Two days after gathering His disciples, Jesus arrived at a wedding in a place called Cana in the region of Galilee. During the festivities, Jesus’s mother brought a matter of concern to Him saying that the wedding party had run out of wine. Of all the requests brought before Jesus, this would have been the most trivial of the lot.
When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”John 2:3
We do not know if Jesus performed any miracles that only Mary knew about but her bringing this request before Jesus on the surface does seem trivial. What does she expect Jesus to do? If she had not seen Jesus perform any miracle then probably the expectation from Jesus was that He would gather his friends and arrange for some wine. But seeing what happens next and the confidence with which Mary instructs the servants, it is clear in which way she wanted Jesus to get involved.
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”John 2:4
Jesus tells His disciples during their last meal probably three years later, that His time had come but still chose to perform this miracle. If any person in this world, who should have complete faith on Jesus, it should have been Mary, as she gave birth to Him as a virgin. But even she had wavering faith sometimes (Mark 3:21). At the wedding it seems like she is forcing something that is not in line with God’s plan. However Jesus still performed the miracle even though the time for Him to be revealed as the Messiah had not come. Perhaps that is the reason for the secrecy as even the master of the banquet and the bridegroom did not know the source of the new wine.
The Empty Vessels
Jesus asked the servants to bring in the stone jars that were being used by the guests to wash their hands and feet and fill them to the brim with water. The servants obeyed without asking any follow up questions. It could be that Mary and Jesus were close relatives of the bridegroom and thus wielded some influence on the workers. Or it could be that the servants were listening to the voice of their maker and in complete obedience followed His instructions to the letter.
Jesus could have used the empty jars of wine itself to store water and turn it into wine. Rather He chose the dirty vessels that were usually kept outside the entrance of a house for the travellers to clean their feet. Once people came into the house, those vessels had no purpose and few would not even remember that they existed. Moreover, wine needs to be stored at a specific temperature and the vessels need to be clean and in line with the age of the wine, but Jesus is using the absolute worst vessel that He could find. Even the arbitrary decision of choosing the vessels to perform His miracles were a teachable moment with Jesus.
In the previous chapter, we saw how Jesus had gathered His first disciples and was now travelling with about half a dozen men, most of them illiterate fishermen. Jesus was going to bring new wine out of them, something that mankind had never seen. He wanted them to know that regardless of their status in the society or their outer appearance, He would be transforming the lives of these men, just like He made the dirty vessels that were barely fit to hold water clean enough, hold the choicest of wine. The vessels themselves were nothing but when Christ used them, they became the most sought after vessels at that wedding party.
The servants did just as Jesus instructed them and the water turned into wine when they took it to the master of the banquet. He was astonished and taking the groom aside proclaimed that he had never tasted anything like the wine that was being served at the end of the banquet. Similarly the new wine that Jesus would be bringing out of His disciples would be nothing like what was given before to Israel through the prophets. Jesus would fill them with His Spirit and enabled them to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.John 2:11
Judging from the words of the master of the banquet, only a handful of people knew what happened behind the scenes that produced the sweetest wine known to mankind. The disciples, the servants and Mary were the only people who would have witnessed this miracle. The seemingly trivial task of saving the bridegroom’s family from social embarrassment, became a foundation stone of faith for the disciples. Just like the dirty earthen vessels, the disciples were also not regarded by the spiritual leaders of Israel. But God used them extensively for the spread of the kingdom of Heaven that was better than any wine on earth.
Similarly, our outward appearance or social standing cannot be a hindrance for God to produce new wine from our lives. The only thing that stands in the way is our faltering faith and disobedience. Are we like the servants who obeyed the voice of God unconditionally or are we like Mary who tried to direct God according to her will? If we hate Him and embrace evil, we will fulfil His plans like Judas or if we love Him and submit ourselves to Him, we will fulfil his plans like Peter. In the end, God’s purpose will be accomplished in each one of our lives, the difference will be only in the side we choose to further God’s plan.
V3: Why is Mary involving Jesus? V4: What did Jesus mean by the hour has not come, is Jesus lying? V5: Did Mary force Jesus to perform the miracle against His or The Father's will? V6: Why use stone jars meant for ceremonial washing for storing wine? Why not the empty wine jars? V11: For whom did Jesus perform this seemingly trivial miracle? Summary - What can we learn from Jesus transforming water to wine?