On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 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 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.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.” (John 1:1-12).
What was the purpose of Jesus performing miracles? The purpose of the miracles in the Gospel of John was to show that Jesus is God in the flesh. The Apostle John records seven miracles that Jesus performed with each one pointing to a particular aspect of Jesus’ deity. Jesus did not perform miracles to first and foremost alleviate suffering or to become a popular healer to which many people would follow; although that is what happened. Jesus’ miracles revealed who He was and is: God!
The seven miracles John records, in reverse order, are as follows. (1) Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead displaying that Jesus has power over death (John 11:17-45); (2) Jesus heals a man blind from birth displaying that Jesus is the light of the world (John 9:1-41); (3) Jesus walks on water and stills a storm displaying that Jesus is master over nature (John 6:15-21); (4) Jesus feeds the 5,000 displaying that Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:1-14); (5) Jesus heals a lame man at the Pool of Bethesda displaying that Jesus is master over time (John 5:1-17); (6) Jesus heals a nobleman’s son displaying that Jesus is master over distance (John 4:46-54); and (7) Jesus turns water into wine displaying that Jesus is the source of life (John 2:1-12).
When we meet Jesus and His disciples in John 2, they have been together for approximately three days. As they were journeying around the Galilean countryside, a wedding was held in Cana of Galilee, Nathaniel’s home town. In our day, weddings, and the subsequent reception, usually occur over the span of several hours. During Jesus’ day and in the Jewish culture, weddings and receptions occurred over the span of several days; perhaps a week. Jesus, His mother and His disciples attended the wedding. Perhaps, it was a family member or a good friend’s wedding.
I like this comment. “The setting was a wedding attended by Jesus, His disciples, and Mary His mother (2:1–2). Because both Jesus and His mother were invited to the celebration, the marriage was probably a family affair; one of their relatives likely was getting married. We should also note that in the first century, weddings lasted longer than they do today. The celebration could go for as long as a week, and the guests would stay for days. That Jesus would attend such a lavish party says something about the goodness of such events. Certainly, Jesus calls us to a life of self-denial (Matt. 16:24), but this does not require an austere lifestyle that has no place for fun or festivities.
Financial responsibility for the wedding festivities were the groom’s. To run out of food and drink would be a major embarrassment. Everything was prepared in order for this to never happen. However, at this particular wedding in which Jesus, His mother and disciples were invited, the wine ran out.
Let’s discuss the matter of drinking wine or alcohol. Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The wine served was subject to fermentation. In the ancient world, however, to quench thirst without inducing drunkenness, wine was diluted with water to between one-third and one-tenth of its strength. Due to the climate and circumstances, even “new wine” fermented quickly and had an inebriating effect if not mixed (Acts 2:13). Because of a lack of water purification process, wine mixed with water was also safer to drink than water alone. While the Bible condemns drunkenness, it does not necessarily condemn the consumption of wine (Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 20:1; Ephesians 5:18).
When news of the wine shortage became known to Mary, she went to Jesus to see if He could/would do something. Jesus’ response was respectful to Mary but also firm. He wanted her to realize that His purpose in coming to earth was not to alleviate embarrassing situations or to simply relieve people of social and physical suffering. Rather, His purpose as Messiah was to fulfill the mission the Father had given to Him (Mark 10:45). His phrase, “My hour has not yet come” refers to the crucifixion (7:30; 8:20; 12:23-27; 13:1; 17:1). Jesus’ mission was the redemption of sinful souls and not just the replenishing of wine for a party.
Nevertheless, in displaying that He is the source of life, Jesus turned water into wine. It indeed was better wine than what had already been served.
John makes an editorial comment in vs. 11 when he writes, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.” The word signs (σημεῖον; semeion) refers to an unusual occurrence which has a special meaning. John uses the word here to refer to a significant display of power that indicated to people a deeper reality that can only be understood with the regenerated understanding of God given faith. John was indicating that miracles were not ends in and of themselves, but rather pointed to a greater meaning.
Do you regard Jesus today as simply a miracle worker who you call upon to do your beck and call? Ask God to forgive you of this blaspheme and to recognize that Jesus’ miracles displayed that He is God and worthy of worship, even if He does not perform a miracle.
Additionally Jesus, as our Lord and Savior and His willingness to celebrate a wedding and even to receive gifts (John 12:1–8), shows us that Christian discipleship is not incompatible with enjoying the nice things in life. We are called to be generous and to be willing to give our all for Jesus, but we may also enjoy all of the good gifts He has made and to which He has entrusted to our stewardship.
Soli deo Gloria!