The Disciples Learn More About Jesus
The six disciples who now trusted Jesus started on their lifelong walk with Him and from the beginning began to learn more about Him. We who read the Gospel record in its entirety are prone to take these events for granted; but to the disciples, each day and each new event brought marvels that were difficult to understand. In this chapter alone, John recorded three wonderful revelations of Jesus Christ.
- His Glory
- His Zeal
- His Knowledge
Three days later, they all went to celebrate a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was invited together with Him and His disciples.
The Voice (VOICE)
Jesus had just begun His public ministry and had just returned from a forty-day fast and a confrontation with Satan in the wilderness. What a contrast to be at a wedding.
I assume this was a friend of Jesus’ family. There is no record of Jesus doing any miracles before His baptism by John and the beginning of His public ministry. I’m sure this shocked His friends who had only known Him as the carpenter’s son.
Our Lord was not a recluse, as was John the Baptist (Matt. 11:16-19). He accepted invitations to social events, even though His enemies used this practice to accuse Him (Luke 15:1-2). Our Lord entered into the normal experiences of life and sanctified them by His presence. Wise is that couple who invite Jesus to their wedding!
His mother and His six disciples accompanied him. Perhaps it was the addition of seven more people that helped create the crisis; but it must have been a small wedding feast if this were the case.
Were Jesus and His disciples invited because of Mary, or because of Nathanael?
Our Lord was not yet well known; He had performed no miracles as yet. It was not likely that He was invited because the people knew whom He was. It was probably His relationship with Mary that brought about the invitation.
While they were celebrating, the wine ran out; and Jesus’ mother hurried over to her son.
Mary: The host stands on the brink of embarrassment; there are many guests, and there is no more wine.
The Voice (VOICE)
Since Jewish wedding feasts lasted a week, it was necessary for the groom to have adequate provisions. For one thing, it would be embarrassing to run out of either food or wine; and a family guilty of such social awkwardness could actually be fined! So, to run out of wine could be costly both financially and socially.
Why did Mary approach Jesus about the problem? Did she actually expect Him to do something special to meet the need?
Certainly she knew who He was, even though she did not declare this wonderful truth to others. She must have been very close to either the bride or the bridegroom to have such a personal concern for the success of the festivities, or even to know that the supply of wine was depleted. Perhaps Mary was assisting in the preparation and serving of the meal.
Jesus said to her, [Dear] woman, what is that to you and to Me? [What do we have in common? Leave it to Me.] My time (hour to act) has not yet come.
John 2:4 (AMP)
Mary did not tell Jesus what to do; she simply reported the problem. Jesus’ reply seems a bit abrupt, and even harsh; but such is not the case. “Woman” was a polite way to address her (John 19:26; John 20:13), and His statement merely means,
“Why are you getting Me involved in this matter?”
He was making it clear to His mother that He was no longer under her supervision (it is likely that Joseph was dead), but from now on, He would be doing what the Father wanted Him to do. There had been a hint of this some years before (Luke 2:40-52).
At this point, John introduced one of the key elements of his record, the idea of “the hour.” Jesus lived on a “heavenly timetable,” marked out for Him by the Father. (See John 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1; 17:1) As you study John’s Gospel, you will observe how this concept of “the hour” is developed.
But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
New Living Translation (NLT)
Even after being mildly rebuked, Mary told the servants to follow Jesus’ instructions in anticipation of a remedy to the situation. This is not the intrusion of a mother but the tenacity of faith.
This is the key to all miracles. Whatever He says, just do it.
Mary’s words to the servants reveal that she was willing to let her Son do whatever He pleased, and that she trusted Him to do what was right. It would be wise for all of us to obey what she said! It is worth noting that it was Jesus, not Mary, who took command and solved the problem; and that Mary pointed, not to herself, but to Jesus.
Obeying Jesus is evidence that we love Him and are His disciples. Our obedience is vital to holy living. The Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us understanding of the Scriptures, enabling us to obey the Lord.
Practice instant obedience to God and His Word.
In that area were six massive stone water pots that could each hold 20 to 30 gallons. They were typically used for Jewish purification rites. Jesus’ instructions were clear:
Jesus: Fill each water pot with water until it’s ready to spill over the top; then fill a cup, and deliver it to the headwaiter.
They did exactly as they were instructed. After tasting the water that had become wine, the headwaiter couldn’t figure out where such wine came from (even though the servants knew), and he called over the bridegroom in amazement.
Headwaiter: This wine is delectable. Why would you save the most exquisite fruit of the vine? A host would generally serve the good wine first and, when his inebriated guests don’t notice or care, he would serve the inferior wine. You have held back the best for last.
Jesus performed this miracle, the first of His signs, in Cana of Galilee. They did not know how this happened; but when the disciples and the servants witnessed this miracle, their faith blossomed.
With a wedding as the setting of Jesus’ first sign, John shows how Jesus’ ministry isn’t limited to just “spiritual” things, but is His blessing for all of life.
Jesus then gathered His clan—His family members and disciples—for a journey to Capernaum where they lingered several days.
The Voice (VOICE)
Each water pot held 20 to 30 gallons, and all six water pots held 108 to 162 gallons. The Lord supplied more wine than they could ever use at this feast. This illustrates that He doesn’t just meet our needs. He is the God of abundance. This also happened with the multiplication of the loaves and fish (Mark 6:40-44).
God is El Shaddai, not El Cheapo.
Our Lord’s first miracle was not a spectacular event that everybody witnessed. Mary, the disciples, and the servants knew what had happened; but nobody else at the feast had any idea that a miracle had taken place. His first miracle was a quiet event at a wedding in contrast to His last miracle recorded by John (John 11), a public event after a funeral.
Each of the six stone water pots could contain about twenty gallons each. However, we are not told that all of the available water in the jars turned into wine. Only that which the servants drew out and served was transformed into wine. The quality of this new wine was so superior that the man in charge of the banquet highly praised it and, of course, the groom’s family basked in the glory of the compliments.
The fact that this was “the beginning of miracles” automatically declares as false the stories about the miracles performed by Jesus when He was an Infant or a young Child. They are nothing but superstitious fables and ought to be rejected by anyone who accepts the authority of the Bible.
The miracle did something for His disciples. It revealed His glory (John 1:14) and gave them a stronger foundation for their faith. Though miracles alone are insufficient evidence for declaring Jesus to be the Son of God (2 Thes. 2:9-10), the cumulative effect of miracle after miracle should certainly convince them of His deity. The disciples had to begin somewhere, and over the months, their faith deepened as they got to know Jesus better.
But there is certainly more to this miracle than simply meeting a human need and saving a family from social embarrassment. The Gospel of John, unlike the other three Gospels, seeks to share the inner meaning—the spiritual significance—of our Lord’s works, so that each miracle is a “sermon in action.” We must be careful not to “spiritualize” these events so that they lose their historical moorings; but, at the same time, we must not be so shackled to history that we are blind to “His story.”
To begin with, the word John used in his book is not, dunamis, which emphasizes power, but semeion, which means “a sign.”
What is a sign?
Something that points beyond itself to something greater. It was not enough for people to believe in Jesus’ works; they had to believe in Him and in the Father who sent Him (John 5:14-24). This explains why Jesus often added a sermon to the miracle and in that sermon interpreted the sign.
If our Lord had preached a sermon after He turned the water into wine, what might He have said?
For one thing, He likely would have told the people that the world’s joy always runs out and cannot be regained, but the joy He gives is ever new and ever satisfying. (In the Scriptures, wine is a symbol of joy.) The world offers the best at the first, and then, once you are “hooked,” things start to get worse. But Jesus continues to offer that which is best until we one day enjoy the finest blessings in the eternal kingdom (Luke 22:18).
But our Lord would certainly have a special message here for His people, Israel. In the Old Testament, the nation is pictured as “married” to God and unfaithful to her marriage covenant (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 31:32). The wine ran out, and all Israel had left were six empty water pots! They held water for external washings, but they could provide nothing for internal cleaning and joy. In this miracle, our Lord brought fullness where there was emptiness, joy where there was disappointment, and something internal for that which was only external (water for ceremonial washings).
When John mentioned “the third day”, he may have been giving us a hint of our Lord’s resurrection. All of these blessings are possible because of His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead (John 2:19).
Interestingly Moses’ first miracle was a plague—turning water into blood (Ex. 7:19), which speaks of judgment. Our Lord’s first miracle spoke of grace.
This miracle also presents a practical lesson in service for God. The water turned into wine because the servants cooperated with Jesus and obeyed His commands. Several of the signs in John’s Gospel involve the cooperation of man and God:
- The feeding of the 5,000 (John 6),
- The healing of the man born blind (John 9),
- And the raising of Lazarus (John 11).
Whether we pass out bread, wash away mud, or roll away the stone, we are assisting Him in performing a miracle.
It is significant that the servants knew the source of this special wine. When Jesus healed the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-54), it was the servants who were in on the secret. We are not just His servants; we are also His friends, and we know what He is doing (John 15:15).
Wine was the normal drink of the people in that day. Drinking wine is not forbidden in Scripture. Drunkenness is what’s rebuked in Scripture (Proverbs 23:29-35).
Finally, it is worth noting that the Jews always diluted the wine with water, usually to the proportion of three parts water to one part wine. While the Bible does not command total abstinence, it certainly magnifies it and definitely warns against drunkenness.
DECLARATION OF FAITH
Jesus displays His greatness and power openly in my life. I rely on Him completely and believe in Him with all of my heart.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name! Amen.