His Disciples Believed on Him

John 2:11-12.

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him.

 After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days.

Just a couple of points of interest in these two verses. Jesus did this first miracle, showing the glory of God, and His disciples believed on Him.

Is this an indication that there may have been some doubt before they saw Him do the miracle? I don’t really think so.

I was in a Bible study yesterday in which I asked the women with me to share some event in their lives that was difficult, but that strengthened their faith. They all offered some deeply personal things that had caused some of them to ask the quintessential “Why ME?” question, and to doubt their own worthiness. But for all of them, the result was a deeper, stronger, and more-often spoken trust in God as they saw His purpose and His working in their lives.

I think that’s what happened with the disciples. They already believed, or they wouldn’t have followed Him. The witnessing of His first miracle deepened their faith, which was already strong enough that they had left all else to follow Him. This was not a new belief, but a strengthened belief.

Then, Jesus went to Capernaum. His mother and brothers went with Him, and His disciples. We don’t hear much about Mary or His family going with Him on His journeys throughout Israel, but at this point, they were with Him. I wonder what they were thinking. Mary, I’m sure, was amazed at what He had done even though she knew He was the Son of God. His brothers, though, thought He had gone a little crazy (Mark 3:21). Was their faith in Him beginning to take seed and grow? They were still with Him, after all.

Have you ever wondered what it was like to grow up in a household in which the eldest brother was perfect? Sinless? Never, ever at fault for anything? Would you think that was wonderful, or would it work on your last nerve? I don’t know. I do believe, though, that they loved Him, and that’s why they were with Him at this early part of His public ministry.

Thou Hast Kept the Good Wine

John 2:9-10.

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

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Following Jesus’ command, the servants took a sample of the wine to the governor of the feast. I’m imagining, now, that the governor hesitantly took a moment to smell the wine, doubting it would be worth serving. But the aroma caught his attention. He sipped enough to allow the wine to sit on his tongue for a moment, enjoying the wonderful richness and depth. He swallowed, thanked the servants, and took his sample to the bridegroom.

I love the little parenthetical comment that the governor didn’t know the source of the wine, but the servants did. They don’t seem to have revealed the source; at least, if they did, it is not recorded.

In any case, the governor was impressed. He paid the groom a high compliment.

It was customary to present the best wine first, and after the guest had drunk enough to lose their sense of quality, the cheaper wine was brought out.

The governor was impressed that the groom had done just the opposite. Cheap wine first, then the very best wine. Doing so spoke to the groom’s, and his parents,’ generosity and class.

Again, in my imagination, I’m watching and listening to the servants as they return to the waterpots to carry the wine to the banquet hall. Did they talk, or were they silent in amazement? Were their hearts stirred in the presence of a Man who could turn water into wine? Did they tell others what they had seen?

What would you have done?

Six Stone Waterpots

John 2:6-8.

And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

 And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

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The typical Jewish household had water pots that were set aside for purposes of ritual cleansing. The ones in this incident had a capacity of 20-30 gallons apiece.

I think it is interesting that Jesus used the most practical of means to accomplish this miracle. The water pots were there. I suppose He could have simply waved his hand over whatever had held the wine before, and had apparently not been sufficient. But He used what was at hand, and did so without any fanfare. No bells and whistles. Just get the job done.

So He instructed the servants to fill the pots with water, up to the brim. I don’t know where they got all that water. Perhaps the household had a well, or a cistern. In any case, it didn’t seem to be a problem for them to find that much water.

It is also notable that He involved the servants in this miracle. They must have wondered what He had in mind, but they obeyed Him, apparently without question. They filled the water pots to the brim. They didn’t show doubt or disrespect by filling them only partially. They went the whole distance.

I believe that not only the host of this celebration was blessed that day; so were his servants, who had simply followed the commands of Jesus and thereby became a part of the blessing.

He could have filled the pots with wine Himself. He could have done so without any human assistance. That isn’t how He worked, though. Not then, and not today. He has chosen to use us in His work, thereby sharing the blessing with the workers as well as those who benefit from the work. Never turn away from an opportunity to do something for Him. You will lose the blessing if you do.

The governor, or master of the feast, was an important figure. He was sometimes appointed from among the prominent guests, or was a relative or close friend of the host. It was his job to supervise all the arrangements; to make sure everyone was well-served, and to taste the wine before it was offered to the guests.

Jesus told the servants to dip into the water pots and take it to the governor of the feast. I wonder what those servants were thinking. They knew they had put water in those pots. But, remarkably, they obeyed Him, just as Mary had told them. They took some kind of vessel filled from the contents of one of the pots and offered it to the governor of the feast.

"Woman"

John 2:4-5. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.

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I have heard this verse taught as Jesus was “putting His mother in her place.” That He was rebuking her, being just a tad disrespectful, because she was demanding that He do something before He was ready.

That has never felt quite right to me. First, we have no indication that she was being a bossy mamma. She simply informed Him of a problem she knew He could solve.

I believe we are mislead by the use of the word Woman, which in our parlance is not the way a son would, or should, address his mother. Here is what Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words has to say:

In the vocative (a vocative expression is an expression of direct address by which the identity of the party spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence), used in addressing a “woman,” it is a term not of reproof or severity, but of endearment or respect, Mat 15:28Jhn 2:4, where the Lord’s words to His mother at the wedding in Cana, are neither rebuff nor rebuke. 

The reason I’ve always been uncomfortable with the teaching I’ve heard so often on this verse is that it would be completely out of character for Jesus to disrespect His mother. She had not commanded Him to do anything. She simply informed Him that their host was out of wine.

But doesn’t the rest of His comment seem like a rebuke? “What have I to do with thee?” Again, in our usage in English today, this seems like Jesus is telling her not to bother Him, and that He was not ready for the main event yet.

A closer look at the Greek shows us that He did not call her “mother,” but used a term of respect that He may have used in addressing any woman. His question indicated not a reproof, but a change in relationship. Where she had been, for many years, an authority in His life, He is now making it clear that He holds her in high esteem but that He is no longer a child in her home. At no time does He scold, rebuke, or give her a put-down. Again, it would have been completely out of character for Him to treat her poorly.

To me, proof of her understanding, respect for Him, and acceptance of His authority, are all clear in her next words to the servants: “Whatever He tells you to do, do it.”

Had the servants gone to Mary to ask her to get help from Jesus? I don’t know. I do find it interesting that even though she was a guest at the wedding, the servants obeyed her and followed Jesus’ directions. Apparently she was a woman held in high esteem in the community, but her Son was held higher.

Mary never expected, intended, or wanted to be worshiped. She knew she was a sinner in need of a Savior, just like all the rest of us (Luke 1:47). Her elevation by mankind is not based on scripture, but on the many religions that made “The Mother” superior to the Son.

I have a lot of respect for Mary, a woman who had the joyous, and sorrowful, experience of being the vessel for the advent of Jesus Christ. She watched Him grow, watched Him through His ministry and torture, and never stepped away to avoid the pain. But I do not worship her, nor pray to her. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).

No Wine

John 2:3. “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine.”

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Failure to have enough wine was a social disgrace for the families of the bride and groom. The people at this wedding all knew each other, and were involved in each other’s lives. This social faux pas would never be forgotten, and the story of their running out of wine at their wedding would follow them for the rest of their lives.

Also, for the Jews, wine was a symbol of joy. To run out would be like acknowledging that neither the guests nor the bridal couple were especially happy with their wedding. There was a lot of social reputation at stake here, and Mary’s heart was to find a way to help.

Why did Mary ask Jesus to do something about this situation?

There are a couple of possibilities. One, she knew He could if He so chose.

Two, she was looking forward to His public demonstration of Who He was, partly for her own vindication. The stories of her pregnancy prior to her marriage to Joseph still followed her, for the same reason that running out of wine at their wedding would follow the bride and groom. It was a closely-knit community, and all news was interesting.

When Jesus did finally prove His power, as Mary hoped He would, she thought it would prove her claim that she had never known a man, in the biblical sense; that Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit of God, and was God in the flesh.

Apparently the stories didn’t affect her social acceptance in their community. She was not an outcast, and she and Joseph went on to have children of their own. Still, there were those who liked to cast doubt on her story and on the paternity of Jesus.

In her mind, this would be a perfect opportunity for Jesus to prove Who He was.

First Public Miracle

John 2:1-2.

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

 And both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage.

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There is some debate about the mention of “The third day.” Is it a prediction of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day after His crucifixion? Is it the third day of the Hebrew week? Or perhaps the third day of Jesus’ public ministry?

Because of the way the Hebrews counted days, it could very well have been the third day of their week. The beginning of a new day was at twilight, or around 6 p.m., and continued to twilight of the next day. So, for example, the Hebrew Sabbath actually began around 6 on Friday evening and lasted until around 6 on Saturday. Counting this way, the third day would have been Monday evening through Tuesday evening.

No one seems to have proven which day this was to the general satisfaction of all those who study such things. I’m not sure it’s important or significant for our purposes. It is interesting, though, for people like me who like to dig into the “why’s and wherefore’s.”

In any case, the fact that Jesus was invited to the wedding is significant in that it shows Him as being welcomed among the people, and that He enjoyed such social gatherings. He was not some weird, mystical ascetic who spent most of his time sitting alone on top of a mountain. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, not to be a recluse. I think He sets a good example for believers. We don’t do much good if we remove ourselves from other people.

This could have been the wedding of a relative, but surely of people who had known each other for many years. Mary was there; Jesus’ disciples, chosen so far from His own general neighborhood, were there.

A wedding was a happy social gathering, and it was an honor to be invited.

In the light of later teachings of Jesus and the Apostles about the importance of marriage as a picture of Jesus as the bridegroom and all believers as the bride, I also think it is significant that He chose to perform His first public miracle at a wedding.

Thou art the Son of God!

John 1:49-51.

Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

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It didn’t take Nathanael long to leave his doubts behind. He knew that only the Son of God Himself could have seen him under the fig tree when He was no where in sight. Jesus asked Nathanael, “So, you believe in Me because I saw you without being there? I tell you that that you will see far greater things than this. You will see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on The Son of Man.”

What an amazing prophecy this must have been for Nathanael! Did he understand it? I don’t know. I tried putting myself in his place, without the added advantage of the entire New Testament available. I can’t really do that, of course, but I think perhaps it was a moment of great faith for Nathanael at that moment, to believe without further explanation what Jesus was saying.

Jesus’ description of the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man very likely connects with the dream of Jacob in Genesis 28:12, where Jacob saw a ladder from earth to heaven, and the angels ascending and descending upon it. Jesus averred that He was the ladder, the link, between heaven and earth, between God and man.

 Son of Man: The idea behind this phrase is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14, where the King of Glory who comes to judge the world was called the Son of Man. Jesus used that title to describe Himself because it emphasized His humanity, which made Him the perfect offering for sin. He came to die. He did not come to be a conquering military leader who would crush Rome and free the Jews.

These final verses of John are important as they describe the different ways these first disciples came to Jesus:

Andrew came to Jesus because of the preaching of John. Peter came to Jesus because of the witness of his brother. Phillip came to Jesus as a result of the direct call of Jesus. Nathanael came to Jesus as he overcame personal prejudices by a personal encounter with Jesus.

We also see four different witnesses testifying to the identity of Jesus. How much more testimony does anyone need?·

John the Baptist testified that Jesus is eternal, that He is the Man anointed with the Holy Spirit, that He is the Lamb of God, and that Jesus is the unique Son of God.

Andrew testified that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

Philip testified that Jesus is the One prophesied in the Old Testament.

Nathanael testified that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel.

(A final note: I will take the day off from blogging tomorrow while we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, my favorite holiday of the year. We do not shop. We probably won’t have the TV on. We will talk about how God has blessed us this past year. We will enjoy a traditional meal. We will play games, enjoy some music, enjoy each other. May all of you also have a blessed and peaceful day of remembering how God has blessed you this past year.)