What was the first miracle Jesus performed? Changing of water into wine? How do we know it is his first miracle? In the 11th verse of the gospel of John chapter 2 it says so. Verse 11 says, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory.”
Why is this important? First, given the importance of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the proofs that validate who He was, it is good to know where, when and how it took place.
Secondly, author Herbert Lockyer who wrote extensively on all the miracles of the Bible said of verse 11, “Although He had lived for thirty years, this was the first manifestation of the miraculous power He was to exercise. Such a fact nullifies the records of the miraculous in the Apocryphal gospels, universally excluded from Holy Scripture because of their mythic and spurious nature.”
It is Lockyer’s contention that the miracles attributed to Jesus in the Apocryphal gospels are not genuine and thus not worthy of consideration. Why? Because the 11th verse of John chapter 2 tells us that the miracle we are considering today is in fact Christ’s first miracle.
The gospel of John chapter 2 verses 1 through 10 says, “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “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!”
Prior to Jesus performing His first miracle, we see some important events took place. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 4 verses 1 through 11 we see that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry,” and at that point verse 3 says “the tempter came to Him.”
After Jesus successfully overcomes the devil, verse 11 adds, “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”
Jesus then began His earthly ministry by challenging the people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” in Matthew chapter 4 verse 17. Then He called His first followers, Peter, Andrew, James and John in verse 21.
These things all pointed toward the Lord’s first miracle in the gospel of John chapter 2 verses 1 through 10.
Why are the steps Christ took prior to His first miracle important? Because it implies something of interest about Him. The Lord went from the spiritual trials leveled toward Him by the devil, to attending a marriage feast, a party.
The Lord underwent the challenges of 40 days in the wilderness and all that came with it, to a showdown with the devil, to a party.
The Lord was festive enough that in Luke chapter 7 verse 34 He said, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber,” an excessive drinker. Clearly, Jesus did not have a problem taking part in festivities.
His first miracle took part at a festive gathering. Yet, if Christ had His way, it would not have.
JESUS HONORED HIS MOTHER
In verse 3 we see the unique manner in which His first miracle came about. There the Bible says, “And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
Those putting on the wedding feast “ran out of wine.” Based on the culture of that day, it would have been a disgrace to run out of wine at such an event. Thus, when Mary realized this, the serious of the moment may have hit her, and empathically she turned to her Son and said, “They have no wine.”
Clearly, the manner in which Mary expressed herself to Jesus immediately led Him to believe that His mother expected Him to rectify the problem. Thus, Jesus replied in verse 4, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
Jesus heard His mother’s words and read her non-verbal gestures, and realized He was being called upon by her to resolve the problem at hand.
The Lord’s response, “what does your concern have to do with Me?” makes it very clear that Jesus was not ready to publicly display the ability to transform water into wine.
The Lord was not being disrespectful here, He was simply stating a fact—this is not my concern, but your concern. The timing is all wrong, “My hour has not yet come.”
Christ’s observation, “My hour has not yet come,” seems to support the comments of Lockyer shared earlier. This was Christ’s first miracle, and for whatever reason, He did not believe the timing to be right for it.
Nevertheless, even the Son of God, strove to uphold the Commandment of Exodus chapter 20 verse 12 to, “Honor your father and your mother.” Thus, when Mary said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do I,” Jesus, without hast, did as His mother requested.
In the process, the Lord of Glory, humbled Himself to fulfill the request of a mere mortal woman who held to role of earthly mother.
JESUS MIRACULOUSLY TRANSFORMS WATER INTO WINE
Once Jesus accepted the fact that today was the day He would execute His first miracle, it was done in a flash. Verse 7 details the event. There it says, “Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.”
The very moment the water was placed into the “waterpots,” the miracle took place. There was no moment of prayer. There was no petition or pleading with God the Father, Jesus shared His instructions, and the miracle was immediately completed.
How did Jesus’ mother know that He had this ability? The passage does not say, but when we consider the angels message to Mary in Luke chapter 1 verse 35 “that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Reflecting back on that message must have caused her to realize that her Son was no mere man, but in fact, “the Son of God!”
Mary may not have fully grasped what she was asking of Jesus. Mary may not have fully grasped just how Jesus would resolve the dilemma. All she knew was “the Son of God” was present at this wedding feast, and if anyone could resolve the problem at hand it was Him.
Notice, when Christ transformed the water into wine, it was not just any wine. The “master of the feast” attested to this. In verse 10 he says 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!” When the Lord transforms something, it is truly transformed!
JESUS MIRACULOUSLY TRANSFORMS THE WOLRD
There are many things we can glean from this passage. Let’s consider a handful of these things.
First, Jesus is the Creator, and as Creator, Jesus is Lord over all things, be it water, wine, men, or women. The transformation He offers is instantaneous and complete.
Secondly, Jesus takes that which is truly inferior, and transforms it into that which is superior every time he touches it.
Thirdly, just as the waterpots were empty, we too apart from Christ are empty. We can be filled by Christ and transformed from the plain to the sweet.
Lastly, the Lord’s transforming power was on display not only before the average onlookers, but more importantly before His newly recruited disciples. These men would not only witness Christ’s transforming power, but they would also get a glimpse into the sort of power the Holy Spirit would one day grant them. Thus, Christs first miracle would underscore to the disciples that Jesus was not just another man with a mission. He is the one and only Son of God!