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John Chapter 2 - The Wedding at Cana

John Chapter 2 tells us of the wedding at Cana and the first cleansing of the temple. These events followed soon after Jesus' selection of His first five disciples in John chapter 1.
"And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." (John 2:1-5)

Background

Cana of Galilee was a short distance from Nazareth where Jesus grew up and the home of Nathanael. All of Jesus' first five disciples (that we encountered in chapter one) lived in the area but may have been invited to the wedding because of their association with Jesus. It was quite likely a wedding of some relative as, in verse 12, after the wedding, Jesus, His mother and His brethren went from Cana to Capernaum suggesting that they were all present at the wedding.

Note that there was no mention of Joseph. It seems quite likely that he had died before this point. It is commonly thought that Jesus had older step brothers and step sisters from Joseph (Matt 13:55-56).

There are a few connections to the crucifixion occurring in this chapter:

  1. In John's gospel, Mary was present with Jesus only at the wedding and at the cross.
  2. Jesus provided wine for the physical sustenance and temporal enjoyment of the wedding guests. This can be seen as symbolic of His blood provided for the spiritual nourishment and eternal happiness of all who will accept it.
  3. A wedding is, of course, a covenant relationship which is what Jesus enters into with us based on His sacrifice.
  4. "The third day" is mentioned but hard to relate to the various references to days in John 1. Some versions use "Tuesday" instead of "the third day." Jesus blood was shed on the third day of the three days referred to many times in connection with the crucifixion (according to my different understanding.) Note that the wedding was (or started on) the third day. Wedding festivities often continued for several days. "When they wanted (or ran out of) wine" may have been a few days into the feast.

There are various understandings of "the third day" as used here. One version actually considers it the third day of the week:

"And on Tuesday there was a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, and Y'shua's mother was there." (John 2:1, One New Man Bible)

Here is the footnote for the above verse:

"Literally 'the third day' which is the Hebrew expression for Tuesday. Tuesday was considered the ideal day for a wedding so those coming from some distance to be there could leave after the Sabbath to attend the wedding." (footnote for John 2:1, One New Man Bible)

They Have No Wine

Why did Mary, who seems to have had some authority at the wedding (she gave directions to the servants in verse 5), ask Jesus about the wine situation? There are a few possibilities:

  1. Joseph was not there as noted above.
  2. Jesus was her own Son, the others being older step sons.
  3. It is also possible, scripturally, that Jesus was her eldest Son and his brothers and sisters were all younger.
  4. She knew or suspected that He had more than human ability to do something about it.
  5. She thought that running out of wine was partly His fault because He had brought five thirsty fishermen with Him.

Jesus' answer to His mother "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" sounds almost disrespectful to us but, in that culture, it was a common and appropriate way to address her. Again, at the cross, Jesus addressed His mother using the same title (John 19:26).

Mine Hour is Not Yet Come

"Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come." (John 7:30)

The verse above suggests that his hour was connected Him being taken prisoner as does the following verse:

"These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come." (John 8:20)

The following passage connects His glory with His death:

"And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:23-24)

"Hour" is used in a general sense, not as an exact 60-minute period of time. The passage above is spoken days before His actual death. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He also said "the hour is come" within a day of His death.

"And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners." (Mark 14:41)

The hour, the time for His suffering and death, is connected by with His glory and by the following verses:

"And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:23-24)
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:" (John 17:1)

The cross is connected with glory in that it is the ultimate revelation of the glory or character of God; showing the extent to which God is willing to go to provide for our salvation.

"And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim." (John 2:6-7)

Those water pots would have held 8-9 gallons or 200-250 lb (100 kg) of water each. The stone waterpots were, as John explained, (for the benefit of his non-Jewish readers), used for Jewish purification rites. Ceremonial washings were an integral part of first-century Judaism. Here is another example:

"Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables." (Mark 7:1-4)

The people believed this water would "purify the Jews," but God uses this to demonstrate that the Jews will only be cleansed or purified by the shed blood of Christ. Wine, in scripture, often signifies blood. Thus, spiritually speaking, without the creative work of the water from the stone pots becoming blood, there would be no purification of the Jews.

The expression "Getting _____ is as hard as getting blood from a stone" is used to describe something impossible to do (this passage may be the origin of that saying). Jesus produced wine (blood) from the stone water pots. Jesus Himself is the stone in scripture.

"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matt 26:28)
"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." (Heb 9:22)

We will find, in the story of Jesus, a number of examples of Him disregarding or even going against the regulations of religious tradition.

"And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him." (John 2:8-11)

How did performing this first miracle manifest or show His glory? It showed that God is concerned for the happiness of His people. It was more about character than a show of power - it seems that it was done very quietly, without show.

John chose seven signs or miracles from the life of Christ before His death to include in his gospel; signs that reveal important things about the character of God:

  1. John 2:1-10 turning water into wine
  2. John 4:46-53 healing the nobleman's son
  3. John 5:5-16 healing the lame man
  4. John 6:1-15 feeding 5,000
  5. John 6:16-21 walking on water
  6. John 9:1-38 healing the blind man
  7. John 11:1-44 raising Lazarus

John's gospel is sometimes called "the Book of the Seven Signs." He writes later in his gospel of the reason for including these miraculous accounts:

"And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these [the seven miracles in the list above] are written [selected for a purpose], that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20:30-31)
"After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." (John 2:12-17)

Tiberius' coin

Temple taxes and transactions to do with sacrifices could only be paid in Judean coinage. People had to exchange the currency from whatever country they had travelled from for the approved currency. The Jews connected many currencies with idolatry because of the images (such as emperors) on them. Remember when Jesus was asked about paying taxes; what did He say - "whose is this image?" (Matt 22:20)

The whole system was run by Annas, the high priest, and the temple courtyard was popularly called "the Bazaar of Annas."

In light of the holiness that should attend the temple and what the word says:

"Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever." (Psa 93:5)

Jesus recognized there was a real problem with what was going on there and He did something about it:

"For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me." (Psa 69:9)

There was what is called the second temple cleansing at the end of His ministry (Matt 21:12-13 )

"Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said." (John 2:18-22)

The Jews were asking for a sign that Jesus had authority to do what He had just done - to cleanse the temple and order the money changers to leave - people who they considered to be under their authority.

This very much relates to the request they made of Him recorded in Matthew:

"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee." (Matt 12:38)

His answers, in both cases, were related. In John, He said "destroy this temple." The word "destroy" is from the Greek word "luo" which never means to kill. They weren't wondering why Jesus said "kill this temple." See the discussion of this verse in Appendix 10 of my book In the Heart of the Earth which is available as a free download.

The answer of the Jews "Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?" was not intended as a statement of chronology but as a scoffing comment that Jesus could do in a few days what had taken decades to do. There are many ways of computing the 46 years so it cannot be used as a very certain dating method. The "building of the temple" was really a reference to Herod's extensive remodeling of the second temple that was originally built hundreds of years earlier.

"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." (John 2:23-25)

In both verses 23 and 24, the Greek verb "pisteuo" which is equivalent to "faith" is used.

The Greek verb "pisteuo" is used in both verses 23 ("believed") and 24 ("commit"). It is the equivalent of having "faith." While the people believed in Him it was, as the verse days, because of "the miracles which he did." It was not real saving faith or trust.

"But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men," (John 2:24, New American Standard Bible)
"But Jesus didn't trust them, because he knew human nature." (John 2:24, New Living Translation)

He didn't believe in them or entrust Himself to them because they did not have real faith in Him. Indeed, it takes time and getting better acquainted to really learn to trust someone.

This version makes the last verse quite clear:

"and didn't need anyone to tell him about human nature. He knew what people were really like." (John 2:25, GOD'S WORD® Translation)
In chapter 3, we will examine the different levels of faith in detail.  


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