The Lord Jesus has promised His disciples that they would see great things in the Son of Man. The present narrative builds on this preface and begins to unfold the theme of signs in the Gospel. Along with Jesus’ mother, Jesus and His disciples are invited to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. When the wine has run out, the Lord turns water into wine. The disciples, seeing the glory of the Lord through this first sign, put their faith in Him.
Did You Know...?
1. Wedding celebrations lasted for a week. Usually, guests were expected to contribute toward the materials used in the celebration (e.g., the wine).
2. Cana (2:1): Several sites have been proposed for ancient Cana. The probable location is Khirbet Qânam in the Plain of Asochis, about eight miles northeast of Nazareth. [ref]
3. Six waterpots of stone (2:6) could hold approximately 20–30 gallons apiece. The Jewish rites of purification required each guest to wash their hands before eating, so a lot of water was needed for this.
4. Master of the feast (2:8) was a position of honor, and one of his primary duties was the regulation of the distribution of wine. At times, guests were asked to assume this role.
5. Capernaum (2:12), located on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, is about sixteen miles to the northeast of Cana. [ref]
- The Setting ((2:1–2))
- The Sign of Turning Water into Wine ((2:3–11))
- Down to Capernaum ((2:12))
1. How does this passage relate to the previous chapter?Hide Answer
Several key ideas from the previous passages are carried forward and made concrete in the present passage, including “believe,” “see,” and “glory.”
This first recorded sign of Jesus took place when Jesus and His disciples were being part of a wedding celebration, an unlikely place to expect a display of spectacular divine power. What lesson can we learn from this in terms of our own lives?Hide Answer
We can witness the glory of God even in the mundane and little things in life, and God often works wonders in our lives beyond our expectation. There is nothing about us that is too unimportant in God’s eyes. If we allow the Lord to be present everyday in our lives, every moment could be a moment of encounter with God. While a wedding may generally seem like an ordinary event, every wedding is the most important day to the couple getting married. The Lord Jesus also deemed it important enough to attend it as a guest. Marriage is a divine institution, and it is to be honored by all (Mt 19:4–6; Heb 13:4). Thus, it should not be surprising that the Lord Jesus accepted the invitation to the wedding and even chose it to be the occasion for His first sign. What we care deeply about also matters to God, and this is especially true when our hearts are aligned with His will.
Consider the issue at hand in this story and its implications. Can you think of a similar predicament in your life? What was it like?
What can we learn from the way Jesus’ mother presented the problem to Jesus?Hide Answer
1. Regardless of the role of Jesus’ mother at the wedding, the fact that she alerted Jesus that there was no more wine shows that she cared about the matter. Like Mary, we ought to empathize with those around us and lend a helping hand when we see the need.
2. Jesus was the first and only person Mary approached about the problem. This implies that she was well aware of Jesus’ identity and power. She knew that Jesus had the answer. In the same way, if we fully believe that the Lord has the answer to all our problems, we would certainly come to Him and tell Him that we need His help.
3. Mary brought the problem to Jesus without giving Him any instructions. In this we see her wisdom and humility. God knows the best solution to our problem, and He also has His timing. We are not in the place to teach Him what to do. We just need to come to God with our need and trust that He will take care of our problems in His way and in His time.
How do you understand Jesus’ response to his mother in verse 4? What did He mean by “My hour”?Hide Answer
The words “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?” have been variously translated, and this indicates the difficulty in pinpointing their exact meaning. Addressing one’s mother as “woman” was not necessarily disrespectful, but was unusual. “What does your concern have to do with Me?” connotes that Jesus was drawing a respectful distance and distinction between His mother and Himself. The following words build on this distinction: “My hour has not yet come.” Whereas a human being considers things and makes decisions from a human perspective and according to a time he deems appropriate, Jesus, being the Son of God and the Incarnate Word, operates on a different level altogether (cf. Jn 7:6). His “hour” denotes not the ordinary sense of time, but the sovereign will determined by the Father, which no human being can dictate (cf. Jn 8:20; 13:1; 17:1). In short, Jesus’ words were a reminder to His mother that if He were to act, He would do so based on divine will rather than on her prompting as a mother. Jesus’ purpose on earth was to reveal God’s glory (Jn 17:4), not to fulfill man’s desire or will (cf. Jn 1:13). The sign of turning water into wine occurred, therefore, not out of Mary’s concern (although it addressed that concern) but for God’s higher purpose.
What lesson can we learn from Jesus’ response?Hide Answer
While the Bible teaches us to make our requests known to God, it also reminds us to wait for God. The Lord is our Master. We just need to place ourselves in His care and honor His sovereign timing and purpose. In doing so, we allow God to reveal His glory and accomplish His will.
Note Mary’s words to the servants. How are they an appropriate response to what Jesus had just said to her?Hide Answer
If we have properly interpreted Jesus’ words, we would understand that Jesus was not refusing to address the predicament at hand but was reminding Mary of His divine identity. With this in mind, we observe that Mary’s response was again one of humility and wisdom. She did not take offense at Jesus’ startling comment and walk away. Nor did she press Jesus to agree to her request. She simply prepared the servants to be ready to act on Jesus’ word. Her actions show that she had surrendered to Jesus’ timing and decision.
How do the words, “Whatever He says to you, do it” apply to us? What are their implications?Hide Answer
It takes faith in the Lord to do whatever He says to us. This complete faith is accompanied by total obedience, even when we do not understand or when we have to endure sufferings.
Why is this readiness to obey so crucial to accomplishing God’s will?Hide Answer
Since God’s way is always the best way, the wisest response to God’s will is to obey it. If we are reluctant to obey God, our paths are often troubled by grumblings, doubts, and discouragement. But if we obey God in faith, we can fully experience His love and guidance even through the most difficult circumstances, and will reap the blessings that God has intended (cf. Heb 12:1, 2).
Jesus could have miraculously filled the jars with wine without any human agent, but He used the servants to do the work. What lesson can we learn from this?Hide Answer
There is nothing that God cannot do without human assistance (cf. Rom 11:34, 35). Yet, God often involves us in accomplishing His purpose because He wants us to be a part of His work so that we may grow in our faith and witness God’s glory. When the water had turned into wine, the servants who took part in filling the jars knew what had just happened whereas the master of the feast did not. Similarly, serving God affords us the opportunity to personally experience God’s grace and power.
Consider how Jesus turned stone jars for purification into containers of wine. What does this tell you about God’s choice of vessels for His purpose?
What did the words of the master of the feast to the bridegroom tell us about the wine Jesus had made?Hide Answer
The wine that Jesus had turned from water was superior to the wine that had run out. Not only could it not be detected that the wine was originally water, it was wine of an even better quality. These details underscore the greatness of the sign.
How was the wine that Jesus provided analogous to His grace in our lives?Hide Answer
The Lord gives His grace freely out of His will and His love. It meets our need and lifts us out of our predicament. It is so perfect that it surpasses what we think or ask, just as the wine turned out to be superior. It is so abundant that we are not lacking, just as the wine was filled to the brim.
From the author’s perspective, who were the primary beneficiaries of the sign Jesus had just done?Hide Answer
The disciples (v. 11).
The author calls the miracle “the beginning of signs” (2:11). What was accomplished through the sign, and what does this say about the meaning of the word “sign”?Hide Answer
Jesus manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. Signs as used in the context of the Bible typically are miraculous in nature, but the word “sign” indicates that the miracle in question serves as a pointer. In the Gospel according to John, the signs Jesus did served the purpose of revealing Jesus’ identity and His glory as the Son of God. Such revelations lead us to put our faith in the Lord for eternal life (Jn 20:30, 31). The fact that attention was given specifically to the disciples tells us that the Lord’s ultimate concern was the faith of His disciples. He did not perform miracles only to meet the needs of the wedding or to impress the people who were present. Rather, He wanted the disciples to see His glory as He had promised them (cf. Jn 1:51) and believe in Him as a result.