Return to Index Page


The Marriage Wine

By Richard Gunther


John 2 


Jesus made happiness wherever he went, because he was usually happy. Happiness is contagious. He was constantly cheering people up - Mat. 9:2, 14:27, John16:33. We know that Jesus had a merry heart because “A merry heart is a blessing from God” - Pr. 15:13. Because Jesus was a perfect Man, his life was a perfect fulfillment of the Proverbs (and all other Scriptures) in regard to the best possible example of a human life lived perfectly.

His life was spent doing things for others, and before he died he bequeathed to his disciples "joy" - John 17:13, and peace - John 16:33, and security - John 17:11, and love-John 17:26.

In this he showed that God is interested in all his creature's interests, and that he enters into all our experiences . . . and so it was that He, God, came to the wedding feast- He was invited to it either because he was a popular man, or perhaps he was related to the host, or bride, or groom.

But the wine ran out. This was a very serious problem within the context of the Jewish wedding- The hosts were possibly poor people, or perhaps they were disorganized. Perhaps both? But whichever it was, it was terribly embarrassing to the bride and her sensitive family.

Mary came to Jesus with the problem. Up till then he had done no miracles, but, because he was already a wise son, she thought he might be able to help, This is always the way when there is a problem - the people who consistently show care and concern for others, those with a history of helpfulness, are the ones who are called on first.

When Jesus replied to Mary, his words were not rude or impolite, (as some have supposed), though they might sound like that to our Western ears. “Woman what have I to do with you?” In saying this Jesus spoke a typical Hebraism, or manner of speaking,  as David also did, in 2Sam.16:10. He also spoke in much the same way when he was on the cross - "Woman behold your son" - John 19:26. This manner of speaking is important when we look at Jesus’ words – in fact, in order to really understand Jesus, we must see him in the light of all the prophets of the Old Testament. It was Jesus who spoke through all those prophets of God, and who inspired the writing of the books of the Old Testament. Jesus was totally consistent with what came before, and no different from any of the prophets who preceded him.

Even though it is a respectful manner of address, it also carries with it the reminder that He is not Mary's son, but God the Father's.

Smith and Goodspeed bring out the sense that Mary was trying to push Jesus into doing something : "They have no more wine!" Jesus said "Do not try to direct me. it is not yet time for me to act."

The way Mary came to him seems to indicate that she was really concerned about the lack of wine, and expected her Son to be just as upset as she was. Jesus showed her that "Your concern is not mine, My hour has not yet come." It was similar to the "Get behind me Satan" which he addressed to Peter " Mat. 16:23, when Peter tried to dissuade him from His God-directed course. In a way, Jesus was saying "What have your concerns to do with My Mission? I did not come for this sort of thing - to help people at weddings who run out of wine - My hour has not yet arrived. You must not tell me what to do," It would be like getting Superman to spend his days straightening nails, instead of saving trains from crashing.


The "hour" of Jesus came when he submitted to the plan of God, allowing people to lead him to the crucifixion - see John 7:6, 30, 8:20 and then Mat-26:18 and 45. His "hour" began in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mary must have realized that she had to stay out of her Son's way. The separation between her and her son widened - from the angel's message, to the flight to Egypt and then back again, to the arrival of the shepherds and then the coming of the wise men, and then to the question in the Temple "Don't you know I must be about My Father's business?" - Luke 2:49. Gradually, any claim she might have had to be His mother (in the way other mothers related to their sons) slipped away. Jesus grew more mighty and more different as the years rolled by, until Mary found herself on exactly the same level as any of Jesus' other close and dedicated followers.

The "hour" of Jesus is explained in John 7:1 - 6. Up until a certain time, Jesus did what the Father told him to do, but when his "hour" came he allowed wicked Men to do what they wanted (though still completely under the Father's


Is,53:1,2 it was the love, not the power of the messiah which had to draw people.

"Whatever he says to you, do it". These are Mary's last recorded words. She handed the matter over to her son and obediently slipped out of the picture. So must we. Whatever Jesus tells us to do, we must do it - without fuss or argument. And when Mary was gone, Jesus worked his miracle, but he did it without ostentation or show. Privately, almost secretly, he worked an astonishing miracle, which only his disciples and the servants knew about, though afterwards the word spread, and God's care for the happiness of the wedding guests (and by inference our happiness too) was displayed.

A week before this miracle, Jesus refused to turn stones into bread to ease his

own hunger, but here he turns water into wine, to save a wedding.

The wedding marked a turning point in Jesus' life. It was the beginning of his public work, and the first sign of revelation of who he was.

Miracles are not the best revelation of God, since they can be mimicked by Satan (i.e. the magicians of Egypt) and magicians or conjurors or illusionists (who appear to work miracles through illusion and slight of hand). A far better way to know God is through the Word, which describes the truth, and the Spirit, after the new birth.

Bullinger comments 'This miracle was the first one the Jews had seen for 450 years. The last one was in Dan.6:22."

   Jesus Christ is all of God's goodness - John 1:14, 17, Mat.19:17, Acts 10:38, John 10:11 the Good Shepherd. When Moses asked God to show him His glory, God let "all His GOODNESS pass by him - Ex. 33:18 and 34:6 onwards. Glory and goodness go together. When we think of "glory" we often think of a great, shining light, but glory can be a quality, such as goodness, without any physical appearance.

   The incident at the marriage was the first of several major miracles recorded in John’s gospel. It displays creation, and reveals the Creator. It also reveals God’s love in that no detail is too small for Him to care about. It shows His condescension in that He was able to visit a wedding rather than avoid it in favour of the Great Mission – as some zealous missionary types might have done. It shows his impeccable manners in that he spoke with dignity but kindness to his mother.  We can learn from this incident that we should not try to relate to Jesus in a ‘wrong’, or inappropriate way. He is approachable, but not over-familiar. He attracts but he also demands respect. Not even his mother can claim any exception to this rule.

Back to Index Page