John 2: 1-11
Wednesday, January 17
The first miracle of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, Galilee
1-3 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.
- “Third day” – following the calling of Philip and Nathanael, John 1:43.
- Perhaps the ruined Khirbet Qana, about nine miles north of Nazareth
1-3 Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
- It was probably the wedding of a relative or family friend, as Jesus, his mother, Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael and John were all attending.
1-3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.”
- This was wine, not grape juice, and people, then as now, might have too much to drink (v.10). Wine in the ancient world was commonly diluted with two or three parts of water.
- Running out was embarrassing for the host and groom – and especially so in a culture which emphasised honour and shame. The celebration could go on for a whole week. Often everyone from the village would be invited, and careful preparations were expected.
4 “Woman, why do you involve Me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
- This is abrupt, but not rude as it comes across in English. The literal phrase was “what does this have to do with us” and this was a common Jewish idiom, Judges 11:12, 2 Samuel 16:10, not unlike our like our “this is not down to me”. Mary had to make a bigger shift than most parents to recognise Jesus for the Messiah He was, not just her son.
His mission must follow God’s timing, not anyone else’s. “My hour has not yet come” always refers to Jesus dying and being exalted e.g. John 7:30 and several other mentions in this gospel. There might also be some symbolism in His answer – the wedding calling to mind the “wedding of the Lamb” at the end of the age, Rev. 19:7 (fourth reading) and foretold in the wedding parables of Matthew 22 and 25.
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
- The milk churns seen in the country until the 1970s were 10 gallons capacity – so these jars, made of stone, not earthenware, were huge.
- The ceremonial washing mentioned by John draws a contrast between the old order of Jewish law and religious custom, with Jesus Himself and, looking forward, the complete cleansing in His shedding of blood and death on the Cross.
- Further on in the story, Jesus went on to Jerusalem for the Passover and cleansed the temple there, John 2:13-16.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8-10 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 realise 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.”
- A characteristic of this new apostolic age which Jesus brings in, is better and “best” as here.
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
- It was the first of eight miracles, or signs, that John is recording, that demonstrate and confirm who Jesus is – “through which He revealed His glory” – and through which others believed in Him. Each of the signs emphasises the exceptional extent of the miracle – wine of the highest quality, the official’s son healed at a great distance, a paralysed man healed after 38 years, 12 baskets of food left over, recovery from lifelong blindness, raising Lazarus after four days in the tomb, exceptionally large and diverse catch. Another emphasis seen in all the signs is that they are people-centred. They were not simply demonstrations of God’s power but demonstrations of His love and care.
• For further study:
(Water into wine – John 2:1-11)
Healing of official’s son – John 4:46-54
Healing of paralytic at Bethesda – John 5:1-15
Jesus walks on water – John 6:5-14
Healing man blind from birth – John 9:1-7
Lazarus raised from dead – John 11:1-45
Miraculous haul of fish – John 21:1-14
This first recorded action of Jesus has a spiritual intention, to raise awareness of God’s goodness and to renew faith. The wedding party running out of wine was symbolic of firrrst century Judaism having become spiritually dry. Wine, and plenty of wine (but not drunkenness) was seen in the O.T. as a sign of God’s blessing and of joy, Psalm 104:5, Prov. 3:10.
There is also a practical intention. It was shameful, not just an embarrassment, for a wedding host to run out of the only drink available, after preparing for a week-long event. For Jesus, ministering to shame and every other emotional need is as important as other dimensions of healing, deliverance and salvation.
It is not God’s intention that we carry shame with us. It is His intention that we look to Him for every need and expect Him to have ways of meeting needs that we haven’t considered possible.
Another important strand of this story is about our willing participation in what becomes a miracle. Here the servants filled the jars with water and then served it out – as they did so, the water became wine. The servants didn’t have much choice – they were doing what the Master told them. What about us, as the Master tells us something, a prompt from the Holy Spirit? We have a choice to hear and act, or not. As we move out in our little bit of faith, so God moves in with blessing.
3. How much does God’s intervention in a situation depend on us, in the sense of our exercising faith in some way? Have you ever been prompted to say or do something which took some courage and faith, and seen God do something – as if He was waiting for that first move?
Also published on Medium.