1.  On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

This wedding takes place “on the third day,” or three days after the events of John 1:43-51.  This wedding was in the town of Cana in Galilee (there was also a Cana in Asher.)  We read that “the mother of Jesus” was already at the wedding.  Perhaps this marriage was in the family of some relative or close friend of the Lord’s family.

Notice that in John we have mention of the Lord’s mother Mary, but never do we read of her husband and the Lord’s foster-father, Joseph.  In John, the Lord has no Father but God.  Notice also that Mary’s name is not mentioned, but only the fact that she was His mother.  Her name is never given in the book of John.  This is because John was not trying to bring glory to the Lord’s mother, but only to the Lord Jesus Himself.

2.  Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

The Lord and His disciples are invited to this wedding, again seeming to confirm that this marriage was in a family very close to the Lord’s family.  Notice that His disciples are invited as well, which means that He was probably invited in person, since He had only recently begun to call disciples.  There is no indication that these disciples had known the Lord or His family prior to this time, so it was probably a matter of a “you are invited, and bring your friends along as well” sort of invitation.  At this point, His disciples probably numbered only six: Andrew and Simon, Philip and Nathanael, and James and John.

3.  And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Perhaps this family was not very wealthy, and this was all the wine they could afford.  Or perhaps whoever planned the wedding just didn’t get the amount of wine right…a simple case of inviting more guests than you had food to satisfy them.  At any rate, there is a problem, and the Lord’s mother is made aware of it.  It would seem then that this family was very close to Mary, as she is one of those planning this wedding.  At any rate, she takes her problem to the Lord.  A good example for each of us to follow!

4.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?  My hour has not yet come.”

Calling someone “Woman” in English sounds abrupt and insulting.  This is not the way it was in Greek (or actually Aramaic, which is what Christ would have been speaking here.)  “Woman” was a tender word, a term of endearment.  “Dear woman” might suggest the sense in English.

The Lord’s words seem to indicate that the proper time for the beginning of His ministry of miracles had not yet come.  Nevertheless, He works this miracle here.  It may be He did this because the miracle would not become largely known.  Or it could be that He did it to grant the request of His mother.  At any rate, He does work the miracle, and it causes His disciples to believe (verse 11.)

5.  His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Notice again that Mary seems to have an authoritative part in the planning of the wedding, as she commands the servants in this verse.  These servants are not doulos or “slaves,” but free servants, in Greek diakonos.  She commands them to do as the Lord says.  These are the last recorded words of Mary in Scripture, and they are excellent advice for every one of us.  Whatever the Lord says to us, let us do it, even as Mary said!

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.

The Jews had a custom of ritual cleansing that was to be performed before eating that had to do with washing the hands.  Although as we know this is good sanitary practice, the religious leaders were more concerned with the fact that it was tradition than they were with the fact that it was good policy.  The tradition dictated a certain amount of water for each person being cleansed, so these pots held the right amount of water for the number of guests at the wedding.  The Greek for “twenty or thirty gallons” is “two or three firkins.”  A “firkin” is a liquid measure equal to about nine English gallons.

7.  Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.”  And they filled them up to the brim.

The Lord commands that the waterpots be filled.  Much of the water had probably already been used in the cleansing of the guests.  Notice that this miracle begins with a command, “Fill.”  The last miracle in John likewise begins with a command, “Cast.”  (John 21:6)  The servants obey the Lord’s command, as Mary had told them to do.

8.  And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.”  And they took it.

The wash pots were automatically considered unclean, so it would have been offensive for the Lord to have them draw water from them to drink, even if it was turned into wine. What the Lord meant was to draw more out of the well now. The drawing out to fill the water pots was to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what was coming from the well was water. Yet now the same well and the same water that was used to fill these big water pots, at the commandment of the Lord, will produce wine instead of water. It was not a magic well, and it was not some strange phenomenon that filled the well with wine instead of water. What was in the wash pots was nothing but water. Yet what was in the cup, though derived from the same source, would now be wine, and wine of the very finest quality!

Some have tried to use the size of these water pots to suggest that the Lord provided a massive quanitity of wine for this feast, and so promoted everyone getting drunk. This is not the case. The wine that was provided was just what was needed. All the servants had to do was draw wine from the well whenever more was requested. It was up to the guests to determine for themselves how much was enough. The Lord was not responsible for how they used His gift. He only provided it. He did not give them much more than they needed, nor did He give them less, but just what was required.

We might wonder how confident these men were in taking to the master of the feast a cup full of water!  They surely might have expected him to spit it out and ask them what they thought they were doing.  Yet they obey the Lord’s words, and the results are miraculous.  We are never disappointed when we obey the commands given to us by our Lord.  Obedience is never without its reward.  These men against what their good sense told them chose to obey the Lord, and the results of their faith were great.  Let us strive for similar faith in our own lives!

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.

The master, on tasting the water that was made wine, calls the bridegroom to admonish him about something.  We can only imagine what those poor servants were thinking who thought he had just drunk a cup full of well water!

10.  And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then that which is inferior; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

The master of the feast, having no idea what had just happened, scolds the bridegroom for what he thinks is a mistake on his part.  Custom hasn’t been followed, and the best wine has been saved for last.  How was the master of the feast to know that the wine he had just tasted was not made by men, but by the Master of masters himself?  It is the way of men to give the best first and then the inferior later, but it is the way of the Lord to save the best for last.  The wine of His blessings is the best, and comes in the last days, even as this good wine came last in the feast.  How we look forward to receiving those blessings someday!

11.  This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

This miracle is called a sign, semeion in Greek.  “Sign” is the characteristic word for miracles in John.  The fact that this is the “beginning” of signs calls our attention to the fact that we are to notice each miraculous sign in John.  We can number them, and pay attention to their significance.  What we will find is that there are eight signs given in John.  The first and the last correspond with each other, as do the second and seventh, the third and sixth, and the fourth and fifth.

What are these miracles “signs” of?  They are signs of the truth of the great premise of John’s gospel, and prove either that Jesus is the Christ or that He is the Son of God.  (John 20:30-31)  This sign, along with the eighth and last, proves His Godhood, as only God Himself could create wine from water, the product of grapes that never existed, grown in sunlight that never shone in a time that never was!  His creative power is displayed in this miracle, and it helps prove to us that John’s message is true: the Lord Jesus truly is God Himself.  By working this miracle, the Lord “manifested His glory.”  Although this miracle was not widely known by the public, it did have one great result: it caused His disciples to believe in Him.  And it was recorded by John in his book so that we might believe in Him as well, for that is the great purpose of this gospel!

12.  After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.

Capernaum was one of the primary places the Lord stayed, and He seems to have owned a house there.  He is accompanied there not only by His disciples, but also by His mother and His brothers.  Notice the proof here that Mary was not the “eternal virgin” that some false doctrines have tried to make her out to be.  The Lord had half-brothers and sisters by the union of Mary and Joseph.  The mention of His brothers here is one clear proof of that.  It is only a lack of faith and a desire to uphold “tradition” over the Bible that could cause one to claim anything different.

They do not stay long in Capernaum, because, as the next verse tells us, it was time to travel to Jerusalem for the Passover.

13.  Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Notice that what had been given as “the LORD’s Passover” (Exodus 12:11) has now been corrupted until it is considered “the Passover of the Jews.”  The next verses (14-16) show us how it had been corrupted.  Thus the Lord refused to even consider it His Own feast, but rather as a feast of the Jews.  Yet the Lord was unwilling to give up on the feast!  Cleansing was necessary, and was accomplished by our Lord on this occasion.  The religious practices of so many believers are equally corrupted in our day.  Yet like the Lord, we should not give up on our brother and sister believers, but rather try to help purify them with the truth.

Note that the Lord “went up” to Jerusalem.  This might seems strange to us, as Capernaum was far north of Jerusalem.  However, this only seems strange to those who ride in cars everywhere, and for whom height has little meaning.  To one who had to get everywhere on foot, whether a place was north or south would not have nearly so much meaning as whether it was up or down.  “Up” here means topographically, not geographically.  Jerusalem was on a high hill that would have to be climbed, and so was always “up.”  There is symbolic meaning too to the fact that Jerusalem is always spoken of as “up” in the Scriptures.  It is the greatest city of all in God’s sight, and the center of so many of His future plans.

14.  And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business.

For those who chose not to bother with bringing an ox or sheep or dove with them to Jerusalem for the necessary Passover offering, these sellers in the temple were all too willing to provide a sacrifice for them.  This would not have been quite so bad, except for the fact that they were charging exhorbitant prices for these animals.  The animal sellers saw a chance to make great profit, and you have to pay for convenience after all, right?  The Lord took a dim view of those who thought to enrich themselves off of His feast.

Then there were the moneychangers.  Those who ran the temple insisted that an offering could not be made to the Lord in Roman coin.  You had to use a special, temple coin, they claimed, in order to give Him your offering.  This would not have been so bad either, although there was no Scriptural basis for not accepting Roman money.  But the moneychangers were charging exorbitant fees for exchanging the money, and were using an unfair exchange rate as well.  Much of this extra income would eventually make its way back to the religious leaders, of course.  Not only that, but they would make certain that many people’s animals were rejected unnecessarily as offerings, and so would force people to come to this market to buy better ones!  This religious monopoly was filling their coffers, but it was abominable to the Lord Whose temple and sacrifices these were supposed to be.

15.  When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.

The Lord carefully made His Own whip by stringing the cords together.  Notice that this was not a sudden fit of anger.  The Lord did not lose His temper and just grab a whip.  He very deliberately created one string by string, and then used it to cast these men out.  This was not a random act of temper, but a very deliberate action meant to cleanse the temple.

He drives the sellers out of the temple, along with their sheep and oxen.  He also pours out the moneychanger’s money on the ground and tips over their tables.  How could it be that all these sellers and moneychangers could be driven out by the actions of a single Man?  Surely one whip would not be enough to drive out all these men.  Remember, He wasn’t just moving these men from one place to another.  He was driving them away from their livelihood.  This was their business and how they made their living, and they would not have left it easily.  Perhaps the Lord was a bigger and more imposing figure than we often picture Him as being.  Visions of a giant of a man yielding a whip like He knows how to use it come to mind.  Yet this need not necessarily be so.  The Lord had authority, and it need not have been based on how He looked or how dangerous the weapon in His hand might have been.  When He commanded these men to get out, they had no choice but to get out, for His words were not the words of a man, but the very commands of God.  These sellers had no choice but to obey!

16.  And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away!  Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

Notice that the Lord did not drive the doves out.  Setting these birds loose would have meant that most of them would have been lost to their owners, as birds are much harder to catch than oxen or sheep!  The Lord was not out to cause loss of property or to vandalize.  He was cleansing the temple of God, not causing trouble.  His consideration for these dove owners even in His anger is a message to us today.  As David wrote, “Be angry, and do not sin.”  (Psalm 4:4.)  The Lord was a living example of this.

Notice the use of the phrase, “My Father’s house.”  This phrase only occurs one other time in the Bible, in John 14:2.  This occurrence sets the meaning of the phrase for us.  “My Father’s house” is the temple.  It cannot mean the temple here and something else in its only other occurrence.  This is most definitely the meaning of this word.

Notice that here He chastises them for making His Father’s house a “house of merchandise” or a marketplace.  When we read of the casting out of the temple in Matthew 21:13, He calls it a “den of thieves.”  It seems these sellers had returned to their work, and their cheating ways were worse than ever three years later.  The difference is caused by the different occasion.  There is nothing more natural than that these men should return to their wicked work once the Lord was no longer around to stop them.  There is also nothing more natural than that the Lord would again cast them out when they did.  Those who claim a discrepancy here are not even being sensible.

17.  Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

The disciples remembered a passage they had learned from the Psalms of David, Psalm 69:9.  They see that the Lord is fulfilling this verse by His actions.  This verse is mentioned here because it also witnesses to us the truth that Jesus is the Christ.

18.  So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”

Again, notice that the Jews are the religious leaders, not the common people.  They are understandably indignant that their moneychangers and sellers are being cast out, and this source of income being cut off.  They understand that the Lord’s actions are indicative of the Messiah, and they ask Him for a sign to prove that He is the Christ and that He has the authority to do this.  We might imagine, though, that this question was not asked in a friendly way, but more in an angry and confrontational one.  “Who do you think you are and what right do you have to do this?” would be a more straightforward way of putting what was in these men’s minds.

19.  Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Lord’s answer is not a sign they can see right then, but rather a sign to them that they can see after He is resurrected.  By “this temple” (Greek naos or sanctuary, the inner part of the temple,) Christ meant not the building or campus of buildings among which they were standing.  Rather, He meant His Own body, and He probably gestured to indicate this as He said these words.  This was a prophecy.  The Jews would indeed destroy His body, and in three days He would raise it up.  This would be the most positive sign imaginable that He was Who He said He was.  However, the religious leaders would take His words and twist them later, claiming that He said that He would destroy the temple!  (See Matthew 26:61, Mark 14:58, and Acts 6:14, where the same argument was used against Stephen.)  In the same way wicked men are always perverting the Word of Truth.

The temple as it existed in that day was indeed an awesome structure.  It was not just one building, as many seem to believe, but rather an entire campus of buildings and courtyards and so forth, with the main temple building as the centerpiece.  It is often called “Herod’s temple,” but this is not entirely accurate.  There are two temples known to the Scriptures: that of Solomon and that of Ezra.  What Herod had done starting in 20 BC was to give money for restoring, rebuilding, and beautifying Ezra’s temple.  Indeed, the temple was a most beautiful building.  In Scripture, it is often called “the Beauty of Holiness.”  (see Psalm 29:2 and II Chron. 20:21, for example.)  An ancient historian is quoted as saying that you have not seen a beautiful building until you have seen the temple in Jerusalem!  Yet this temple wasn’t even as great as Solomon’s temple.  For when Ezra’s temple was built, those who saw the laying of the foundation wept when they remembered the greatness of the temple that was now destroyed.  (Ezra 3:12-13.)  There will be a future temple, and that temple will be even more glorious.  We can read some facts about this temple in the great prophecy of Ezekiel 40-48.  Perhaps, in our future travels of heaven and earth, we may be privileged to visit that glorious structure and see the “Beauty of Holiness.”

20.  Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”

As I said above, the temple complex as it then existed was built and renovated by Herod starting in 20 BC.  It was a great building project indeed.  Yet certainly, the God Who made the universe in six days could easily have made it all in three!  But this was not what the Lord was talking about.  They should have known what He meant, but it seems they deliberately misunderstood Him.

21.  But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

John explains it for us so that we cannot mistake what He meant, as the Jews did.  He was not talking about the temple complex, although it certainly was in His power to do such a thing.  Nowhere in Scripture do we find an indication that the Lord will ever build the temple in three days.  What He was talking about was the temple sanctuary of His Own body.  And what He spoke of did occur as a sign in the sight of these very men.

22.  Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

John takes us ahead in time for a minute to reveal to us that this word that the Lord spoke was something His disciples remembered after He had risen from the dead, and that at that time this word caused them to believe.  Again remember that John’s purpose is to produce believers, and this instance of the Lord predicting His Own death and resurrection is set forth so that we might believe too just like the disciples did.  John is not concerned with the fact that He is “giving away what is going to happen” by mentioning the resurrection here.  Rather, He is only interested in producing believers, both in the Scriptures that predicted what would happen to the Lord and in the word that the Lord Himself spoke.  “Word” here is again the Greek logos, and emphasizes that the Lord didn’t just speak words here, but by speaking He was revealing Himself.

23.  Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.

Having just testified to the disciples’ belief, John hits us again with more who believed in Jerusalem during the Passover as they saw Him perform miraculous signs.  John does not tell us what these signs were, so they do not count in the list of signs given in John.  What is important in this verse is that these people believed, and the reason they believed was because of the signs that the Lord did.  John has set forth many signs to us in this very book.  Shouldn’t we believe in Him as well?

Belief in His name is belief in the reputation He has and the character He displays.  It speaks of a most definite act.  They “jumped on the bandwagon,” if you will, and chose to be identified as those who believed in Him.

24.  But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men,

The word “commit” here is the same verb (in a different tense) as “believed” in verse 23.  Though they believed in Him, He did not choose to believe in them.  Why?  Because He knew all men.  He knew very well that these men were only believing in Him because it was popular, because it was easy, because everyone was doing it, and because they were benefiting from it.  Their commitment to Him lacked depth, and so He was not willing to commit to them.  This is a wise attitude to take towards young believers.  Although they are often loud, happy, and enthusiastic, and thus can warm the hearts of those of us who have known the Lord for decades, nevertheless the commitment of their faith has not been tried, and we would be wise not to place too much trust upon it.

25.  and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

Why did the Lord know man so well?  The answer, of course, is that He created man!  Certainly the Creator knows what He created.  And so the Lord knows man.  He realizes why these men are choosing to believe in Him, and He realizes that at this point their commitment is only shallow.  He knows how our minds think because He made them.  He knew that He could not trust these men’s commitment yet.  He was not being unfair or unloving, but rather realistic.  These people needed to grow in their faith.  Only then would He be willing to commit to them.