It just occurred to me that Jesus lived in the middle-east, where there's not much water. Alcohol dehydrates you by making you pee more, and Jesus was supposed to be a man of the people- that is, someone focussed on helping people get from day to day. So doesn't it seem counter-productive to turn water into wine? Wouldn't it actually be more characteristic/benevolent to turn wine into water? Or was it all just to show off his superpowers and that's seen as more impressive?

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    Interesting point since wine was drank because it was "cleaner" than the water. I wonder why he didn't turn it into Mountain Dew. – The Freemason Apr 12 '14 at 19:55
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    Throughout much of human history, one of the chief ways of making water safe to drink has been through fermentation--making wine, beer, or other lightly fermented drinks out of it. This typically kills harmful pathogens, and results in only a slight amount of alcohol (much less than most modern beer or wine). This is likely what they had at the wedding feast. Jesus could have said "There's no reason for you all to be drinking wine. Let me just purify this water for you instead." and they would have looked at him like he was crazy, the miracle would not have been seen as a miracle... – Flimzy Apr 13 '14 at 16:01
  • This could have been the only miracles of the ones Jesus performed that never happened, because it can be explained psychologically. – Constantthin Jul 28 '17 at 15:02
  • @Constantthin- My understanding is that the actual truth content of the Bible is off-topic. See christianity.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3527/… – PointlessSpike Jul 28 '17 at 15:04
  • You are right. That's why I am not saying it in an answer. – Constantthin Jul 28 '17 at 15:11

Jesus was supposed to be a man of the people- that is, someone focussed on helping people get from day to day.

Why do you think so? Jesus came to redeem people by his suferring and death. Not to make their life comfortable.

Jesus lived in the middle-east, where there's not much water

Water was not scarce in Jesus's place and during his time. I don't know where you got that data from. Water was an integral part of temple ceremony and was lavishly used during sacrifice. Also Water Into Wine miracle narrative itself records there were six stone jars full of water present there just to be used in ceremonial washing. That is how much water they had. There is no contemporary record showing that water was scarce. After all, Jerusalem was supposed to be a land flowing with milk and honey.

So doesn't it seem counter-productive to turn water into wine? Wouldn't it actually be more characteristic/benevolent to turn wine into water?

No. Wine was an integral part of Jewish marriage custom at the time. Not providing sufficient wine was an insult to the guests and thereby a shame to the newly wed. Jesus helping them in their need is in fact a "characteristic/benevolent" act.

Was it all just to show off his superpowers and that's seen as more impressive?

Have you read the Gospel narrative? Vast majority of people who attended the wedding including the master of the banquet did not know where the wine came from. So your claim of show off his superpowers doesn't hold good.

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  • "Jesus came to redeem people by his suferring and death. Not to make their life comfortable." Way to miss the whole point of Jesus. – Steely Dan Apr 13 '14 at 8:49
  • 1 Timothy 1:15 "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Matthew 20:28, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Mark 1:38, "And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth." – Raphael Rosch Aug 7 '14 at 6:35
  • Galatians 4:4-5, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." – Raphael Rosch Aug 7 '14 at 6:39

When Jesus turned water into wine, He performed His first miracle at the wedding feast. It was also at the request of His mother. He didn't want to demonstrate His power yet, but still obeyed His mother. It shows how Christians must respect Mary as Christ did.

This first miracle also foreshadowed His death on the cross as being the sacrificial lamb. To explain, during the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples did not eat the traditional passover meal as all Jews would have. They did not eat a sacrificed lamb - Jesus became that perfect lamb who was broken on the cross. What at first seems strange, they also did not drink all the different cups of wine required during the meal. When Jesus drank the vinegar wine on the cross, He stated "It is finished." This was the final cup of the passover meal. When Jesus died, He completed the passover meal on the cross.

The first miracle of turning water into wine was bookended with Him becoming the passover feast. Christians and His Church are the Bride of Christ. The events in the New Testament correlate for very specific reasons to demonstrate His divinity and salvation.

Jesus commanded that we must eat of His flesh and drink His blood. This was not symbolic. Many of His disciples left because they could handle His command. In Communion, Jesus becomes the bread and wine in Mass. This belief was even understood by the pagans in the first centuries and was only disputed over 1000 years after Christ. Peter commanded that you cannot have communion in a state of sin, otherwise you drink and eat condemnation upon yourself. The miracle when Jesus multiplied the bread and fish also ties into how during Mass how Christians can still eat His flesh and drink His blood.

To be a Christian, you must believe in the actual presence of Christ in Communion. It is a core belief, not something optional. This is why Jesus turned the water into wine - and how he "turns Himself" into wine in Communion.

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  • Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? – David Stratton Apr 14 '14 at 4:06

Uta Ranke-Heinemann, among others, points out the parallels to pagan tradition in the account of Jesus turning water into wine. She says, in Putting Away Childish Things that the transformation of water into wine is a typical motif of the Dionysus legend, in which this miracle serves to highlight the god's epiphany. On his feast day, Dionysus made empty jars fill up with wine in his temple in Elis; and on the island of Andros, wine flowed instead of water from a spring or in his temple.

A similar example, also in John's Gospel, at John 5:1-9, where Jesus cured the lame man at the pool with five porches, near the sheep market outside Jerusalem. Archaeologists have found that pool, still with a votive offering to the Greek god of healing, Asclepius. This was an Asclepium, or temple to Asclepius. As was typical of his temples around the Greek world, whenever he came by and disturbed the water, whoever was first to enter the water would be cured. In both examples, John has portrayed Jesus as being capable of doing with great ease whatever the pagan gods could do. So these examples were to show off Jesus' powers, although it was not Jesus doing this but the author of John, and the audience for the miracle was John's readers, not people at a wedding.

At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysus#Parallels_with_Christianity, we find Peter Wick cited as saying, "... the use of wine symbolism in the Gospel of John, including the story of the Marriage at Cana at which Jesus turns water into wine, was intended to show Jesus as superior to Dionysus."

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    1. Dionysus never turned water into wine. Jar of water turning into wine is not the same as spring giving forth wine INSTEAD OF water. 2. Just because Jesus could do somethings that pagan Gods could do doesn't mean it was purposefully made to be so. 3. This is not an answer to the question asked. – Jayarathina Madharasan Apr 13 '14 at 5:44
  • Dr Ranke-Heinemann (chair of the history of religion, University of Essen) thinks there is a parallel, to the point that she taught that one report was based on the other. If, as she says, the event did not really occur, then the answer as to why he did so is found in an analysis of the text. – Dick Harfield Apr 13 '14 at 5:52
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    I don't care who said that. Just because she has some degree doesn't mean we should accept what she says. See with your commonsense: Do you think turning water into wine is the same as spring giving forth wine INSTEAD OF water. Or you are ready to accept it just because some person with a fancy title says so. People will see what they want to see. I can show such similarities with Jesus and Nicolas Cage. It does not prove anything. – Jayarathina Madharasan Apr 13 '14 at 6:00
  • I don't want to get into an argument, and I can see you take this personally. I have added a further citation to show that if the event did not occur, then the answer to this question is that the author portrayed what Jesus did. As for Professor Ranke-Heinemann, she retired as Chair of Religious History after an illustrious teaching career, so more than just a "fancy title". – Dick Harfield Apr 14 '14 at 0:04
  • @JayarathinaMadharasan has twice stated I have not answered the question. I found and read some helpful meta pages, to see what I did wrong. I read that I am not required to affirm the truth of any Christian belief, so that's not a problem. I reread my answer to see if I went off-topic, but my answer describes what some Christian scholars say about this topic, so this seems OK. Being new here, I do not know how to open a chat room, but I invite you to do so and point me to it, so I can learn why U see my answer as not addressing question, with others able to join in and help me. – Dick Harfield Apr 16 '14 at 2:07

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