1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 4 And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. Version: NRSV.



  • Jesus' core group of disciples, his apostles, has grown. In chapter 3 he takes them to a wedding in Cana, in Galilee. This was also the home of Nathanael, about whom we read in 1:46-51; see also 21:2.
    • Wedding parties in the Bible normally lasted 1-2 weeks (Genesis 29:27; Judges 14:12), so this was no half-day affair! Jesus did not place relationship building in opposition to preaching or ministry; they flowed together naturally.
    • A new character enters the stage: Mary, the mother of Jesus. Interestingly, in this gospel her name is not even once mentioned. Several other Marys appear, however. (Can you locate them?)
  • The wine gives out (v.3ff).
    • What does Mary want Jesus to do?
      • Is Jesus' mother taking charge, pressing him (consciously or not) to exercise his powers as the Son of God? If so, her pressuring him is premature.
      • But there is another possibility. She may be reminding Jesus that his decision to be a wandering rabbi, followed by equally penniless disciples, has put the family in the embarrassing situation of not being able to meet the needs of the guests at the wedding celebration.
      • Whichever interpretation is right, Mary is shifting responsibility onto Jesus.
    • For why Jesus replies so directly to her, click here.
    • Jesus turns water to wine.
      • Stone jars were used instead of clay pots for two reasons. They were more durable. And if something unclean fell into them (say, a lizard), the jars did not have to be broken (Leviticus 11:33); they would survive for future service.
      • The total amount was easily 150 gallons -- an enormous quantity!
      • For a picture of a large Galilean stone water jar, click here.
    • It is clear that Jesus is following the Father's timing (v.4). For more on this theme, see 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1; 17:1. (This only a partial list.)
    • Jesus will perform another miracle in Cana in chapter 4.
  • The famous cleansing of the Temple takes place in the second part of this chapter (tomorrow).


  • About wedding feasts, see also Tobit 10:7: "...Now when the fourteen days of the wedding celebration had ended that Raguel had sworn to observe for his daughter, Tobias came to him..." Jewish wedding feasts could last 1-2 weeks.
  • Regarding v.4 (literally, "what to me and to you"), the identical words ti emoí kai soi appear in Judges 11:12 LXX, where Jephthah speaks sharply to the king of the Ammonites.
  • About the miracle of the water turned to wine:
    • Some believe this was his 10th miracle (by comparing this passage with the chronology of Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
    • In John's gospel it is his first "sign" -- not just a miracle, but a miracle with a special significance. 2:23 shows that Jesus had been doing a number of miracles, although 4:54 is the "second" John describes.
    • Thus the common claim that this was his first miracle is false.
    • This is an example of subversion of the social order. If Jesus created 500 liters of wine (perhaps more, perhaps less, based on the capacity of the stone water jars), and then the wine was diluted with water at a ratio of 1:1, there could have been 500 persons present at the banquet. In ancient banquets, the best wine was not only presented first; it was also served to the most important guests. (Ancient writers like Pliny and Martial complained about the inequality of such a practice.) By allowing all to enjoy the best wine, Jesus is implicitly placing everyone on the same level.
    • But there is a deeper significance. The miracle has to do with the difference between the old way and the new way, the old covenant and the new covenant, Judaism and Christianity. They are different, though related. At first you think the new "wine" is better than the old, finer. But then you realize that, in comparison to the new, the old resembles water. Consider 1:17: the law comes with ritual (cleansing from ritual defilement, e.g.). The wine of the good news is much better!
    • Jesus is signaling that the Messianic age is beginning. See Isaiah 25:6. Water for purification, such as that preserved in the stone jars, was part of the old order. This was being superseded by the new order, the nature and quality which was far superior.
  • The 7 signs
    • Demonstrate Christ's ultimate power over quality (water to wine), distance (healing of official's son), quantity (feeding 5000), nature (on the Sea), misfortune (blindness), and death (Lazarus).
    • Are time-sensitive (wine running out; son at point of death; paralytic incapacitated for 38 years; too late in the day to arrange food; short-cut across Sea of Galilee; healing of a man blind all his life; raising of a man buried long enough ago that "he stinketh" [John 11:39 KJV]).
    • Point towards Christ resurrection, the eighth and greatest sign, offering the promise of being ushered into the new order of things.
  • Chapters 2-11 have been called by scholars "The Book of Signs," since they contain and are structured around seven "signs." Following this, chapters 12-21 have been dubbed "The Book of Glory."

Thought questions:

  • Jesus took time out for a wedding. Are there activities whose importance I tend to minimize, perhaps wrongly considering them to be "less productive" than other, more "spiritual" endeavors?
  • In my thinking (feelings based on my Bible study), how do the OT and the old covenant compare with the NT and the new covenant? As with the wine, does the new seem superior? If so, why? How might I explain my thinking to someone instructed only in the Law of Moses?