Water into Wine (John 2:1-11)a

© 2021 Tony Garlandb

John 2:1-11

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. 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." 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]. 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. (John 2:1-11)

1 On the third day there was a wedding (John 2:1)

  1. Relative to what? Chapter 1?

    1. Chapter 1? - three days after the calling of Philip and Nathanael?2

    2. Day of Week - Married on the “day of double-blessing”?

      1. First day (Gen. 1:4)
      2. Second day (missing, Gen. 1:8)
      3. Third day double blessing (Gen. 1:10,12)
        1. Land emerges from beneath the waters over the face of the deep (Gen. 1:9)
          1. Pronounced “good” (Gen. 1:10)
        2. First life created - plants (Gen. 1:12a)
          1. Pronounced “good” (Gen. 1:12b)
        3. Correlates with the resurrection “on the third day.”
      4. Fourth day (Gen. 1:18)
      5. Fifth day (Gen. 1:21)
      6. Sixth day (Gen. 1:25, good; Gen. 1:31 very good)
      7. Sunday-Monday-Tuesday (perhaps Monday evening)3

1 In Cana of Galilee (John 2:1)

  1. Cana and Nazareth both in Galilee

  2. Where would one have expected His ministry to begin? Jerusalem, not Cana!

  3. “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Isa. 9:1b-6; Mat. 4:12-16)

    1b . . . [By] the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. 2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. . . . 6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:1b-6)

    12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, [By] the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” (Mat. 4:12-16)

3 Ran out of wine (John 2:3)

  1. Wedding festivities/feast could last as long as a week

  2. Would reflect poorly on the hosts, Leon Morris mentions the possibility of legal penalties for the host5

4 Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? (John 2:4)

  1. “Woman” - not a cold address (John 19:26-17)

    26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!" 27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own [home]. (John 19:26-27)

  2. Since age twelve, Jesus was about His “Father’s business” (Luke 2:49), but had not begun His official ministry.

  3. 3 My hour has not yet come (John 2:4)7

    1. A theme strongly emphasized in John’s gospel — Jesus was in complete control of the timing of His death

      1. His ministry, revealed His true identity in stages, leading to separation and conflict: ultimately His death on the cross
      2. He knew, in advance, the specific Passover when he would lay His life down (John 10:17-18)

        17 "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18)

      3. This statement does not mean He was resisting the start of His public ministry. Rather, He seems to be reminding His mother of His need to carefully control the timing and extent of His actions.
      4. The primary motive for Jesus’ taking action is not primarily to supply the needed wine, but to reveal His glory to His disciples (v. 11).
      5. John emphasizes this timing aspect throughout His gospel: John 7:6-8, 30, 8:20
        1. Climaxing with the upper-room discourse

          23 The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified (John 12:23)

          1 . . . Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father . . . (John 13:1)

          1 Jesus . . . lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come.” . . . (John 17:1)

6 Six water pots of stone . . . according to the manner of purification of the Jews (John 2:6)

  1. Water pots for ritual cleansing, “the water of Judaism”8 — Leon Morris

  2. Possible typology10

    1. Six the “number of man,” (man created on day six, one short of completeness = 7 — incomplete)12

    2. Ruth given six ephahs of barley by Boaz, to which Naomi responds: “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.” (Ruth 3:18)

    3. Cleansing from the outside can never bring acceptability before God, good works are never enough.

  3. Wine as representation of the Spirit, “the wine of the gospel”13 — Leon Morris

    1. Wine akin to “living water”

      1. “They are full of new wine” - speaking in foreign languages attributed to drunkenness (Acts 2:13)
      2. Do not be drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)
        1. Do not be controlled by wine, but rather be under the control of the Spirit
    2. Water replaced by / turned into wine

      1. Living water (made from grapes)
      2. External cleansing vs. internal transformation
    3. Wine connected with plenty, fullness of joy14

      1. Representative passage, concerning God’s ultimate restoration (Zec. 9:16-17)

        16 The LORD their God will save them in that day, As the flock of His people. For they [shall be like] the jewels of a crown, Lifted like a banner over His land- 17 For how great is its goodness And how great its beauty! Grain shall make the young men thrive, And new wine the young women. (Zec. 9:16-17)

      2. Leon Morris

        This particular miracle signifies that there is a transforming power associated with Jesus. He changes the water of Judaism into the wine of Christianity, the water of Christlessness into the wine of the richness and the fullness of eternal life in Christ, the water of the law into the wine of the gospel.15

    4. Replacement: 16 The law and the prophets were until John (Luke 16:16)

      1. New wineskins (Luke 5:37-39)
        1. Context: Jesus and His disciples not acting as expected by the scribes and Pharisees
          1. Feast thrown by Levi, a tax collector, other tax collectors present (Luke 5:29-32)
          2. Scribes and Pharisees complained, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (Luke 5:30)
          3. “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” (Luke 5:33)
            1. They will fast when the bridegroom is no longer with them
        2. Parable of the wineskins (Luke 5:36-39)

          36 Then He spoke a parable to them: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was [taken] out of the new does not match the old. 37 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 "But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 "And no one, having drunk old [wine], immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.’” (Luke 5:36-39)

          1. The new patch shrinks, the wine ferments, both put stress on older materials which lack flexibility
          2. Implication/explanation: Jesus’ ministry would be outwardly different and would not be easily accepted by traditional Judaism
          3. Focus on grace rather than law
          4. A departure from the status quo
          5. “Nothing has changed, the old is better” - this is essentially the stance of Judaism when faced with Christianity
          6. Jesus did not entrust the gospel to the existing religious establishment or individuals, but to laymen, fishermen, tax collector, etc.
            1. Implication: the scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees were like the old wineskins
          7. Another accidental use of wine in relation to the gospel — or is it?
      2. Wine symbolizes the “blood of Christ” — in Jesus’ teaching in John 6, and ultimately, at the Last Supper
        1. 53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:53-54)
        2. 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke [it], and gave [it] to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." 27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.” (Mat. 26:26-29)
          1. Alluding to Jeremiah 31:31-34, where Jeremiah describes a new covenant, future to his day, resulting in forgiveness of iniquity.

11 This beginning of signs (John 2:11)

  1. God never performs miracles for their own sake, like a magician or trickster. The miracles point to something of greater significance: in this case, Jesus’ true identity as Lord over Nature.

11 manifested His glory (John 2:11)

  1. Manifested is from φανερόω [phaneroō] - cause to be seen, be disclosed, make known, show

  2. John 1:14, 18

    14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

    18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared [Him]. (John 1:18)

  3. Colossians 1:15

    15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15)

  4. Jesus begins to reveal His true identity - primarily to those who have eyes to see

  5. God’s revelation is designed to both hide and reveal - hide from hardened hearts and skeptics, reveal to seekers

    1. A judicial aspect

    2. A salvific aspect

    3. Which side of God’s revelatory coin do you see? “Heads” (drawing, softening) or “tails” (repulsed, hardening)?

      Fri Jul 30 19:53:10 2021

      SpiritAndTruth.org Scan Code


1.Ref-0038, 2.278
2.“On the third day probably means three days after the calling of Philip and Nathanael.”1
3.Morris cites a custom — which may have attained at a later date — for marriages to take place on Wednesday or Thursday“At the conclusion of the betrothal period the marriage took place, on a Wednesday if the bride was a virgin and on a Thursday if she was a widow . . . ”
4.Ref-1516, 158
6.Ref-1516, 158
7.Morris suggests Jesus’ mode of address signifies “that there is a new relationship between them as he enters his public ministry.”6 But this does not adequately address Jesus’ following statement, “my time has not yet come.”
8.Ref-1516, 155
9.Ref-1516, 161
10.“There may be something in this, but a strong objection is that the narrative contains nothing that would symbolize completeness, which would surely be required to correspond to the incomplete. Jesus does not create or produce a seventh pot.”9
11.Ref-0498, p. 79
12.“Yes, there were six waterpots standing there, not seven, the perfect number.”11
13.Ref-1516, 155
14.Wine may be responsibly enjoyed: Num. 6:20; Deu. 7:13; Deu. 18:3-4; Jdg. 9:13; Ne. 5:18; Ecc. 9:7; Job 1:13,18; Ps. 104:15; Sos. 1:2; Jer. 31:12; Zec. 9:17; Zec. 10:7; Mat. 26:29; Luke 22:18; John 2:9
15.Ref-1516, 155


Ref-0038John Walvoord and Roy. B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, 1983).
Ref-0498Pink, A. W. (2000). Exposition of John (electronic ed.). Escondido, CA: The Ephesians Four Group.
Ref-1516Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994). ISBN:0-8028-2504-4d.

Links Mentioned Above
a - See http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/John_by_Tony_Garland/010_John_2_1-11/index.htm.
b - See http://www.spiritandtruth.org/id/tg.htm.
c - See http://www.spiritandtruth.org.
d - See http://www.spiritandtruth.org/id/isbn.htm?0-8028-2504-4.