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2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 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 10 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.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
As we began our study in the Gospel of John and throughout our study in John 1 I have reminded you that the Apostle John’s purpose has been, as seen in John 20:31, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
As we continue our study we’re going to keep that thought in mind.
So we arrive at chapter 2 and we find here the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry — actually, this account is only semi-public. Now when we look at this first miracle of Jesus that John has included let’s ask this question: What about this points to the fact that Jesus is the Christ for the purpose of helping us believe in Him, the Son of God, giver of eternal life?
Now the key to understanding the importance of this passage is in verse 11.
11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
It says that Jesus manifested his glory. And we understand why Jesus manifested his glory when we see the response of Jesus’ disciples. They believed in him.
And that points us to the Apostle John’s purpose in writing this gospel that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).
So Jesus’ disciples certainly saw something that made them believe in Him. What was it? It was His glory manifested. Remember that back in chapter 1 verse 14 where John said of Jesus,
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
What does this mean? When those who followed Christ saw His glory they were seeing clearly who Jesus is, God in human flesh. And obviously when you see the glory of Christ your faith in Him is strengthened. And this is how we can best understand why John shows us this first miracle of Christ. So let’s look at the first few verses again.
2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
Verse 11 says that Jesus, manifested his glory. Now, I think the first way that Jesus reveals his glory is seen in His interaction with His mother. Do you see anything in verses 1-4 that seems unusual about how Jesus spoke to His mother?
When Mary comes to Jesus and tells him there’s a shortage of wine His response is not, “Mother”, what does this have to do with me? Wouldn’t we expect Him to address Mary as “Mother”? Yet He doesn’t.
But, when we see Jesus’ response our tendency is to think this is just a bit rude. And part of that thinking comes with how it would sound in our culture to call your mother “woman”. But Jesus calling Mary woman was not what we would make of it in our culture — it was more like you calling a woman “ma’am”. So Jesus wasn’t being rude but He was making a point. What’s the point? He’s making a point about where his allegiance was. He’s manifesting His glory. And His glory is mostly clearly shown in His obedience to God the Father.
Jesus is helping His disciples to see clearly who He is. And it’s much clearer who Jesus is when we understand that His allegiance is to His heavenly father and not to His earthly mother.
So when Jesus says “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” He manifests His glory in His glorification of the Father’s will over anyone else’s — including His mother’s. His response was not rude but it was unusual and it was for the sake of making it clear to whom He was obedient.
He also makes clear to whom He must be obedient when he says, what does this have to do with me? In effect He says, why are you asking this of me when it’s not really your place to ask me to use my power? This is about his allegiance to God the Father.
The allegiance of God the Son to God the Father is seen clearly in Luke 22:42 in Jesus’ prayer on the mount of Olives just before being betrayed and then crucified: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” It’s also seen in Philippians 2:8 where Paul says of Christ, And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Obedient to whom? God the Father.
I think we also see in Jesus’ response to His mother that there’s no special privilege in being part of Jesus’ earthly family. Just as Jesus is bound only to the Father’s will so salvation is only for those who believe in Jesus. Jesus even makes this clear in Luke 11:27-28 where we find this:
27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Jesus’ earthy family, his brothers or sisters or his mother, have no special privilege over the rest of mankind. Only belief in Jesus Christ brings forgiveness of sin and eternal life. And that’s great news for us isn’t it? Jesus is making it very clear right at the outset of His public ministry that He is not bound by any human demands.
That’s made even clearer when Jesus says, My hour has not yet come. We’re going to see Jesus saying this several times in John’s Gospel. Now listen to what He says in John 10:17-18
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
But wait a minute. Didn’t Jesus do what was asked of Him by His mother? Then why did he say what he did if he was just going to go ahead and do it? Yes He did. But it was for the purpose of revealing His glory, making clear who He is. No my time has not yet come but I will give you a sign of what’s ahead. How’s that?
It’s seen in what he’s pointing to when he says My hour has not yet come. What’s that? Jesus’ “hour” always points to the time of His death. It’s the purpose for His coming to earth the first time. His hour would be the the time of his death when he would bear the sin of the world and that being people of all nations who believe in His name.
Now, even though Mary and the others present would not have grasped the full meaning of Jesus’ “hour” they would in time. And John’s readers would more fully understand as they read this Gospel, just as we more fully understand because we’re already familiar with the whole story of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin.
They couldn’t yet fully understand what Jesus meant that His hour had not yet come — but he was about to give them some pointers. And He does so by doing what was asked of Him. He does not deny Mary’s request, so she says to the servants, verse 5, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Now look at verses 6-8.
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.
John tells us that there were six stone water jars and for the sake of his Gentile readers he explains that they were for the Jewish rites of purification. Ceremonial washing was an important part of Jewish religious practices. They used stone water pots because they believed they wouldn’t become unclean like clay pots. And there were several very large pots because of the large amount of water needed for the number of guests and for the washing of cookware and eating utensils.
Now note that Jesus had the servants fill these large pots all the way to the top, to the point there was no room for anything else. Jesus was going to miraculously change the water to wine and this was no slight of hand — nothing could be added.
Note too that with such a large supply of wine they would not run out again. There would be plenty left over.
Isn’t that just like Jesus and the grace He shows all who believe in Him. Jesus’ followers all receive a full measure of His grace, with plenty to spare.
Now look at verse 9 and 10.
9 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 10 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.”
The master of the feast, we might call him the head waiter, tasted the water become wine, and though he didn’t know where it had come from, he was amazed at how good it was.
But it’s no surprise to us and it’s instructive to His disciples as Jesus manifests His glory He shows himself to be the Creator that He is. Didn’t we see this of Christ in John 1:3? All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
So, it’s no surprise for us that when Jesus makes wine that needed no grapes, nor a growing season nor fermentation that it’s the best wine ever. And no doubt this too is how Jesus choses at this early stage of his ministry to show his deity.
This is made clear when in verse 11 it says,
11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
The point is not the wine. The point is that Jesus manifested his glory. He put who he is as God on display for His followers to witness. He wants them to see that He is fully God. And John tells us that Jesus’ disciples believed in Him. In other words His disciples saw His glory and were strengthened in their faith in Him. This is just what Jesus intended.
But note this, that not everyone at the wedding witnessed His glory as His disciples did. Not even those servants who knew that a miracle had taken place.
John doesn’t tell us that the servants who clearly witnessed this miracle believed. We see no evidence that any of these servants followed Christ as a result of witnessing this miracle. How can this be. How can you witness a miracle of Christ’s and not believe? It’s an obvious result of the truth we see in 2 Corinthians 4:4,
4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
And that still happens today. Even when a follower of Christ has faithfully shared the truth of the Gospel and lived as a powerful witness of the love of Christ, there very often still remain those who do not believe in Jesus.
But what happens when you believe in Jesus and you see the signs of His deity? You grow in your faith. You are strengthened in your walk with Christ. You are encouraged to continual, faithful belief and obedience. And that is why we have this account of Jesus first miracle. And isn’t that why God has given us His Word, the Bible?