John 2


John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.


“On the third day” refers to the 3rd day after Jesus met Nathaniel. Seven days have passed since John 1:19. Only the Gospel of John mentions this place called Cana. The traditional site of Cana is nine miles north of Nazareth. Even though Jesus had just begun His public ministry, He and His disciples took the time to be guests at this wedding. Some have speculated that these were friends or relatives of Mary. However, it also possible they were friends of Nathaniel because this was his hometown (John 21:2). Historians teach that all the guests of a wedding usually dressed up in special garments. Jesus confirms this tradition in the parable about the wedding feast (Mat. 22).


John 2:3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."  4 Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."


To run out of wine would have been an embarrassing moment for this family and especially for the host of the wedding. It was the host’s job to make sure everything was taken care of, and that there was plenty of wine and food. Mary was concerned when the wine ran out, so she told Jesus about it knowing He would be able to help. Since Mary was concerned about this, it gives us another hint that this family was her friend or relative. It is believed that Mary’s husband was dead now, and she was used to relying on Jesus. We need to remember that Mary has not seen Jesus perform a miracle yet, but she knows who He is. So, we should not assume that Mary thought Jesus was going to fix this problem by a miracle.


When Jesus responds to her as “woman,” some have thought Jesus was being rude to His mother. However, this was a common expression that they used, which was not rude at all (Jn. 19:26). Others view Jesus’ answer as a mild rebuke. When Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come,” there are two possibilities of what He meant. First, He could be saying, it is not time for me to work a miracle right now to fix this problem. Second, He could be referring to His death in the sense that when He works His first miracle, it would set into motion the events that would eventually lead to His death on the cross. The expression “My hour has not yet come,” is used to describe His death as it is many other passages (John 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1).


John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."  6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.  7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim.  8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it.


Mary had complete confidence in Jesus’ ability to fix this problem with the wine. These water pots varied in size because they were made by hand. This is why it says they would hold 20 to 30 gallons a piece. Next, Jesus has them fill these water pots to the brim. Notice, He did not touch the water pot and by having them filled to the brim, it would make it impossible to pour something in. This was done to show that a real miracle was taking place. Then the servants took some of this liquid from the water pot and gave it to the master of the feast.   


John 2:9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.  10 And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"  11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.


The master of the feast would taste the new wine before it was served to the guests. He did this to make sure the wine tasted good. When He tasted this water that was turned to wine, He was impressed with the quality of its taste. We can imagine how shocked these servants were who saw this miracle take place and then saw how much the master of the feast liked the wine. He calls for the bridegroom to find out why he has provided the best wine toward the end of the wedding feast. The custom was to bring out the best wine in the beginning and then the inferior wine after everyone had already had their fill. Of course the bridegroom would have been speechless because he knew he had not provided this wine. This first miracle was just the beginning of miracles that Jesus would perform that would reveal His glory as the Son of God. This miracle also caused His disciples to believe in Him.


We cannot leave this section of Scripture without discussing the question, did Jesus turn the water into fermented wine? The obvious answer is no, but those who want to find justification for social drinking will say, “Yes He did.” There was fermented wine available during that time period, but when people drank the fermented wine, they rarely drank it as it was. Plato said, “Wine was always drunk diluted, and to drink it unmixed was looked on as barbarism” (Living Soberly, Righteously And Godly p. 20). Other sources suggest that they would mix six part water with one part wine. It was not uncommon for people to mix their wine with water or milk.


In the current English dictionaries the word “wine” is usually defined as fermented juice. However, if we look in older dictionaries, they will also show that it can mean unfermented juice as well. In the Bible, the word “wine” can mean fermented (Gen. 9:20-26, 19:30-38) or unfermented (Isa. 16:10, 65:8; Joel 2:24). We have to consider the context to decide if the wine is fermented or unfermented.


Those who argue this was fermented wine at the wedding, suggest the ruler of the feast was saying the tradition was to get the people drunk on the most intoxicating wine first. Then the water downed wine should be brought out because the guest will be too drunk to notice. However, that is not what is meant by the phrase “well drunk”. It simply means the guests were full of the good wine, so it is acceptable to bring out the inferior. Now, if we say that these guests were already drunk, and that Jesus made the strongest wine yet; then we have Jesus providing a way for these people to become more drunk with the 120 to 180 gallons of wine He made.


When you think about this, it becomes obvious that Jesus did not make fermented wine that would cause these people to become more drunk. The reason we know this is because there are many Scriptures that warn against the use of strong drink (Prov. 20:1, 21:17, 23:21, 31-35; 1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:18). These few verses are enough to show that Jesus would not have made fermented wine. However, I want to make one last point that will prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt.


Everyone agrees that Jesus was a man without sin (Heb. 4:15). If Jesus turned the water into fermented wine that would make people drunk, then He would have been guilty of sin.


Habakkuk 2:15  Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness!


So, when the master of the feast said it was the best wine, he did not mean the most intoxicating, he meant it was the best tasting. The first juice that comes out the grapes is the sweetest and best tasting, which is what Jesus had created with His miracle.


Others have suggested the first century people did not have a way of preserving the grape juice without it fermenting. However, this is not true. There were at least three different ways they could do this.


The first method was to boil the grapes down to a thick mixture called defrutum. They would use this to put on their bread and they would add water to it for a drink.


The second method was to use wool or a similar material to filter the particles including the yeast from the grape juice (Isa. 25:6). This would prevent it from fermenting. Pliny said, “For all the sick, the wine is most useful when its forces have been broken by the strainer.” Pliny teaches us that they used this filtered juice for those who were sick, which means that Paul was most likely recommending unfermented wine for Timothy’s sickness (1 Tim. 5:23).


The third method was to put the wine in a sealed container and put into a pond or a well which would keep it from fermenting. The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary describes it this way, “If you wish to have grape juice all year, put grape juice in an amphora and seal the cork with pith; sink it in a fishpond. After 30 days, take it out. It will be grape juice for a whole year.”


All this evidence proves that they were able to preserve their grape juice in the first century. I have also shown from the Scriptures that Jesus did not create fermented wine with His miracle.  


John 2:12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.


This is the first time the Gospel of John mentions Jesus’ brothers. We see that all of them went to Capernaum. Capernaum was an important city during the first century. It was located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus lived in Capernaum to fulfill Scripture (Mat. 4:13-16). Much of Jesus’ ministry occurred in and around this city.


For instance:

  • He taught in Capernaum’s Synagogue on several occasions (Mk. 1:21; Lk. 4:31-38; Jn. 6:59).
  • He called five of His disciples here: the four fishermen (Mk. 1:16-21) and the tax collector (Mk. 2:13-14).
  • He performed many miracles in this area:
    1. Raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead (Mk. 5:22).
    2. Healed the centurion’s servant (Mt. 8:5). This centurion built the synagogue in Capernaum (Lk. 7:1-5).
    3. Healed a paralytic carried by four friends (Mk. 2:1-12).
    4. Healed the fever of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mt. 8:14-15).
    5. Healed the nobleman’s son in Capernaum from Cana (Jn. 4:46-54).
    6. He cast out a demon (Mt. 12:22).
    7. He paid the tax with a coin from a fish’s mouth (Mt. 17:24-27).


This is not a complete list of what Jesus did in this area, but we can see that Jesus was very active in this area. One would think the people there would believe in Him after hearing Him speak and seeing all that He did, but this was not the case. Notice what Jesus says about Capernaum.


Matthew 11:23 "And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  24 "But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." (also Luke 10:15)


It is so sad that these people saw all that Jesus did and yet they did not believe. We know how wicked Sodom was and how God destroyed them. Jesus is saying that Capernaum’s judgment will be harsher than theirs on the Day of Judgment. Later in history, Capernaum was destroyed. Just recently archeologist have found and confirmed the remains of this city.


This city teaches us some things about evangelism. Sometimes we get frustrated because people will not look at the Scriptures for what they say because they are only interested in what they feel or think. We have just learned about how Jesus spent most of His ministry in and around Capernaum. Even though He was God in the flesh and worked many signs and miracles, the people still did not believe. So, if Jesus had trouble opening the eyes of the people with all that He did, then we need to realize that we are going to have trouble opening the eyes of people as well. So, we should never give up. Instead, we should rejoice knowing that we are making God happy even if no one listens. 


John 2:13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.  15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables.  16 And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"  17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up."


Jesus always kept the Passover, and this was the first one He would observe since He began His public ministry. There was nothing in the Law of Moses forbidding the sale of animals and it was convenient for those who had to travel a great distance. Once they bought an animal without blemish, it would be considered as a part of their flock. There were also money changers there as well. The temple tax was half a shekel, but Jews could not use foreign money with images that were considered idolatry. So, the money changers would exchange their foreign money for acceptable money for the temple. Again, there was nothing wrong with these practices.


So, why did Jesus make a whip of cords, turn over their tables, and run them out? I believe the answer is found in Jesus statement, “Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!” The problem was that these merchants were taking advantage of the people and charging them outlandish prices making the temple area into a place of profit. We can also see this idea when Jesus comes back to this area a second time at the end of ministry when He runs them out again. Jesus said, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'” (Mat. 21:13).


This event shows that Jesus did not ignore their sin or the injustice that was being done. Instead, He took matters into His own hands and stood up for righteousness. This event also shows that Jesus is the Messiah because He called the temple, “My Father’s house.” When Jesus said this, He was clearly saying that He is the Son of God. Jesus’ actions that day reminded His disciples of Psalm 69:9, which was a prophecy of Jesus’ zeal to keep the house of God pure and holy.


John 2:18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?"


The Jews had just witnessed what Jesus had done, and they wanted Him to provide some proof of His authority for doing what He did.


John 2:19 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."  20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"  21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.  22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.


The answer Jesus gave was not understood by the Jews or by His own disciples. In fact, it was not until Jesus was raised from the dead that His disciples understood what Jesus had meant (John 20:9). When we think about it, we can understand why they were confused because Jesus was standing in the temple when He said this. However, we have the advantage of knowing what He was talking about because we have the fully revealed Word of God. So, Jesus was talking about His body and how it would be raised up on the third day. This would be the greatest sign that would prove that Jesus is the Son of God (Rom. 1:1-4). We also discover that at some point, some of the Jews figured out what Jesus was talking about because they asked Pilate to secure the tomb where Jesus was buried (Mat. 27:62-66). While it is true that some people were confused and unaware of Jesus’ teachings in the first century, we cannot use excuses today because we have the fully revealed Word of God (Acts 17:30; 2 Thes. 1:7; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3).


John 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.  24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men,  25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.


There are many signs and miracles that Jesus did that were not recorded for us, but the ones we have are enough for us to believe (John 20:30-31). Jesus had the ability to know the hearts of the people, and He knew they were not ready to fully embrace that He was the Son of God. Sure, some believed in His authority, but as they would soon find out it takes more than just belief. A person must be willing to follow Jesus all the way by obeying Him and remaining faithful (Rev. 2:10). Most likely, some of these same people who believed in Him are some of the same people who said, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21).