Like wedding guests in Cana, we can enjoy the blessing that Jesus creates out of an old pot.
Turning water to wine at the wedding in Cana was the first “sign” of Jesus’ divinity referenced by John. Only God Himself could initiate this new covenant. This miracle, and its symbolic significance pointed to Jesus’ true identity.
This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.” You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.