Starting Point

by The Doctor

The story behind Jesus’ very first miracle is recorded for us in the Gospel of John beginning in chapter two. There’s a lot we can learn about Jesus from this event, so let’s take some time to look the circumstances surrounding this miracle and see what it can tell us about Him…

“Two days later Jesus’ mother was a guest at a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee, and Jesus and his disciples were invited too” (John 2:1-2).

The town of Cana in Galilee was located about five or six miles (8-10 km) from the town of Nazareth, which was the place where Jesus lived as a boy (see Luke 2:39-40). Since these towns were so close together, some believe it’s possible that one of Jesus’ relatives was getting married at this wedding.

Now weddings in Jesus’ day were very big affairs just as they often are today. A couple getting married in those days would dress up in their finest clothes and they would be joined by a wedding party made up of what we might call “bridesmaids” and “groomsmen” today. However, one big difference from the weddings that we often see today is that the groom would usually leave his home to get his future wife from her parent’s house. Then the entire wedding party and their friends would set out as a big group back to the couple’s new home.

When they arrived, the marriage ceremony would begin. The bride and groom would stand before a priest and formally accept the marriage agreement joining them together as husband and wife. The priest would ask for God’s blessing upon the couple and then the wedding feast would begin. This wedding feast was something like the wedding reception that often follows a marriage ceremony today and it always featured lots of singing, dancing, eating, drinking, and so forth. Although most wedding receptions last for only a few hours today, the wedding feasts of those days could go on for a week or even more!

Now the person who was responsible for overseeing the wedding feast was called the “Master of the Banquet” or the “Ruler of the Feast.” An important part of this person’s job was to make sure that everyone at the party had enough to drink but not so much that they would start getting into trouble. Unfortunately, it seems that someone badly underestimated how much would be needed to serve all the guests…

“The wine supply ran out during the festivities, and Jesus’ mother came to him with the problem” (John 2:3).

Wine was very important in those days and running out of wine at a large social event was a big mistake in that culture. You see, the water of the first century was often impure and wine (or wine mixed with water) was often considered safer to drink. Wine was also seen as a symbol of joy and happiness and if the wine ran out, it was almost like admitting that no one was happy anymore. Finally, it was considered to be very improper to invite guests to a party but not have enough to serve them, just as it is today.

So knowing this, Mary remarked to Jesus that the wine for the feast was all gone. Now it’s possible that Mary was simply asking Jesus to help out in some perfectly regular way but judging by His response to her, it may be that she was expecting Jesus to do something more…

“‘I can’t help you now,’ he said. ‘It isn’t yet my time for miracles.’ But his mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you to'” (John 2:4-5).

It seems that Mary may have sensed something from Jesus’ reply that assured her that He would take care of the situation and this could explain why she told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you to.” Actually, that’s good advice for any situation- whatever Jesus tells you to do, just do it.

But let’s get back to our story…

“Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons [about 75-113 liters]. 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'” (John 2:6-8a).

Now The Doctor believes that what Jesus didn’t do here is almost as important as what He did do. For instance, notice that Jesus didn’t stand over the water jars and conjure up some magic words or incantations. He also didn’t engage in any “hocus pocus” or sleight of hand. He simply used what was available and took care of the problem. He didn’t get involved in some big flashy show to draw attention to Himself- He just did the work in a quiet, dignified way.

You should also notice that Jesus desired to get other people involved in the miracle that He was doing. For instance, Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water” right? Well, why didn’t Jesus just fill up the jars Himself? Or why didn’t He simply create some wine in those jars out of nothing?

Well, the answer is that Jesus wanted to get the servants involved in the work that He was doing. The servants got to be a part of Jesus’ miracle because they did what He told them to do. Of course, the same thing is also true for people today- you have to be obedient to what Jesus tells you in the Scriptures if you want to see Him do something great in your life.

“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 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'” (John 2:8b-10).

Without realizing it, the master of the banquet confirmed two very important things. First, he confirmed that this was a genuine miracle- Jesus actually caused water to be turned into wine. But not only that, this was not just any old wine- it was better than any that had previously been served.

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was Jesus’ first display of his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11 NLT).

There are some stories from outside the Bible about so-called “miracles” that Jesus supposedly did when He was a boy but we can definitely say that none of those stories are true. How can we be so sure?  Well, the verse quoted above says that this miracle at Cana was the very first miracle that Jesus ever did. We’re also told that as a result, Jesus disciples put their faith in Him as Savior. Their faith was made stronger as a result of what they had seen Jesus do and the same is true for people today as they put their faith and trust in Him.