The First Miracle
Today’s Text: John 2:1-11
This is the story of the first miracle of Jesus. It has no parallel in the synoptics, and it stands quite alone giving insight into the way Jesus and His disciples lived that many Christians, and I’ve been recently reminded ‘false Christians’ love to ignore: Jesus drank wine. (Horror!) Just for fun, compare this passage with Colossians 2:20 ff.
Points of Interest
2:1-5: The scene is set: Jesus, His mother (John never says “Mary”) and the disciples were there. This seems to have been three days after the calling of Phillip. No reason is given for the reason the wine ran out. Some have postulated that the attendance of Jesus and the disciples was the cause, but since John says that they had been invited, this seems unlikely. It would also seem that Mary was well known to the family involved here, since she so quickly took charge of the disaster. When she brings this social catastrophe to Jesus’ attention, his reaction is interesting: literally, “What’s it to me?” Notice that Mary seems to be aware that Jesus can remedy the situation easily; why else would she pass right over His question and tell the servants to do whatever He says? Jesus statement that His time has not yet come has troubled some commentators who haven’t noticed that In John’s Gospel, John uses this wording to refer to the time of Jesus’ being glorified (by the cross) and not to His performance of miracles, in this case a rather mundane one, if indeed a miracle can ever be called that.
2:6-7: The total capacity of these jars would have been in the range of 120 to 180 gallons.It is worthy of note that Jesus used all of the jars and had them filled up completely. Nobody could say that Jesus’ power was limited, nor could they claim that He just slipped some kind of magic fairy dust into them: they were full.
2:8-10: When the servants drew the “water” from the jars and served it to the master of the banquet, the master confirmed that not only was this wine, but it was the “good stuff”. It can be hilarious reading commentaries about these verses when the commentator goes on and on about how this was “obviously” not really wine but unfermented grape juice.
One of the cardinal rules of interpretation of the Bible, is that you must set aside your pre-suppositions, opinions and traditions and let the text speak for itself. When you are confused or feel that you have come upon a contradiction, there are various things you can do to figure out what the meaning is. Here are two easy ideas: You can usually do a word study and find out what is going on. In addition, a close examination of the complete context will also aid in determining what the text is teaching. After this has been done, if the Bible turns out to support your pre-suppositions, opinions and traditions: Marvelous. But where it doesn’t, your presuppositions, opinions or traditions are wrong. In this case, if you are bound and determined to say that Jesus would never allow the serving of wine, you have two problems to deal with: First, the Greek word used here is oinos which happens to mean “wine”. The Greek word for grape juice is tnyx. Why would John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, make such a writing error? Second, note what the master of the banquet said in verse 10. Does that even remotely indicate that they were dealing with grape juice? Does it sound to you like what he would say if the wine was watered down to less than 50% wine? A better question would be, “Was Jesus trying to get everyone drunk?” The text does not tell us that Jesus had everyone’s glass refilled, it tells us that the master of the banquet, the only one we know for sure that was aware of the problem got a sample. We don’t know what the other attendees did after that, or if they even became aware that the wine was gone. We do know why Jesus performed the miracle.
2:11: The brand new disciples, who had responded to the testimony of John the Baptist, and then to each other’s saw for the first time that Jesus was more than a man who had been blessed by God: He had a power that no mere mortal possessed, and they put their faith in Him. This would also be the reason for His future miracles; to confirm His true identity and the authority by which He taught.