The First Sign

John 2:1-12

IMG_0640John incorporated seven signs (miracles) into his gospel. The signs were recorded as proof that Jesus is the Son of God. Why is that important? If Jesus is God’s son, then he has the authority and power to forgive sins.

The first sign recorded in John’s gospel took place at a wedding. Bible commentaries suggest that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in attendance because she was a relative of someone in the bridal party. Jesus and his disciples were likely in attendance because Mary was there.

During the celebration, the guests ran out of wine. This would be a humiliating act in a culture that prides itself on hospitality. It is apparent that Mary believes Jesus has access to supernatural power. After all, she has first hand knowledge that he is the Son of God (Luke 1). Her words, “Do whatever he tells you” demonstrate her faith.

For me, Jesus’ words, “Woman, why do you involve me?” were not a put down, rather, they established that everything he did or said was designed to bring glory to God, or fulfill the will of his Father.

Jesus is also quoted as saying, “My hour has not yet come,” which seems like an odd statement for him to make given that he had already been preaching and gathering disciples. Could this be referring to some later act or event such as the redemptive work of the cross?

Whether it is Mary’s faith in him or some other reason, Jesus elects to honor her request. From behind the scenes Jesus instructs the servants of the house to draw water and put into six, 20-gallon jars. These jars were used to hold water for ritual cleansing, symbolic of the old covenant.   Water in the jars was immediately changed into wine. Today, we understand wine to be a symbol of the new covenant (the blood of Jesus which was shed for all humanity).

The obvious outcome of this miracle is the disciples putting their faith in Jesus (John 2:11). But, as J. Ramsey Michaels points out in his commentary, there is a message beneath the obvious. The disciples were not the main focus of the story. It was the servants who responded to Mary’s comment, “Do whatever he tells you.” It was the servants who were obedient to Jesus’ commands “Fill the jars with water” and “take the contents of the jars to the master of the banquet.” It was the servants who knew, “where the good wine came from.” The suggested message in this case is anyone who knows where Jesus comes from and does as he commands will see the glory of God revealed (J. Ramsey Michaels).

By demonstrating his ability to take care of a non-essential physical need in miraculous fashion, Jesus is establishing his credibility to meet our emotional and spiritual needs as well.

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