John 2:1-11 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. On what occasion did Jesus perform His first miraculous sign? See John 2:1-2 (printed below) What emotion do we associate with such an occasion?

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. (John 2:1-2)

Jesus performed His first miraculous sign at a wedding in the village of Cana. Weddings are occasions of great joy and celebration. By choosing this venue to perform His first miraculous sign, Jesus was testifying to the fact that He is the Source and Giver of true joy.

2. How did Jesus perform this miracle? What did He use? How much wine did He produce? See John 2:6-8 (printed below) What message is He communicating to us by means of this miracle and all it produced?

Now there were six stone water jars, designated for the Jews’ purification ritual, each able to hold about twenty to thirty gallons of water. (7) Jesus said to them, Fill the water jars with water. So they filled them up to the brim. (8) Then he said to them, Now draw some out, and bring it to the master of the banquet. So they brought it to him. (John 2:6-8)

In performing this miracle the Lord Jesus made use of six huge water pots (each capable of holding between twenty and thirty gallons of water.) He commanded that all the pots be filled to the brim (thus, approximately 150 gallons of water are now turned into wine.) Jesus wants us to understand that the joy of the kingdom of God—the joy that is found in Christ—is abundant and overflowing.

3. According to the chronology of John 1-2 (see the pertinent passages printed below), on what day did this miracle take place? Again, what is the Lord communicating to us by performing this act on this particular day?

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

The next day John was again standing with two of his disciples. (36) He looked at Jesus as he passed by, and said, Look, the Lamb of God! (John 1:35)

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, Follow me. (John 1:43)

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1a)

According to the chronology of John 1-2, this marriage celebration and this miraculous provision of new wine occurred on the 7th day—the day of the consummation of the week, the day representing the final state in the glorious kingdom of God. The fullness of joy can only be experienced when the Christian is received into the immediate presence of Christ and thereby enters more fully into the eternal state (note Psalm 16:11.) But as the Christian lives upon the earth, he experiences a measure of this blessed joy (note 1 Peter 1:8.)

4. When he tasted the wine, miraculously produced by the Lord Jesus, what did the master of the banquet say? See John 2:9-10 (printed below) What does this tell us about the joy and blessing Jesus offers?

When the master of the banquet tasted the water that had now become wine, but did not know from where it had come, (although the servants who had drawn the water knew), he summoned the bridegroom (10) and said to him, Everyone serves the best wine first; then, after men have become drunk, he serves the inferior wine. You have held back the best wine until now. (John 2:9-10)

Having tasted the water turned into wine, the master of ceremonies rebukes the bridegroom for holding back the best wine until last. By means of the quality wine He provided for the wedding celebration, the Lord Jesus is testifying to the authentic, quality joy, He bestows upon those who believe in Him. As the hymnwriter, John Newton, stated it: “Fading is the worlding’s pleasure, all his boasted pomp and show; solid joys and lasting treasure, none but Zion’s children know.”

5. When Mary informed Jesus that they had run out of wine, how did He respond? See John 2:3-4 (printed below) Why do you suppose He gave Mary this initial response?

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, They have no more wine. (4) But Jesus said to her, Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come. (John 2:3-4)

Mary initially viewed Jesus as nothing more than her natural son, her miracle-working son, whose task is to do her bidding. She informs Jesus that the guests have run out of wine; she implies that she is expecting Him to do something about it (verse 3). Mary meets with a stern rebuke from the Lord Jesus: “Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come.” (verse 4) Note that Jesus simply calls her “Woman,” not “Mother.” Jesus wants Mary to realize that His true identity is that of being the transcendent Lord, not the subservient son of a human mother. As soon as Mary acknowledged what her relationship to Christ must be—as soon as she recognized that Christ is in charge and accepted His absolute lordship—she discovered His graciousness.