John 2:1-11 – The Wedding at Cana
Turning water into wine is the first miraculous “sign” in John’s gospel. It confirms that Jesus is the Messiah promised in Scripture, while pointing to the glory that will be revealed when Jesus pours out his life in love through crucifixion.
The disciples who accompany Jesus to Cana have been following because they have heard that he is the Lamb of God (John 1:35-37). They have also come to believe that he is the Messiah foretold in the Law and the Prophets (John 1:45, 49). The wedding provides an occasion for Jesus to confirm what they believe by his actions. Six stone jars, which were used for Jewish rites of purification, are filled with water. Each jar holds twenty-five to thirty gallons and Jesus transforms the water into wine. The action recalls that according to the law the messianic ruler who came from Judah would be able to wash clothes in wine (Genesis 49:10-11), and the prophets added that when the Davidic kingdom was restored the hills would flow with wine (Amos 9:11-13). The sign confirms that Jesus is God’s promised ruler.
The wider context of John’s Gospel also shows that the glory Jesus reveals in a preliminary way at Cana (John 2:11) foreshadows the glory he will reveal more fully by his death. At Cana his hour has not yet come (2:4), but at the cross the hour arrives. At Cana Jesus begins his ministry by giving the best wine (2:10), and at the cross he completes his ministry by drinking the sour wine (19:29-30). If the sign he performs at Cana reveals the glory of divine power, the cross will reveal the depth of divine love.
AUTHOR: Craig R. Koester, Professor of New Testament