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John 2:1-12 (web)

Turning Water to Wine

2:1 The third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. Jesus' mother was there.
2:2 Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the marriage.
2:3 When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no wine."
2:4 Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does that have to do with you and me?
My hour has not yet come."
2:5 His mother said to the servants, "Whatever he says to you, do it."
2:6 Now there were six water pots of stone set there after the Jews' manner of purifying, containing two or three metretes apiece.
{2 to 3 metretes is about 20 to 30 U. S. Gallons,
16 to 25 imperial gallons, or 75 to 115 litres.}
2:7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the water pots with water."
They filled them up to the brim.
2:8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the ruler of the feast."
So they took it.
2:9 When the ruler of the feast tasted the water now become wine,
and didn't know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew),
the ruler of the feast called the bridegroom,
2:10 and said to him,
"Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have drunk freely,
then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now!"
2:11 This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee,
and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
2:12 After this, he went down to Capernaum, he,
and his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they stayed there a few days.

Discussion Questions

Who ended up bring most of the wine to the wedding feast?
vs 4 Why did Jesus seem reluctant to help?
vs 5 What did the servant have to do to provide wine?
When we lack the necessary resources to fulfill our obligations, what must we also do?
vs 6,7 Does it sound like Jesus provided just enough and no more or did he wastefully provide an overabundance of wine? How might this principle also be applied to our gifts and services?
vs 9 Who was aware of Jesus' miracle?
vs 10 Did Jesus provide fermented or unfermented wine? In other words was good wine old wine or new wine?


vs 3 They have no wine
The usage of wine in banquets was not inconsistent with the Bible. "On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-- the best of meats and the finest of wines." Isaiah 25:6 To have run out of wine would be an embarrasment and bring shame upon the wedding party and the groom in particular as verse 9 implies it was the bridegrooms responsibility to see to the wine.

vs 4 Why do you involve me? 

Most literally word for word from the Greek the KJV has "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Or as we may say it today, Woman, what am I going to do with you?. The sense I read these verses is "You're not the boss of me." Catholics interpret this in the very opposite that Mary was the boss of Jesus, and in this case initiated His ministry. Whereas Jesus simply gave into a persistent request as was characteristic of God.

Why didn't Jesus take the initiative?

One is reminded of the incident with the Canaanite woman of Matthew 15 in which Jesus at first appears reluctant to respond to her request. But what was really happening was that he was testing her faith. At that time the issue was the focus of His ministry being exclusively to the Jews of which she was not. But here the issue was one of timing. In both cases he seemingly discouraged further action by giving an excuse. This incident with Mary is another example of persistence paying off as Jesus' parable of the Persistent Widow also teaches. Jesus turned "whining" into "wining" which resulted in "winning" people for Christ.

When God wants us to do something we often give excuses. But ironically when we want God to do something God may give excuses. Perhaps in both cases persistence may win out.

As for the term "woman", it is a generic term just as it is in English. The KJV translates this Greek word as "woman" 129 times in the NT and 92 times as "wife". Jesus addresses a number of people as "woman", including the Canaanite mother whose daughter he healed and the woman at the well. As such the impression is that Jesus is putting her in her place, much as he does also in Mt 12:47-49 Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You." But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! Contrary to Catholicism Mary holds no special privileged position, and Jesus wants her to know this. For likewise it says, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed." But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." Lk 11:27,28

vs 5 Do whatever he tells you. 

Here's an example of persistence - stop praying and start taking action presuming God will get Himself involved. Commit God to a course of action. For Mary takes a course of action without Jesus' permission. But perhaps the lesson is that God may commit Himself to your cause if take action presuming He will too. This same application can be inferred from His interaction with the Canaanite woman of Mt 15.

As for the command given the servants, good idea for all of us to heed such a command and perhaps our ordinary watery lives will turn to wine, or our 5 loaves and 2 fish into a feast. Obedience leads to fruitfulness.

vs 10 Good wine
Some who reckon it sinful to drink alcohol have proposed that Jesus turned the wine into grape juice. But that was not the case. The governor of the feast reckoned it "good wine". Jesus tells a parable.

Luke 5:37-39 "And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"
The good wine was old, aged wine, fermented, not grape juice. That was the best wine and Jesus produced about 150 gallons of it for the party. God's grace is not simply sufficient, it is overabundant. In describing God's grace to him David says,  "my cup overflows."  Ps 23:5 So if you are in need, just call upon the Lord who supplies abundantly and you may find yourself drowning in his blessings.

vs 11 Who saw the miracle?
It was Jesus' mother, the servants and his disciples that beheld miracle first hand. For as Jesus said, it was not His time to be revealed publicly. So he did this miracle privately. The groom was no doubt surprised but unlikely to admit his negligence. The master of the feast may have been ignorant of it altogether. The closer one is to Jesus the more one recognizes the signs which affirm him to be the Son of God. If you want to see him do miracles you have to follow him.

The Purpose of the Miracle
In many senses this is a unique miracle. Its point seemed to have been to avoid shame by misleading the guests into thinking the bridegroom had gone out of his way in selecting wines. Perhaps what's implied is that God will at times do things to hide the shame of our mistakes or miscalculations just for the sake of our own public image.

NIV version used in comments

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Aug 15,2020