Scripture: 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. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 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. 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.
After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days. John 2:1-12 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, Jesus leaves the Jordan and heads toward Galilee. Along the way, he meets Philip and invites him to follow. Philip then approaches his friend, Nathanael, excitedly shares the good fortune of finding the Messiah and adds that he is Jesus the Nazarene. Even though Nathanael is skeptical, he agrees to “come and see.” As Jesus spots Nathanael approaching, Jesus tells the others that Nathanael is without guile. Surprised, Nathanael asks Jesus how he knows anything about him. Jesus explains he saw Nathanael under a fig tree. Overwhelmed by such supernatural knowledge, Nathanael excitedly exclaims that Jesus is the Son of God and King of Israel. Undaunted by Nathanael’s praise, Jesus questions Nathanael’s faith in him based on one miraculous sign but assures Nathanael that he will see more significant miracles, like angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
Having reported the first four days of Jesus’ ministry, where he calls his first four disciples (covered in Chapter 1), John picks up with the third day after Jesus arrived in Cana, Galilee. Here, John introduces us to Jesus’ mother and his first of seven miraculous signs, which are thematically presented in John’s Gospel to symbolize completion as relates to the evidence that Jesus is the Son of God. John tells us the setting is a wedding feast, and a major faux pas is about to unfold because the hosts have run out of wine.
The social disgrace that would fall on the bride and groom’s families would linger for years in this tight-knit community. Hence, Mary wastes no time by pointing out to Jesus (the only one capable of resolving this crisis) that they have no wine. Jesus counters that the “wine thing” (cup of suffering) is a ways off for him. But Mary ignores her son’s cryptic comment, plays her “mom-card,” and tells the servants to do whatever he asks. So Jesus instructs them to fill six large purification vessels to the brim with water and serve a chalice of it to the master of the ceremony. Once tasted, the MC is shocked and questions the bridegroom why he saved the best wine for last when the inebriated attendees would not fully appreciate its quality. As Jesus’ disciples watch this drama unfold and witness his miraculous sign that reveals his glory, they put their faith in him—for now.
John concludes this scene with a brief epilogue that Jesus, having completed his ministry here, travels with his family and disciples to Capernaum, where they stay for a few days.
Takeaway: Unlike the Synoptic Gospels that emphasize chronology, John, an abstract thinker, is most concerned about developing themes, and one element of Hebraic themes is their numeric composition. Seven is a sign of completion in this ancient Jewish culture, starting with the Creation Story and the first Sabbath rest. So not only does John spread out seven miraculous signs to provide evidence to his audience that Jesus is the Messiah, but he will provide seven “I am” statements of Christ that attest to his identity as the Son of God (referring to the sacred name Yahweh, which means “I am”; see Exodus 3:13-14). We will delve into its significance as we study these passages in later weeks.
Additionally, as theologian Merrill Tenney notes, John subtly provides a foundation in these first seven ministry events that will echo the completion of Jesus’ ministry:
- Self-identification of John (1:19-28) → Presentation of Jesus at Bethany (12:1-11)
- Announcement of the Son of God (1:29-34) → Entry into Jerusalem (12:12-50)
- Introduction of first disciples (1:35-42) → Last Supper with disciples (chapters 13-17)
- Nathanael declares Jesus the King of the Jews (1:43-51) → Pilate presents Jesus as the King of the Jews (chapter 18-19:37)
- A day of silence → Burial and silence (19:38-42)
- The “third day” at the wedding (2:1-5) → The “third day” at the resurrection (chapter 20)
- The first miracle (2:6-11) → The last miracle (chapter 21)
Regarding our passage, while the third day poignantly points to the culmination of Jesus’ ministry, so does the wine. Indeed, while Jesus knew his “hour” had not yet come, he nevertheless accommodated with new wine that will develop its fuller meaning with:
- His Last Supper and his institution of wine as a sacrament of his blood under our New Covenant of Grace (Luke 22:20)
- His anticipated cup of suffering (Matthew 26:39)
- His death—when someone lifted sour wine on a sponge to his mouth, and he breathed his last (Mark 15:36-37)
- His promise to fellowship with us with new wine in his Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26:29)
That’s a lot to ponder. So what’s our takeaway? First, as prior Daily Focus devotions mention, Jesus cares about all aspects of our lives, including social welfare. Thus, he commands us to love and care for one another as the family of God (John 13:34). So if a sister or brother in Christ struggles to find good standing in our community (whether resulting from the abuse of others or self-imposed), we must not turn aside but do whatever is within our ability to aid their recovery.
Secondly, Christ drank from the cup of suffering to cover our sins and bring us forgiveness and reconciliation—the pinnacle sacrifice we must not take for granted but respond with gratitude by doing our part to grow his kingdom and glorify his name. Lastly, in order to do our part, we must regularly partake of his new wine to sustain our spiritual well-being. We must come to the Lord’s table by faith and receive the sacrament of his body and blood, his gracious gifts that strengthen our souls, for the One who turned water into wine at the wedding feast has turned our lives around.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who not only turned water into wine but us toward him, bringing his Shalom blessings to all aspects of our lives. And we thank you that he has gifted us with the sacrament of his new wine to sustain us. So would you please help us consistently celebrate his Holy Communion by faith so we might find the strength to care for one another, grow his and your kingdom, and glorify your names? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling