We hope you enjoyed the Scripture videos that we shared on Easter Sunday. Here is another one for today surrounding our text for today:
Today’s primary verse is John 2:11 from John 2:1-11:
John 2:11 “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.”
John 2:1-11 shows us the first miracle of Jesus in His public ministry. Doing the math, it’s striking as to how quickly He does a miracle in the sight of even His own disciples. John 2:1 begins with the words, “On the third day.” “Day 1” is the day that John the Baptist tells his two disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God!” as Jesus passes by, to which they leave John and follow Jesus, as well as bringing Peter into the scene. “Day 2” is when Jesus calls Philip to follow him, and later Nathanael. “Day 3,” therefore, is where we pick in John 2. It is very likely that this is called the third day with reference to the first disciples having banded together with Jesus. From overlooking Scripture between the passages, it does not appear that all of the twelve were with Him yet, but would gather to Him over a bit of time (see Matthew 10).
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee” (Jn. 2:1a). The stage is set for the first miracle of Christ. A wedding is taking place, and Jesus’ mother Mary is there as well as his disciples. Everything is going well until they run out of wine (v. 3). One of the common denominators in the miracles of Jesus is the presence of a problem; more specifically, a need that is presented that goes above and beyond the resources available. The resources can be simple like food or drink, but they are also often physical ailments or demon possession, or at worst, death. Miracles are supernatural; that is, above what is natural in resolving an issue.
In a sovereign, predetermined fashion, Jesus would continuously walk into God-ordained problems that would be used to reveal His Sonship and man’s greatest need, salvation. Not everyone would see Him for who He was beyond the miracle; in fact, many would only follow Him for sake of seeing miracles or being benefactors of such provisions through the miracles. Some, as common with the Pharisees, would attribute His works to the devil. Never was the miracle or the fulfillment of the miracle the point. Consider that very same issue for our own concerns: God is in control over adverse circumstances in our lives; He can choose to allow them to exist or not to exist; He can determine not only the duration of their time, but also what having those problems accomplishes towards other plans, none the least being spiritual change.
Is it possible that God allows us to face great difficulties sometimes only to have us lean into Him more? Cry out to Him more? Find ourselves utterly incapable outside of His taking matters into His hands? Not only is it possible, it most likely happens all the time. If closeness with God doesn’t come without pressures from without and within, don’t be surprised to find pressures from without and within that corral us into further dependence and growth in Him. Spiritual growth is not about independence from God, but rather a greater dependence upon God; it is our sinful pride that makes us want to appreciate God without needing Him.
Cana would be a site for two types of miracles: turning water into wine (John 2) and the healing of the boy on the verge of death in Capernaum while he spoke to the father in Cana (John 4:46-53). I mentioned him the other day in relationship to Lazarus; I need to make sure that if you should look up that passage, multiple small words stress his nearness to death, but not being dead as of yet. (The boldness of raising Lazarus as compared to all the other miracles was that Lazarus had been dead for four days; there would be no mistaking Lazarus simply having fallen asleep.) Both passages will also end with the same conclusive outcome: people believed in Jesus. Nathanael, by the way, is mentioned in John 21:2 as being from Cana. Four times in the book of John is the town of Cana mentioned, and that’s the only times Cana is mentioned in the Bible.
The wine would run out; Mary would come to Jesus to do something about it. Mary knew that Jesus was the Son of God, certainly; she’d been told that by the angel before Jesus was even conceived in her womb, miraculously by the “overshadowing” of the Holy Spirit. Had she seen Him do miracles up to this point? The Bible records no miracles prior to the first miracle in Cana, but being literally the perfect son, responsible and the Son of God, she knew to tap Him on the shoulder for helping fix this problem at the wedding. Notice that when He speaks to her, He says that His “hour has not yet come.” We know from the last week of Easter celebration that the final hour would be those moments leading up to and including His death on the cross.
It’s a complicated matter, but this passage may be alluding to Christ’s Messianic coming, the Bride and the Bridegroom, as well as other elements of what the Messiah would bring when He came (in correlation to the wine). D.A. Carson’s “The Gospel According to John” Commentary is a great resource for going much further with this.
A major highlight of this miracle is that Jesus gently rebukes His mother in this passage because He is now dead set on doing the Father’s will; no human bindings will sway Him from doing the Father’s bidding. He will not be manipulated by his family tie to His mother; the service He gives will be in line with God the Father’s will for Him. So He doesn’t respond to her plea to remove embarrassment from the wedding party, but He does respond when she shows faith and treats Him as a person in need, coming to Christ for His provision. Perhaps in all of this exchange, we ought to link up going to the cross (the hour) with His being there to completely and only fulfill that which is line with the Father’s will.
It is said that the amount of water, by the pitchers, which was turned to wine would be about 100-150 gallons. The pitchers were typically for ceremonial washing. Carson says, “Their purpose provides a clue to one of the meanings of the story: the water represents the old order of Jewish law and custom, which Jesus was to replace with something better” (Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John: The Pillar New Testament Commentary Series. Leicester: Apollos Press), p. 173. Clearly, this much wine, and the best of the night it is said, was not something that could be misconstrued as to whether a miracle had taken place.
Let’s move on to the conclusive verse of this portion of the passage: This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. Walking through the text, the beginning of Jesus’ signs, or miracles, happened in Cana. A sign is not intended to point to the sign; it is intended to point to the object to which it relates. As a child, I used to pass the time on long, boring car rides to my grandma’s house in Florida by looking at all of the various billboards (the internet seems to have reduced them immensely). Some were rather boring, while some stirred the imagination. A billboard is not for the sake of admiring the billboard itself; it gives us just a hint of information to whet our appetites for what it presents. The signs of Jesus pointed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ: He is the Messiah; He is the Son of God; He is the Promised Deliverer. He is not a magician out to amaze an audience or to satisfy a crowd with what their wants; He is a Savior who will be seen or missed with how people react to the miracle.
He manifested His glory shows us not the fullness of His glory, but the beginning of revealing that glory through the working of signs. Note that not everyone saw His glory through the signs, but there’s definitely a case to be made that they ought to have seen His glory through the signs (and words and character). Behind the signs was the glorious Son of God being magnified by the empowering Holy Spirit.
What was the result for the disciples? They believed in Him. We need to differentiate here between where they place their belief. When many people see something amazing, they respond by saying, “Can you believe that?” We may all be amazed by showmanship and yet not necessarily be convinced that the showman was anything more than just that. The miracles of Jesus, for his crowds, including His own disciples, were meant to bring them to believe in Him Even as we read the record of miracles today, we are intended to be drawn to Christ and not piqued in curiosity over an amazing activity alone.
The preaching of the Word today, as well as serving and loving and sharing and so forth that the body of Christ does, is meant to be used to by God to aid others in seeing Christ. It’s not meant for them to praise the messengers or to declare “How great this church art,” but to be enamored with Christ, to believe in Him and to believe in Him more firmly than before. I pray you are enamored with Him today in the reading and contemplation of His word, and that your belief in Him continues to cement all the more each day.
Prayer from Pastor Sam:
Father, help us to see the Son for who He is and to walk away from Your word even more convinced of all that He is and all that He promises. Help us to rest in Jesus and to trust the Spirit’s guidance as we move forth into a future that inevitably washes up on the shores of Heaven. Grant us to know better the gospel, to see clearer where we stand within it, and to articulate it carefully to ourselves and to others as opportunity arises. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.