Christ's first miracle - questions about the marriage-feast at Cana

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I am re-studying this first miracle.


Why does only John mention this first miracle? A first miracle seems noteworthy but is not found in the Synoptics, but only in John who wrote later (seeming to record those things excluded by the other Gospel writers).


Most Protestant commentaries speak negatively of Mary, but it appears that if Mary did not ask, Jesus would not have done this miracle. It seems to show Jesus' great respect towards Mary. Here is a Catholic's words:

This first miracle shows us how powerful Mary is. Jesus would not have done anything about the wine running out if Mary had not told him to. He said that it was too early for Him to do a miracle, but Mary could make Him do it anyway. It is not like the bride and groom had done anything bad, it was just embarrassing for them. How loving Mary to think about helping in small things like that. Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them (Jn 2:5).
It does seem that Mary was being considerate in the small things, knowing that her Son had power to help others and trying to bless the wedding couple. Overlooked in most sermons seems to be the faith of Mary here in that this was at the start of Christ's ministry and yet she is fully confident that He can help them.

If the words, "O Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour has not yet come," are entirely disrespectful, this hardly seems fitting for Jesus (who would highly respect his parents). How negative is this title "woman" anyway?

Was Mary trying to co-opt Jesus' powers to work her own influence (look at what my son can do for you)?

How significant are the numbers used in John's Gospel? Is it really important that John mentions the third day and six pots of water? A.W. Pink goes on and on about six being the number of imperfection and seems to make much of these numbers.

If you were preaching over this text, would your main theme be that Christ blesses a wedding? What other themes would you touch on? Jesus being the anti-type of Moses? Jesus not merely giving us enough, but overflowing blessings? Jesus blessing marital union?

How would I preach this text in a region where drunkenness is rampant?

Matthew Henry and Charles Spurgeon speak of the liberality in this miracle and the contrast between Christ and Moses. Here is Spurgeon:

Jesus Christ commenced the gospel dispensation, not with a miracle of vengeance, like that of Moses, who turned water into blood, but with a miracle of liberality, turning water into wine. He does not only supply necessaries, but gives luxuries...
Spurgeon has many great words on this text here: Wedding at Cana Sermon



Also, what does it mean that Jesus' hour had not yet come? If it did not come, why did He do the miracle? Did He set aside a divine mandate for the sake of His mother? Did she foul up His plan? What is this hour?


Any links, answers, quotes, sermons, etc, would be appreciated.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't know that the number of pots is important, but their function certainly was. These pots contained water used for the Jewish rite of purification. The fact that Jesus turned this particular water into wine functions, among other things, as a commentary on the futility of ritual or works as a means of purification. Jesus turned it into wine which could be taken to represent his blood, which is the only true means of purification.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
I am re-studying this first miracle.


Why does only John mention this first miracle? A first miracle seems noteworthy but is not found in the Synoptics, but only in John who wrote later (seeming to record those things excluded by the other Gospel writers).


Most Protestant commentaries speak negatively of Mary, but it appears that if Mary did not ask, Jesus would not have done this miracle. It seems to show Jesus' great respect towards Mary. Here is a Catholic's words:

This first miracle shows us how powerful Mary is. Jesus would not have done anything about the wine running out if Mary had not told him to. He said that it was too early for Him to do a miracle, but Mary could make Him do it anyway. It is not like the bride and groom had done anything bad, it was just embarrassing for them. How loving Mary to think about helping in small things like that. Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them (Jn 2:5).
It does seem that Mary was being considerate in the small things, knowing that her Son had power to help others and trying to bless the wedding couple. Overlooked in most sermons seems to be the faith of Mary here in that this was at the start of Christ's ministry and yet she is fully confident that He can help them.

If the words, "O Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour has not yet come," are entirely disrespectful, this hardly seems fitting for Jesus (who would highly respect his parents). How negative is this title "woman" anyway?
I've been told that the word could be translated "Dear Lady" but haven't checked it.

Was Mary trying to co-opt Jesus' powers to work her own influence (look at what my son can do for you)?
Doubt it. She may have noticed something in her Son's demeanor as he answered her first request that indicated that he would fulfill her implied request.

How significant are the numbers used in John's Gospel? Is it really important that John mentions the third day and six pots of water? A.W. Pink goes on and on about six being the number of imperfection and seems to make much of these numbers.
The problem with much of biblical numerology is that we are unable to check our deductions. In cases where we can't check and prove our deductions I suggest that we should not make much of such numbers.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Pergy, Ole Hallesby in 'Prayer' points to Mary as an example of true prayer. She knew him so well that she felt safe leaving her difficulties with him, even through a seeming rebuff.

Christ in his rebuff makes it plain that he is not simply becoming the instrument of even Mary's will: he must do only the works of His Father. Mary can only trust the matter to him wholly only on these terms. I will pm you the sections from Hallesby -- they are rather long, and I'm concerned about copyright issues posting them, but the book is wonderful.

Here are some sermons on John I have begun to listen through: Rev. James T. Dennison, Jr. - The Gospel of John (Monergism MP3) -- I would be surprised if he doesn't address in John 2 some of the questions about why John mentions this and the significance of John's mentioning it. It is John in Revelation who speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb: it seems related that John would highlight this note at the beginning of Christ's ministry.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Thank you, I am reading the PM now. I have always viewed Mary's deportment to be somewhat worthy of example here, she sees a need and feels compassion, she persists with her good request, and submits to Jesus even as she entreats him. And, in the first place, she is confident of His power to help and this is a sign of her faith.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Pergamum
If you were preaching over this text, would your main theme be that Christ blesses a wedding? What other themes would you touch on? Jesus being the anti-type of Moses? Jesus not merely giving us enough, but overflowing blessings? Jesus blessing marital union?
This may be relevant to the passage:
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. (Matthew 11:16-19)
Jesus' first miracle was a miracle of creation, not providence, or healing (redemption), reminding us that He is God the Creator.

A survey of "wine" in the concordance, will show how appropriate and suggestive this first miracle is, in different ways.
Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. (Ps 4:7)
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.(Ps 104:14-15)
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.(Song 1:4)
And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.(Isaiah 25:6)
 

Vladimir

Puritan Board Freshman
How negative is this title "woman" anyway?
I remember my study bible to have the following remark: "The word 'woman' in Greek is completely devoid of disrespect".
It does seem that Mary was being considerate in the small things, knowing that her Son had power to help others and trying to bless the wedding couple. Overlooked in most sermons seems to be the faith of Mary here in that this was at the start of Christ's ministry and yet she is fully confident that He can help them.
Not only that - but her words "do whatever Jesus told them" sound pretty confident that He was going to perform a miracle. They remind me of a magician instructing his assistant to enter a box.
Someone I know said that this confidence just might show that it was not His first miracle.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Someone I know said that this confidence just might show that it was not His first miracle.
The Bible, I know, says that it was...
Jn.2:11 "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him."
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Someone I know said that this confidence just might show that it was not His first miracle.
The Bible, I know, says that it was...
Jn.2:11 "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him."
I agree with you, Rev. Buchanan, but I believe the argument that some have presented is that this is merely the first of the seven signs that John chose to highlight, and not necessarily his first miracle altogether.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Thanks Bill. Duly noted. But for the curious, the term is "the beginning" (αρχην) of his signs, and not simply "the first of."

I think (as I suspect you do also) the other conclusion is a conviction looking for support. A.T.Robertson on the phrase in question:
This beginning of his signs did Jesus (tautēn epoiēsen archēn tōn sēmeiōn ho Iēsous). Rather, “this Jesus did as a beginning of his signs,” for there is no article between tautēn and archēn. “We have now passed from the ‘witness’ of the Baptist to the ‘witness’ of the works of Jesus” (Bernard).
The writer's intent seems clearly to have the reader interpret this as Jesus' first miracle of all, an inaugural miracle unto the manifestation of his glory and for the production of faith, "...and his disciples believed in him." Matthew Henry writes, "he wrought this, before the hour, because he foresaw it would confirm the faith of his infant disciples (Joh_2:11), which was the end of all his miracles: so that this was an earnest of the many miracles he would work when his hour was come."

Furthermore, John represents this miracle almost at the very baptism of Jesus, and just as he has called his first disciples of all. He has not even gone to Jerusalem (Jn.3) for his first truly public exposure (which precedes the opening of his powerful Galilean foray into the spotlight). In the absence of any substantive textual and contextual reason to conclude otherwise, it seems warrantless to conclude that there were other, prior miracles.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks Bill. Duly noted. But for the curious, the term is "the beginning" (αρχην) of his signs, and not simply "the first of."

I think (as I suspect you do also) the other conclusion is a conviction looking for support. A.T.Robertson on the phrase in question:
This beginning of his signs did Jesus (tautēn epoiēsen archēn tōn sēmeiōn ho Iēsous). Rather, “this Jesus did as a beginning of his signs,” for there is no article between tautēn and archēn. “We have now passed from the ‘witness’ of the Baptist to the ‘witness’ of the works of Jesus” (Bernard).
The writer's intent seems clearly to have the reader interpret this as Jesus' first miracle of all, an inaugural miracle unto the manifestation of his glory and for the production of faith, "...and his disciples believed in him." Matthew Henry writes, "he wrought this, before the hour, because he foresaw it would confirm the faith of his infant disciples (Joh_2:11), which was the end of all his miracles: so that this was an earnest of the many miracles he would work when his hour was come."

Furthermore, John represents this miracle almost at the very baptism of Jesus, and just as he has called his first disciples of all. He has not even gone to Jerusalem (Jn.3) for his first truly public exposure (which precedes the opening of his powerful Galilean foray into the spotlight). In the absence of any substantive textual and contextual reason to conclude otherwise, it seems warrantless to conclude that there were other, prior miracles.
I would agree that the argument is rather weak and as you pointed out, not supported by the text. Perhaps Mary told Jesus about this situation so that he might send one of his disciples to purchase more wine. It seems unlikely that she expected such a miracle at this point, especially in light of other gospel passages that seem to indicate a general doubt regarding Jesus amongst his family members prior to his resurrection.
 

Vladimir

Puritan Board Freshman
I believe the argument that some have presented is that this is merely the first of the seven signs that John chose to highlight, and not necessarily his first miracle altogether.
Yup.
It was no one's intent to establish this as a definite scriptural truth. Just a small thought we entertained during Bible study, which was fairly dismissed by Rev. Buchanan's counter argument.
Perhaps Mary told Jesus about this situation so that he might send one of his disciples to purchase more wine. It seems unlikely that she expected such a miracle at this point, especially in light of other gospel passages that seem to indicate a general doubt regarding Jesus amongst his family members prior to his resurrection.
You know, I would argue with that. If we remember how He was conceived, how angels appeared to Joseph, and Luke's account of His boyhood, I don't think we could rule out the possibility that Mary expected something extraordinary.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Any thoughts on Jesus' time not yet being come? If the time hadn't come, why did he do the miracle? Because His mother asked? Did he change His plan? What was this "time" anyway that Jesus was waiting for? The beginning of his public ministry?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Matthew Henry
[2.] The reason of this rebuke: Mine hour is not yet come. For every thing Christ did, and that was done to him, he had his hour, the fixed time and the fittest time, which was punctually observed. First, "Mine hour for working miracles is not yet come.’’ Yet afterwards he wrought this, before the hour, because he foresaw it would confirm the faith of his infant disciples (v. 11), which was the end of all his miracles: so that this was an earnest of the many miracles he would work when his hour was come. Secondly, "Mine hour of working miracles openly is not yet come; therefore do not talk of it thus publicly.’’ Thirdly, "It not the hour of my exemption from thy authority yet come, now that I have begun to act as a prophet?’’ So Gregory Nyssen. Fourthly, "Mine hour for working this miracle is not yet come.’’ His mother moved him to help them when the wine began to fail (so it may be read, v. 3), but his hour was not yet come till it was quite spent, and there was a total want; not only to prevent any suspicion of mixing some of the wine that was left with the water, but to teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity to appear for the help and relief of his people. Then his hour is come when we are reduced to the utmost strait, and know not what to do. This encouraged those that waited for him to believe that though his hour was not yet come it would come. Note, The delays of mercy are not to be construed the denials of prayer. At the end it shall speak.
David Brown
mine hour, &c.--hinting that He would do something, but at His own time; and so she understood it
Brown may well be right. Hendriksen says something similar of John 7:6-10.
 

littlepeople

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the use of "woman" and "my hour" serve as an opening parenthesis which is closed at John 19:26-27. In my study of this section I came away with this reading of verse 4: "woman what has this to do with you and me (emphasizing the relationship). If you take the parenthesis or bookend idea, then emphasizing the relationship is a way of reminding Mary that she is the woman and he is the seed of the woman. Making sure she did not place her hopes in the miracle he was about to perform, but in the cross to come (John 19)

John certainly seems to be emphasizing the empty purification jars in a literary sense at least. Purification plays a role in the preceding and following sections of John. There's a bit of irony given verse 26 of the preceding chapter "I baptize in water, [but] among you stands One whom you do not know...." Here Jesus performs a great miracle that no one knows about using the worthless baptismal jars.
 
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