Read John 2:1-25
1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
4"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
5His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
8Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "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."
11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
12After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
13When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
17His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."
18Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" 19Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."
20The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
23Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (NIV)
There are two stories in the 2nd chapter of John. The first is the wedding at Cana. It is an interesting story. There is a lot of speculation as to who’s wedding. This is because Mary is concerned about the wine running out and is back with the servants during the wedding. Most agree that this indicates Mary was very close to the family being married if not one of her own. Some have speculated that it might have been one of Mary’s children. But to get hung up on this kind of detail is to miss the point of why John included the story.
Jesus and his newly found disciples are invited to the wedding. Some believe that have arrived after the start. A wedding celebration last 7 days and that is why the wine can run out. We see that Mary goes to Jesus to fix the problem. And there is this strange back and forth between Jesus and his mother. We cannot read these words in today’s understanding as they probably point to a colloquially way of addressing. Mary is not disturbed by Jesus’ statement and immediately addresses the servants. And here where we see the point. Jesus does this miracle in front of a small group of people, his disciples and the servants, the lowest group of people there. Jesus was never afraid to reveal himself to the lowest of society. He identified with them at times. But to his newly found followers, this was a sign that would give them encouragement. Jesus had just revealed his glory to them as John writes in v. 11 and so with this sign, the disciples put their faith in him. They are ready to follow him.
And so we then see movement. Jesus goes from Cana to Capernaum. Many believe Capernaum was the home of Peter and where he and some of the others had worked as fisherman. Capernaum became the base of operation for Jesus ministry. This is seen over and over in Mark’s gospel. If you travel to Israel and visit Capernaum, they have a sign that says “welcome to Jesus’ hometown.”
After staying there a few days, they travel to Jerusalem. John then tells the story of the cleansing of the temple. This is a different placement than the other gospels. John puts it at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry while the other gospels place it near the end of Jesus’ ministry. It was Passover and at this time sacrifices were being made. And the temple priests had set up quite an operation. Some travelers would not bring an animal to sacrifice, but would buy one at the temple. Others would bring an animal, but it would be deemed to be blemished and unacceptable, so they had to buy and animal. And if is assumed that the price was not market price for these animals. Also, offerings were made, but the Roman coin was not accepted in the temple. So naturally, the priest would change the coinage for a fee. There again, the idea is the priests were cheating the people simply to make money.
In Mark’s Gospel, Mark tells us the reason for Jesus doing this is that God’s house it to be a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. For John, the purpose is different. This again is a sign to the disciples. John says that the disciples remember what is written in Scripture and this goes to Psalm 69, a messianic psalm, which reads:
6May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me,
O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel.
7For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face.
8I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother's sons;
9for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. (NIV)
From this, Jesus is questioned by the Jews as to what sign he will give for the act he just did. He answers them by saying, “tear down this temple and I will rebuild it in three days.” Here is a thing John does throughout his gospel. The reader is given insight that those at the time do not have. At the time Jesus said this, no one understood Jesus was referring to his own body, not the physical building. But we are let in on the underlying message.
So we see that John right away is establishing that Jesus is the messiah. While John does not list many actual miracles like the other gospels, he refers to them in statements such as “many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name.”
I think to often, people want to see a miracle to believe. It is our human nature. But Jesus would later say in this gospel to Thomas who needed to see a miracle, blessed are those who have only heard and believe. We re those who have only heard and believe. Miracles are today a sign of Jesus’ truth and identity. They are still done, but there is always someone who needs to see them. I have been involved in two and in both cases, there was someone outside the miracle happening that needed to see. God still does miracles. But God works more by calling to him those who will follow.
Do you need a miracle? Do you have a time where Jesus became real to you? Most of us have the second, a moment in time where it all came together. What we must understand, is we may only get that moment once in life, but it should be enough.
Blessings and Peace
Miracles do still happen. I have personally witnessed them in Cuba. Some may say they are just “coincidences,” but I truly believe God is at work.
This is such a rich Passage. Regarding the wedding at Cana, I never really understood that section of the dialogue between Mary and Jesus. I always thought he was being somewhat rude to his mother but now we rereading it I understand that it was more of his stating his understanding of his purpose. I really like the comment about the importance of him sharing this with who were considered the lowest of the low in that Society. That to me says and cemented in them the fact that he was there for everybody not just the Pharisees or those learned.
I think many of us assume that a miracle has to be this big huge production, when in fact I believe that miracles happen everyday. We don’t always notice them.
To understand the response by Jesus, we need to understand the way people talked to one another then. We have our own terms today. What we are missing in his words are the tone. But we can infer them. The phrase, “What have I to do with thee” was a common phrase. When spoken harshly, it meant, disagreement and reproach with the other person. When spoken gently, it meant, “no worries, leave it to me and I will settle it my way.”
Addressing his mother as “Woman” is the same way he addresses her on the cross. It is also the title Odysseus addresses his well loved wife, Penelope and the way Augustus, the Roman Emperor addressed Cleopatra. It was a title of respect. Some have argued that a better translation for today would be “Lady”, but that still would not help us completely understand the significance of the respect begin given.
Great point Pastor Harry. It’s so interesting how a word or phrase can have various meanings over generations.
I personally don’t need a miracle to know that Jesus is real. I know people who have had miracles happen to them and it is wonderful to hear them talk about it. However, for me, seeing my children and more recently seeing my grandchildren for the first time after their birth certainly felt like a miracle from God.