John's gospel focuses upon seven signs that Jesus performed that would enable people who had never seen Jesus to believe he was the Messiah. The first of those signs was the turning of water to wine at a wedding in Cana. It was something that would save the couple and their family from tremendous embarassement but also legitimize Mary's story about his miraculous birth and help her regain credibility in the community.
Water to Wine—the First Sign
John 2:1 (NIV) On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
Saturday is the day in Western Culture for weddings. Tuesday, the third day, is the day for weddings in Israel. The third day is pronounced “good” twice in the Creation story (Genesis 1:10, 12). On the third day Abraham saw the place for sacrifice (Genesis 22:4). On the third day Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 10:40). Get the significance of third day in Hebrew culture.
This was not a wedding reception with punch and plastic cups and a short ceremony. There was no interlude for pictures but there was an interlude where the marriage was consummated in a tent.
Running out of wine was a catastrophe for an honour and shame-based society. Mary states the problem to her son. Jesus was clearly a helpful son, and it was normal for his mother to turn to Him. Did she expect the miracle which was about to happen? Perhaps. She would have heard of the baptism and seeing His disciples would have reminded her of the prophetic words of the angel to her. Was Mary pushing Jesus to authenticate her claims?
Gabriel had announced that she, a virgin, would conceive of the Spirit. From that moment, and during the intervening years, there was always a question about her virginity. People raised question about Jesus. She is really saying, “Here is your opportunity to perform a miracle and demonstrate that I am accurate when I said that You were virgin born and thatYou are the One whom I have claimed You are.” . . . Here she is asking Him to do something that will demonstrate who He is to clear her name. He tells her that He is going to do just that—He will clear her name—but that hour has not yet come. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Vol. IV, 378.
2:4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
Jesus has come from the desert, and he is gaining disciples and the consciousness of what He needs to do is pressing on Him. He has been gone for two months and has maybe five disciples with Him. He is announcing that His agenda is now God’s agenda not her agenda. Perhaps Jesus is debating as to when he needs to show the first sign which points to who his father is.
2:5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
This is an expression of the trust Mary has in her son. These are the last words recorded by Mary in the Bible. It is the best advice she could give, not only to the caterers, but to anyone, including the reader.
2:6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Ceremonial washing has many precedents in the Old Testament. The ceremony of the Red Heifer (Numbers 19) is one of the more outstanding ones.
The jars may be taken to represent the outward cleaning offered by the Mosaic rituals where the virtue was in the water. The wine represents the newness of the Kingdom of God ushered in by Jesus Christ. The miracle of wine from water points to the miracle of new hearts for old hearts; rebirth for natural birth and the supernatural for the natural. Jesus works a personal sign/miracle in our hearts whenever we admit that our wine has run out.
2:7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water;" so they filled them to the brim.
Jesus could have had the wineskins filled with water, but they were too small for his generosity. Grace is more abundant than we have ever imagined. This wedding would become the talk of Israel for the overflowing of fabulous wine at the feast. No one remembered the grooms robe or the gifts he gave the bride. They did not remember the food. It was the never-ending wonderful wine that was remembered. Yes, Jesus is the water of life, but he is more, he is the wine of life, even the wine of eternal life the abundant life (John 10:10). Never tell Jesus what to do.
2:8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
The best for last because the first did not last. It is prophetic of eternal life after natural life. It’s like the sun which gets brighter by the hour, like wine which improves by the year. When we have been there 10,000 years, we will have just begun to sample the wonder of the joy of being with God and each other. Every millennium will bring more joy and satisfaction because of the presence of the Master of grace,
1:11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
John was no stranger to Jewish tradition and symbols. He understood the number seven's use throughout Scripture to represent completion, and he used this "system of seven" four times throughout his book. He does so but never calls attention to his pattern as he does in the book of Revelation.
John chose seven miracles as signs that Jesus is divine.
1. First, water to wine to gladden the heart (2:1-11). 2. Second, the healing of the official’s son (4:46-54). 3. Third, the anonymous healing of the 38-year invalid (5:1-15). 4. Fourth, the feeding of the 5,000 (6:1-15). 5. Fifth, walking on the water to save the disciples (6:16-24). 6. Sixth, the healing of the man blind from birth (9:1-34). 7. Seventh the resurrection of Lazarus (11:1-45).
Each of these seven signs play a crucial role in helping us reach the conclusion that Jesus is divine. To these seven we may add two more: The self-resurrection of Jesus Christ (20:1-9), and the miraculous catching of the fish (21:1-14).
Six of these seven signs required no faith on the part of the recipients—they are all sovereign acts of grace and truth about God by Jesus. They are all pointing to the glory of God, which is his goodness, as revealed here by Jesus and to Moses 1500 years previous (Exodus 33:18-19; John 17). On the cross, as he responded to the thief and his executioner’s, we see the glory of God in the compassion and mercy demonstrated by Jesus. We may also say that Adam and Eve werecreated in God’s glory since the word used for the “image of God” is the same Hebrew word translated as glory.