"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’" (John 2:1-3 NIV)

Jesus' first miracle was changing water into wine. One may wonder, why did He start His ministry this way? Was there a spiritual meaning behind this?

"Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’" (John 2:6-10 NIV)

Notice that Jesus' wine was remarkably the best! But this isn’t the last mention of wine in the book of John. Just 13 chapters later, Jesus Himself makes an amazing statement: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." (John 15:1 NIV) Now, wine can only be produced if vines produce grapes. No grapes, no wine. Jesus is making us aware that no spiritual wine is possible without Jesus, for He is the only "true vine!"

Further on Jesus compares us to be His branches: "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (John 15:4 NIV) This is a great compliment. We have been created in the likeness of God and being a branch of the vine, we couldn't be any closer to His likeness. Jesus uses us to produce delicious fruit, fruit that can be turned into the "best" wine possible.

There is one condition, however: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." (John 15:5-6 NIV) Friends, we have to remain in the vine! We have to remain in Jesus to produce that most delicious fruit. Without Him, no fruit will be forth coming. We are desperately hopeless unless we remain in Jesus for all things.

Is this why so many Christians complain about their futility in life? They seem unable to produce any fruit at all. They complain, "Where is God?" To them, life seems absurd. They even question their own salvation. They use their logic to figure things out, and the results are discouraging: "Jesus commanded me to do this and that, but I can't do it! This is completely hopeless!"

They don't realize that it isn't God who is far from them; instead they are the ones who are far from God! They try to perform under their own power. They believe they have to do it on their own. They say, “After all, aren't we witnessing for God's glory? Why aren't we seeing any results?"

The answer is simple: no fruit can be forthcoming without remaining and depending utterly in all things on Jesus. The branches are not the ones producing the fruit. The vine is. Cut a branch off the vine and it will wither to death without ever being able to produce any fruit. Only Jesus can produce fruit in our lives. Without Him, we will remain utterly fruitless!

As I contemplate all of this, I begin to wonder: "Why do we try to work things out our own way when the Creator Himself is so willing to work them out for us? Haven't we learned that most of our attempts are met with utter failure and discouragement? Haven't we learned that it is only when we depend solely on Jesus that we can really enjoy life?" Two texts come to mind:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28-29 NIV)

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10 NIV)

Only by depending solely on Jesus will we live life to the fullest. He is the One who will make it possible for us to bear real fruit of the best kind possible.

Could it be that through His first miracle, Jesus was indicating that He, indeed, was the true vine, and that solely through Him can the best wine be possible?

When they ran out of wine at the wedding, the servants tried desperately to solve the problem on their own; however they were met with utter failure. But as soon as Jesus showed up at their side, the best kind of wine was made possible. On their own, they were hopeless. With Jesus at their side they were victorious!

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5 NIV)

During this festive season, may we be able to discover what a difference Jesus can and will do in our lives. Yes, He was born in a manger 2000 years ago, but He still lives today, and He still provides us with victory, if we just will let Him!

"Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:5 NIV) This is my wish to all of you.

Rob Chaffart