This is the first of seven signs, miracles. selected by John but all have a purpose; they actively support the claims Jesus made, and are intended to lead to faith. John 20:20-31. Each ‘sign’ is an object lesson to illustrate spiritual truth.
The new wine of the Gospel is contrasted with the water of the old faith. Jesus was come to bring something really new. The result speaks for itself, the miracle had a profound effect on the followers of Jesus.
Cana of Galilee is mentioned only in John’s Gospel, John 4:46 / John 21:2. It is always qualified by the term Galilee. Today we can’t be sure of its precise location. An unknown family in an obscure village which isn’t mentioned in the Old Testament, yet the scene of Jesus’ first supernatural act.
Nathaniel came from there. John 2:1-2. The record of days is continued, this being the third day after Jesus left for Galilee. It is strange to see Jesus and the disciples, called only a few days earlier to be invited together.
This causes us to speculate about the possibility of Jesus and the disciples being related even if only distantly, we know that Jesus and John the Baptist were related. It could be that Nathaniel had the initial invitation. An eye-witness account as frequently in the Gospel the narrative reads like the remembrance of one who was there.
John doesn’t identify the bride, groom or families involved, only Jesus and Mary are named. There’s no mention of Joseph, the assumption that he was much older than Mary, and he had already died is unsupported by evidence, John 6:42.
Mary apparently is in some position of authority; did Mary expect him to ‘work a miracle in the most public manner and reveal his identity’?
This discourse may seem rather abrupt to the casual observer, but the word, ‘woman’, ‘gunai’ wasn’t an impolite or discourteous, term in those days, John 19:26. However the declaration of Jesus ‘Why do you involve me?’ would have been quite normal under the social rules of the time.
‘My hour ‘hora’ has not yet come’ would be referring to the time of His ministry is launched. It wasn’t time for him to act, ‘hour’, ‘hora’ often denotes a crisis time, John 7:6 / John 8:20 / John 8:30. Jesus has a specific function to perform in training the disciples. His hour had come in John 12:23 / John 13:1 / John 16:32 / John 17:1.
John 17:1, Jesus’ ‘hour’ referred to his death and glorification. The time of his manifestation as the Messiah were decisions for him and his heavenly Father. Jesus even told Judas whatever you do, do quickly thus beginning the events leading to His crucifixion and beyond.
Mary did not perceive Jesus’ response as being negative. His body language may have told her he would act to save the host the impending embarrassment. He may have been in the process of getting up as He spoke to Mary. She knew one way or another, He would act.
These feasts were very festive occasions, marriage was preceded by betrothal. First, there was a feast then an evening wedding ceremony, on the wedding night there would be a torchlight procession. The groom would go to the bride’s house and bring her to the reception.
The Banquet and feast would go on for three days, and could even go on for a week. The people would feast and it was expected that a constant supply of good food and ample drink would be forthcoming. It would have been quite devastating to the host if something as fundamental as the wine were to run out.
The food and drink would have been lavishly spent on as would gifts and all else associated with the feast. Meat, which was rarely eaten due to the cost factor, would have been available in abundance. The wedding and the associated feast were the high-light not only on the social calendar but also in the couple’s lives.
It was most important that all ran smoothly. There were servants present but note the commands given by Mary and Jesus. The servants did what they were told to do, and did it to the very best of their ability.
John 2:6-7 mentions jars, these jars were used for washing, probably being kept at or near the entrance to the house. People would use this water to wash their feet from the journey and before entering the house properly and also the servants would pour water over the hands of the guests as part of the rites of purification, this is still practised in some parts of Israel today. And they were also used for washing before meals.
Who knows! The jars were made of stone to assist in keeping water cool and the jars were filled to the brim, indicating between 100 and 120 gallons of wine available. Note that it was the bridegroom who received the praise for the quality of the wine.
John 2:8-10, the wine was taken to the master of the banquet, who played a role similar to that played by the present-day master of ceremonies, and he would also play a role similar to the best man.
The wine made by Jesus was notable superior to that originally supplied. This doesn’t indicate an inferior wine was originally used, but that Jesus made the best, as He now provides the best. The best wine was generally served first so that the people could indulge, and not be able to tell that the wine had deteriorated.
In John 2:11, we can see the result of a miracle. The miracle manifested His glory, showing Jesus power over Natural laws, showing His credentials as the Word. Not just to save embarrassment at the wedding, but to bring about greater faith as the disciple did. This was the purpose of his miracles throughout His ministry. John 20:30-31.
But this passage alone can’t be used to justify or condemn drinking, this isn’t in the context of the verse, the passage is to demonstrate His miraculous power and its result. Don’t miss the trees because you can see the forest.
This miracle was a very fundamental one, Jesus changed the structure of the water, He made it something it wasn’t before. The miracle demonstrated His Deity, it met a real need and it illustrated spiritual truth. John doesn’t say what truth He intends to illustrate, but the obvious idea is change or transformation.
1. In the miracles of Jesus, the result was immediate, Matthew 8:3 / Matthew 8:15.
2. Faith was not always required on the part of the one involved, John 11:39.
3. Everyone was allowed to come, Matthew 4:24.
4. Jesus healed organic diseases, not just functional ones, Matthew 15:30.
5. The miracles were always public, not private, Matthew 12:9.
6. The person being healed was always made complete, made whole, Matthew 12:13.
7. Miracles were always acknowledged by his enemies, Matthew 12:13.
8. They were not used to make money, Matthew 10:8.
9. The miracles gave God the glory, Acts 3:2.
10. The miracles were always used to support the truth, Hebrews 2:3.
11. They were not used to establish a denomination or promote any sect.
12. The person healed didn’t always have to be present, Matthew 8:5.
13. Sometimes they were performed at the protest of the one being healed, Matthew 8:28.
14. Sometimes they were performed because of the faith of others, Matthew 8:8.
15. He didn’t heal others while having an illness Himself.
16. There was no prior investigation to weed out the wicked.
17. Jesus never tried and failed. Never blame the recipient for lack of faith.
18. Jesus didn’t fail to perform a miracle and then blame the presence of an unbeliever.
19. Jesus didn’t fail and then say it was God’s will.
20. The miracles always proved the power of God, Matthew 9:6.
Capernaum seems to be the centre point from where Jesus conducted His ministry and perhaps Jesus’ own city, Matthew 9:1. Here we find the last reference to Mary as His mother before His death and resurrection.
Jesus clearing the temple is also mentioned in Matthew 21:12 / Mark 11:15-17 / Luke 19:45 but here John places this at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, while other Gospels place the cleansing of the Temple at the end. There are differences in the accounts, which means Jesus cleansed the Temple more than once.
This incident indicates the dishonesty, hypocrisy, and prejudice at the heart of Israel’s religious life and it helps us to understand that a head-on clash between Jesus and the religious authorities is inevitable.
Jesus made time to be with his family and friends, like the people of Nazareth, the people in Jesus’ adopted town don’t accept Him as the Messiah. They rejected His signs and Him as the Messiah and they rejected His signs and Him as a person. Matthew 11:23-26.
The term ‘brothers’ used here together with the term ‘disciples’, proves that Jesus had physical not only spiritual brothers which tells us that Mary wasn’t a virgin throughout her life.
The Passover was a feast implemented to commemorate God ‘passing-over’ the marked houses just before the Exodus was held on the 14th of the first month, the month of Nisan, or Abib, April. It was held in the early spring of every year. The idea of going ‘up to Jerusalem’ was said as Jerusalem was a capital city.
All Jewish men were required to celebrate this feast in Jerusalem, Deuteronomy 16:16 and it has been estimated that up to 250,000 lambs may have been slaughtered at this time. At the time of the Passover, people came from long distant countries to celebrate the feast.
As a result, they didn’t bring animals for the sacrifice as they were commanded, with them and so the locals would then set up shops at this time of the year to fill this need.
The problem was that these shops got out of hand and had slowly been erected closer and closer to the temple until they were erected inside. They started selling outside and then moved into the court of the Gentiles, where the Gentile went to pray, then it became simply a money-making exercise. They would sell second rate lambs and other animals at first-rate prices.
The money changers would take the foreign money and exchange it for the local money at high-interest rates, to pay the necessary temple tax. It was this trading that ripped off the sincere worshipper that Christ objected to. You can also imagine the mess that the thousands of animals would make in the Temple courtyards.
The whip, John 2:15-16 was made up of several cords braided together, the fact that Jesus took time to make this whip shows that his anger was not out of control, He was composed and knew what He was doing. It was a formidable weapon to those about to get a whipping from it, but it’s unlikely that Jesus hit anybody.
Jesus made quite a scene at this time, upsetting the tables and chasing the animals and it must have been disruptive to those at worship at that time. The phrase ‘My Father’s house’ must have turned some heads, as it refers to Jesus claiming Deity.
At this point it is mentioned that Jesus’ followers remembered this passage of scripture ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’, Psalms 69:9. They may have thought of this at the time, or at a later date after the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, this gives the Psalms a messianic ring.
Jesus speaks in almost a riddle in John 2:18-22. The people demand an explanation of His authority but He didn’t need any authority to remove those who were defiling the Temple. They didn’t realise that Jesus spoke of His body but thought of the Temple. The body of Christ was rebuilt in the three days before His resurrection. When He arose, the temple became a useless artefact, and His body became the church in which all Christians now reside.
This was remembered by the apostles, after His resurrection, and was the cause of even greater faith. They must also have realised the full meaning behind this declaration of Jesus in that He is talking about His time in the tomb.
The Temple had taken 46 years to build, it was started around 20 BC, the main work was finished in 10 BC, which gives us the date of this statement at AD 26. The Temple was still being worked on when it was destroyed in 70 AD. Some of the blocks used in building the temple were 15 feet square by 4 feet high.
The Herodian Temple The original temple was built on ground purchased by David and built by Solomon. It was by a long shot, the grandest and rich of the temples, and once it was destroyed its grandeur was never recaptured. It was destroyed in 586 B.C. by the rampant Babylonians.
A new temple, Zerubbabel’s temple, was built in 520 B.C. after its foundations were laid in 536 B.C. This was rebuilt by Herod in 20 B.C. and the work was paid for before a start was made, and the sanctuary took just 18 months to complete, however, was still going on in Jesus’ time about 46 years later?
It is thought that work wasn’t yet complete in the outer areas when this last temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by Romans. The site is now being used by Muslims who have built a Mosque, the Dome of the Rock. Much is currently being said in Israel about rebuilding a temple. However political considerations regarding the current Mosque on the site prevent this.
The internal area was 33 ½ acres. Some wall blocks were 15 by 4 feet. Built with cream-coloured stone, with spikes on the roof. It was topped off with gold. There was also a plaque on the wall which read, ‘a no enter sign’ warning of death to all non-Jews who enter in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Arabic.
The Temple was divided into two parts, the Holy Place, with the altar of incense, golden candlestick and table of shewbread. The second part is the Holy of Holies, the heart of the temple, entered into only once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. The different courts emphasised the strata of religious society, the more important you are, the closer you get to the Holy of Holies.
The two parts were separated by a veil, made of thick cloth. This is the veil that separated man and God and it was torn in two at the point of Christ’s death. The Inner court or Priests court was reserved only for Priests, and the sacrifice was burnt on the alter located there. The Antonia Fortress was a Roman fortress, that they used to keep an eye on the happenings on the Temple grounds.
John 2:23-25 closes with a general statement regarding happenings at the Passover feast and the emphasis is on the close connection between signs and faith. John’s purpose stated in John 20:30-31 furnishes the key. The sign recorded are in order that the readers might come to faith in Jesus as the Christ and son of God.
But here there is an unexpected consideration, Jesus’ hesitation to trust them. Although some faith had been exercised, Jesus knew it draws attention to supernatural knowledge of human motives. The faith was in the miracle and not in the miracle worker it points to, Jesus. Jesus didn’t need advice from others, because His knowledge was already perfect.
In John 2:25 we are told that Jesus ‘knew what was in man.’ Jesus knows our hearts. Hebrews 4:13 tells us that ‘all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.’ In Luke 16:15 we learn that God knows what is in the heart of every man.
Acts 1:24 tells us that God knows our hearts. Proverbs 15:3 tells us that the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the good and the evil. Ecclesiastes 12:14 tells us that God even knows secret things. God knows if we are sincere, or if we are hypocrites.
If you are not living the way we ought to, you are not fooling anybody. You may think you have the people around you fooled. You may think that you have your wife and your kids fooled. You may think that you have people at the church house fooled.
But no one is really fooled. God is not mocked. He will not be laughed at or made fun of. You will not trick God. God knows what is in your heart. He knows who you really are.
On the Day of Judgment, if we have not done what we should have done, and if we have not been sincere, but have had ulterior motives, we will not be right with God.
God knows what is within our hearts. ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he’, Proverbs 23:7. God knows what we think in our hearts.