¶2:1-11 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there(Josh 19:28; ch 4:46): 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her (ch 19:26), Woman, what have I to do with thee (Judg 11:12; 2 Sam 16;10; 1 Kgs 17;18; 2 Kgs 3:13; 2 Chr 35:26; Mark 1;24; 5:7;7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1)? mine hour is not yet come (ch 7:6, 30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1). 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it (Gen 41:55). 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece (Lev 11:33; Amos 9:13-14; Matt 7:3; 15:12; 23:25-26; Mark 7:2-4; Luke 11:38’ ch 3:25). 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine (ch 4:46), and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 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. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him (Matt 12:46; ch 1:14; 4:12, 46; 54).
vv1-11 The sign. Grk semeiōn (St’s #G4592). The word used by the Evangelist for miracle is “sign.” The sign of water changed into wine shows Christ as the fulfillment of Jewish ceremonial cleansing, namely, the wine equals blood; six water pots being symbolic of man: six is the biblical number of man. This beginning of signs (v11). There are seven miracles of Jesus chosen by the Evangelist, which he calls “signs” for their didactic value (see the Introduction to this Gospel). In recording the events of the marriage of Cana, John introduces the theme of water that is associated with Christ so prominent in this Fourth Gospel: here, and 3:3-5; 4:4-26; 5:1-9; 6:16-26: 7:37-39; 9:1-7; 13:4-17; 19:31-37, see ch 21). there are 10 events associated with water in the Fourth Gospel: 10 is the biblical number of works of redemption. We may, indeed, call this the Johannine River of the Water of Life.
v1 Marriage. It is significant that a wedding would be chosen for the public debut of Jesus’ ministry, given the Bridegroom and Bride theme of the entire N.T. This is manifested in the following: The Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a Marriage - Matthew ch 22, the Church age is said to be a time of betrothal - 2 Corinthians 11:2 and the Consummation of the Ages is said to be a Marriage - Revelation 19:7-9. Cana. This town is west of the Sea of Galilee and North of Nazareth. It is mentioned only by John and is unknown in the O.T. unless it is the “Kanah” of Joshua 19:28. The mother of Jesus. The Evangelist never gives her name (Mary), just as he does not give his own name. The absence of any reference to Joseph throughout the earthly ministry of Christ is an indication of his death early in the life of Jesus. Also, lending itself to this conclusion is the fact that Jesus remained within the family unit until about age thirty. It is assumed this was true because he cared for His earthly family (His mother, brothers and sisters) until one of His brothers was able to take His place as the bread winner of the family. The cause of the deaths of both Joseph and the parents of John the Baptist could have been their advanced years or, not considered by most, the activity of the Roman army in that area. We know that there was much unrest among the Jews and the Romans carried out server reprisals in this very area. (See the history of Sepphoris, while only just 3 miles North of Nazareth and a major metropolis, it is not mentioned in the N.T.). v3 Wine. Grk oinos (St’s #G3631). Oinos is the Grk for the Heb original yayin (St’s #H3196) fermented wine; implies intoxication; from a root meaning to effervesce. v4 Woman. Here Jesus addresses Mary simple as “Woman.” While this is a polite address to women, it is not a common address to one’s mother. See ch 19:26 where Jesus again employs the address from the cross. This address of “woman” for His mother, was, surely, to show His detachment from familial origins and His total devotion to a greater purpose. What have I to do with thee. A common expression in Scripture, used in one of two way: 1. hostility (Judg 11:12, 2 Chr 35:21; 1 Kgs 17:18), or, 2. a denial of common interest (Hos 14:9; 2 Kgs 3:13). It is noted that demons said it of Jesus (Mark 1:24; 5:7). Mine hour. This has reference to His time of glorification: namely, His passion and resurrection (Matt 26:45; Mark 14:41; ch 12:23, 27). See, on ch 17:5 and note. Is not yet come. This Fourth Gospel has similar statements at: ch 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20. However, there was the knowledge that once this miracle was done there would be no stopping the fame of Jesus from spreading throughout Galilee, and even to Jerusalem itself. v5 Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. Jesus, knowing His ministry would take Him to a lonely death as an enemy of the state, balked at beginning that journey; His mother, however, literally thrusts Him headlong onto His path of destiny. v6 Six waterpots of stone. Six is the biblical number for man. Both death and life (the atonement) came by man: death, through the first Adam; life by the Last Adam (Rom 5:11-19), through the Kinsman Redeemer (Lev 25:47-53). Two or three firkins. Grk metrētas (St’s #G3355). Two or three metrētas equal 20 or 30 gallons. So the amount of water in the pots was 120 - 180 gallons total. It is important to notice that both of the numbers are multiples of 12. Twelve is the biblical number of government which serves to illustrate the Messianic message intended by this “sign.” After the manner of the purifying of the Jews. Jews became ceremonially unclean during the normal activities of the day, and were cleansed by pouring water over the hands. For a lengthly feast (about 7 days) with many guests, a large amount of water was required. vv6-10 That this was fermented wine is attested to by the Grk word oinos (see v3 and note) and also by the remarks of the ruler of the feast. The disciple should note, here, some facts concerning Jesus and fermented wine: 1. Jesus, Himself, drank wine (Matt 11:18-19; Luke 7:33-34); 2. Jesus employed wine as the metaphor of the Holy Spirit (Luke 5:37); 3. Jesus employed wine as a metaphor of His blood (Luke 10:34); and 4. Jesus employed fermented wine as a metaphor of His Kingdom (Matt 9:17). v8 The governor of the feast. Master of ceremonies. v11 This beginning of miracles. First of seven: here, 4:43-45; 5:1-16; 6:1-14; 6:16-21; 9:1-2; 11:1-46. For the miracles of Jesus, John uses the Grk word sēmeiōn “sign” (St’s #G4592). By this the Evangelist wishes to draw his readers attention to the meaning of the miracles rather than the wonder of them. The “signs” are evidence of His (Jesus’) glory (see 1:14, cf Isa 35:1-2; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13). But, more than that, the signs are teachers of the Messianic Kingdom; therefore, one is to prayerfully consider each item of the sign and what it is saying symbolically, even if covertly. In our “sign” under investigation here the following particulars say more than what appears on the surface: The inauguration of Jesus’ earthly ministry is a wedding; the connection of the water pots with the ceremonial purification of the Jews; the number of water pots being six; the capacity of the water pots being at a multiple of the number twelve; and finally, the water being made wine. The same is true of all seven “signs” of Christ earthly ministry recorded by John. Of the many miracles Jesus performed, John chose seven particular ones for particular reasons; our job is to understand them. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the honor of kings is to search it out (Prov 25:2).
☩ David Ignatius
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