When John wrote his gospel, he decided to include details the other gospel writers left out. It appears from Matthew’s account that John the baptist was already in prison when Jesus began His public ministry (Matthew 4:11-12), but John clarifies this misconception, filling in the missing details from what he witnessed. There was a period of time when Jesus and John the baptist were both ministering (John 3:22-23).
John felt no need to repeat most of the details mentioned in the other gospels. Instead he wrote of the things he saw Jesus do that made an impact on him, hoping that they would make the same impact on us (John 20:30-31). Chapter 2 is his eyewitness account of the first of Jesus’ miracles.
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.
Three days after Jesus’ cryptic prophecy to Nathaneal, there was a wedding in Nate’s home town. Among the guests were Mary (John never mentions her by name), Jesus, Andrew, Simon, John, Philip, and Nathaneal.
If I told you I had attended a wedding recently, the first thing you’d ask is the name of the happy couple. A wedding’s focus of attention is supposed to be on the bride and groom, but in this case they remain nameless. No doubt John knew who they were, but he didn’t want to tell us about a wedding. He wanted us to see Jesus.
When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
– John 2:3
Running out of wine at a wedding was a serious problem. It was embarrassing to the groom, and would possibly involve him in legal and financial liability to his guests. Aware of the problem, Mary went to the one Person she knew would be able to do something about it.
Mary didn’t complain about the lack of planning. She didn’t tell Jesus what to do. She merely informed Him of the situation.
And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
– John 2:4
His response appears indifferent. “I didn’t come to make a name for myself by saving everyone’s party. I and my purpose will be revealed later.”
But because she knew her son so well, Mary trusted He would do something to get the groom out of his predicament. In faith, she put the servants under His full authority.
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.
Jesus took charge of the problem from behind the scenes. Without explaining to anyone what He was going to do, He gave orders to the servants to completely fill six large containers with water. The containers held two to three metretes (18 to 27 gallons) apiece, for a total of 108 to 162 gallons. Then Jesus commanded them to draw some out and let the feast master have the first taste. I don’t know what was going through the servant’s heads, but surely they must have had their doubts. Water is a poor substitute for wine!
But by the time the feast master tasted it, it was no longer water but wine… and no doubt the best wine that he had ever tasted!
When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
It was customary for wedding guests to provide some of the wine for a wedding. Jesus provided at least 108 gallons of the best… more than enough for all the guests. I wonder what the newlyweds did with the excess? Did they sell it at a profit (2 Kings 4:1-7)?
(I find it interesting that the wine came out of jars used for ritual cleansing. Perhaps it symbolized the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus’ miracle was behind the scenes. He didn’t draw attention to Himself publicly for His time had not yet come. Only the servants, disciples and (probably) Mary knew where the wine came from.
Jesus revealed Himself to them, and the thing John remembered most about this event happened: they first believed in Him.
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.