The Wedding at Cana: Jesus’ First Miracle
The life of Jesus was characterized by various remarkable events, including the performance of numerous miracles, in addition to his exemplary conduct. He exhibited a divine mandate throughout his ministry, demonstrating the ability to achieve what was previously deemed impossible and imparting eternal truths to His followers and even His detractors.
But among his many awe-inspiring acts, there is one that seems to stand out as somewhat mundane, or even trivial: turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana.
Jesus Turns Water into Wine: Background and Summary
The account of Jesus at the wedding of Cana is found in the second chapter of the Gospel of John.
1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,
2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so,
9 and 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
10 and 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.”
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
View an excerpt from Season 1 Episode 5 depicting this event.
The account takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and is one of the earliest accounts of Jesus as an adult. But perhaps even more interestingly, it is one of the few accounts we have of Jesus in a social setting. Although He had certainly already begun teaching in some respect (He is there at the wedding with some of his disciples, after all), He was not there as a teacher, but as a guest. He was also there as a loyal and loving family member, accompanying his mother.
And when the wine ran out, Mary wanted to prevent embarrassment and shame from falling upon the hosts, she then approached her son to ask for his help.
It is worth noting that Mary's request for assistance in finding more wine was not a mere mundane appeal, but a plea for divine intervention from Jesus, whom she recognized as the Son of God. Jesus' reply, "my hour has not yet come," suggests that they both understood the significance of the request. However, it remains unclear whether Jesus was hesitant because He was unprepared or whether He recognized that performing His first miracle would initiate an irreversible chain of events.
Jesus Turns Water into Wine: the Miracle and the Metaphor
To understand the meaning and symbolism behind this miracle, let’s consider two important factors: the water Jesus used, and the wine it became.
While today we often think of water as something pure and clean, this has not always been the case. The water available at the wedding at Cana had likely been used by guests to wash their hands, and may have been very dirty. At the very least, we must recognize that water was considered an inferior substitute for wine, particularly at a wedding feast. We can think of the water as representative of the sullied and impure state of the sinner.
Wine, on the other hand, was a joyous drink meant for celebration. It was also one that carried with it religious significance for the Jewish people. Throughout scripture, the Israelite peoples are compared to vines that produce fruit, and the Passover feast includes the arba kosot — four cups of ritual wine that are dunk by individual participants during the Passover service. Wine would later take on greater significance in Jesus' own life and in early Christian traditions, represented by its color and consistency to the blood that Jesus shed for the world.
As such, the water to wine miracle was representative of the culmination of his work on earth, when he would eventually take the impureness and uncleanliness of humanity upon himself, and through his blood, produce something wonderful.
Jesus Turns Water to Wine: The Savior as a Dutiful Son
Scriptures teach that in all things, Jesus differed his own will to the will of His Father. Here, we also get to see the respect He has for the wishes of His dear mother. When she asks Him to use his power, it is not to raise the dead or cure someone’s blindness; it’s to help out a friend in need. And although Jesus had not arrived at the wedding with any intention to perform a miracle, he was willing to go out of his way to serve the woman who had birthed raised him.
Jesus Turns Water to Wine: The First Miracle
It is widely known that Jesus was raised by a carpenter and had even practiced the trade himself. However, the term ‘carpenter’ may have slightly different connotations in the scriptures than is recognized today. In fact, rather than working exclusively with wood, Jesus may have worked heavily with stone and other materials. If one looks at Jesus' ministry through the lens of a stoneworker, then the miracle at the wedding feast can be compared to the very first cut into the rock. Once this cut is made, the rock is forever changed, and the only thing to do is to continue to shape the stone until it reaches its desired conclusion.
As depicted in the New Testament, whenJesus was preparing to perform his first miracle, it is likely that He recognized the significance of the event. He was aware that He would face numerous challenges and sufferings. The apparently small act of helping His mother by performing a miracle was the first irreversible step on that path. The servants who witnessed the event may not have fully grasped its solemnity and gravity. This moment may have been filled with anxiety for Jesus, as it was the deep breath before the plunge.
If you haven’t already, check out Angel Studios’ The Chosen to view the first-ever multi-season show about the life of Jesus. This historical drama set in Judaea and Galilee in the first century CE follows Jesus and those whom He met and ministered to.
Download the Angel app on Google Play or the App store and start watching today.