Rev. Haak is pastor of Bethel Protestant Reformed Church in Elk Grove, Illinois.
These verses describe the first miracle which Jesus did while He was on the earth (v. 11). It is characteristic of the gospel according to John that, although it does not include as many of the miracles of Christ as do the synoptics, yet the ones John does relate he describes with great care.
As to the occasion for this miracle, we are not—given much background information. Who the married couple is, their relationship to Jesus and the disciples, how Jesus and His disciples came to be included in the invitations, what role Mary played in the marriage celebration (plainly she had some role in it)—to all of these questions we are given no answers. These things are in the background, in order that our attention might be focused upon the power and the glory of Christ.
We are informed that it was three days after Philip and Nathanael had started following Jesus (John 1:43 and John 2:1), and that Jesus and the disciples are in attendance at a marriage in Cana of Galilee. A shortage of wine occurs and Mary comes to Jesus with the obvious hint that it would be a nice opportunity for Him to display His power. Jesus rebukes her in love (Rev. 3:19). His answer indicates a number of things. First, that the relationship between Mary and Jesus was much more than just mother and son (John 19:2-27). Second, that the counsel of God with respect to how He would be revealed as the Christ had been carefully laid down by God (“My hour is not yet come”). Hendricksen puts it well when he states: “Christ is conscious of the fact that he would accomplish a task intrusted to him by the Father, every detail of which had been marked out in eternal decree, so that for each act there was a stipulated moment.” Finally, all of our Lords miracles and work were directed toward the central “hour,” which was the cross. (For “my hour” see John 7:8, 30; John 8:20; John 12:23, 27; John 13:1; John 16:32; John 17:1)
The miracle itself shows both the power of Christ to change by His will water to wine, and the abundanceor lavishness of Christ to provide, in excess of 100 gallons, the best wine for the marriage feast. John concludes by telling us that the purpose for this miracle was to reveal Christ’s glory. But this is so only for the disciples, to whom it serves as a sign to confirm their faith.
There are a number of lessons that we should learn in this first miracle.
1. It shows that Christ honors marriage. Christ’s presence at this marriage is indeed a high honor paid to the married life. “For this reason the Lord Jesus Christ did also highly honor it with his presence, gifts, and miracles in Cana of Galilee, to show* thereby that this holy state ought to be kept honorably by all, and that he will aid and protect married persons, even when they are the least deserving of it” (Form for the Confirmation of Marriage).
2. It shows that the Christian may engage in legitimate times of rejoicing and happiness (Eccl. 10:9). Jesus was no ascetic who denied Himself times of lawful happiness and the enjoyment of food, wine, and communion (Matt. 11:19). “Here too Christ indicates that he is not displeased with a marriage feast, nor with the things that belong to a wedding such as adornments, cheerfulness, eating, and drinking, according to the usage and custom of the country . . . only so far as these things are used in moderation and in keeping with a marriage” (Martin Luther).
Outline of John 2:1-11
1. The setting for the miracle (vv. 1, 2).
2. Mary’s informing Jesus of the lack of wine and the Lord’s instructive rebuke (vv. 3-5).
3. The miracle itself (vv. 6-8).
4. The governor’s commending of the excellence of the wine (vv. 9, 10).
5. The notice that this is Christ’s first miracle, the purpose for it, and the effect of it in the disciples (v. 11).
1. What is the “third day” referred to in verse 1?
2. What can be drawn from the passage as to the details of Mary’s role in this marriage; the reason Jesus is invited; and the relation between the married party and either Jesus or His disciples?
3. Discuss what Mary must have been thinking when she informed Jesus that there was no wine. Give other scriptural references which demonstrate what might be called Mary’s “motherly concern for the success of her son.”
4. What is meant by the Lord’s response to Mary in verse 4?
5. Explain the significance of the Lord’s “hour.”
6. Of what is wine a sign in the Bible? references? Discuss the difference between the legitimate use of wine and food and the sin of drunkenness and over-indulgence.
7. Discuss the comfort that Jesus’ presence at this marriage gives to married people (see I Tim. 4:1-3).
8. What was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles? What result or fruit do they have on the believer? on the unbeliever?
9. What are the central lessons to be learned from this miracle?