John 2:1-2 [A] wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
It’s a little surprising that Jesus took time out of his messianic mission to be at a wedding. If anyone had places to go, people to see, and limited time for small talk, it had to be Jesus Christ. But there he was at a wedding, eating finger food, and chatting with aunt Rebecca.
At the very least, we can say that Jesus liked people. He went to so many parties, in fact, that he got a reputation as a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19). He even said, where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20). Jesus is a social person who enjoys being with ordinary people.
John 2:3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, They have no more wine.
The cost of a wedding often created financial stress, just as it does today. The families in charge probably had a limited budget, and may have hoped their guests would not be very thirsty. But the guests had taken off work, put on their finest clothes, and wanted to celebrate. For the party to end early would have been a disgrace, and a lasting embarrassment to the bride and groom.
Mary’s husband, Joseph, was probably dead, since he is never mentioned during Jesus’ adult life. As the firstborn son, Jesus would have picked up many of Joseph’s responsibilities, so Mary turned to him for help. It is hard to know what she expected, since Jesus had not done a miracle yet (John 2:11). But she seemed to have a mother’s intuition that Jesus could help.
John 2:4 Woman, why do you involve me? Jesus replied. My hour has not yet come.
Jesus’ reply was abrupt because he refused do anything apart from his heavenly Father (John 5:19). He may have thought his mother was being forward, but Mary would not be denied. She needed Jesus to act, and refused to take no for an answer. She turned to the servants and said, Do whatever he tells you (John 2:5). From Mary we learn that Jesus’ reluctance can be overcome at times.
Jesus made this very point in one of his stories. A man needed bread in the middle of the night, so he went to his friend’s house and knocked on the door. His friend refused to get out of bed, so he kept on knocking until his friend finally got up and gave him some bread (Luke 11:5-8, summarized). Jesus may seem reluctant at times, but we can often get what we want, if we persist. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).
John 2:7 Jesus said to the servants, Fill the jars with water; so they filled them to the brim.
There were six stone jars nearby which, together, could hold about one hundred fifty gallons (John 2:6). Jesus could have used one or two of them, which would have been enough, but he used all six to produce a great deal of wine.
This may seem excessive, but it was a sign of messianic abundance, just as the prophets foretold. In that day the mountains will drip new wine (Joel 3:18), wrote Joel. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills (Amos 9:13), wrote Amos. Jesus was giving a foretaste of his messianic reign.
John 2:8 Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.
Notice how quietly Jesus did this miracle. He didn’t wave his hands or even pray out loud. Most were unaware that a miracle had even occurred. Even the master of the banquet did not know because the miracle was done so quietly.
This is how Jesus often works. An illness quietly goes away. A marriage is quietly healed. A sinner is quietly forgiven. Even when Jesus rose from the dead, there were no trumpets or flags. He simply got up and left behind an empty tomb. Unless we are paying attention, we’ll miss out on much of what Jesus has done, and on what he is doing today.
John 2:10 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.
From this we learn that people drank too much at weddings, even back then. To save a little money, hosts would serve the best wine first, and then the cheaper wine when no one could tell the difference. But Jesus saved the best for last, and often does.
My mother had a difficult life, but when she was fifty years old, she said, This is the best part of my life so far. She said it again when she was sixty, and again when she was seventy, and again when she was eighty. Perhaps the Christian life is meant to get better with age. The longer we walk with God, the more we should enjoy him.
John 2:13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Every family was required to offer a sacrificial lamb during Passover (Exodus 12:3-6). But it was inconvenient for people to bring their lambs with them, so they were made available for purchase at the temple. Since everyone had to use the proper currency, money changers were also made available. This system worked fairly well for most people.
But there were a couple problems with how business was conducted. First, it was done in the temple courts, which should have been a place of prayer. [M]y house will be called a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7), said God. Second, the merchants and the money changers took advantage of the people by making too much profit, and this made Jesus angry.
John 2:15-16 [Jesus] made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!
It is hard to think of Jesus with a whip, but he cracked it so effectively that everyone fled. His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for your house will consume me (John 2:17).
Like the ancient temple, the church can become so commercialized that we barely see anything wrong with it. But Jesus was more concerned with prayer than profit, and we should be as well.
John 2:18 The Jews then responded to him, What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this? Jesus answered them, Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.
The temple had been under reconstruction for over forty years (John 2:20), and would be for many more. It was one of the finest buildings on earth, so for Jesus to even mention its destruction became a controversy that would not go away.
When Jesus was on trial, someone even testified: We heard him say, I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands (Mark 14:58). Likewise, when he was crucified, some were shaking their heads and saying, So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself! (Mark 15:29-30).
Still later, when Stephen was put on trial for preaching, his accusers made a similar charge. This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place . . . . For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place (Acts 6:13-14). But the temple he had spoken of was his body (John 2:21), wrote John.
The Jews destroyed Jesus’ body by nailing it to a cross, but three days later Jesus raised it up (John 10:18). The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70, and has never been rebuilt. We no longer come to God through an earthly temple, but through his Son, Jesus Christ. We don’t need a special building to come to God; we come through his one and only Son. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20). And, No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6), he said.
Reflection and Review
What can we learn from Mary’s request?
Why did Jesus make so much wine?
How is Jesus like the temple?