Wine, A Wedding, and the Universe

April 19, 2024
Joe Wilbur

Some time ago while working as an engineer a co-worker asked me, “In light of all the science available, how can an intelligent person like you buy into the creation myth?” He was referring to my belief in the literal biblical account of six twenty-four-hour periods when God created our universe and everything in it. My answer surprised him. I said, “Initial conditions.” After a pause, knowing I had his attention, I continued. When we finished talking that day he said, “That makes sense. I never heard it explained that way.” Here is what I told him. 

An Act of Creation

     The first miracle recorded in the Bible is God creating everything, including all life along with mankind (Gen 1:1-3:24). And the first miracle of the Lord Jesus, called a “sign,” is found in John 2:1-11 when He changed water into wine.

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So, they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory. And His disciples believed in Him. (John 2:1-11, ESV)

     It is important to emphasize that this “first of His signs” happened at a wedding. God’s creation itself is about a wedding (see Eph 5:31-32 quoting from Gen 2:24). From this fact alone we may grow suspicious that the first miracle in the Scriptures and the first miracle of the Lord Jesus may be related in some deeper way.

     At first glance, it may not appear that changing water into wine is all that impressive. After all, later the Lord Jesus will heal the blind (e.g., John 9; Matt. 11:5), cleanse lepers (e.g., Luke 5:12-13; 17:11-14), calm stormy seas (Mark 4:35-41), and even raise the dead (see Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-56; John 11). By comparison, changing water into wine does not seem very dramatic or even important.

     So, what then is so special about changing water to wine? There is only one chemical difference between water and wine. That difference is the element carbon or what scientists call, “the element of life.” They call it that because every living thing is composed of it: from the tiniest amoeba to the blue whale and every living plant and animal in between. Water (H2O) is made of hydrogen and oxygen. Wine contains alcohol (C2H6O) and various sugars (e.g., C6H12O6), each of which contain hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. The Lord Jesus did not just do some mundane thing that day. He created.

     John 1:14 tells us that the Lord Jesus, the “Word,” was the agent of creation. John 2:1-11 shows us. That He chose a wedding as the venue for His first miracle suggests to us His very purpose in creating: that He would one day have man as His eternal companion, in a relationship full of eternal joy which will never run dry (John 3:29; 15:11; 17:13).

     But looking a little deeper, we notice that He did not just “create” that day. He created in the same way He created the world. This wine was the best wine at the wedding. And whether you drink wine or not, everybody knows that good wine is old wine. To the master of the feast, this was good wine. But was it old wine? By the measure of his sense of taste it was certainly old. But how old was it, actually? It was only minutes old. The Lord Jesus had created something with the appearance of age.

Initial Conditions

     If the master of the feast were to have guessed the age of the wine, no doubt he would have guessed wrong. But that does not mean his measuring tool (i.e., his tongue) had “measured” wrong. It just means his assumptions regarding the initial conditions were wrong. “Initial conditions” is a mathematical term referring to the starting information needed to solve certain kinds of problems. For example, your car can travel 500 miles on a tank of gas. You go on a trip and when you get there your gas tank is empty. How far did you drive? If you thought to yourself, “500 miles,” then you assumed the gas tank started full. What if the tank was only half full when you started? You need to know those initial conditions to answer the question.

     If the master of this wedding feast in Cana thought the wine to be old, he would be assuming that this wine started out the way all wine normally starts out: as grapes that got crushed and then fermented, etc. But this time, the wine did not start out that way at all and it would have been impossible for him to know it apart from someone revealing it to him.

     It is the same for scientists today. We live in a universe where if everything started out in some “big bang” (what some scientists assume to be the initial condition) then everything would have to be very old for it to look the way it does now. But what if there never was a “big bang,” and, as God has told us in the Scriptures, that He ordained the celestial bodies (Gen. 1:14-17; Psa. 8:3), placing them right where they are? How could the “big bang” scientists ever get it right by relying only on their measuring instruments? The initial condition of the universe can only be known by God’s revelation.

     I told my friend that day that I did not know much about the methods used to date the earth, and I had no reason to doubt the measurements these methods produce. All it shows me is what I already believe from the Scriptures, that God created the universe with the appearance of age – just like the Lord Jesus had done when He created Adam and Eve and just like He had done when He changed water into wine at the Cana wedding.

     I lost touch with that co-worker a long time ago. But I am glad I had opportunities like this one to share things from the Scriptures and illustrate that an intelligent person like him should not be afraid to investigate God’s Word – even with a skeptical and scientifically-oriented mind. I hope he did. God’s Word will stand up just fine to honest questions.