Home » Advanced Search » Water Turned To Wine

Water Turned To Wine

John 16:20, “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.”


The Context Of Jesus’s Words

First, it’s important to determine how broad of an application these words have. Now, it is true that in this verse Jesus is talking most specifically about His impending betrayal and crucifixion, however, just as the crucifixion embraces the equivalence of all suffering and is itself a microcosm of all suffering, so too I believe that Jesus’ words here regarding His crucifixion can–and were intended to–be applied to all experiences of suffering that His people are going to endure in the time between His departure and return. One of the main reasons I say this is because the death and resurrection of Jesus is paradigmatic for the people of God. It is not merely an event, merely an instance of suffering, rather it is an archetypal pattern, it is a picture of ALL suffering….both the depths of its horror and what it’s final end will be in light of God’s eucatastrophic sovereign grace. And so, since the cross event–which is the immediate context for Jesus’ teaching here–is paradigmatic of the suffering of all God’s people, I think we are justified in saying that Jesus’ words here also apply–by implication–to the sufferings of all of His people throughout time until the end of the present age.


You Will Be Sorrowful

So, with my position on the applicability of these words asserted, consider again what He says, “you will be sorrowful…” Clear, straightforward, unmistakable. Sorrow will come. In context this referred to the death of their beloved Lord, and with Him, the death of all their hopes……the death of all their just-blooming messianic joys, the death of their barely-tasted new lives……the death of Christ would have been a soul-eviscerating blow to His disciples. You will be sorrowful….To see their Brother, their Captain, their King, hanging in shame and seeming defeat on the cross, mocked and abandoned and the slain…..gone…dead….cold…..silent….lifeless…….. that would be their sorrow.


Sorrow Turned To Joy

And then He says, “but your sorrow will turn into joy.” This is the key piece….this joyous and unlooked for turn for the good that enters in beyond all hope…the Eucatastrophe. And what I want to draw special attention to is that beautiful reality: your sorrow will TURN INTO joy. Glory to God for putting such words in His holy scriptures! Glory to God for making this TRUE!

So, see the words again, your sorrow will turn into joy. He does not say, “your sorrow will be replaced by joy,” or, “your sorrow will be eclipsed by joy,” or, “your sorrow will be forgotten for joy.” No. He says, “your sorrow will turn into joy.” In other words, the very reality that once was sorrow for you will itself become JOY to you. What once tasted only bitter will itself become sweet….Disciples….Christians in all ages….your sorrow itself will become your joy.


How Can It Be?

How can this be? Isn’t this calloused and unfeeling to say? What of the miscarriages? What of the deformities? What of the rapes and the murders and the deaths and the sicknesses? What of the wars and the starvations? The beheadings, the orphans, the refugees? What of the cancers, the beloved wives lost, the fathers taken, the children abused? What of all the deep and bitter anguish of the human race? Am I not being flippant when I say that these things will “turn into” joy? Bear in mind again that the most immediate context of Jesus’ words here are His own death. Is He being flippant when He looks at the betrayal and mockery and torture and brutal, humiliating, public execution of God the Son and says that it will become joy? There is no horror deeper than the murder of our God at the cross…..and Jesus says that will become joy. So, let’s look more closely at the immediate application of these words in order to see how they apply to our wider experience….

When Jesus says “you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy,” He is talking about His death. His death is the sorrow that He has in mind. How did this sorrow “turn into” joy for His disciples? Only in light of the Eucatastrophe of His resurrection. And this is crucial to see, the resurrection of Christ is not merely the “happy ending” to the story–though it is that. More than a happy ending, it is the sunrise that casts all that came before it in a new light. The Eucatastrophe of the resurrection is the sort of joy, the sort of happy ending, that folds all that came before it into its joy and, indeed, causes all that came before it to become an element and aspect of its joy. So, in light of the resurrection, the crucifixion of Christ is revealed–not as sorrow primarily–but as glory and wonder and love and joy. When we see Calvary in the light of Easter morning, we see beauty.

But it’s not just that the resurrection folds the cross into its own joy, the resurrection shows us that the cross even IS our joy. This is our salvation, this is God’s great work of redemption, in THIS is love! This event, this very event that rent the hearts of His disciples has now–in light of the resurrection–BECOME their joy. I do not doubt that many of the disciples would weep glad tears upon remembrance of the cross……what had been their sorrow had now become their joy, and the transformation happens with the eucatastrophic turn of the resurrection of Christ.


The Cross As The Pattern

Now, as I said before, the cross event is a microcosm of all suffering. What God has done there He will one day do to ALL suffering. The way that the cross of Christ has now become glory and joy and beauty in light of the resurrection is the Firstfruits of what God will do to every instance of suffering…..it is a picture of the end of all sorrows…….ALL the sadness and darkness and sorrow and horror of the fall WILL be conformed to the pattern that Christ embodied in His death and resurrection…..and in light of the consummation of all things in Christ at the Final Resurrection, ALL sorrows will be made joy, just as the sorrow of the cross was made joy upon Christ’s resurrection.


Water To Wine

Much, much more can and must be said….but I will conclude today by noting this. The word for “turn into” in verse 20 is the same word used when Jesus turned water into wine in John 2:9. Just as much as what was water became wine, so too what is now our sorrow will become our joy…..and that transformation will no more belittle our present sufferings than the transformation of Christ’s death into joy upon His resurrection belittles the cross. Our Lord, our God, our Savior….our Brother, our Captain, our King, just as He turned water to wine at the wedding in Cana, when we as His redeemed people sit around the banquet table of the Great Wedding Supper of the Lamb, He Himself–with wounded hands–will turn the water of our tears into the very wine of our blessedness. Glory to His Name……Glory to His Name!