Jesus' First Miracle

©1996, C. Jeff Richardson

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."

"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."

His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.

He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

John 2:1-11(NIV)


Why is this amazing account recorded only in John's gospel? Perhaps because, at the cross, Jesus uttered those words to John in John 19:26-27 (NIV):
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Perhaps it was Mary who reminded John in her old age of the time she imposed her rash will on her son, not realizing the mistake.

I think that the Holy Spirit urged the evangelist John to record not only the miracle, but Mary's mistake as well. We see the wisdom in this because so many have come to believe that Mary has power to intercede for us with Jesus and has authority over him.

We often miss the faith Mary had in her son, however. Think, mothers, how it must have been for Mary to believe the babe that nursed at her breast was the creator of all life.

Her faith was so stubborn that it even led her to prompt Jesus in this instance to perform his first miracle - he even tells her, "My time has not yet come"; but still she tells the servants to follow his command, so confident is she that he will intercede. We may learn much from Mary's simple lesson of ignorant faith here - even after Jesus rebukes her ("why do you involve me?"), she clings to her belief in him - that he will do what she believes to be the right thing.

The turning of the water to wine is Jesus first miracle, and as with most things, we may learn much from what will follow by observing what first occurred. Let us look into what significance this act has by being Jesus' first miracle.

It Displayed His Self-Denial

Given the timing of events in John's gospel, we can deduce that the miracle at Cana must have occurred only shortly after his temptation in the wilderness at the hands of Satan. Jesus was tempted there to perform miracles for what purpose? To satisfy his own needs. Yet he sets the precedent here of performing his first miracle for the benefit of others. This pattern would characterize Jesus' life - remember the cross? Remember the horrifying taunts of the onlookers? "He saved others, he cannot save himself"?

But note that even beyond the fact that he met others' needs before his own, notice that he didn't just make bread for these people - he made wine - a luxury - and so he would make a luxury for others, but would not make even bread for himself. Do you see the importance in Jesus' refusal to make even a crumb of bread for himself - yet making those things that are luxurious and joyful for others?

It Marks His Benevolence Towards Us

Jesus first miracle is one of blessing!

Moses began his work with a miracle of judgment on Egypt, but Jesus begins his with a miracle of joy!

He sets the stage for all his later miracles by performing a deed that brings blessing and joy to humankind - his every word and deed that would follow this event would be the same. He performs his first miracle at a wedding feast - a place of great joy and celebration. Don't miss the point that Jesus' first miracle was at a wedding - marriage was and is the only real piece of paradise left for us and Jesus hastened to honor it with the God-man's first miracle

It Shows His Compassion Towards Us

Jesus miracles were always noted by two characteristics - a) they were meant to show who he was and b) they wrought compassion on their beneficiaries. Jesus sought to meet a need by turning the water to wine. The bridegroom would be subject to great humiliation if, at his wedding feast, he were to run out of wine - the bridegroom's need was a great one. But, like us, the bridegroom would soon learn that his great need was a blessing - for through that great need, Jesus would become a part of this marriage and would work in the lives of those present. It is a blessed need for you and I that allows Jesus to enter our lives to work miracles of love.

It is a good thing when we run short in this life, for it is in those moments that we must look to Him for completion and resolution. If you have no need - or refuse to acknowledge your need, Christ will not come to you. But if your needs stand before you as great empty water jars, he will fill them - but not only fill them, fill them with the greatest of wines and with this transformation, he changes our sighing to singing; our tears of tragedy to tears of joy.

It Demonstrates His Willingness to Humble Himself

How significant it is that Jesus chose Cana of Galilee - a despised little bump in the road - to demonstrate his first miracle - and not at the high places in Jerusalem. He chose to reveal his love and power not in an assembly of priests and rabbis, but among the common folk - and not on a religious feast day, but on a day that marked the common life - a life of living and working and raising children and getting married - here is where Jesus chose to reveal who he was. The people who were being married were obviously not wealthy - otherwise there would have been no shortage of wine.

Jesus reaches out to people wherever they are, he doesn't hide in the church building waiting for us to come to him

It Shows His Joy In Giving Others Joy

As we mentioned before, Jesus' miracle here was one of luxury - he didn't fulfill the minimum requirements asked of him - he made more than enough wine - and what he made was better than any that had been served yet! Jesus sets the tenor for his kingdom here by showing that he is a lover of Joy - that he has come to give life and not just life, but abundant life - life full of meaning and purpose and love and joy and peace and hope and glory.

Look at Jesus' other miracles - what about the feeding of the five thousand - did he just give them enough to prevent starvation? NO, more was collected as left-overs than what was begun with - the bellies of the multitudes were full! Christianity is not a sad existence on this earth that looks forward to joy only in the life to come - it is a life of joy. Michael Card wrote a song entitled Joy In The Journey, the lyrics demonstrate the thought well:

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for those who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

For those who've been born of the Spirit
And who share incarnation with him
For those of eternity stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember your hopelessness when you were lost

There is joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

It Exemplifies His Grace

There was no mention of the bridegroom coming to Jesus to offer payment - there is no indication that Jesus attempted to let others know of the indebtedness the bridegroom owed Jesus - it was a simple, compassionate, graceful act of Jesus toward others.

We too often feel that if we desire something from God, we should pray more than usual to get his attention, don't we? Yet, here, Jesus' miracle shows us that he goes beyond simply meeting our needs - he fills us to the brim - not with the wine that will suffice - but with the wine that is better than all others! Note, also, that what was required to receive this blessing was nothing difficult or challenging - rather, simple, trusting obedience was all Jesus asked for.

Dwell for a moment on this thought - what were the servants thinking? What was Mary thinking? Jesus had never before performed a miracle that we know of? Mary simple trusted him to take care of the problem - perhaps she thought he would send the servants to purchase new wine. The servants certainly could've had no idea what he was about to do. Jesus didn't come to them, nor does he come to you and I, with difficult hard things to do in order to receive his grace and blessing.

Have faith enough to trust him - even though you may not understand what he is about to do - and he will perform miracles. Grace is free - but only to those who accept it; the wine was provided by grace, was it not? No one worked for it, did they? Yet in order to receive it, the servants had to obey. Jesus is still the same; the precedent he set with that first miracle exemplifies his call to us even today

It Has A Prophetic Message

Michael Card wrote a song called The Wedding. The lyrics are:
Lord of Light O come to this wedding
Take the doubt of darkness away
Turn the water of lifeless living
To the wine of gladness we pray

Mother Mary's gently requesting
That you might do whatever you can
Though she may be impatient she loves you
So she asks what she can't understand

So amidst the laughter and feasting
So there sits Jesus full with the fun
He has made them wine because he is longing
For a wedding that's yet to come

This first miracle is the first of Jesus' signs that his will be a different kind of kingdom. Had Jesus' intent been to set up a military kingdom, his first miracle might well have been performed at a gathering of soldiers. Had his kingdom been one of politics; he would've shown his first miracle at the courts of the Romans. But his kingdom was unlike any that man has ever conceived of before or since.

The story of our Bible ends like all well-told tales - they were married and lived happily ever after. The images in the words of Jesus and the apostles for the church portray her as the bride of Christ - that he is the bridegroom that will return very soon for his bride. He longs for that day - and he has promised us that the wine of gladness and rejoicing will flow forever more when he meets us at the wedding feast at the end of time.


Jesus' first miracle tells us much about what he would do in days to come; it tells us much of what kind of king he is. He is a king who denies himself to meet the needs of his people; a king who is benevolent and compassionate; a king who will not call you to his palace to speak with you, but one who will seek you out where you live and will sit with you and dine with you and tell you of his love for you and the blessings he longs so shower upon you that by your joy, his joy may be made complete; he is a king who demands nothing from you except that you receive his gifts; and he has promised to those who believe and obey that he will return to escort his bride to the grandest wedding that has even been or ever will be. Are you ready for that marriage feast?