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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE MIRACLE AT CANA

John 2:1-2 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage. (Also see John 2:3-11)

"The third day" probably refers to three days after Philip and Nathanael heard the teaching of Jesus, which resulted in their becoming His disciples. It was on this day that there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. Whether it is significant or not, Nathanael, Jesus disciple, and later one of His twelve apostles, was from this same city - Cana in Galilee (John 21:2). Cana, a village in Galilee, is only mentioned in the Bible in the inspired gospel of John. Its exact location is unknown today, but most scholars think it was only five to eight miles northeast of Nazareth.

As the story unfolds we find the mother of Jesus already in Cana attending this marriage feast. Joseph is not mentioned here, nor is he ever mentioned from this point in Jesus' life when He began His ministry on earth. Also we are not told, but it is assumed by many, that Mary attended this wedding because she was probably related to some members of this marriage. In can also be inferred that Mary, guided by divine counsel, requested that Jesus also attend this marriage. And He was to also bring His disciples, which at this time included Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and the other probably being John.

In the verses following the lesson text, John, in his inspired gospel message records the first miracle Jesus performed. It is probably in order to define and explain "miracles" at this point before discussing this first miracle of our Savior. A "miracle" is an extraordinary work of God that transcends the ordinary powers that can be attributed to that which occurs in nature. It is an action or event that defies being proven by the scientific laws of mankind, and thus must be the result of supernatural causes that can only be attributed to our God and Creator. The reason miracles were used by God in Old and New Testament times was to confirm that He is, indeed, the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth.

This power was given to Jesus to confirm, without any doubt, that He wasthe Son of God, and the promised Savior of mankind. Notice the confession of Nicodemus after witnessing Jesus miraculous power: Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him (John 3:2). When John the Baptist, while in prison, sent his disciples to determine if Jesus was the Christ, Jesus answered: Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them (Matt. 11:4b-5). Also Christ Jesus granted His apostles, while preaching and teaching eternal salvation in His name, the power to confirm their teaching as coming from the Holy Spirit of God (See John 2:23; Rom. 15:18-19; 2 Cor. 12:12).

The occurrence that led to the first miracle performed by Jesus our Savior began when they wanted wine. Realizing this need, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine (Vs. 3). Biblical scholars say that there was a need for additional wine because of an insufficient amount to serve such a large number of friends and relatives attending the marriage. The supply of wine was exhausted. Since Jesus had not yet exercised His God-given power to perform miracles, there was no reason for Mary to expect Him to do so in this instance. However, some biblical teachers seem to think that Mary had reason to believe that her miraculously conceived Son, Jesus, could, if it were the proper occasion, perform a miracle by providing wine. The reason for this was Jesus' answer to her request: Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come (Vs. 4). Here, Jesus seems to correct His mother, who seemed to know that her Son could, and would at the appropriate time, demonstrate His divine character with miraculous powers. He corrected her by saying that the exact time for Him to reveal Himself as the Son of God through miracles is not yet come. The reason for the delay is not given, but we know it was a very short span of time due to the verses that follow.

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it. Again this indicates that Mary was fully aware that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the Son of God, and that He had the power to perform a miracle that would provide wine for the wedding guests. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece (Vs. 6). Jesus directed the servants by telling them to fill the waterpots with water. Immediately they obeyed and filled them up to the brim (Vs. 7). Jesus then told them to Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast (Vs. 8), which was much like the charge of a wedding planner in many marriages today. Not knowing where the wine came from, it was taken to the person in charge of the wedding. He tasted it, and immediately advised the bridegroom that there was now sufficient wine to serve the guests. In most marriage events, such as this, the best wines are served at the beginning of the feast and the inferior wines are served last. However, after tasting the wine miraculously provided by Jesus, he praised the bridegroom for keeping the best wine to be served at the last moments of the marriage feast. (See Vss. 9-10).

This was the first public miracle performed by Jesus. It was the beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee. And just as it was divinely intended, it manifested forth (or exhibited proof of) His glory; and His disciples believed on Him (Vs. 11). Knowledge of Christ was gained, and the faith of His disciples was firmly established. This man called Jesus was the promised Messiah. He had been endowed with the power to perform miracles from His Heavenly Father, in order that He could be undeniably confirmed as the Son of God and Savior of the world. After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days (Vs. 12).

This lesson of His first miracle tells us that Jesus turned water into wine. Since there is much debate over the making and use of wine in both the Old and New Testament scriptures, a few comments are in order. Was the beverage, called wine, "fresh" grape juice, or was it the "fermented" juice of grapes. (Be it known that the writer of this lesson firmly believes the winemiraculously created by Christ Jesus was fresh, unfermented grape juice).However, the following debate goes on.

Wine is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 9:20-21. It reads: And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. Assuredly the wine referred to here was fermented, and Noah drank the intoxicating beverage to the extent that he became drunken.

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary states the grapes were a common commodity in Hebrew life. Their harvest occurred generally in the month we call September and was accompanied by a great celebration. Sometimes the grape juice was served in an unfermented state. However, for it to be kept year-round, most of it was bottled, fermented, and stored for later use. History tells us that fermented wine was generally stored either in clay jars or wineskins. From Matthew 9:17, Mark 2:22, and Luke 5:36-37 we find a parable of Jesus that tells us that fermented wine must be put in new bottles (wineskins) because old bottles would not be pliable enough to allow the gasses from the fermentation process to expand and they would break.

We know that wine was highly valued, because it was used by Solomon to trade for timber (2 Chron. 2:10). It was marketed in Damascus (Ezek. 27:18). Wine was a common beverage for the Hebrews of Palestine, and it was said to make glad the heart of man (Ps. 104:15a). Wine was given as a present to King David (1 Chron. 12:40; 2 Sam. 16:1-2). Wine had medicinal value to revive the faint (2 Sam. 16:2), to be used as a sedative for people in distress (Prov. 31:6), to heal wounds (Luke 10:34), and was mixed with other drugs to ease the pain of suffering (Mark 15:23). Paul advised Timothy to drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities (1 Tim. 5:23).

Fermented wine was also often misused in biblical history. Unwisely using it as an intoxicating beverage it led to drunkenness (Prov. 20:1), and it confused one's heart (mind) (Hos. 4:11). Many other scriptures could also be cited to confirm wine being used by mankind in a sinful manner. The phrase when men have well drunk (John 2:10) found in the KJV and the NKJV, is rendered drunk freely in the NAS, RSV, ASV, and had too much to drink in the NIV. All of these versions indicate that the palates of the men (guests) had become less sensitive through indulgence, which means that they had become intoxicated to a certain degree.

I firmly believe that the wine Jesus miraculously created at this feast was unfermented grape juice. However, whether one believes the wine served at this marriage feast was fermented or unfermented is of no consequence. The fact that Jesus turned water into wine on this occasion surely establishes the fact that He was endowed with a power that could not be performed or explained by human wisdom. His miraculous power was a gift from His omnipotent Heavenly Father to give assurance that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Savior of all mankind.