Today we finish Jesus’ first week of ministry as recorded in the Gospel of John. We still have three days to finish the week and they all come in one story. As we begin chapter 2, we are going to read the story of the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine. This happens in a place called Cana.
John 2:1-11 (NKJV)
Water Turned to Wine
2 On the third day, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”
11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested His glory and His disciples believed in Him.
You notice it begins in verse 1, on the third day. This is the third day since the fourth day. That means this is the seventh day of Jesus’ public ministry, and it seems appropriate that the first of Jesus’ miracles would occur on the seventh day of His earthly ministry. In fact, John generally doesn’t include specific time references in his
Gospel. This a bit unique for John, which would suggest he had reasons to make so clear the timeline of the events of this first week. Remember we said earlier that John’s Gospel begins with those clear and obvious references to the first chapter of Genesis. In the beginning, he starts, Genesis 1, in the beginning. Genesis’s first day is light and dark. The first of John’s Gospel is about Jesus with the light and He came into the darkness. It is a clear emphasis, in the beginning from John’s point of view to make a parallel for us so we’ll start to think more about the beginning of Creation. And in that way come to understand Jesus was the Creator. Gospel Of John
If you think back to that first chapter of the Bible, the first chapter of Genesis, you will also find that chapter is structured as a series of days…six days to be exact. And the start of chapter 2 of Genesis is Day 7. Here we are, at the beginning of John’s second chapter on day 7 of Jesus’ earthly ministry. There may be no more significance than simply the fact he wants to emphasize this same connection again. That Jesus is the Creator and he has intentionally mirrored his gospel account to reflect that. But it is interesting on the seventh day we get to Jesus’ first miracle.
This occasion is a wedding in Cana, which is a very small town in the Galilee where Jesus has been staying. Cana is still there today. Jesus and His five disciples are with Him, those are the only men He has collected so far, just five. They are invited as guests to the wedding as is Jesus’ mother. It must be that the wedding involved a close family connection between Jesus’ family and the wedding party because otherwise, we wouldn’t understand why they had been invited. That would also explain why Jesus’ mother gets herself so involved in trying to rescue the host from his bad situation with the wine running out. Because maybe she feels a family connection and this shame would reflect on her as well. Gospel Of John
But in any case, we are told in verse 3, the wine runs out. That is a bit surprising because wine drinking was the highlight of a wedding feast along with the food in that day. Pretty much it still is today. Perhaps more people attended than the host expected. Or perhaps the host just did a poor job of estimating the need. In any case, the party is about to become a real disaster. Not only is it just a social disgrace to fail to care for guests in this way, but there were financial implications to this problem in the time of this story. In that culture, in Jewish culture in this day if you invited someone to a party or dinner, you were legally obligated to care for them properly. If you didn’t, you would be expected to compensate them for it. They could take a sheep or something and leave. You had a significant issue on hand if you had a large party and no wine. Gospel Of John
So Mary turns to her Son and simply says “They have no wine.” When a mother says something like that to her son, that’s just not idle chit-chat. She is expecting her son to recognize the seriousness of the problem, obviously, and to do something to rectify it. That is her expectation. That raises a question. The question you ask yourself at this point, what exactly did she think Jesus was going to do? What was her expectation of her Son?
John says in verse 11 that this miracle was the beginning of the signs Jesus performed. It seems to suggest that this is His very first miracle ever. And since Jesus only received the Holy Spirit a week earlier then it would stand to reason He wasn’t in the habit to making wine miraculously in past days because He lacked the power of the Spirit to even do so. Remember what we said earlier, no one knew He was the Messiah. You can’t imagine too many scenarios which He could have done anything miraculous whatsoever without that having triggered some suspicion, some conversation. There’s just no way about it, He was an ordinary person doing nothing out of the ordinary, until now. So that begs that question raised a minute ago, what did Mary think He was going to do? Did Mary think Jesus was going to perform a miracle in this particular moment? Is this the moment she thinks it is going to start? Something presumably she’s never seen before? It’s hard to imagine that she expected anything other than a miracle. When you consider their circumstances. Jesus had no significant financial resources. He wasn’t a winemaker. Even if He did have the resources, where is He going to procure a bunch of wine at the last minute? He’s the last person you would turn to under these circumstances and expect to have a solution for the lack of wine at a party. Gospel Of John
Furthermore, in verse 5, even after He tells her what He says, Mary all but anticipates that Jesus is going to do something miraculous. Because she has to turn to the servants and say whatever He tells you to do, do it. That would seem to be an unnecessary thing to say to a servant. That’s what they are there for. They do what they’re told. But you do say that on the other hand if you expect Jesus to do something quite extraordinary and you are preparing the servants for something unusual. You don’t want them to be shocked. You want them to just go with it. Whatever it is. That seems to suggest she knew something special was going to happen. Gospel Of John
As I look at the entire scene and I conclude that Mary expected a miracle, I have to wonder what was going on in her head to bring her to that conclusion. We know she knows Jesus is the Messiah. She knows His true identity from the time of His conception. And then of course at the birth, she saw the angels and she saw everything else. She understands that, and Jesus probably never threw a temper tantrum in His terrible twos, He probably didn’t have terrible twos. He had wonderful twos, that is probably what Jesus had. He was probably an ideal teenager. She now probably knows He has been baptized by John. Furthermore, she sees Jesus has disciples in tow, that’s new. Up until now, He hasn’t been walking around calling Himself a Rabbi and collecting people. So we all kind of add up for her, we turned a corner. Jesus has begun something, it’s time. Gospel of John
She had every reason to believe that Jesus’ earthly ministry now was underway and that would give way to demonstrations of power and authority in keeping with His divine nature. The problem is she decides she wants it to start right now. She is doing what a typical proud mother would do, what a Jewish mother would do according to the stereotype, loving and concern for her Son and thinks the world of Him and thinks He can do anything. And in this case, He can. On top of all that, you can imagine she might want to advance the career of her Son a little bit here and give him a kick start, help Him get started in His new business as Messiah. So she asks Jesus to perform this little miracle here, this will help. It’s good for You, it’s good for me, it’s good for them. It’s a win, win, win. I don’t know if she understood that Jesus was going to take the water and turn it into wine. I don’t think she really had a clue how it was going to happen but she is confident it is going to happen somehow. That’s the tone, it seems to be everything about the storyline and that’s where she goes. Gospel Of John
That’s such an interesting irony. Mary is the only one perhaps who truly knows who her Son is at this point. She knows His origins. She knows His Identity. She knows His power and authority. She knows His destiny. These are things no one else, it would appear, knows yet. But she is the one trying to misuse that authority and power. I realize Mary has good intentions and we don’t want to take anything away from that. I think she thinks she’s doing the right thing. She assumes it’s Jesus’ desire, like it is hers, to save the host’s reputation at this party. She thinks who wouldn’t want to do this good thing. It must be in keeping what righteousness would expect. But in reality, she’s looking at Jesus as if He’s a genie in a bottle. She wants to rub the bottle, so to speak, and make a request, and Jesus just pops to it and responds. Gospel Of John
More than anyone else, she should be sensitive to approaching Jesus in a manner consistent with His divinity. Now, before we come down too hard on Mary, we do exactly the same thing. We approach Jesus forgetting He is the Lord of the Universe. We bring Him our concerns, which we are supposed to do, but we expect Him to respond like a genie to do our bidding. That is not how we approach Jesus. I want you to consider His response to His mother. Let’s look again at verse 4. Gospel Of John
John 2:4 (NKJV)
4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
He asks His mother what does the lack of wine have to do with Me? In the words, He speaks here using a Jewish idiom and it is kinda hard to translate into English. The best I think you can get to understand its meaning is, “your concerns are not My concerns.” The problems with this wedding party have nothing to do with My earthly ministry. I didn’t voluntarily leave the right hand of the Father, lowering Myself to take the form of man so I could cater to weddings. This isn’t My ministry. The Holy Spirit didn’t come upon Me and grant Me power to perform miracles so that He could accommodate everyday needs and requests. I came to earth and I am going to display My power only so I can validate My identity as Messiah.
The miracles were not the end. The miracles were a means to an end. And that end is to testify to the truth of Who I am. Jesus showed signs and wonders in all kinds of ways but He did it to always prove a message which He delivered in conjunction with those miracles. But here you find Mary wanting the miracle to be divorced from any kind of message whatsoever. Because her only concern was for the host’s reputation, not for Jesus’ glory. That’s why Jesus asks her, what does this have to do with Me? Or in a more literal translation, “your concerns are not My concerns.” Gospel Of John
Mary’s purpose was not in keeping with the Father’s purpose in Jesus’ earthly ministry. And if your purpose is not in keeping with the Father’s purposes, friends that’s the definition of sin. We do this as well, I think more often than we realize. We declare that what we want is what God wants. We assume that just because we think it is good, well certainly God must want it too. But we forget God’s definition and understanding of what’s good is not the same as ours. In fact, often times it is exactly the opposite. Look at how Jesus ends His comments, He says “my time has not yet come.” What He is reminding Mary is, the timing for His miracles is not according to human desire, it is according to the Father’s will. So at this moment, Mary is acting according to her own will and not according to the Father’s will. Jesus in displaying His divinity to Mary rebukes her. Calls out her sin. In other words, as God, at that moment, He speaks to her concerning her sin. He is acting as her Judge, convicting Mary for having the wrong motives for making her request.
Now the more interesting part of the story for me is what comes next? What does Jesus do? I think that is more interesting. That is probably the most interesting aspect of the story. In fact, it is the most important aspect of the story. He does the miracle anyway. The important part is why did Jesus do it if He just told Mary she is wrong to want it? Well, making water into wine is not a sin, by itself. Jesus didn’t sin when He made that miracle happen. He did it discretely. He does it without drawing any attention to Himself. That’s another important detail that tells us what Mary wanted was wrong. Because again, miracles were always done to draw attention to His message. He had no message for this place. It’s not His time yet. So He made the miracle happen in a discrete way so He was not doing it counter to the purpose of the Father. It was not done in such a way to draw attention to Himself before His time. No one really knew what happened. In fact, as the servants serve the water the master of the feast credited the bridegroom, not Jesus. Ironically he was speaking prophetically and didn’t know it. Only the servants knew what Jesus had done. Jesus did not violate the Father’s will in performing the miracle because He didn’t use it to publicize His earthly ministry prematurely.
Nevertheless, the humanity of Jesus had also the responsibility not to sin. And the sin at this moment would have been to dishonor His mother. So the humanity of Christ respected His mother’s and complied with her request, even as the divinity of Christ rebuked her and obeyed the Father by not announcing Himself too quickly. John in his relating of this story shows us both sides of Jesus at work here in perfection. Acting as God and man in one succinct story. As it ends, we see that Jesus’ creative work and it is so superior that his product is the best wine possible. I like to believe it when Jesus promises you and I will dine with Him in the Kingdom and He will share wine with us at that moment. I like to think, in fact, I am going to think He will be serving that same wine He made at the wedding in Cana.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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