“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Everyman at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” ~John 2:1-11
The events leading up to the presence of Jesus at the wedding are given in chapter one. A specific chronology of time is provided.
DAY ONE John 1:19-28
John the Baptist confesses that he is not the Messiah.
DAY TWO John 1:29-34
John the Baptist sees Jesus again for the last time and points to Him as the Messiah.
DAY THREE John 1:35-42
The Messiah find a follower in John (1:37), in Andrew (1:4) and in Simon (1:42).
DAY FOUR John 1:43-51
The Messiah finds two more followers in Philip (1:43) and in Nathanael (1:45-51).
DAY FIVE John 2:1
The five new disciples travel with Jesus from the Jordan to Cana. The journey takes two days.
DAY SIX John 2:1
On the third day the wedding ceremony takes place.
DAY SEVEN John 2:1
The first miracle.
Five days after He was pointed out by John the Baptist as being the Messiah, Jesus and His disciples were called or invited to attend a marriage in Cana of Galilee. Cana was a small village about eight miles from Nazareth where Mary lived and where Jesus had grown up. Mary preceded the Lord to Cana for she had a special place in all the ceremonies. It was Mary’s responsibility to see that the food and wine were sufficient for all the guests.
Taking her role seriously, Mary was anxious that everything went smoothly for a wedding was one of the most important events of life.
According to Jewish law, weddings took place on Wednesday. They could last from one to twelve days. There was so much to do. Just preparing the bride for the service was a challenge all by itself. According to wealth and custom, the bride would go through specific ritual preparations.
There would be a bath (Ruth 3:3; Ezek. 23:40).
A veil covering the whole person might be put on (Gen. 24:65; 38:14, 15).
The bride might put on a girdle (Jer. 2:32) or a gown woven with gold (Psa. 45:13).
Her hair would be left long and flowing if she were a virgin.
The bride might decide to dress in robes of white (Rev. 19:8) and be covered with jewels (Isa. 49:18; 61:10).
She would be highly perfumed (Psa. 45:8).
After preparation, the bride would be taken in the evening to the house of the bridegroom for the ceremony. She would be transported in the midst of music and torches (Jer. 7:34; Matt. 25:7). Following the exchanging of vows and gifts, there would be a feast (Gen. 29:22). Special robes would be provided for the invited guests (Matt. 22:11). Joy in the voice of the bridegroom and the bride was listened for (Jer. 7:34). The couple was treated as a king and queen for as long as the festival lasted. Their word would be law.
Because of the importance of the event, it is easy to see why Mary might become anxious when the refreshments began to run out. To not have enough wine would be socially disastrous. “Without wine,” said the Rabbis, “there is no joy.” The wine of the ancient world was not intended to make people drunk. It was mixed, two parts wine to three parts water. Drunkenness was a great disgrace. Still, to run out of sufficient refreshments would have meant a public disgrace.
When Mary saw that this was about to happen, it was natural for her to turn to Jesus for help. Mary knew what others did not know. Her Son could help. He was special. Mary knew that the Eternal Spirit was the only Father of her child. She knew that angels had sung the birth-song of her SON! She knew that the midnight had become mid-day at His nativity. Mary knew that strangers from distant lands has once offered royal gifts and worship. She knew that at twelve years of age He had called Jehovah, “MY FATHER” in the Temple. She knew that God the Father at Jordan had acknowledged Him as His Son. She knew that John had publicly proclaimed Him the MESSIAH. She knew that Nathanael, sure of His omniscience, had hailed Him “the Son of God, the King of Israel.”
Jesus could help if only He would. However, the words of verse four do not seem to indicate that Jesus was willing to help. It seemed as if the Lord was not going to do anything about the wine problem because His “hour is not yet come.”
Jesus spoke often of His “hour” (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 12:27; 16:32; 17:1).” In John 7:6,8 there is the hour of His emergence as the Messiah. In John 12:23 and 17:1 with Matthew 26:18,25 there is the hour of His death and crucifixion. There was something about this “hour” that seemed to suggest that Jesus should do nothing about the wine.
The truth of the matter is that the best Bible commentators are divided as to how to understand the Lord’s response. Some see in this verse words of support for Mary.
Others find a firm if gentle rebuke. If Mary was being rebuked by her Son, she bore the correction in silence and with abiding confidence that Jesus would still do something. She knew Him too well and therefore instructed the servants to pay attention to whatever Christ said.
It was not long before the Lord acted. At the door to the house were six great water jars. Each was capable of containing about 20 gallons of water apiece. So much water in the house was need for two reasons.
First, it was the custom of the ancient world to cleanse the feet of any guests who came to visit. The roads were dirty and dusty and the feet needed to be washed upon entering a residence.
Second, much water was needed in a house because of the washings that took place prior to the eating of a meal. It was the custom to pour water over the upheld hand, and then the other. Strict orthodox insisted that the hands be ceremonially cleansed not only prior to a meal but during the meal itself between courses. So there was much water in the house.
Jesus saw the large jars and instructed the servants to fill the vessels to the brim so that it was certain nothing else could be put in them. Then, the water was to be drawn out and taken to the architriklinos or steward in charge. The steward was responsible for the seating of the guests and the overall success of the feast.
As soon as the steward had tasted the water made into wine, he was astonished at its taste and called for the bride groom to congratulate him before all. The steward did not know that a miracle had just taken place. He did not know that while the glory of Jesus was demonstrated to some it was still veiled to most.
Now notice several truths. First, observe when this miracle happened. It happened on a joyous occasion which tells us that Jesus was a happy man. He shared in the happiness of others.
Second, observe where this miracle took place. It was in a humble home of an obscure little village. We are reminded that the home is not the place to be discourteous, selfish, or impolite. “Many of us treat the ones we love most in a way that we would never dare to treat a chance acquaintance. So often it is strangers who see us at our best and those who live with us who see us at our worst. We ought to remember that it was in a humble home that Jesus manifested forth His glory. To Him, home was a place for which nothing but the best was good enough” (William Barclay, The Gospel of John, vol. 1).
Then third, observe why this miracle happened. In the East, hospitality was a sacred duty. Jesus used His great power to make sure that a simple Galilean was able to exercise His sacred duty. The Lord moved to spare this young couple from loss and humiliation. It was a simple act of kindness that impressed all the followers of Christ and made others want to serve Him.
That is still the way it should be today. The simple acts of kindness, rendered in the name of Christ, proves to be a powerful way to witness to others. By them people come to faith. The Bible says that the disciples believed in Christ as a result of this miracle (2:11). The disciples believed, not only because of the miracle of turning water into wine but also because of the Character of the Christ that performed the miracle itself. Here was the Messiah. He was meek and lowly and altogether Wonderful.
There are some practical lessons to enjoy from this narrative of the first miracle.
First, Christ must be the invited guest in our homes.
Second, to accept Christ is to accept His disciples which means to love Christ is to love His church.
Third, while we cannot tell Christ what to do, we can ask that He do something on our behalf.
Fourth, no situation is too unimportant to bring to the Lord’s attention. Running out of refreshment might not be on the same level as poverty, disease, and starvation. But, for the moment, the details of life can be important and so needs to be prayed over.
Fifth, Jesus was a Man of great joy. Joy should characterize the conduct of the Christian.
Sixth, the glory of Christ was veiled to most while revealed to some. Such is the nature of grace. The question is this: “Have we seen the glory or do we only enjoy the goodness of the glory?”
Finally, at the time, Jesus did not get the credit that was do Him. Nor did He ask for it. It was His purpose to serve others. It was His delight to help others. We can have the same attitude. As long as the work of ministry is accomplished, it is enough.