The original text of Scripture was without chapter and verse divisions-chapters were added in the thirteenth century and verses in the sixteenth-so the writer had to indicate divisions in other ways. The way John marks this section is by the bookends: the first (John 2:1-11) and second (4:43-54) signs that Jesus performs in Cana.
The theme of this section is ″The Old and New″. As a whole, it emphasises:
- With Jesus, the new has come: He turns water into wine; He is the new temple where God and people meet; He makes people new and quenches eternal thirst by giving eternal life.
- Jesus knows all things: He knows what is in people (John 2:25); He knows what Nicodemus needs; He knows all about the woman (4:29, 39); He knows that the official’s son would live.
Jesus comes to Cana to grace a wedding with His presence. It seems to be a family occasion; Jesus’ mother is invited, Jesus is invited, and generously, His new disciples are included in the invitation.
Perhaps the hosts’ generosity extended too far, because they ran out of wine. Mary is told, presumably because she is the senior family member present. She tells Jesus, her eldest son, who responds respectfully (see also John 19:26). ″Woman″ indicates that there is a change in Jesus’ priorities-He has placed His heavenly Father and His business first. Henceforth, Jesus no longer goes by His earthly parents’ timetable and orders; He’s going to follow only His heavenly Father’s schedule and instructions.
There are six jars containing about 420 to 750 litres of water for cleansing, the equivalent of between 560 to 1,000 bottles of wine. They are filled and some is drawn off, leading the master of ceremonies to commend the bridegroom for the excellence of his wine; it is even better than the earlier provision.
Without touching or speaking, Jesus has revealed His glory (v. 11). Just like God, Jesus has the same power to create. The conclusion is clear: He is sovereign (and deity). Furthermore, the wedding feast with its new wine signifies the coming of God’s kingdom, where the old order gives way to the new, ushered in by the Messiah as prophesied (Isaiah 9:1-7). He does not make stones into bread to satisfy Satan’s demand (Matthew 4:1-4), but He turns water into wine to reveal His glory. Jesus fulfils Isaiah 25:6-9. He gives a foretaste of a greater banquet. In Revelation 19:9, the same writer, John, tells us of the wedding supper of the groom, Jesus Christ, and His bride, the church.
The glimpse we have at Cana will one day give way to the eternal reality.
Wine can be seen to symbolise joy. Jesus hadn’t come to take their joy away; instead, He came to bring them new joy. Reflect on the fullness of life He promises. How different is it from the ″joy″ people have in the world?