Sermon: A Big Miracle in a Small Town John 2:1-12

John Banner website_edited-1 A Big Miracle in a Small Town

John 2:1-12

Primary Truth Taught- Jesus is the Promised Messiah and John proves it to us in this, the first sign.


As we closed Chapter One, Jesus promised Nathaniel that he would see greater things than these. If you remember, Jesus had just told Nathaniel that He saw him under the fig tree. We don’t know what Nathaniel was pondering while under the tree but whatever it was, it connected him to Jesus in a special way and he saw in Christ all the promises fulfilled. John shows us many “greater things” throughout this gospel. He calls seven them signs. The first half of John’s Gospel is written with the intent to prove what the prologue has told us about Jesus. The ten titles we looked at last week are proven throughout John’s Gospel. In other words, as an example, John calls Jesus, God and now he is going to show Jesus doing things only God can do. So then, the only logical conclusion and the one he wants us to make is that Jesus is God. In a similar way he records Jesus being called the Messiah, and John is going to show us Jesus doing the very things that the OT tells us the Messiah will do when He comes. It would be easy to call someone the Messiah, King of Israel but it’s quite another thing to prove it. So we began this series working our way through Chapter 1 learning the claims of John concerning the Person of Jesus and now we are about to be shown that these claims are facts, proven by the great events John records.

This is a good time to once again be reminded of the purpose of John in recording these signs…

John 20:30–31 (ESV)

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

It’s good that at the beginning now of Jesus’ ministry we see why John records the signs he does. His intent is that these particular signs will produce faith within those who read and understand them.

My goal then as the preacher is to make sure to bring out the purpose John had in recording this sign. Why did He pick it along with six others from all the signs Jesus accomplished in His ministry? Let’s see if we can discover this together today.

Human Need Met

John 2:1–12 (ESV)

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

  1. A Small Town Setting for a Glorious Miracle

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

It didn’t take very long at all for Jesus to fulfill His promise to Nathaniel. This is now the third day from the time Jesus made His promise to him that he will see greater things than these…
John 1:50 (ESV)

50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”

It is no accident that this wedding took place in a small out of the way village known as Cana. It’s also no mistake Cana was the hometown of guess who…Nathaniel.

It was Just like Jesus to select a small insignificant place to perform His first sign. Our Lord was not drawn to big and flashy but to the small and lowly. So it was that this small village would serve as the place of His first amazing sign, this being two days after meeting Nathaniel.

One important application for us today is that we must anticipate Jesus’ promises coming to pass quickly to His people. Here it’s only been two days, this being the third since he told Nathaniel of the amazing things he would see as he follows Christ.

John records the time frame for us. He wants us to learn that Jesus can be trusted and His promises to His people will come to pass and that we should anticipate a quick fulfillment.

What do I mean? Take this for an example: Jesus promised us that He would be with us.
Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Do you see how quickly this promise came to pass…immediately. Jesus is with us. Everyone who has experienced the new birth has Jesus with them. All true Christians have a life long companion. This promise was fulfilled the split second you were saved. Too often, it seems, we don’t anticipate Jesus’ promises actually being fulfilled to us quickly. We should live our lives anticipating His presence and His power working immediately.

The other application point here is to know that Jesus works His greatest miracles is insignificant settings. Like Cana, a small village that no one really knew about, He does one of His greatest signs.
This is important for us because the last I checked, none of us are famous, or rich. We’re people that, the truth be told, no one really knows about. However, God knows us and He’s done some of His best work in many of us. Saving us from our sin is no small thing. God continues to work in the small and insignificant and to that we can all say, AMEN.

Aren’t you glad Jesus works in the small and insignificant people and places? Aren’t you glad that at the birth of Jesus, it wasn’t first announced to kings and queens but to the lowly shepherds? His resurrection wasn’t announced to royalty but to the women who traveled, in sadness, to the tomb. Jesus is about the meek and humble and those who are not really known to the world.

  1. My Hour has Not Yet Come

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

In Jewish life, wine was a symbol of joy and celebration. One ancient text tells us that there is no rejoicing save with wine. The running out of wine at the wedding in Cana was literally a catastrophic dilemma. The host had the responsibility to supply the wine for the entire weeklong wedding celebration.

When the wine ran out it was really symbolic for the dry bareness of Judaism during these days. The people were spiritually dead and had not heard from God for about 400 dry years.

Jesus’ mother Mary was probably in some way helping the mother of the bride, as was often the practice of wedding guests like her. When she tells Jesus that the wine has ran out she is doing so in a way to not cause a big scene. This would demean those hosting the wedding celebration. Probably Mary had no idea at this point what Jesus was about to do. It seems she was speaking about this with Jesus with the idea of sending Him and His disciples to go and get more.

This moment in time serves as a new chapter in the life of our Lord. No longer would He be taking commands from anyone but He would no be the One with authority.

This section has some difficult interpretation connected to it. Why did Mary come to Jesus with this dilemma? He had never done a miracle to date, at least one recorded in the Bible.

What did she know about Jesus? First she remembered what the angel told her prior to His birth. She also remembered the fact that she conceived Him as a virgin. She knew that His entire life so far was a life that in many ways marked Him as extraordinary. She remembered His great thirst for God’s Word…even a 12 years old finding Him in the temple speaking with the teachers. All this marked Jesus as the Messiah. She knew He was the promised One, the One who would come and change the world.

Our Lord’s response, to us at least, seems harsh and somewhat disrespectful. However, in ancient Palestine this was a way of addressing with honor godly women. So Jesus is gently reminding His mother that His time is not yet.

When He says that His hour has not yet come, He means that the time of His crucifixion is not here yet. He also is probably inferring at least to some measure to the great wedding feast when He comes into His kingdom.

It’s too early, Jesus still has much work and ministry to accomplish before He gives His life.

Another reason for His seemingly odd response was that this miracle officially marked the beginning of His ministry as the Messiah.

“We must not avoid the conclusion that Jesus by rebuking his mother, however courteously, declares, at the beginning of his ministry, his utter freedom from any kind of human advice, agenda or manipulation. He has embarked on his ministry, the purpose of his coming; his only lodestar is his heavenly Father’s will (5:30; 8:29). This must have been extremely difficult for Mary. She had borne him, nursed him, taught his baby fingers elementary skills, watched him fall over as he learned to walk; apparently she had also come to rely on him as the family provider. But now that he had entered into the purpose of his coming, everything, even family ties, had to be subordinated to his divine mission. She could no longer view him as other mothers viewed their sons; she must no longer be allowed the prerogatives of motherhood. It is a remarkable fact that everywhere Mary appears during the course of Jesus’ ministry; Jesus is at pains to establish distance between them (e.g. Mt. 12:46-50). This is not callousness on Jesus’ part: on the cross he makes provision for her future (19:25-27). But she, like every other person, must come to him as to the promised Messiah, the Lam of God who takes away the sin of the world. Neither she nor anyone else dare presume to approach him on an ‘inside track’ – a lesson even Peter had to learn (Mk. 8:31-33). For no-one could this lesson have been more difficult than for Jesus’ mother; perhaps that was part of the sword that would pierce her soul (Lk. 2:35). For this we should honor her the more.”[1]

We also see Mary’s confidence in Jesus as she tells the servants to do whatever He tells you. She knows that His time has not yet come but it is time for Jesus to begin showing His followers who He really is.

  1. Jesus Manifests His Glory and His Disciples Believe

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

The servants brought 6 stone jars or crocks capable of holding 20-30 gallons of water. They filled them to the brim.

Notice how John draws out the scene. Why does he highlight the amount of water these stone jars could hold? Why does he tell us that the servants filled them to the brim? Why does he bring up the fact that when the master of the feast tasted it but didn’t know where it came from immediately went to the bridegroom (the one who would have been humiliated when the wine ran out) with his compliments. He tells the bridegroom that this wedding feast is way beyond any he’s ever seen before. Normally the best wine is drunk first and the lesser quality wine brought out later. This feast, the wine just keeps flowing and getting better all the time.

We also should notice that the water turned into wine in a way that was secret. In other words, Jesus didn’t pray a great prayer over the water but simply by means of His authority over all things, including the water, by shear will of the Creator, the water turned to wine sometime, at least it seems, between the drawing it out of the jar and the drinking by the master of the feast.

11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

My question this week was…so of all the things Jesus did, what made this so amazing that it qualified as a sign to instill belief?

I want to take us deeper than the event itself to learn what was going on theologically…
Let’s begin with Mary’s instructions to the servants… Do whatever he tells you.

We see in this command perfect peace and confidence in Jesus. It’s very interesting to discover another place in the Bible that these words are used. It is no mistake that the situation is in some ways similar.

Genesis 41:55–57 (ESV)

55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.”

56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.

Just as Pharaoh tells the people to do whatever Joseph says because he had perfect confidence and trust in him during this time of famine so to Jesus is the One to trust and obey during the day when there was a famine of wine, so to speak. The entire world came to Egypt for food because the storehouses were overflowing with food and so too were the jars overflowing with wine.

When Joseph was in charge the people were given what they needed to survive. Notice the difference here, when Jesus is in charge we see Messianic extravagance…

The wine Jesus created was the best ever, but He did not create a small quantity. He produced much more than was needed. Can you imagine the joy of this married couple, who may have been poor, being left with over 100 gallons of the finest wine ever? When Jesus fed the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21) and again the 4,000 (Matthew 15:32-39), there were plenty of leftovers (14:20; 15:37). God’s blessings are always bountiful. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).[2]

So when the Messiah comes His people will not be made to beg but will be blessed in extravagant ways. When the Messiah comes He will lavish His followers with grace. He will save to the uttermost.

We must not loose sight that the setting is a wedding feast. Jesus uses the wedding format to often speak of His Messianic age.

Matthew 22:1–2 (ESV)

22 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,

Matthew 25 we see the parable of the ten virgins with the setting again being a marriage feast, which represents the coming of Jesus’ kingdom.

While I think all this is important there was an even clearer picture of what the Messiah would do when He came. The prophets marked the age of the Messiah with times of plenty, abundance, and peace. When King Jesus returns to this earth there will be a time of great abundance and peace. This event, the turning the water into wine is a prophetic sign of what the earth will experience when Jesus returns.
Jeremiah 31:12 (ESV)

12    They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,

and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,

       over the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and over the young of the flock and the herd;

       their life shall be like a watered garden,

and they shall languish no more.

 

Hosea 14:7 (ESV)

   They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;

they shall flourish like the grain;

       they shall blossom like the vine;

their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

 

Amos 9:13 (ESV)

13    “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,

“when the plowman shall overtake the reaper

and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed;

       the mountains shall drip sweet wine,

and all the hills shall flow with it.

The Israelites had a saying that came from these verses and especially Amos 9 that says when the Messiah comes the best wine will flow freely.

So, I want us to now briefly go back and highlight a few sections in our passage for today…

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

Application

We must draw the same conclusions the first disciples did…This is the Messiah!!

This is the promised One. This is the Son of God the King of Israel!!

11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Children’s Homework

The next section is the account of Jesus driving out the “money changers” from inside the Temple. Why was Jesus angry with them and with what they were doing? What lessons might we learn from His actions? (Use your study Bible to discover the answers).

Declaration of Grace

In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

 

[1] (THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, D.A. Carson, p. 171)

 

[2] bible.org/seriespage/5-first-sign-jesus-turns-water-wine-john-21-11

%d bloggers like this: