John 2:1-12. “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.
12. After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.”
John's account of the beginning of Jesus' public ministry highlights the fact that Jesus, as was His custom throughout His earthly ministry, replaced something old with something new. New wine replaced old water. A cleansed Temple replaced a defiled Temple. A new birth replaced an old birth. Living water replaced well water. New worship replaced old worship. The most important thing He replaced is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Moses’ first miracle was turning water into blood. Christ’ first miracle was turning water into wine. “The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” This portrays the difference between Law and Grace!
The underlying purpose of these scriptures in John’s Gospel is to establish Jesus' real identity as the Messiah.
The first miracle that Jesus performed, in His public ministry and in John's Gospel, was not done for the public in general, it was at a wedding.
This wedding could be viewed as a picture of another wedding, the wedding supper of the Lamb in heaven, where the church will be presented to Jesus as His bride.
In most weddings, the central figure is the bride. At the wedding in Cana, the central figure was not the bride or the bridegroom, it was Jesus.
John's specific reference to days seems to have a purpose in mind. In chapter 1, on the first day, John the Baptist gave witness to Jesus but not by name, in verse 27. The second day he gave witness to the Lamb of God in verse 29. On the third day, in verse 37, John's two disciples followed Jesus. On the fourth day Philip and Nathaniel met Jesus, verse 43. On the third day after that, which was the seventh day, Jesus did His miracle at Cana.
The Old Testament Jews regarded periods of seven days as reflecting God's creative activity. New Testament scripture credits Jesus with the seven days of creation and John may have wanted his readers to associate this with the beginning of Jesus' ministry as it is recorded in chapter 1 and 2.
Jesus attended the wedding in Cana of Galilee which was a town about nine miles north of Nazareth. He was the God-Man, and yet He took part in the everyday things of this life. Weddings are an occasion for rejoicing and this shows His human side. John the Baptist took a different approach in his ministry. He didn’t mix with people as much as Jesus did but that is not an indication that godliness requires separation from human society.
Jesus' disciples and His mother were also at this wedding. They may have been relatives or friends of the bride or groom. This was early in Jesus' ministry and since He had not yet called all twelve of His disciples, the only disciples present to witnessed the miracle were the five referred to in John chapter l. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was never mentioned by name in John’s gospel. John always referred to her by her unique status as the “mother of Jesus.”
Mary evidently took some responsibility for the serving at this wedding as it was she who told Jesus about the lack of wine. He was her son and she knew His true identity and she knew He would have power over any situation.
Weddings typically lasted seven days in the Jewish culture and the bridegroom had a responsibility to provide a suitable feast for his guests. If he didn’t provide adequately for the guests, he would be socially disgraced.
Verse 11 tells us that Jesus had done no miracles before this incident. Consequently it seems far-fetched to suppose that Mary expected Him to perform a miracle. She knew that Jesus was the Messiah, and she apparently wanted Him to do something that would show who He was to everyone present. This miracle would be the first of the miracles He would do that proved He was the Messiah of Israel.
Today, we would consider anyone disrespectful who addressed his mother as “woman,” but this didn’t have negative connotations in Jesus' culture. He called her 'woman' and not 'Mother' because there was a new relationship between them now that He had entered His public ministry. He was no longer under her authority, He was under God’s authority alone.
The words “What does your concern have to do with Me?” occurs several times in scripture. It means “Your concern and mine are not the same.”
David used it in respect to the sons of Zeruiah in their lack of any spiritual life in common with himself. Elisha used it to express the deep difference between him and Jehoram, the son of Ahab.
Several times over there were demons that used the same expression to reveal how they had nothing in common with Christ or Christ with them. Most notable among them were the legion of demons that dwelt in the man who lived in the tombs and the man in the synagogue in Capernaum who had a devil.
Here is an excerpt from William MacDonald’s book, “The New Testament.” “Jesus expression here shows that there was a great difference between His sinless deity and her sinful humanity. Although she was His mother, she was no longer His authority. God was the only authority He could obey. Jesus did not dishonor His mother. His obedience to His heavenly Father was more important than His obedience to His earthly mother.”
Throughout this Gospel, John made it clear that Jesus was on a schedule designed for Him by His heavenly Father.
When He said it was not yet “His hour,” He was referring to the time in His earthly life when He would leave this world and return to the Father, the hour when the Son of man would be glorified.
In John 8:20, “These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.”
And in John 8:28, “ Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.”
When His hour finally did come,
He met the need of the entire human race
by dying on the cross for our sins.
His mother didn’t ask Jesus to do anything at the wedding. She accepted His words humbly and told the servants to do whatever He asked of them. She was pointing others to Jesus, not to herself. She set an excellent example for all of us.
When she approached Jesus, she did so as His mother, but when she said, “Whatever He says to you, do it,” she was acknowledging Him as Lord. I think she fully understood then that He would act only if it was in His Father’s will.
Verse 6-7. “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.
The Jewish custom was to wash before eating in order to cleanse themselves from the defilement of contact with Gentiles and other ritually defiling things, and they washed often. Mark 7:3-4, tells us this; “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4: And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.”
These waterpots there held between 20 and 30 gallons each. That would have been between 120 and 180 gallons.
Stone pots didn’t absorb moisture like earthenware vessels did, so they were better containers for the water used in ceremonial washings. Many of you will remember the stone jars our mothers used many years ago and these pots must have been very much like those.
These waterpots had to do with Jewish ceremonial cleansing so they were connected with outward purification and they were empty, just like the forms and ceremonies of the law. But the Lord said to the servants “Fill the waterpots with water.” They obeyed His words and filled them to the brim. This is a picture of the change the living water of the truth of the gospel brings as it fills the believing sinner to the brim. Everything was changed when the waterpots were filled with water. Jesus said unto them, “Draw some out now and take it to the master of the feast.” When they were in the act of pouring out, it became wine!
It was a wonderful miracle, but our Lord Jesus Christ has been doing miracles throughout all eternity past. In His omnipotence, Jesus had changed the water into the finest of wine. He spoke the world into existence but it doesn’t say that He spoke even a word to accomplish this miracle.
When the master of the feast tasted this wine, he was surprised and said “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!” God always reserves the best for the end of the feast.
That reminds me of the story of the lady who wanted to be buried with her dinner fork in her hand. When she was asked why, she said “When ever we have a dinner, we always have pie afterward. When the dinner is over, the hostess always says to save your fork, the best is yet to come. I know when my time in this world is over and they come to bury me, the best is yet to come.”
The servants who filled the pots knew they were filled with water. When they were told to “draw some out now and take it to the master of the feast,” I wonder if they didn’t fear for their jobs or maybe for their lives. Taking water to the master of the feast instead of wine would be quite an insult. After all, they knew those pot had been filled with water.
Jesus' disciples, as well as the servants and His mother, also knew that water had gone into the pots and that it was wine when it came out. The only thing that accounted for the change was Jesus' words.
Jesus has the power to change us from what we are by nature into a soul filled with the joy of salvation. He had the supernatural power to change water into wine and He had the power to die for our sins and to rise again from the dead to prove that through faith in Him, our debt was paid.
The Holy Spirit makes this comment in verse 11, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him.”
This first miracle shows Him as the Creator, the One who provides everything that we need and Who upholds all things through His power.
The wonderful thing about this is that the Creator became our Savior. He was always God from eternity past. All creation came into existence by Him. And He came down into this world to suffer for our sins, so that we might be saved and have everlasting life.
One word could have filled those waterpots if it had been His will, but it took more than a word to save our souls. It took the work of the cross. But because of that work, one word, the word “believe,” brings eternal life and peace with God.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
Verse 12. “After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.”
This is a verse with a lot of meaning in it but most of the time it is passed over for the more sensational stories that come before and after it.
Jesus and those who had accompanied Him to the wedding left Cana and went to the city of Capernaum but they didn’t stay there very long. In Matthew, Capernaum is called “His own city.” Bethlehem, the city of David, was His birthplace, and He grew up in Nazareth, but Capernaum was the city He chose as a base for His earthly ministry.
His ministry was that of an itinerant evangelist so He really didn’t have a home as such. He evidently didn’t spend very much time there because He said, in Matthew 8:20, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Capernaum was the most privileged city in Galilee. Several times over in the gospels it’s recorded that He taught in the synagogue and did many miracles of healing there. It was there that He delivered the discourse where He stated “I am the Bread of Life.” Matthew once was a tax collector there. Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from there. He healed the woman whose faith in Him led her to make her way through the crowd knowing that if she could only touch the hem of His garment she would be healed.
Capernaum was the city that was blessed above all places on earth by the fact that Jesus chose it as His home and He taught and did many good things there. The sad fact is that they never accepted Him for who He was and it was of this very city that later on He said, “Thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell.”
That very city was blotted out of existence and for centuries no one knew where it had stood until recent years when it was excavated from under a mound of sand.
Capernaum's fate should be a solemn warning for us and our nation today. The greater our privileges, the greater our responsibility. God has, in loving-kindness, allowed us to live in a country where Bibles are found in nearly every home. The problem is that most of those Bibles never leave the shelf.
Those who turn a deaf ear to His plea to obey Him and fail to come to Him for salvation will, some day, face Him in judgment because they rejected His offer while they were still on earth. Our prayer should be that the lesson of Capernaum might sink deeply into the heart of every person in this overly blessed nation of ours.
The scripture says that He went down to Capernaum and continued there a short time. I believe that God has come down and has blessed the United States for what He would consider a short time and that the signs of the end are appearing more and more every day.