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  • Jesus' core group of disciples, his apostles, has grown. In chapter 2 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! 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..."
  • Jesus did not place relationship building in opposition to preaching or ministry; they flowed together naturally.

2:1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.


  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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!
    • 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.)
  • 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 of which was far superior.
    • Water is a strong theme or motif in John. Trace it. Spiritual does not mean non-physical.
  • Once again, it must be emphasized that Jesus thought it important to take 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
  • Jesus will perform another miracle in Cana in chapter 4.

The 7 signs

  • Beneficiaries:
    1. Wedding guests (2:1-11)
    2. Official’s son (4:43-54)
    3. Paralytic at Bethesda (5:1-15)
    4. The 5000 (6:1-13)
    5. The 12—Jesus on the Sea (6:16-21
    6. The Blind man (9:1-41)
    7. Lazarus (11:1-44)
  • Demonstrate Christ's ultimate power over
    1. Quality (water to wine)
    2. Distance (healing of official's son)
    3. Sickness (paralytic at Bethesda)
    4. Quantity (feeding 5000)
    5. Nature (on the Sea)
    6. Misfortune (blindness)
    7. Death (Lazarus)
  • Are time-sensitive or related to time:
    1. Wine running out
    2. Son at point of death
    3. Paralytic incapacitated for 38 years
    4. Too late in the day to arrange food
    5. Short-cut across Sea of Galilee
    6. Healing of a man blind all his life
    7. Raising of a man buried long enough ago that "he stinketh" [John 11:39 KJV])
  • The 7th sign point towards Christ’s resurrection, the eighth and greatest sign, offering the promise of being ushered into the new order of things.
  • Signs and the structure of John's gospel
    • 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."

 12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

  • Jesus and his entourage spend a few days in Capernaum, his second home (after Nazareth).
  • Notice that Jesus shares his "church friends" with his family members (v.12).
  • Although his brothers do not yet believe (see 7:5), eventually they were won over.