Jesus’ first miracle is recorded in John 2:1-11. It is not revealed in John’s Gospel who was getting married, but it was someone known to Jesus and His mother, Mary. The only person in Scripture named who was from Cana is Nathanael (John 21:2), but since he is named five times in John 1, it is not likely the wedding was his. Nevertheless, Jesus and His disciples were invited, and Mary, called only “the mother of Jesus,” apparently had some responsibility, as well as some influence, because she commanded the servants.
Weddings in Bible times were lengthy, sometimes lasting a week, not just a few hours as they are in western culture. To run out of wine would be an embarrassment, at the least, and there is “some evidence it could also lay the groom open to a lawsuit from aggrieved relatives of the bride.” (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, Pg. 169)
And they did run out of wine, and Jesus’ mother came and said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus’ response to her was not disrespectful, but, as the Amplified Bible suggests, was in the sense of “Dear woman,” a term of respect and endearment. Jesus’ question to her was not a snub or rejection, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” The NIV translates this question this way: “Why do you involve me?” Holman Christian Standard Bible suggests more of a statement: “You and I see things differently…” At age twelve, Jesus asked, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)
It is in this essence that Jesus answered His mother, implying that He was now following the orders given to Him by His Father. Mary understood what He was saying, and instructed the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Not coincidentally, and with extraordinary profundity, these are Mary’s last recorded words in the New Testament.
There were six “waterpots of stone,” large vessels used for washing before and after eating, “according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.” Jesus told them to fill the vessels with water, which they did, “to the brim.” Then Jesus directed them to take some to the person in charge of the feast. The host had no idea where the wine came from, but the servants knew, and so did Mary and Jesus’ disciples. When the host had tasted the wine, he said to the bridegroom, “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!” Jesus had averted great embarrassment for the wedding party, and “manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.”
Few people at the time were aware of this event, as it was done covertly. This was Jesus’ first miracle, identified in John’s Gospel as the “beginning of signs.” The Gospel of John records eight such signs, showing or demonstrating in a significant way, though sometimes subtle, His glory, “and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” (John 1:14) Each was significant in showing Israel’s need and their helpless condition, and their Messiah’s ability to meet the need. In the first sign, there was no wine, for it had run out. There were large containers of purification water, signifying an overabundance of religion, but no ability to save them from the shame they had brought on themselves.
Jesus quietly and divinely provided 120 to 180 gallons of the finest wine, in super abundance, restoring joy to the people, and saving the people from disgrace. Like the multiplying of the loaves and fishes, feeding thousands with seemingly insufficient amounts, Jesus’ miraculous provision proved again His oneness with God, Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide.