“If He Can Turn Water to Wine … ,” Liahona, Jan. 2023.
John is the only Gospel writer who recounts the Savior turning water to wine (see John 2:1–11). He even felt strongly enough about the experience to tell us it was the Savior’s “beginning of miracles” (John 2:11).
Culturally, the consequences of running out of wine could have hurt the social standing of those involved. 1 And while I don’t believe a miracle has to be dramatic to be life changing, I have wondered why John felt this miracle was so important among so many that were both dramatic and life changing.
Why were miracles so important throughout the Savior’s ministry? Certainly it was in part because of His compassion for those in need (see Mark 1:41). In addition, miracles were important evidence of His divine power and authority (see Mark 2:5, 10–11). Miraculous events could also strengthen faith and bring attention to His message (see John 2:11; 6:2).
Then someone pointed out to me that the Savior’s miracles didn’t just bring people to hear the message; they helped teach the message.2 When I asked myself what I could learn about Jesus Christ and His divine mission from turning water to wine, I began to see new things.
Here are three lessons I learned from the miracle at Cana about the Savior and His power to save.
When Mary asked Jesus for help, He responded, “Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4). Without more details, it’s not clear from John’s record exactly what Mary expected or what Jesus meant by His reply that His hour had not yet come.
This phrase jumped out at me as important. It’s possible that Jesus was referring to some near-future event, such as the beginning of His public ministry. At the same time, the phrase has an echo that resounds throughout John’s record, often pointing forward to the ultimate miracle of His atoning sacrifice (see John 4:21–23; 5:25–29; 7:30; 8:20). Finally, the phrase repeats again at the end of His mortal ministry, when “Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father” (John 13:1, emphasis added; see also John 12:23, 27; 16:32). And before leaving for Gethsemane, He prayed, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee” (John 17:1, emphasis added).
Seeing John repeat this phrase throughout his record helped me see the end from the beginning. First, Jesus changed water to wine to satisfy physical thirst. Then, in the end, He used sacramental wine to represent His atoning blood, which made eternal life possible and caused those who believe in Him to never thirst again (see John 4:13–16; 6:35–58; 3 Nephi 20:8).
After asking Jesus for help, Mary told the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5). There is a lesson in this statement and in the fascinating similarities between this account and the account of Joseph in Egypt.
“And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do” (Genesis 41:55, emphasis added).
Mary may not have intended to make this connection, and perhaps John didn’t either. But as I noticed the similarities, two ideas came to mind.
First, I saw yet another way Joseph and other figures from the Old Testament foreshadowed Jesus Christ and His mission. But, more important, the stories of Egypt and Cana reminded me that not only can Jesus Christ save us from sin and death through His Atonement—which He later represented with bread and wine—but He can also save us from physical, social, and other challenges. When the people ran out of bread, Pharaoh told them to do whatever Joseph said. They did and were given bread and were saved from physical suffering. When the servants ran out of wine, Mary told them to do whatever Jesus said. They did and were given wine, and those involved were saved from failing their obligations.
If we are willing do whatever Jesus says, He can do the same for us and perform miracles in our lives (see Hebrews 10:35–36). To be saved is the greatest of all His miracles, and it requires obedience on our part (see Doctrine and Covenants 14:7; Articles of Faith 1:3).
The Savior directed the servants to fill six waterpots of stone with water. “And they filled them up to the brim” (John 2:6–7).
While experts have suggested different amounts, it is probably safe to say that each pot held several gallons. Whether it’s harder to turn one gallon or 100 gallons of water into wine, I don’t know. What has changed my life is the idea that Jesus has the power to change one thing into something entirely different. He didn’t just make wine-flavored water; He took water, with its simple molecular structure, and turned it into wine, a complex mixture of hundreds of chemical compounds.
If He can do that, then He can turn my challenges into blessings—not just adding a silver lining to the storm but actually changing the substance of the trial into something that blesses me (see Romans 8:28; 2 Nephi 2:2).
And if He can do it with one challenge, He can do it with all of them. So when life seems filled to the brim with trials, remember that He can change water into wine. He can exchange ashes for beauty (see Isaiah 61:3). He can take evil and turn it to good (see Genesis 50:20). He can turn my mistakes into growth and take my sins and change them from condemnation to progress.3
And, to me, that realization is the most significant of all. This miracle that I once overlooked has taught me that through His power, if we have the faith to do what He asks, He can change us from what we were into what we can become—like Him.