The Wedding at Cana Details Jesus' First Miracle

Wedding at Cana, by Bortolo Litterini, 1721, 18th Century, oil on canvas
Mondadori via Getty Images / Getty Images

Jesus of Nazareth took time out to attend a wedding feast in the village of Cana, with his mother, Mary, and his first few disciples. This miracle, showing Jesus' supernatural control over physical elements like water, marked the beginning of his public ministry. Like his other miracles, it benefited people in need.

Cana Wedding Miracle

  • The Bible story of the wedding at Cana in Galilee is told in the book of John 2:1-11.
  • Wedding feasts in ancient Israel were typically week-long affairs.
  • The presence of Jesus at the Cana wedding showed that our Lord was welcome at social events and comfortable among people celebrating joyously and in the appropriate way.
  • In this culture and era, poor hospitality was a serious affront, and running out of wine would have spelled disaster for the hosting family.
  • The miracle at the Cana wedding revealed Christ's glory to his disciples and helped establish a foundation for their faith.
  • Cana was Nathanael’s hometown.

Jewish weddings were steeped in tradition and ritual. One of the customs was providing an extravagant feast for guests. Something went wrong at this wedding, however, because they ran out of wine early. In that culture, such a miscalculation would have been a great humiliation for the bride and groom.

In the ancient Middle East, hospitality to guests was considered a grave responsibility. Several examples of this tradition appear in the Bible, but the most exaggerated is seen in Genesis 19:8, in which Lot offers his two virgin daughters to a mob of attackers in Sodom, rather than turn over two male guests in his home. The shame of running out of wine at their wedding would have followed this Cana couple all their lives.

Wedding at Cana Bible Story Summary

When the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana, Mary turned to Jesus and said:

"They have no more wine."
"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:3-5, NIV)

Nearby were six stone jars filled with water used for ceremonial washing. Jews cleansed their hands, cups, and vessels with water before meals. Each large pot held from 20 to 30 gallons.

Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water. He ordered them to draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet, who was in charge of food and drink. The master was unaware of Jesus' turning the water in the jars into wine.

The steward was astounded. He took the bride and groom aside and complimented them. Most couples served the best wine first, he said, then brought out cheaper wine after the guests had too much to drink and would not notice. "You have saved the best till now," he told them (John 2:10, NIV).

Unlike some of his future spectacularly public miracles, what Jesus did by turning water into wine was done quietly, But by this miraculous sign, Jesus revealed his glory as the Son of God to his disciples. Amazed, they put their faith in him.

Points of Interest from Cana Wedding

The exact location of Cana is still debated by Bible scholars. The name means "place of reeds." In the present day village of Kafr Cana in Israel stands the Greek Orthodox church of St. George, built in 1886. In that church are two stone jars which locals claim are two of the jars used in Jesus' first miracle.

Several Bible translations, including the King James Version and English Standard Version, record Jesus addressing his mother as "woman," which some have characterized as brusque. The New International Version adds the adjective "dear" before woman.

Earlier in the Gospel of John, we are told that Jesus called Nathaniel, who was born in Cana, and "saw" Nathaniel sitting under a fig tree even before they met. The wedding couple's names are not mentioned, but because Cana was a small village, it's likely they had some connection to Nathaniel.

John referred to Jesus’ miracles as “signs,” indicators pointing to Jesus’ divinity. The Cana wedding miracle was Christ's first sign. Jesus’ second sign, also performed in Cana, was the healing at a distance of a government official’s son. In that miracle, the man believed through faith in Jesus before he saw the results, the attitude Jesus desired.

Some Bible scholars interpret the shortage of wine at Cana as symbolic of the spiritual dryness of Judaism at the time of Jesus. Wine was a common symbol of God’s bounty and of spiritual joy.

Not only did Jesus produce a large quantity of wine, but the quality of it astonished the banquet master. In the same way, Jesus pours his Spirit into us in abundance, giving us God's best.

While it may seem insignificant, there is crucial symbolism in this first miracle of Jesus. It was not a coincidence that the water Jesus transformed came from jars used for ceremonial washing. The water signified the Jewish system of purification, and Jesus replaced it with pure wine, representing his spotless blood that would wash away our sins.

Question for Reflection

Running out of wine was hardly a life-or-death situation, nor was anyone in physical pain. Yet Jesus interceded with a miracle to solve the problem. God is interested in every aspect of our lives. What matters to us matters to him.

Is something troubling you that you have been reluctant to go to Jesus about? You can take it to him because Jesus cares for you.

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Your Citation
Zavada, Jack. "The Wedding at Cana Details Jesus' First Miracle." Learn Religions, Jun. 8, 2022, Zavada, Jack. (2022, June 8). The Wedding at Cana Details Jesus' First Miracle. Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "The Wedding at Cana Details Jesus' First Miracle." Learn Religions. (accessed June 3, 2023).