John 2:1-25 - Outline of John (MENU page)
2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;
and the mother of Jesus was
{already} there:
2:2 And both Jesus was called
{ie., invited at a moment's notice},
and his disciples, to the marriage.
Cana - was Nathanael's home town (21:2).
the mother of Jesus - (Mary) was probably a relative of the bride or groom.
Jesus was called- perhaps because He happened to be in town
and because He knew others who were participating.
marriage- Jesus put His blessing upon marriage by attending this one.
Marriage was designed & instituted by God. (Gen 2:24; Mat 19:4-6; Heb 13:4)
2:3 And when they wanted {ie., lacked} wine,
the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
no wine- Jewish wedding celebrations typically lasted about 7 days.
To run out of provisions was an embarrassment to the groom,
because his ability to provide for his bride would seem questionable.
wine- was a staple of the diet in Jesus' day. It was a source of unpolluted water.
It was seldom used to excess, since the scriptures warn against it. Prov 20:1
On a religious occasion, like this wedding, drunkenness would have been forbidden.
This account offers no excuse to those who wish to excuse their own misuse of alcohol.
Why did Mary mention this lack of wine to Jesus?
  1. Was she asking Him to perform a miracle? -- Not likely.
    Since this was the first miracle which Jesus did (v.11), she would not have expected one.
    (The supposed childhood miracles in the apocryphal gospels are fictitious, according to v.11.)
    Mary's own marriage had been tainted by the common suspicion of her first son's illegitimacy. A miracle at this wedding would not demonstrate the validity of her story, that she was a virgin at Jesus' birth. However, she would eventually be vindicated, when Jesus was declared to be the son of God, through His resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:3,4).
  2. Was she suggesting that Jesus and His disciples leave (to reduce the number of guests)?
    No, considering the instructions she gave to the servants. (v. 5)
  3. Was she delegating the problem to Jesus? Most likely.
    Jesus had proven Himself capable in running the carpenter shop and in providing for the family, after Joseph's death (which is suggested by his absence on this occasion). He could find a way to get the needed provisions.
2:4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee?
mine hour is not yet come.
woman- There is no disrespect implied here, as there might be to modern ears.
This was a proper and polite method of address. cp. 19:26; 20:13,15
However, notice that He does not call her "mother."
what have I to do with thee?- (cp. the use of this idiom in 2Sam 16:9,10; Mat 8:29)
The meaning is: 'The purposes, which you have in mind, differ from my purpose.'
A possible paraphrase: 'Woman, what does your concern have to do with me?'
While he was under their roof, Jesus had been in submission to His earthly parents.
But now that He had entered fully into His heavenly Father's business, He would no longer receive direction from His earthly mother (cp. Luk 2:49-52).
His consuming purpose was to finish the Father's work (4:34). He would allow nothing to distract Him from that goal, which was the focus of His life (Mat 20:28).
mine hour is not yet come- cp. 7:30; 8:20; 12:23,24,27; 13:1; 17:1,4
The 'hour' in question is that of His death. When that time came, His death...
  • would be commemorated with wine (".... this is my blood... which is shed for many...").
  • would make preparation for His own wedding day ("...when I drink it new with you...").
    (cp. Mat 26:27-29; Luk 22:14-20; Rev 19:7-9)
2:5 His mother saith unto the servants,
Whatsoever he saith unto you, do [it].
Mary's counsel was sound -
2:6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone,
after the manner of the purifying of the Jews,
containing two or three firkins apiece.
{ie., about 20 gallons per jar}
after the manner of purifying... - cp. Mark 7:3,4
These water jars usually held water for ceremonial washing, not for drinking.
Why did Jesus use these? Everything He did was full of significance.
(However, the meaning was not always recognized by those around Him.) -
  1. He provides true inner cleansing- not by external ritual, but by His word taken internally (15:3).
  2. He is the true Bridegroom- who cleanses His Bride.
    • The quantity of water suggests that it was meant for more than hand washing.
      Jewish marriage customs involved ritual bathing (or baptism). (eg. Lev 15:16-18)
      Washing is mentioned in the context of the LORD's 'betrothal' of Israel to Himself (Ezek 16:8-14,60).
    • This occasion (with Isa 62:5) forms the background to John's reference to Jesus as the Bridegroom.
      It is the Bridegroom's place to baptize the Bride (Joh 3:25-30).
    • Christ "loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify
      {ie., 'set it apart' for identification with Himself, as symbolized in believer's baptism}
      and cleanse {GK= katharizo, purify (same word as used in v.6)} it
      with the washing of the water by the word..." Eph 5:25-27
2:7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water.
And they filled them up to the brim.

2:8 And he saith unto them,
Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.
And they bare [it].

2:9 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,

filled... to the brim... with water- This would be all water or all wine.
There was no room for dilution.
and they bare it- They obeyed Jesus' instructions. But He had offered no explanation.
What were these servants thinking?
They drew water (v.9) and served it to the master of ceremonies.
How would he react to receiving lukewarm water?
What if he knew it came from washing jars?
Would this wedding feast come to a disgraceful end with a heated argument?
Imagine their surprised relief, when he spoke to the groom...
2:10 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.

good wine- Why was this wine better than that served earlier?
Because it came directly from the Creator and Giver of Life (cp. 1:3,4).
  • Water cannot change into wine without the life of the vine... plus time on the vine.
  • In a hot climate, with no refrigeration, the alcohol content in fermented wine acted as a preservative. Fermentation is a process of death and decay, the product of time off the vine.
  • Unfermented, fresh grape juice would have been a very rare luxury.
    This was fresh from the Vine (15:1), there could be no better.
A servant of the Lord need not fear drawing out for others,
if he is full to the brim with the word of Christ (Col 3:16), and
if he is in vital union with the Vine (15:5). The Lord will transform the water of the Word into the wine of rejoicing, for those who will receive it.
Additional thoughts -
  • Man's efforts went as far as they could - six pots to the brim.
    (The number six is often associated with 'man' in scripture.)
    Only God could provide meaning, value & taste. cp. 1Cor 3:6,7
  • Someone has suggested that the 6 waterpots recall the 6 days of creation. (Gen 1)
    All was 'without form and void': full of emptiness & nothing good, until the Creator intervened.
2:11 This beginning {GK=arche, origin} of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee,
and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
manifested... his glory- ie., as God the Son, the Creator (1:14).
Note that Jesus did not perform this miracle to call general attention to Himself (as a politician would). He made Himself known in a limited way:
  • the governor of the feast was ignorant of the source (and gave honor to someone else).
  • the servants had knowledge of the source (but failed to disclose Him).
  • the disciples believed on Him.
    Their belief was strengthened as they got to know Him better.
2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum,
he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples:
and they continued there not many days.
2:13 And the Jews' passover was at hand,
passover- the first of three passovers, during Jesus's ministry. cp. 6:4; 11:55
the Jew's passover- what had originally been "the Lord's passover" (Ex 12:27)
had become empty religious ritual -- all the more empty because they did not recognize the Lord in their midst.
and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
2:14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves,
and the changers of money sitting:
2:15 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;
2:16 And said unto them that sold doves,
Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
This 'cleansing of the Temple' was early in Jesus' ministry.
The other gospels record a similar event, late in His ministry, following His 'Triumphal Entry' into Jerusalem, several days before His last passover, at which He instituted the Lord's Supper (see Mat 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luk 19:45,46).
These events foreshadow His final cleansing of the temple, at His second coming (Mal 3:1-4).
changers of money- exchanged Roman currency into Temple currency which was required
for purchase of sacrificial animals and other religious offerings.
house of merchandise- GK= emporion (cp. Eng. 'emporium'), a center of commerce.
Required religious participation & high profit margins made this a very lucrative business.
(cp. Jer 7:11; Zeph 3:4,5)
my Father's house-
--As a child, He was the Son in His Father's house. (Luk 2:46-49)
--Come of age, He is the Son over His Father's house. (cp. Heb 3:6)
--When He departed from it, it ceased to be the Father's house. (cp. Mat 23:38) [GWms]
2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, {in Psa 69:9}
The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
it was written- (See the Book Notes studies on the Psalms of Messiah for Psalm 69.)
the zeal...- His consuming passion was to serve the Lord in the 'beauty of holiness.' Psa 96:8,9
2:18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him,
What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
His disciples remembered the scriptures (v.17).
His enemies sought for a sign, over and above the scriptures. cp. 6:30; Mat 12:38-40
2: 19 Jesus answered and said unto them,
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
2:20 Then said the Jews,
Forty and six years was this temple in building,
and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
2:21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
temple- two different GK words are used in this passage-
  • GK= hieron, the temple complex, including the outer court which Jesus cleansed (v.14,15).
  • GK= naos, the inner sanctuary (v.19-21). cp. Paul's use of this word in 1Cor 6:19.
46 years... in building- Solomon's Temple was destroyed in 586 BC.
The second Temple was built under Zerubbabel, following the partial return of Jewish exiles, about 70 years later (as recorded in the book of Ezra). Herod the Great began rebuilding and enlarging the second Temple c. 19 BC. Although Herod died in 4 BC, the work continued until 63 AD. Jesus' enemies were referring to the time which had elapsed since the start of Herod's reconstruction project.
This dates the beginning of Jesus' ministry at approximately 27 AD.
raise- GK= egeiro, to arouse, to raise up, to wake up.
Each occurrence of this word, in John (except v.20), refers to a person or persons, arising... from sitting, from illness, or from death (eg., v.19,22; 12:1,9,17).
2:22 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.
his disciples remembered- and profited.
His enemies remembered and distorted His word (cp. Mat 26:60-61; 27:39,40).
they believed the scripture...- right faith is based on the scriptures, the Word of God.
Contrast the superficial faith of those who believed only because of what they saw...
2:23 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.
2:24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all [men],
2:25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
many believed... when they saw the miracles {GK=semeion, signs (so translated in v.18)}.
There was no lack of miraculous signs, to confirm His identity, for those who sincerely sought to know (eg., 1:50,51).
but Jesus did not 'commit' himself unto them...- 'commit' is GK= pisteuo, to believe, to entrust, to place confidence in...
  • This word is used frequently, in John, concerning the need of men to place their confidence in the Son of God. The first occurrences, in John, are in 1:7,12. The first time Jesus used this word is in 1:50. He is absolutely trustworthy.
  • This word is also applied to the fickle faith of men (eg., v.23; cp. 8:30-32). Men change their minds with changing circumstances (eg., Mat 13:20,21).
He knew all men.- cp. 1:42,47; Mat 9:4; Joh 6:64; Heb 4:13; Rev 2:23
He knew what was in man.- cp. Jer 17:9,10


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