About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus Changes Water Into Wine (ch. 2:1-11)


As I will continue to note, we are still in the period of Jesus' ministry prior to John the Baptist's death.  The two events in this chapter are not mentioned in the other three gospels.  John is filling in the blanks that the other gospel writers did not write about. 


In this section, beginning at verse 1, John tells the event about Jesus and His disciples being invited to a wedding at Cana in Galilee that took place on the third day.  The third day is probably in reference to the day Jesus left the east side of the Jordan River for Galilee as we saw in chapter 1, verse 46. 


In verse 1 we note that Jesusí mother Mary was at the wedding.  Verse 2 tells us that Jesus and His disciples were also at the wedding.      


We have no Biblical record of Jesusí father Joseph being alive during the three years of Jesusí ministry.  Why did John say Mary was at the wedding but there is no mention of Joseph being there?  We donít know for sure.  Many people believe that Joseph was not alive at the time.  He was probably much older than Mary when they were married.


Iíd like to comment on the town on Cana because it helps set the scene for this chapter.  Cana was a northern city in Galilee .  It was a rough sort of town. It was not culturally refined.  It was nothing like Jerusalem.  Any child that had any kind of inclination towards religion would most likely be sent down to Jerusalem to get some good religious education. These types of young men were probably few and far between in Cana. 


With this in mind, you might well except what kind of wedding party took place here.  It was probably far from your nice Christian gathering.  There was most likely some rough and tough drinkers at this party, and drink they did.


Something else you might want to consider is the practice of Jewish men in those days.  When their wives gave birth, the husband really wanted a male baby to carry on the family line.  This was very important to these men.  If a girl baby was born, the custom was to fill a barrow of wine and put it away.  Theyíd do this every year until the girl was married.  Girls in these days could have been married as early as 13, 14, or 15.  So, by the time the wedding day came the father could have had maybe 15 or more of these large barrows of wine to drink.  It is clear that there was a lot of drinking at these weddings. 


It is interesting to note that Jesus did not think He should not attend the party because of this drinking in excess.              


Wedding feasts in these days were huge events normally lasting for at least seven days.  There would be a lot of eating and drinking during these seven days.  A wedding was a huge family and village event. 


In verse 3 Mary tells Jesus that the wine had run out.  There was no wine left.  We might well be near the end of the seven days at this point since all of the wine had been drunk.    


In verse 4 Jesus said, "Woman, why do you involve me?"  This may sound crude and harsh to our western ears, but this was simply the way those of eastern people groups spoke back then.  The same is often true today.  It's not that Jesus was being harsh with His mother.  It was simply a common expression of the day.    


Note that Jesus does not call Mary mother, but woman.  Jesus is now in His earthly ministry as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel.  For this reason He now begins to call His mother woman.  Yes, she is still His earthly mother, but Jesus being the Son of God takes priority and Mary being a woman is more appropriate to the Son of God than she being His mother.  She was like any other woman in one respect.  She needed salvation and would find it in the same way as anyone else, yet, we still see Jesusí affection towards His mother during His earthly ministry. You may remember that while on the cross Jesus asked John to take care of Mary for Him (John 19:26 - 27).  If you read that passage you will also note that Jesus calls Mary woman.  In that we learn that Jesus proclaimed John to be the son of Mary.  Biologically speaking, of course he wasn't her son.  You might say that Mary became the adopted mother of John and that it was now John's responsibility to look after his adopted mother.  So, Jesus still loved His earthly mother, even though He calls her woman.  The point is that Jesus can't play favorites.  God can't play favorites.    


Jesus tells Mary "that His time has not yet come."  What time is He speaking about?  I am not quite sure of the answer.  One suggestion is that it is too early in the ministry of Jesus to start performing miracles. This event might have taken place before His temptation with the devil and before His inauguration address at the synagogue. Some suggest that the hour He was speaking about was His death, but I donít see the relevance between His death and Maryís request for help.        


Another reason for Jesus' statement here might be that He viewed His ministry beginning at Jerusalem at the Passover that we will see in the next section of John 2.  In John 2:26 we note that Jesus did many miracles.  If He did many miracles in Jerusalem at Passover, that means His time had come, and by the way, it was at Passover.  I think His ministry beginning at Passover is significant, both in terms of prophecy and it being a type or shadow seen in the Old Testament.   


I donít believe we have the whole conversation between Jesus and Mary.  Jesus has just told Mary that His time had not yet come, and now we see Mary telling the servants to do as Jesus tells them to do.  It is clear that Jesus agrees to help out but we donít see Him saying this to Mary.


Either Mary was a forceful woman or else she was at least in part in charge of this wedding since she seems responsible for the wine.  I can't begin to get into Mary's head at this point.  Did she expect Jesus to go and buy some wine?  Did she expect Him to do a miracle?  We don't even know if Mary understood if Jesus could actually do a miracle.  He had not performed any miracle yet.  All that we know is that for one reason or another, Mary believed that Jesus had the ability to get some more wine. 


In verse 5 Mary simply told the servants of the wedding to do whatever Jesus asked them to do.  Again, Mary seems to be the one in charge here.     


Years ago I heard the well known Pentecostal preacher, David Du Plessis, comment on the fact that Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do.  When speaking to Catholics who esteem Mary much higher than Protestants one can say, "We always do what Mary tells us to do, and the last thing she has told us to do is to do whatever Jesus tells us to do."  So, in obeying Jesus, we are in turn obeying Mary, which should make our Catholic friends happy.


In verse 6 John states that there were six stone jars that could hold up to twenty to thirty gallons of water.  That's 120 to 180 gallons.  These jars were ceremonial jars.  The Law of Moses and the Rabbinical laws taught that Jews were to wash many things, including one's face and hands, utensils, cups, and many other things, not to be physically clean, but ceremonially clean.  This is what these jars were used for.   These jars were probably not used for the wine for the wedding.       


In verse 7 Jesus told the servants to fill the jars up with water.  The servants did as they were told and filled them to the brim, all the way to the top.  That's 120 to 180 gallons of water.


In verses 8 and 9 Jesus then told the servants to draw some of the water out of a jar and take it to the man in charge of the wedding.  Iím sure the servants were totally blown away when they saw wine and not water. . 


When the master of the banquet drank some of this wine he was surprised.  As verses 9 and 10 state, though he did not know where the wine had come from, he certainly knew it was wine.  The point that the master of the feast makes is that most people bring out the good wine at the beginning of the feast, then, when everyone has drank a lot, he brings out the cheap wine.  Why would people do this?  It is simple.  It is because you want to impress people with good wine when they are in a state to appreciate it.  When people have had a lot to drink and are somewhat influenced by the wine, there is no use wasting good wine on drunken people.


So the question is, "Was this wine that Jesus made, real wine, or grape juice?"  It was real wine.  If it was not real wine, but only grape juice, the master of the feast would not have been so impressed.  He called it good wine and wine it was.  There is no way around this.


Also, the Greek word translated as "wine" here is the word "oinos."  Oinos implies fermentation.  When Paul says in Ephesians 5:18, "Donít get drunk with wine," "oinos" is the Greek word used there, as it is here.  One can't get drunk by drinking grape juice.  They can, however, get drunk by drinking "oinos" as Paul says in Ephesians 5:18.  There's no way around it.  The Greek word "oinos" is used both in Ephesians 5:18 and here.  Jesus turned the water into real wine.  It's an abuse of Scripture to say differently.


The Bible says a fair amount about wine.  There are many examples of the misuse of wine.  That being said, nowhere in the Bible does it tell us not to drink wine.  It only says not to get drunk with wine.  Wine is a gift from God that makes our hearts happy according to Psalm 104:14 and 15.  That's another passage you can't neglect in your study of wine.


Exodus 29:40 and Leviticus 23:13 tell us that wine was used in ceremonial worship.


In Deuteronomy 14:26 the Law of Moses stated that one could actually cell an animal and buy wine to bring to the yearly ceremonial festival.  The Law of Moses permitted the drinking of wine.


In Matthew 11:19 Jesus is accused of being a drunkard.  Someone cannot make that accusation if you were just drinking grape juice.  Besides, in the climate of that part of the world, grape juice begins to ferment within six hours. 


Of course, in 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul tells Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach problems.  Some might suggest that the wine was medicine.  Medicine or not, it was wine.          


In verse 11 John says that this miracle was the first miracle Jesus performed.  This miracle "revealed His glory," John says, and, it helped His disciples put their faith, or trust, in Him.  The supernatural things that Jesus did expressed the glory and radiance of God that was found in Him.  These miracles in turn produced faith in people.  This faith means that they put their trust in Him.  As time went on the disciples would put more and more trust in Jesus.


To me, it's amazing, especially in our Evangelical world, that the first miracle Jesus performed was turning water into wine, and, it wasn't just one bottle of wine.  It could have well been 180 gallons of wine.  

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