It was a beautiful day for a wedding, and Jesus enjoyed hanging out with his disciples and other friends. Jesus introduced them to his family, they had a nice meal, there was music…
But where was that waiter? His disciples’ glasses were almost empty. Then Jesus felt a tap on His shoulder: His mother. “Jesus! They have no more wine,” she stage-whispered, urgency pushing the volume higher than she expected. I think Mary’s family must have been throwing this party because she is so invested in its success. Maybe one of Jesus’ cousins or brothers was getting married.
Jesus turns aside to speak with His mother privately. Maybe he took her by the arm and lowered His voice as they stepped away from the group. “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.” (That means it wasn’t the right time for Jesus to “go public.”)
But Mary is undeterred. This wedding must go well. Ignoring Jesus’ protestations, she turns to the servants following her and confidently instructs them to do whatever Jesus tells them. I imagine Jesus let out a little huff of exasperation after His mother walked away. With the servants staring at him expectantly, He looks around. Six big water jars stand nearby. These are not jugs from which one might pour a glass of water but more like vats at which the Jews performed their ceremonial ablutions. Think twenty-gallon buckets or bigger. Jesus tells the servants to fill them with water. It takes a few minutes to transfer a total of at least 120 gallons to those stone jars.
The party continues just a few feet
away while Jesus steps out of
anonymity—His first miracle…
Everything is ready. The jars are ready, overflowing with water. The servants are ready, standing eagerly near the jars. The disciples are ready, watching with interest as the scene unfolds. The bride and groom, however, are oblivious, along with the dignitaries and other wedding guests. The party continues just a few feet away while Jesus steps out of anonymity—His first miracle—by…*pause for dramatic effect* doing nothing.
Don’t you want Him to do something impressive here?
- To interrupt the Master of Ceremonies and have everyone pray
- To wave his hand over the jars of water and mumble something mysterious
- Even to simply dip His finger systematically into each jar.
But He doesn’t do any of that. This is such a non-event that, frankly, I’m a little disappointed.
Jesus gestures toward one of the servants, telling him to take some of the water to the MC. When the servant dips his ladle into the brimming jar, a purple liquid sloshes onto the ground beside it. As the servant makes his way to the front, Jesus returns to his seat with the disciples. They are dumbstruck, but He just resumes the conversation where He had left off.
The MC pulls the bridegroom aside and congratulates him for saving the best for last. The bridegroom, not knowing any better, just nods his head and smiles.
Let’s do a little math. It takes approximately five standard wine bottles to make a gallon. That means Jesus produced at least 600 bottles of wine, or 50 cases. Fifty cases of the best wine around! It would have been no less of a miracle if He’d changed one bottle, but. Just. Wow.
When you finish being refreshingly amazed by the miracle, take a look at these two observations.
Only what was necessary was miraculous.
Jesus’ miracle met them at
the limits of their ability.
Jesus could have refilled every glass in every hand or caused the jugs never to run dry (similar to what happened with the widow of Zarephath). He could have produced closed jugs of wine where none had existed. Something like, “Go look in the storeroom again. You’ll find a couple of cases there now.” He could have filled the dry water jugs directly with wine, making it appear suddenly. But He didn’t do any of that. He took what was already there and what the servants worked to provide, then finished the task. The miracle met them at the limits of their ability.
He will do this over and over for the next three years. Remember when He raised Lazarus from the dead? He had a few guys move the stone away from the grave entrance first.
Jesus didn’t draw attention to Himself.
He wasn’t interested in being a spectacle or an oddity. He didn’t want any special attention. In fact, He doesn’t even try to take credit for the fantastic wine. As usual, His miracle was for the ones it blessed, not for Him. His mother was stressed out, and He wanted to ease her burden. His disciples had only just begun to follow Him, and they needed a little glimpse of His glory (John 2:11). And the servants? Well, those innocent bystanders got a special treat that day.
Jesus’ miracle was for the ones
He blessed, not for Himself.
Sometimes with the Pharisees, He does miracles to provoke them, but usually, Jesus doesn’t want any acclaim. He told two formerly blind men, “See that no one knows about this” (Matthew 9:30). After the Transfiguration, He told the disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen (Mark 9).
In turning the water to wine, Jesus established much about the way He would do miracles in the future, but He also set a pattern for us. I can’t delineate it, but there are elements of our work mixed with His wonder in meeting our needs—the mundane parts of life and the miraculous. He expects us to do what we are able to do, then He does the rest.
Then when He does meet our needs in miraculous ways, the point is God’s glory, never our gain or special status with Him.
When you place yourself in this story, what do you see? What can we learn about Jesus from what happens here? I’d love to hear your responses in the comments below!