Old jars new wine
My mornings begin basically the same way each day. I wake up, usually assisted by my wife’s influence, and then before I do anything else I start to read from the Bible. I do this because it allows me to read and receive before my mind gets distracted by all of the opportunities that will present themselves to me once I arise and leave my bedroom.
I do not usually follow a set Bible reading guide. I like to open my Bible and let the Spirit of G-D direct my time in the Word. Many times, I begin reading a text based upon something that impacted my heart the day before or something I heard someone say that stuck in my mind.
One such occasion took place after a friend had done an excellent teaching on the miracles of Yeshua (Jesus). In his teaching, he brought out some insights that I had never noticed before. These insights caused me to follow a path through the text that brought me to a hidden lesson that I had missed while reading previously.
The passage is from John 2 and is very familiar to many because it tells us of the very first miracle that Yeshua performed.
John 2:6 Now there were six stone jars, used for the Jewish ritual of purification, each holding two to three measures. 7 Yeshua said to them, “Fill the jars with water!” So they filled them up to the top. 8 Then He said to them, “Take some water out, and give it to the headwaiter.” And they brought it. 9 Now the head waiter did not know where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. As the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, he calls the bridegroom 10 and says to him, “Everyone brings out the good wine first, and whenever they are drunk, then the worse. But you’ve reserved the good wine until now!”
In the past when I viewed these verses, I focused on the miracle of the water being turned into wine, which I have to say was a pretty great way to begin a miracle ministry. But when I read these verses again, for some reason the words “Jewish ritual of purification” stood out and jumped off the page. Why had I never noticed those words before? My mind went to 2 Timothy 3:16:
All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed.
We all know that every word of Scripture was written purposely and that each word was designed to teach us something that will equip us to be capable for every good deed. So, I would begin to dissect the text to see if there was something in there that I had missed that might help me in my understanding and walk with the Lord.
I started with the stone jars, which made me think about 2 Timothy 2:20-21:
20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay—some for honor and some for common use. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these, he will be a vessel for honor—sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
In the narrative of John 2, we find that Miriam, Yeshua’s mother, saw that they had run out of wine at the wedding feast and she asked Yeshua to do something about it.
Yeshua’s response was to tell them, “Fill the jars with water! ”So they filled them up to the top. Yeshua saw the empty jars and knew the answer was to fill the jars up to their tops with pure water. The result of refilling these stone jars was that a miracle took place. These jars, that had become empty and common, had been turned back into vessels of honor filled with new wine. The best wine. These renewed stone jars were not simply restored so that they once again could be used to bring purification to those that their water came in contact with. They had miraculously become more that what they once were.
My eyes were opened to a new way to view these verses. I saw that these stone jars represented men and women. Mankind was created in the Garden of Eden, pure and holy. We were all created to be vessels of honor. But due to sin we became vessels of common use. Why? Because we were emptied of the water of life, that which made us pure. But like these empty stone jars Yeshua came to renew us to be vessels of honor. He took our empty jars and filled us with living water so that as John 7:38 tells us:
38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
But, Yeshua didn’t stop with just making us what we once were. He went further to make us better than we once were. He didn’t just fill us with water; He turned our water into wine, the new wine of the Holy Spirit.
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Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.