Lesson 2: Miracle At Cana (John 1:32-2:11)Related Media
Editor’s Note: This article is the lightly edited manuscript for the accompanying audio message that Vickie delivered.
God was here! Walking this planet. He lived in an obscure village in a tiny country on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. From the age of 12 till Jesus was about 30 there are no incidents recorded about Him in the Bible. So any stories you hear about the miracles he supposedly performed as a child are the product of someone’s imagination. But there are things we can know about his family life.
Mark 6:3 tells us that Mary and Joseph had at least 6 other children, 4 sons and 2 daughters. Jesus knew what it was to live in a large family and be the only half-brother. Joseph taught him the trade of carpentry and he supported his family by working as a carpenter, because by the time he began his public ministry, Joseph was dead. Jesus knew what it was to work with his hands to earn his daily bread. All the time Jesus lived on earth He never used his power to make life easy for himself.
But now the time had come to begin his public ministry. For months John the Baptist had been preaching that the Messiah was coming and people were being baptized to indicate that they repented of their sins and were waiting for the Messiah (Christ) Jesus started his ministry by going to John to baptize him.
When he came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove.
Now John knew for sure that Jesus was the promised Christ. That was the sign he had been told to look for. After his baptism Jesus went into the wilderness and successfully endured 40 days and nights of fasting while Satan tempted him. He proved his qualifications to be our sinless Savior when he defeated Satan and would not sin.
John 1:19-21 gives us a rapid sequence of events that took place just before the occasion we are studying today.
When Jesus returned from the wilderness John pointed his own disciples to Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Son of God. So these men followed Jesus and brought others. By the time the chapter ends Jesus had about 5 men with him who believed on Him because of John’s testimony and their own experience. These 5 were the first of that special group of 12 ordinary men who lived with Him and were trained by him for over 3 years.
In John 1 we have many titles and names for Jesus:
The Word, the Light, the One and Only from the Father, God, the One and Only, Lord, Lamb of God, Son of God, Messiah or Christ, the Prophet like Moses, Jesus of Nazareth, King of Israel, Rabbi, Son of Man.
Theses titles had tremendous significance for the Jews familiar with OT promises about the coming Messiah. They meant that Jesus was the one they had been eagerly waiting for. What spectacular thing would Jesus use to reveal who he was? Where would he start? Can you imagine what Hollywood would do with an opportunity like that? But Jesus revealed His glory for the first time in a very strange but meaningful way.
Cana was a village in the hills of Galilee. Its location is not certain, but scholars believe it was located about nine miles north of Nazareth. I think it is worth noticing that the human race began with God officiating at a wedding between a man and a woman and the ministry of Jesus, God on earth began with His presence at a wedding. This tells us something about God’s view of marriage which we need to hear in a day when marriage is being avoided or destroyed by abuse, infidelity, lack of commitment and divorce. Actually, when it is in danger of being redefined to allow same sex marriage to be equally normal.
Jesus obviously was not a recluse. He was a social person. He was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to share in the joy of others. This was not just going to a ceremony and reception for a few ours. The wedding celebration lasted seven days. In that day a couple would become betrothed, usually for about a year. This betrothal was as binding as a marriage and could only be broken by divorce. The wedding was celebrated when the bridegroom came to take his bride and escort her to his home, where there would be a great time of feasting, singing, dancing and general rejoicing for a week. At the end of the week the bride would be escorted by her parents to the nuptial chamber and marriage would be consummated. This was obviously a time of great joy.
God wants us to enjoy life, to share other people’s joy, to smell the flowers along the way. He has given us all things richly to enjoy and Jesus modeled that for us.
Mary must have been visiting with their hosts or helping out when she was in on an embarrassing discovery. The wine had run out! Lavish hospitality in the east was a sacred duty. Either they had underestimated the number of guests or they had been skimpy in their provisions. This was not just an embarrassment, it was a disgrace. It was a never-to-be-forgotten social faux pas.
Mary knew where to go for help. She depended upon her oldest Son and he had never failed her yet. This request tells us a little about Mary. She was concerned about other people’s problems. She was not aloof or quick to pass judgment. She wanted to help her friends. Maybe she also thought this would be a super time for Jesus to do something spectacular to reveal who he really was. After all, she of all people knew where He came from. So she simply came to him and stated the problem. His answer seems strange to us.
Jesus knew His timetable. There is a sense of order and destiny in the measured way He moves through the Gospel records. He was not going to do the showy, spectacular miracle to draw attention to himself. He also in a gentle way let his mother know that he was no longer under her authority. Mary did not question him or go away disappointed. She just left it to him to do as he pleased. She trusted him to solve the problem and the next verse records the only command she ever gives in the Bible.
Do whatever he tells you. (NIV)
These words are as relevant to us today as they were to the servants then. You will notice that Mary never focused on herself, but on Jesus. He is the one we come, He is the one who has the power to help, He is the one to obey.
These large stone water jars were used for the ceremonial washing required by religious Jews. Their religion had become almost entirely external with very little impact on their spiritual lives. Can you imagine what the servants must have thought when a guest told them to fill all six water jars with water. That is from 120-180 gallons of water that had to be drawn from the well. But they filled them to the brim and came back for further instructions.
What do you think they thought? They knew these just were just filled with water. How could they take them to the master of the feast as wine? But the lady had said to do whatever this man said and they just obeyed. We would do well to follow their example. Jesus speaks to us today through the Bible. We have in our hands the written record of what he expects his followers to do. It is not necessary for us to know ahead of time just how everything will work out. Our responsibility is to simply do what He says to do.
You may say, “But how can I not be anxious? This is a situation to worry about. My resources are depleted financially, emotionally, spiritually. What am I going to do? I have nowhere left to go.”
Jesus says, “Come to me. Trust me. Tell me what you need and let me provide for you in my own way. I will protect your heart and your mind with my peace. I know it is hard to understand that even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances I can give you peace, but I can and I will. Just keep on believing that I will bring you through and let me take care of you.” Do not be ashamed of feeling inadequate. We were designed to be inadequate so that we will learn to rely on God.
The master of the banquet knew nothing about what had transpired outside. He only knew that the wine had run out and this was a new supply. But it was the best wine he had ever tasted. A wonderful wedding present for the bridal couple. What an unobtrusive miracle. Who knew about it? The servants, the disciples and surely Mary. How did Jesus do it? What did he use? He used what was there, just as would do many other times. The servants, the water jars, the water! He will use just what we are and have to accomplish his purposes in our lives today.
Maybe we should better say a little about wine in that culture. Wine was not to be drunk unless it was mixed with water. The ratio could increase to as much as 12 parts water to 1 part wine. It was one of the methods of purifying water which was not always safe to drink. This miracle is not to be construed as an unlimited license to drink alcoholic beverages. The Scripture has much to say about not drinking new wine, strong drink and mixed drinks. Drunkenness is strongly denounced.
This was the first miracle Jesus performed. Another reason to disbelieve the childhood miracles attributed to him. John uses an interesting word to describe this miracle. He calls it a sign and uses this word 17 times in his gospel. When applied to a miracle this word implies that the miracle is an indication of some power or meaning behind it to which the miracle is secondary in importance. What hidden meaning is there behind this miracle?
First, it proved that Jesus had supernatural power and could use it any way he chose. He could speak, touch, or just simply will it to be done as he did here. His miracles authenticated his person and his message.
He revealed that He is God the Creator. He simply accelerated the process in which rain causes the vine to produce grapes which are then crushed and fermented into wine.
Second, this unique miracle was a sign pointing to what he came to do. The Jewish religion had deteriorated to just being concerned with external cleansing. But it could not provide for internal cleansing. This miracle is a picture of conversion. Jesus changed the water into wine. He changed its nature. He came to change sinners into saints, to give us a new nature. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.
Third, wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible.
Ps. 104:15 (NIV) Wine that gladdens the heart of man.
Ps. 4:7 (NIV) You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
Joy is what Jesus came to give us.
We can have joy because we know that Jesus loves us. We can trust His love and prove it by obeying His Word.
We can have joy because Jesus has given us free access into the Father’s presence and answered prayer through his death and resurrection.
We can have joy in a hostile world because Jesus prayed for the Father to protect us while we live in it.
Does this mean that we are guaranteed happiness? What do you mean by happiness… enough money, no sickness, no difficult circumstances, a perfect job, a lot of friends, a perfect marriage? We usually base happiness on our circumstances. If you are looking for happiness in money, things, status, pleasure, people or accomplishments, there is an important lesson here.
The world’s joy always runs out, but the joy Jesus gives flows forever.
That is why I think He made such an abundant supply: 120-180 gallons of wine. He wants us to know that he gives us abundant joy, a joy that comes from within. It is that settled state of the heart that can rejoice in the Lord in spite of difficult circumstances. Joy comes from being forgiven. Joy comes from answered prayer. Joy comes from knowing you do not have to make it on your own. You have a heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally and will take you through whatever your situation. Joy comes from the realization that this life on earth is not all there is to life. There is all of eternity in God’s presence in our future. And this life is just a waiting room where we grow and mature and learn to trust our heavenly Father.
Habakkuk, that bewildered prophet, saw his world collapsing around his ears and questioned God about it. God’s answer was, “It’s just going to get worse!”
Habakkuk came to the conclusion we all have to reach if we are going to mature.
Hab. 3:17 (NIV) Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
What were the immediate results of this miracle of the wine?
Jesus thus revealed His glory. His glory was the glory of the Father.
What do we learn from Jesus about our Heavenly Father?
How many ways can God say “I love you?”
He cares about our everyday problems. He has solutions we would never imagine. God will never turn us away, no matter how unimportant we think something is. God wants to be involved in our lives, not just the spiritual part, but in every area, your job, your homemaking, your relationships, your dating, your money management; everything.
The second result was that the disciples put their faith in Him.
They had already believed, now they believed even more. This is what will happen to each of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith should not remain static. It grows and matures. Our love increases as we know Him more. And the result of loving Him more should be to live for Him more and more.
2 Corinthians 5:15
Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Do you realize who He really is? God in human form. He came to reveal the invisible God to us. He came to make the way for us to come to God by dying in our place so our sins might be forgiven and we might have eternal life. You may put your faith in Him right there where you are sitting.
John 3:36 (NIV) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
For those of us who already know Him, my prayer for us is this:
Rom. 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.