The Wedding Feast in Cana

The Wedding Feast in Cana

(John 2: 1-11)

The narrative of the wedding feast in Cana is framed by the movement of the characters in the narrative. Jesus, his disciples and his mother were there. They were on the move. The narrative starts with time, place and reason for gathering. It, then, names the characters.

The narrative could be divided four divisions. Firstly, there are the time, place and the reason for the gathering (vv.1-2). Then, the mother of Jesus spoke to Jesus and his respond to his mother request (vv. 3-5). Then, it followed by the main action of the story (vv. 6-10). Finally, the narrator comments on the manifestation of the glory of Jesus and the faith of the disciples (v. 11).

Since the beginning the narrative has anticipated many of the themes that will develop again and again. It begins with recalling the moment of God’s revelation at Sinai, “the third day” (cf. Exodus 19:16). The narrative has pointed out the coming of the revelation of God’s glory through and in Jesus Christ.

The reason for gathering was a marriage feast which is an image of the messianic era, marked by the abundance of wine and fine foods (cf. Hosea 2:19-20). The narrative has introduced the abundance of wine out of “water” which is performed by Jesus, the Messiah.

The narrative introduces the mother of Jesus as the first character and is followed by the introduction of Jesus and his disciples (vv. 3-5). The narrative seems to suggest that the mother of Jesus has a special role in the actual miracle and in the feast itself.

Soon after naming the characters the narrative moves on to explain the problem faced by the bridegroom, “the wine gave out” (v. 3). The mother of Jesus knew the problem and told her son about it. Whether she had known before hand that Jesus has power over this situation or she just wanted Jesus and his disciples to go to buy some more wine are not very clear. I myself tend to agree that she knew who Jesus is.   

Jesus replied to her in a sharp response, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” (v. 4). This kind of response would not be expected by anyone from a son to a mother. The narrator called her “the mother of Jesus” (v 1) and Jesus called her “woman”.

Jesus makes clear that his mission does not depend on family ties and is not a family mission but rather depends on “the hour” (v. 4). “The hour” indicates that his work is imposed on him by another, and he is bound to it.

The reaction of his mother is surprising. She did not get upset to hear from her son such a ‘strong word’. She moved on to tell the servants to do everything Jesus would tell them (v. 5). I imagine she did not know what would happen but in her ignorance she trusts Jesus’ word. She actualised it in her action.

The narrator then indicated that there were six very large stone water jars (v.6). The number was one short of the number seven, the number of perfection. The first sign of Jesus had been anticipated and when it happened there would be a superabundance of wine since every jar was holding twenty or thirty gallons. The water used for Jewish rites of purification will be transformed into a sign in and through which the glory of God in Jesus Christ will be revealed.

The mother’s message to the servants was perfectly executed. Jesus told them to fill the jars with water (v. 7). They did what Jesus commanded them with wordless obedience. Then the second command came “now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward”. They did exactly what Jesus commanded (v. 9).

The chief steward tasted it and found it was the best wine. He was surprise but he did not know where it came from, the servants and the disciples did. It came to be by the power of Jesus’ words which the servants accepted perfectly. The glory of God has been revealed and the disciples believed (vv. 9-11).

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