The Gospel of John Commentary Chapters 1-11 (by chapter)

John 2:1-11 - Water to Wine, The First Sign

v1,2 On the third day (Day 7 of the sequence of days counting from John 1:19, making it Wednesday). According to Edersheim in ‘The Life and times of Jesus the Messiah’ the Jewish custom was to have weddings on Wednesdays. The celebration would then last a week. It was in the 8th month, soon after His 30th Birthday at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 1:14) which marked the approximate start of His ministry 
(Luke 3:23). This was indeed the normal time of year for Weddings, 
for it was after Harvest and Tabernacles but before the time for sowing. 
there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 

v3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." 

v4 Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? (literally: “What to me and to you”) My hour has not yet come"

v5 His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." 

v6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 

v7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." 
And they filled them up to the brim. 

v8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. 

v9 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. 
v10 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!" 

v11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. 

The Purpose of John’s Gospel is given in John 20:30,31: 
“Truly Jesus did many other SIGNS in the presence of His disciples (the signs were real, they were witnessed and attested), which are not written in this book; but these (SIGNS) are written that you may BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have LIFE in His name.” 
SIGNS are miracles with a message (that is more important than the manifestation) designed to reveal something about Christ, His Plan, Power and Kingdom). There are various words for miracles but this word ‘signs’ is used to emphasise what is SIGNIFIED. A sign grabs your attention in order to teach you something. The SIGNS 
with their message lead to FAITH which in turn leads to LIFE. 

So we have: (1) SIGNS (2) BELIEVE (3) LIFE
(1) SIGNS - John’s Gospel is written around 8 SIGNS designed to prove Jesus is true God and to teach (demonstrate) what He will do in the life of a believer (summarised in the 8 ‘I AM’ claims). The teachings of John’s Gospel centre around these CLAIMS and SIGNS. 
(2) BELIEVE - the sign results in people believing its Christ-centred message. 
(3) The result of believing in His Name is LIFE (salvation: knowing God, experiencing His life: “this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). 

A classic example of this process is THOMAS (in the previous verses).
John 20:26-29: “Jesus came...and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have SEEN Me (the sign of resurrection), you have BELIEVED. BLESSED are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 

Thomas saw the SIGN of the resurrection and he BELIEVED. The SIGN of his hands and side showed that the crucified Jesus was risen again (His sacrifice for our sins having been accepted by God) as He and the prophets had predicted proving He is Lord and God - the source of all Life, Salvation and Blessing. As a result of his faith Jesus said Thomas was blessed with LIFE. This example is designed to show us the faith that leads to life. What was the kind of faith that led to Thomas’ salvation? His faith was centred on Jesus Christ: that He was crucified and risen again, and that He is Lord and God, worthy of our worship. Jesus accepted his faith and worship and said that all those who believe like this are BLESSED with resurrection (eternal) life. This is saving faith. Notice Jesus said that the blessing revealed by the sign is for all who believe - not just for the original eyewitnesses of the sign. All the signs are for us to believe and receive.

The First Sign: The transformation of WATER into WINE 
in which He manifested His glory, proving Himself to be the Son of God, and revealed what His glory will do in our lives if we will receive (believe in) Him as God: “This beginning of SIGNS Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His (Divine) glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (v11)

“On the third day 
(after 1:43-51), there was a wedding (a 7 day feast) in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there” (v1). 
Mary was the important guest and the main organiser. It seems Mary was in charge and knew more than the others the state of things (v3). She had the authority over the servants (v5). This was very early in His ministry after having just gathered His first disciples in John 1.

“Now both Jesus and His disciples (the five disciples He had just gathered in John 1) were invited to the wedding” (v2). 
Mary was the main person, Jesus and others were invited also. 

“And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine” 
(v3). This was a major problem which would result in great shame for the couple. Mary must have said this with a hidden push: ‘you should do something about it.’

“Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? (The K.J.V says: “what have I to do with you”). My hour has not yet come” (v4). Jesus words here are hard to understand. In English it sounds like He is disinterested, saying ‘no’ and coldly pushingher away, but that can’t be right because of what she says next (to the servants) and because of what He does next (the miracle). Immediately He goes ahead with the miracle so something else must be going on here.

It is important to understand the Hebrew phrases used: 
1. ‘Woman’ was a term of affection, respect
 and honour. 

2. “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?” is literally: “What to me and to you.” He pointed out that the situation was under her authority and it was not for Him to intrude, unless she delegated authority to Him, releasing Him to work. Her hint and her look was insufficient for Him to act. He respected and worked under authority. He had not yet been given the authority to act. 

3. ‘My hour has not yet come’ - His time would come when He would be Lord over all but it was not yet. It was not His time to rule. He was hinting that He could and would help, but was also telling her that she was the one in authority. She needed to give Him authority to act. Whenever Jesus spoke of ‘my time’ or ‘my hour’, He was referring to His death, resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand when He would be glorified and exalted as Lord of all and everything would change (see John 7:1,6,8,30; 8:20 which speak of His HOUR or His TIME as the time of His death, which had not yet fully come; see also John 12:23-28 where Jesus speaks just before the Cross of the impending hour for Him to be glorified, after first submitting to death. He says that it was for this very purpose that He came to this hour. In other words the whole purpose of His mission was focused on and moving towards the climax of His death and resurrection when redemption would be accomplished; see also John 13:1 which says: ‘His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father’. In John 17:1 Jesus prayed on the night before His death: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.”)

Therefore when Mary hinted: ‘you are the Messiah, do something’, Jesus said: ‘‘What to you to me? It’s up to you to give me the authority.” His answer implied He could help if she gave Him the permission (right) to act. We know Mary got the message, because of what she said next: “His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (v5).  She clearly was in charge of the Feast. Mary was in authority for the feast arrangements. She delegated authority to Jesus, putting all the servants under Him. Even Jesus functioned under authority, respecting freewill, only moving in people’s lives when they requested, when they gave Him permission. Healings were usually initiated when they came to Him and worshipped Him, gave him authority to act in their homes. He never violated true authority. As soon as Mary gave Him the right, He worked the wonder!

The MIRACLE of TRANSFORMATION
 (v6-10): “Now there were set there SIX WATERPOTS of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing 20-30 gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. (Imagine how nervous they would be serving up water to the manager! He had to taste it to 
make sure it was O.K as part of his job). When the master of the feast (the chief servant, like the headwaiter or hotel-manager) 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 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 (because they could not taste the difference by then). You have kept the good (best) wine until now!” 

Since this is a SIGN we must look at the MESSAGE it teaches: 
First: by this first sign, Jesus affirmed MARRIAGE 
and the celebration of life. He is no killjoy. The running out of wine would have been a disaster, killing the party and the couple’s reputation. In those days the wine was much more dilute than now and helped to make the water hygienic. Wine represents joy and satisfaction, and the true wine (joy) of life comes from the Spirit (Psa 23:5, Acts 2:12-17). “Do not get drunk with WINE, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the SPIRIT” (Eph 5:18). Drunkenness is condemned for it is a substitute for drinking in the Spirit. The ‘wine had run out’ states our human condition without Christ. ‘Natural wine’ brings a certain happiness but that runs out. Eventually if you just focus on the things of this life you come up empty. The satisfaction does not last. But when it ran out and they turned to Christ and asked Him, He filled their cups with the best wine (abundant life) that satisfies and never runs dry. Jesus came to give us life abundantly (John10:10) so that our cup runs over: “You have anointed my head with oil; my cup (of God’s wine)overflows” (Psalm 23:5). The wine that Jesus gives is the best wine that will never run out! 

Second: it reveals Christ’s power to TRANSFORM men. 
The starting material was unpromising: The 6 Clay Pots picture man (six is the number of man, falling short of spiritual perfection symbolised by the number 7). They were empty: God made the human body from clay, in order to contain human life (man’s spirit-soul) as well as God’s Spirit. Water represents natural human life (which becomes stagnant when separated from God’s life). As Jesus said in John 3:5,6, man’s first birth is of water (flesh), and he needs a second birth of spirit. 
His natural state is a soulish life (water), without spiritual life (wine). 

This sign is a demonstration of Christ’s power to recreate us in the New Birth and transform us from deep within. In this sign His glory is revealed as the Creator, the Son of God, with the power and willingness to create and transform men.  What did His glory do? The Spirit of God moved over the waters, in Genesis 1, transforming them into wine. As He hovered over the waters at the first Creation, so now the Spirit hovers over our waters (our spirit) to bring forth a new creation. The miracle happened invisibly inside the clay-pots, changing the inside, but the outside looked much the same. 

This is a picture of the rebirth of our spirit by the Spirit (this is explained further in John 3, which is chronologically the first teaching we have of Jesus, and thus it is the foundational teaching of the New Testament). 
 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see 
the kingdom of God....Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born 
of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind (a picture of the Spirit) blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (v3-8). The rebirth of the spirit is by the Spirit- invisible, but with visible results. 

It can only happen when we give Christ the right or authority to do it (as Mary did). That is why the major part of the preparation for the miracle was about the giving of authority to Jesus. When we call Him Lord then the Spirit enters into our clay-pot and turns our water into wine - He breathes into us His eternal life, filling us with the wine of the Holy Spirit. He gives us ETERNAL (the God-kind of) life. The sign was given so we may believe in Jesus as the One who has the power to transform our inner-being, and so receive Him as our Lord (as Mary did). Then through our faith He gives us LIFE, His glory is released into us to do the very miracle revealed by the sign. 

So the SIGN says Jesus will do this for us too if we will receive Him!  It teaches that believing in Jesus results in His glory manifested in us, so that we receive eternal life and inner transformation by the New Birth changing our life from the old (natural) Water into new (spiritual) Wine. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”
(John 3:16). “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13,14). 

“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right (authority) to become children of God (this is our legal adoption as sons), even to those who believe in His Name (His Person and Work), who were born (regenerated), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but (born) of God” (John 1:12,13). Our new-birth is neither based on racial, national or family identity or any natural ability (blood), nor upon our willpower or works (the will of the flesh), nor can it be conferred by other men or institutions (the will of man). It must be directly and personally received from God through faith in Christ. When we receive Christ we are first legally forgiven, justified and adopted (literally: ‘placed’) as sons of God, then we are powerfully regenerated by the Spirit of God, so that God is also literally the Father of our spirit. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come”(2Corinthians 5:17)
 
You must give God the right to change your water into wine, to manifest His glory in your spirit, soul, body, life, work and relationships.

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