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JESUS TURNS WATER TO WINE

JESUS TURNS WATER TO WINE

John 2:1–11

 

Jesus went to a wedding in Cana. When the supply of wine ran out, he turned more than 100 gallons of water into wine.

 

 

 

Weddings in New Testament times (John 2:1).

Jewish marriages were two-stage affairs. Betrothal involved the signing of a binding agreement between two families. A couple who had been betrothed to each other was considered husband and wife. The actual union took place a year later, when the groom went to the home of the bride with his friends and brought her to their new home. Festivities might continue for a week, with the bride and groom treated as queen and king.

 

Jesus attended one such wedding in Cana of Galilee, a small town about four miles from Nazareth. His mother Mary was there, and we can assume that friends and relatives from all around gathered to rejoice with the newlyweds. The wedding was the site of Jesus’ first recorded miracle.

 

Jesus and his disciples (John 2:2).

Just three days before this wedding event, Jesus had been baptized by John and identified by the Holy Spirit as the Son of God (John 1:33–34). Four of the men who later became his disciples stayed with Jesus––Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathaniel. Quite possibly John was at the wedding too, although his name is not mentioned. Jesus and these disciples may have been passing through Cana on the way to Nazareth when all “were invited to the wedding.”

 

Most commentators tend to see the wedding as a significant setting for Jesus’ first miracle (John 2:11). They also see Christ’s presence as blessing and confirming the institution of marriage. But Christ’s presence at this event may have been more prophetic.

 

Weddings were joyous occasions. For perhaps the only time in what was a difficult life, the bride and groom were treated as queen and king. Married life in first-century Palestine began with joy, but for most couples it was marked by toil as the couple struggled just to survive.

 

What is fascinating is that Jesus’ earthly ministry began with a wedding—and human history will end with a wedding. At history’s end God’s people will celebrate what Revelation 19:9 calls the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” For Jesus, many trials lay between the beginning of his ministry at that wedding in Cana and the fulfillment of his ministry at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

 

Trials are also a reality for us between our discovery of Christ and the fulfillment of faith’s promise. But for Jesus and for us, the beginning and the end are set aside for joy!

 

The hosts ran out of wine (John 2:3a).

Wedding feasts often lasted a week. The hospitality shown to Jesus and his friends helps explain a possible reason for the shortage of wine. More people than were expected joined the festivities.

 

The shortage happened in spite of the fact that wine was generally diluted with water. Most rabbinic prescriptions called for three parts of water to one part wine; others called for seven parts water to one part wine. Wine in the Old Testament was viewed somewhat ambivalently. In its undiluted form wine was a “strong drink,” and was condemned as a source of drunkenness (Prov. 20; 21:17; 23:20) and associated sins (Amos 2:8, 12; 5:11; 6:6). Yet wine was also a symbol of joy and feasting (Amos 9:13–14). Wine was given as gifts (1 Sam. 25:18; 2 Sam. 16:1), and was included among offerings made to the Lord (Ex. 29:40; Lev. 23:13; Num. 15:7).

 

To argue that Jesus would neither drink nor create a fermented beverage not only fails to fit the Scriptures; it is unnecessary to establish Scripture’s position that drunkenness is a foolish sin.

 

The exhaustion of the supply of wine at the wedding in no way suggests the guests had drunk to excess.

 

Mary appealed to her son Jesus (John 2:3b–5).

The exchange between Mary and her son Jesus is puzzling. Questions that have been raised include:

 

Why did Mary tell Jesus “they have no wine”? (John 2:3b). The implication is that Mary expected Jesus to do something about the shortage. But what did she expect? For some thirty years Jesus had lived a rather ordinary life in Nazareth. There was no reason for Mary to look to him for a miracle.

 

One possibility is that she hoped Jesus would contribute toward the purchase of additional wine. It was not unusual for guests to do so. Another possibility is suggested by the practice of mentioning a guest’s name as a round of wine was poured. Mary may have been upset that the hosts ran out before Jesus could be honored.

 

Why did Jesus respond to Mary as he did? (John 2:4). Several things are puzzling about this verse. The nkjv reads, “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.’”

 

1. “Woman,” a polite form of address, was in no way harsh (compare John 19:26). Yet it was not the way grown sons generally addressed their mothers in the first century. It shows a distinct distancing of Jesus from his mother. Jesus was about to set out on the mission for which he came. One phase of his life on earth ended at his baptism—when the Spirit identified him as the Son of God—and another phase began. From now on his “family” would be composed of those who trust him as the Messiah (compare Matt. 12:48).

 

2. A literal translation of the Greek phrase is, “What to me and to you?” This was generally a harsh rather than polite phrase in the first century. It may have meant little more than “why involve Me?” Yet it further increases the distance between Mary and Jesus implied in his choice of the term woman.

 

3. The most difficult phrase is the last one Jesus uttered: “My hour has not yet come.” If Mary was upset over a possible slight to Jesus by not mentioning his name when a round of wine was mixed and poured, Christ’s remark may mean little more than “it isn’t my turn [to be so honored] anyway.”

 

However, most interpreters see far more implied. In the New Testament, Jesus’ “hour” most often refers to his crucifixion (Matt. 26:45; John 7:30). What Jesus may have been saying was, “Once I act and reveal who I am, my course is fixed, and I have set out for the cross.”

 

Jesus did act. A few minutes later he turned water into wine. This first miracle marked him: it revealed his glory and led his disciples to believe in him. With this miracle, performed to protect his hosts from the embarrassment of running out of wine, Jesus took the first step along a path which would bring healing to many, the agony of the cross for him, and salvation to us.

 

Why did Mary tell the servants to do whatever Jesus said? (John 2:5). Mary’s words recall those of other saints who did not take “No” for an answer to their prayers (compare Gen. 32:26–30; 1 Kings 18:36–37; 2 Kings 4:14–28). Jewish readers would have taken her words as an expression of deep faith and confidence that Jesus would be able to do something.

 

Mary’s confidence in Jesus was not misplaced. In spite of the fact that Jesus seemed to rebuke her, we must never lose sight of the fact that Mary was a woman of great faith.

 

--Source: Richards, L. (1998). Every miracle in the Bible (165–167).


This article was published on Thursday 14 January, 2010.

Back to main topic: STUDY THE WORD OF GOD
ADULTERY
THIS POOR WIDOW PUT IN MORE THAN ALL THE OTHERS
CHRIST WILL RETURN WITH GREAT POWER AND GLORY
YOU SAY I AM A KING
BASILICAS OF ST. PETER & ST. PAUL
THE KINGSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST
CHRISTMAS
YOUR REDEMPTION IS AT HAND
GOD’S PROMISES IN ADVENT
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC UNDERSTANDING OF ECUMENISM
WE NEED ADVENT!
WE SAW HIS STAR AT ITS RISING AND HAVE COME TO DO HIM HOMAGE
EMMANUEL – GOD IS WITH US!
THE BLIND BOY AND HIS SIGN
EPIPHANY
WHEN JESUS HAD BEEN BAPTIZED AND WAS PRAYING, HEAVEN WAS OPENED
ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD
“WHAT SHOULD WE DO?”
GOD KNEW ME BEFORE I WAS BORN
GOD IS LOVE
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY
“THE MOTHER OF MY LORD SHOULD COME TO ME.”
THE LAST EIGHT DAYS IN THE ADVENT SEASON
HIS PARENTS FOUND JESUS SITTING IN THE MIDST OF THE TEACHERS.
MARY – “MOTHER OF GOD”
WHETHER THE BLESSED VIRGIN SHOULD BE CALLED THE MOTHER OF GOD?
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
WHETHER THE BAPTISM OF JOHN WAS FROM GOD
WHETHER IT WAS FITTING FOR CHRIST TO BE BAPTIZED WITH JOHN’S BAP

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