“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding" (John 2:1-2).
Two things stand out to me in this story of Jesus turning water into wine.
First, Mary expects her son to do something about the wine running out. No doubt Mary had wanted for a long time to share with others the secret about Jesus, that he was no ordinary child, that he was the “Son of the Most High” who would one day establish a kingdom that will ever end. But that grand achievement seemed very remote on that day in the little village of Cana when the wine ran out before the wedding was over.
Her request is, “My son, do something about this,” meaning, “You have power that they know nothing about. Use it to solve this problem.” Was she expecting Jesus to work a miracle? If so, she could hardly be faulted for wanting others to know the truth about Jesus.
Second, we see in this miracle the reticence of our Lord. He does not work a miracle of new creation by creating wine out of nothing. And when the miracle is done, he lets the servants announce it. During his earthly ministry Jesus was always conscious that his hour (the time of his suffering) had not yet come. He would not reveal himself unnecessarily nor create a public stir. So he turns the water into wine, but he does not make a great display of it. Later miracles (such as the feeding of the 5000) would be more public. This first miracle adds to the joy of the wedding but does not distract from the purpose of the day.
Jesus never used his divine power needlessly or heedlessly. Always there is a divine purpose in view. In this case the party goes on, with increased joy, while his disciples believe in him (v. 11). This miracle reveals Jesus as the sovereign Lord of creation and as the one who provides for the needs of his people.
Did the happy couple being married know that Jesus had turned the water into wine? Perhaps, but we can’t be certain. Did they become believers? Again, we don’t know. But this miracle benefits everyone who came to the wedding. They drank the “good wine” even if they didn’t know where it came from.
Mary will live to see her wish come true as multitudes believe in Jesus. But for now, this first miracle brings joy to a wedding feast. Those who understand believe in him.
A “quiet miracle” saved the day at Cana. It is harbinger of much more to come.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see you at work all around us. Thank you for giving joy that can never be taken away. Amen.
Dr. Ray Pritchard is the founder and President of Keep Believing Ministries.