John 2:1-12 – The Wedding at Cana

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John 2:1-2

  1. The author of the Gospel of John mentions neither himself nor Mary by name. But most likely the author is the apostle John who, at the cross, was given this mission by Jesus: “26 When Jesus saw his mother and beside her the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” 27Then he said to the disciple, “See your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her home to him. ” (John 19:26-27)
  2. It is not impossible that Jesus and the apostle John were cousins and that this was John’s wedding feast. In the Gospel of Matthew we read that John was the son of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21). In Matthew we also read that John’s mother, Zebedee’s wife, was with Mary at the cross (Matthew 27:56). In the Gospel of Mark we read that John’s mother was named Salome (Mark 15:40), and in the Gospel of John we read that Salome is the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary (John 19:25). According to the exclusion method Jesus and John’s mothers should be sisters and thus Jesus and John become cousins. If Mary’s nephew got married, it is only natural that she helped with the practicalities of the wedding, which in turn explains why she is concerned that the wedding wine has run out. John’s failure to mention who got married by name is consistent with John never naming himself in his own gospel. It is not possible to establish with certainty that this is John’s wedding, but it is also not possible to rule it out.

John 2:3

  1. In biblical times, there were basically only two beverages to choose from: water and wine. Water was for everyday use and wine for parties. However, drinking water was often so bad that, if you could afford it, it was often better for your health to drink wine with your food instead of water. However, wine in biblical times did not have the same amount of alcohol as today. So when we read about Jesus’ water-to-wine miracle, we shouldn’t think of this as a modern-day Swedish drunken feast, but one where wine symbolises solemnity and joy.
  2. Wedding feasts in biblical times could last a whole week (Gen 29:27), and it was not uncommon to have open houses and guests coming and going. Perhaps more people came to this wedding feast than the hosts had planned, resulting in the wine eventually running out.
    1. Running out of wine before the party was over was a very embarrassing and big failure. Since “wine” symbolizes “joy”, running out of wine is equivalent to running out of joy. In this case, it would mean an unhappy bride and groom and a failed party with unhappy guests.
  3. Why did Mary say this to Jesus? Maybe the bride and groom were relatives of hers and she was at the party to help. We don’t know what that was all about, but we understand that Mary mentions this to Jesus because she knows that Jesus can solve the problem.
    1. For 30 years, Mary has lived with the certainty that there is something special about Jesus (Luke 1:35). Although Mary does not yet know exactly how, she knows that God will use her son in a great, significant and miraculous way. She has been waiting for Jesus to begin this for a long time. Perhaps Mary is eager and trying to hurry Jesus along a bit? Perhaps Mary and Jesus have prayed together on previous occasions and received answers to their prayers?
    1. Maria has also lived with people’s eyes for 30 years. Because Mary became pregnant before marrying Joseph, rumors spread. We know, of course, that Jesus was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit, but this was difficult for Mary to tell others about for obvious reasons. But perhaps Mary thought that people would understand her situation better if Jesus finally appeared as the man of God she knew him to be?

John 2:4

  1. Jesus’ response to Mary is very special. First, Jesus calls Mary “woman” instead of “mother”. With this Jesus wants to signal in a respectful way (John 19:26) that from now on there is a new relationship between mother and son, where Mary is no longer above Jesus as a parent. Until now, Jesus has obeyed his mother in everything (Luke 2:51), but now it is time to start walking on the path that God has ordained, and he must act independently in relation to his mother.
  2. Secondly, Jesus says that he has nothing to do with the wine problem. With this expression, Jesus is showing his mother Mary that he is no longer acting on his mother’s word based on the worldly concerns Mary had, but instead is acting on his Father’s word based on the spiritual mission Jesus is now entering into. Jesus now leaves the role of “Mary’s son” who helps his mother with whatever she needs, and instead enters the role of “God’s son” who fully acts on what God says.
  3. Thirdly, Jesus says that his hour has not yet come. This expression appears five times in the Gospel of John (John 2:4, 7:6, 7:8, 7:30, 8:20). The “hour” Jesus is talking about is the hour of his “glorification”, i.e. his death on the cross. In the later part of John’s Gospel, Jesus declares that his hour has now come (John 12:23, 13:1, 17:1).

John 2:5

  1. Mary’s response to Jesus shows, first of all, an extremely humble submission. Although Jesus is Mary’s child, Mary knows that Jesus is the Son of God and her Lord (Luke 1:43). Mary understands that the implication of Jesus’ words is that Mary is no longer in charge of Jesus as a mother is of her child, but that Mary now needs to submit to Jesus as a believer submits to her Lord. Mary, who is probably the person who has known Jesus most closely, gives very good advice to all people who read the Bible: “Do whatever he tells you”. Imagine if all people had heeded Mary’s call!
  2. Secondly, Mary’s response shows that she wants to shift the focus from herself to Jesus. What Mary is teaching us is not to exalt her because she is Jesus’ mother, but to exalt Jesus because he is the Son of God. Exalting Mary at the expense of Jesus is an unbiblical practice that both Jesus and Mary were opposed to (Luke 11:27-28). Better than exalting Mary is to listen to what she has to say about Jesus.
  3. Thirdly, Mary’s answer shows that she knew that Jesus could do miracles. Even though this was Jesus’ first miracle, she knew what Jesus could do and longed for him to begin his service to God.
    1. In the same way we should relate to God’s miracles. We believe and know that God can answer our prayer even if we have not yet seen it with our own eyes. And until our prayer is answered, we humbly accept that God will answer when the time is right, and until then, we continue to do in all things what Jesus tells us to do.

John 2:6

  1. These water pots were used by the Jews to ritually wash their hands before and after meals (Matthew 15:1-2). These pots were thus a symbol of the Old Testament Law.

John 2:7-8

  1. Jesus could have done this miracle any way he wanted, but he chose to do it this way. Jesus used the resources and people available and it is interesting to see the part of the servants in the miracle.
    1. Jesus could have filled the jars with water all by himself, but by involving the servants, they got to share in both the miracle and the joy.
    1. It wasn’t the servants who did the miracle, they just did what Jesus told them to do without question, and then Jesus did the rest.
    1. The servants filled the pots “to the brim”. If they had only filled them halfway, they would have received only half as much blessing.
    1. It required faith on the part of the servants to scoop up “water” and go with it to the host, trusting Jesus that it was now wine.

John 2:9-10

  1. The wine that Jesus miraculously created was a very good and fine wine. This does not mean that the wine had a high alcohol content, but that it was a high quality wine.
  2. The transformation of water into wine that Jesus did serves as a symbolic image of the transformation that Jesus makes with every person who comes to believe in him. The Christian life is not mundane, boring and merely for survival, but is celebration, joy and miracles!

John 2:11-12

  1. Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine contrasts with the miracle of Moses turning the waters of the Nile into blood (Exodus 7:14-24). Moses, representing the Law, the old covenant, witnesses a miracle symbolizing death, while Jesus, representing the Gospel, the new covenant, performs a miracle symbolizing joy.
    1. This miracle shows the Jewish people that a new covenant is at hand with Jesus. This new covenant will not be a legal covenant that leads to death for the sinner, but a new covenant with God that leads to forgiveness and joy for the sinner.
  2. The disciples certainly believed in Jesus even before this miracle, but their faith was strengthened and renewed when they saw it with their own eyes. In the same way, it is good for every person’s faith to be reminded from time to time of the greatness of Jesus and to witness a miracle. Then our faith in Jesus is renewed and strengthened.
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