In this passage, we see the first miracle performed by Jesus. Up to this point Jesus has lived a fairly normal life. With the exception of being born of a virgin, having the spirit descend on him like a dove, and being tempted by Satan himself. But nothing else would have separated him from any other first century Jew at this time, especially to someone that just met him.
So when his first followers started following him it was not because he was doing miraculous things or was glowing in the dark. It was because of the testimony of someone else that he was the messiah. Now something interesting can be found in this passage. In verse 11, the author says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” This verse not only gives us the main point of the passage, but the main point of the gospel of John. John is telling us that he is writing so that the glory of Jesus may be manifested and that you just like the disciples may believe in Him.
This passage also shows us that it is possible to follow Jesus without truly believing in Him. These four men had followed Jesus around for at least a week before they truly believed in Jesus as the Messiah. This goes to show us that disciple making takes time, most of the conversions of the New Testament are Timothy-like conversions that come over a period of time. However, there are exceptions like Paul, the Ethiopian Eunuch, and Pentecost, but all those involve something miraculous going on that is to be descriptive of what is going on, not prescriptive of what we should be seeking to duplicate.
Therefore, having an evangelistic method that involves an instantaneous decision, such as say this prayer or sign this card or raise your hand if you do not want to go to Hell is not a Biblical way of doing evangelism.
We also see that it takes something miraculous to turn someone into a follower into a disciple. And it took something miraculous to cause each one of us that are believers to go from death to life. So what is it that was miraculous that spurred our belief in Christ? Christ is not here on earth performing miracles anymore, so what caused our faith? It is the work of the Holy Spirit and the hearing of the miracle of God’s Word that caused us to go from life to death.
It is a shame that many of us do not see the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit as the miracles that they truly are. Just one sentence from God would have been a great gift, but God gave us a waterfall of truth in the pages of sacred Scripture. We are like the Israelites that were lost in the dessert. God set them free from slavery from a world power, parted the Red Sea, and was feeding them manna every morning, yet they still complained, still worshiped idols, and still did not have enough faith to take the promise land.
When we sit back and read those stories we smugly say to ourselves that we would never do that, if God did that for me I would never doubt him. Yet God has given us two miracles that greatly surpass what they experienced in the wilderness. But just like the Israelites we become used to God’s provision and become spoiled.
Becoming a disciple of Christ is not something that we can do. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about new life. We cannot argue someone into heaven, nor can we bribe someone into believing. Christ alone has to call them and to bring about new life. All we can do is be like John the Baptist and point others to Christ. Or like Philip and say come and see.
There is a deeper illustration of what is going on in this passage and I believe that is why Jesus’ response sounds so weird. What I mean by this is that there is a reason Jesus chooses to use water jars that were appointed for “purification,” not for drinking, when he performs his miracle and fills them with wine. And the reason is that he means to point to his own death as the ultimate purification for sins that would nullify and replace the Jewish purification rituals. (Piper, 2008)
Jesus remembers that the prophets characterized the messianic age as a time when wine would flow liberally (Je. 31:12; Ho. 14:7; Am. 9:13-14). Jesus is the messianic bridegroom. He will supply all the wine that is needed for the messianic banquet, but his hour has not yet come. As this unknown bridegroom of John 2, in anticipation of the perfect way he himself will fill the role of the messianic bridegroom. (Carson, 1991)
Jesus rebuffed his mother’s request by saying “my hour has not yet come,” nevertheless he goes ahead and does the miracle. Jesus detects more symbolism in that what the speaker originally had meant. This is a theme that we will see several times in the book of John. Mary probably laid out the need for wine in mundane terms; however, it seems to me that what Jesus is doing here is saying, “No, the climactic hour of my death is not yet here, but I will give you a sign of my death. I will give you an acted out parable of my death and what it will mean. (Piper, 2008)
In verses 9-10, the point is: No, he didn’t. He let the wine run out. That’s the way it is with grooms on this earth. All husbands fail to be all that we ought to be. But quietly, omnipotently, Jesus plays the role of the perfect, all-providing Bridegroom. Out of water comes wine—better than any husband could provide.
As the obedient Son of God, he is not swayed by family ties—not Mary’s and not yours. He is swayed by those who despair of pedigrees and trust his grace.
As the ultimate Purifier, he is not moved by religious ritual. Jesus replaced all Old Testament ritual once for all with his own blood. There is one way to be pure before God—the hardest way for him and the easiest way for you: Wash your robes in the blood of the Lamb. Come to him. Live on him.
And as the all-providing Bridegroom, he never, never, never fails to give us what we need. The life-giving wine of his death in our place never runs out. He is the perfect, all-providing husband to his church. (Piper, 2008)