Non-canonical myth would have us believe that Jesus as
a boy performed various miraculous feats. The inspired John tells us otherwise.
This was his very first “sign” (John 2:11).
We don’t know the identity of the bride and groom. It
is likely that they were friends of the family. Jesus, his mother and the
twelve disciples were among the invited guests (v. 2).
Something potentially embarrassing happened during this
important occasion.1 The drink ran out. Mary
told her son, “They have no wine” (v. 3). First century wedding feasts often
lasted for as long as a week. This situation was wrought with problems. Imagine
hosting a modern reception and running out of wedding cake and punch. Then
imagine being taken to court for such a blunder!2
Jesus told the servants to fill the six stone water
pots with water to the brim (v. 7). (Each container held between twenty and
thirty gallons a piece (v. 6). He then instructed them to dip some of the
“liquid” out and offer it to the “head waiter.” The man, not aware of the
miracle that had occurred, assumed that the best wine had been saved for the
latter part of the feast (v. 10).
Virtually every time this passage is considered, folks
want to know what kind of wine Jesus made. That question ought to be addressed,
but other important points also need to be considered. Note:
I. Jesus went to a party. Some people are of the
opinion that Christianity must be dominated by that which is somber and
serious. Children of God must never pursue any sort of activity that lends
itself toward merriment or lightheartedness. Jesus certainly never subscribed
to that way thinking. On a contrary, he not only attended this joyous social
function, the Lord even “helped” with the refreshments. By his very presence,
Jesus illustrates that we can participate in the gladsome affairs of this life
(Ecclesiastes 10:19; Proverbs 17:22).
II. Jesus went to a party, but he didn’t engage in any
sinful activity. Today it is virtually impossible to attend a group affair without
some sort of alcohol being served. Yes, Jesus made drink at a wedding feast,
but he did not make intoxicating drink. Scripture is clear about inebriant
spirits. “Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing
intoxicating drink” (Isaiah 5:22; cf. Proverbs 20:1).
Someone objects, “But Mike, Jesus made wine
and wine is an intoxicant!” Actually, the word “wine” as it is employed in
Scripture is used in two senses. First, it is used in reference to fresh grape
juice in an unfermented state (Isaiah 16:10; Joel
2:24; cf. Isaiah 65:8).
Second, it is used as an intoxicant (Proverbs 23:29-34). Study the text in John 2 closely. The guests had “well drunk” (v.
10), then Jesus made somewhere in upwards of 180 gallons of new wine. Think
about that for a moment. Would the Lord provide such a quantity of liquor to a
group that had well drunk (Galatians 5:19-21; cf. Habakkuk
1 One thing that seems
strange to us is that there was a strong element of reciprocity. If one gave a
feast of such and such a quality (and quantity!) when his son was married, he
was entitled to an equivalent when his neighbor’s son was married. If the
neighbor did not provide it, he could be taken to court and sued; a wedding
feast was not simply a social occasion, but involved a legal obligation. …It is
quite possible that the bridegroom of John 2
and his family were financially unable to provide all that was necessary for
the wedding feast. It is often said that it is unlikely that Jesus would have
performed a miracle like this simply to rescue people from a minor social
embarrassment. Quite so. But it may well have been much more than that. It may
be that Jesus rescued a young couple from a financial liability that would have
crippled them economically for years (Leon Morris, “A Wedding in Cana,” Reflections
on the Gospel of John
2 …It is likely that the family responsible was in a
difficult financial situation. That the wine ran out is itself evidence of the
fact that they were poor. Had they not been in straitened circumstances, they
would never have allowed such an occurrence. It is almost certain that some of
the guests were people who had previously entertained the present hosts and
were thus entitled to demand an equivalent hospitality. There may even have been
the prospect of a lawsuit. We must not think of the situation as a very minor
affair, with nothing much hinging on the outcome (Morris 72).