A Bible study through John 1-6
After spending thirty years in obscurity, Jesus stepped into the pages of world history and began His three years of earthly ministry. First, He was baptized and declared the Messiah by His cousin, John the Baptist, and then He started calling the men who would become His closest disciples. As Jesus was gathering His disciples and preparing to start His ministry throughout Israel, He attended a wedding where a hosting emergency came up that would thrust Jesus into the spotlight sooner than he intended. This event was the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle.
“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.’”
It was an ordinary day in Cana and a somewhat normal event. Weddings took place often and while it may have been the social highlight of the season for the community, it wasn’t an uncommon event. Furthermore, in Jewish culture at that time, weddings did not take place unexpectedly. Couples were often betrothed for a year or more, so there was plenty of time for the families to plan and prepare for the big event. Therefore, the fact that the family ran out of wine during the event reveals a slight lack of planning.
Regardless of the cause, the fact remained that the host ran out of wine during the wedding, which in today’s culture would be comparable to having 350 guests at a wedding and only being able to feed 200 of them. It was a wedding disaster and one that would be the talk of the town and reflect poorly on the family. Jesus’s mother, Mary, was obviously closely connected with family throwing the party, because she took personal responsibility during this emergency and sought out the assistance of her divine Son.
However, note Jesus’s response. He clearly indicates that this is not His issue and should not get involved. While the situation was a social crisis and an event nightmare, it was not an issue of life or death and not the place for Jesus to perform His first miracle. However, Mary didn’t take no for an answer and Jesus ended up multiplying the wine and conducting His first miracle in the storage rooms at a local wedding.
As I ponder this story, three points stand out to me: 1) Mary understood and fully believed that Jesus was capable of doing the impossible, 2) in the end Jesus honored His mother even though her request and persistence may have been out of place, and 3) the works of God are never done in vain.
I find it very interesting how persistent Mary was in asking and expecting Jesus to fix the problem at the wedding. Up to this point, Jesus had not done any miraculous signs, yet Mary knew what He was capable of. She believed that He could and would do the impossible, and while this situation may not have been the best time to exercise that faith, I still find it exemplary.
While the time wasn’t right and the situation was non-emergent in the fact that no one was dying tor in serious peril, Jesus honored His mother in this story. He clearly explained to her that His time to reveal His divine nature had not yet come. Yet Mary persisted, and Jesus honored her by fulfill her request. He was God, an adult man with followers and men He was leading. However, Jesus humbled Himself when He came to earth and willingly submitted Himself to earthly parents towards whom He always showed honor and deference. And if the Son of God willingly submitted to His earthly, imperfect parents as an adult, we should take note and do likewise.
Finally, the outcome of this first miracle did not produce grand results from a ministry perspective. However, this sign was not performed to point people to God; rather, it was done as an act of honor towards a mother. Therefore, after turning the water into wine, Jesus slipped out of the house and no one really knew what had taken place other than the servants and the disciples. Nevertheless, this miracle did impact Jesus’s disciples. It boosted their faith and was the first of many signs they would witness over the coming years.
Nothing Jesus did was without purpose or in vain. Every action, word, miracle, and conversation was intentional, eternally focused, and filled with love. Jesus came to earth on a mission and spent each and every day fulfilling the will of the Father. Therefore, while the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana may not have been the perfect timing for Jesus to start performing miracles, God used it to accomplish His purposes, bolster the disciples’ faith, and teach us an important lesson on honor.
“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”