A First Miracle and a First Prophecy

A First Miracle and a First Prophecy

A First Miracle and a First Prophecy is a sermon teaching us that John chapter two is a chapter of firsts of great significance.

Key Verses:

John 2:1-25

Chapter of Firsts

We will go through the whole chapter but to start with we will look at verse 19. It is central to what we are going to speak about.

John 2:19: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

This is an extremely important statement. It is a prophecy, and it is the first time we have recorded in the gospels of Jesus giving His own prophecy of His own resurrection. He did a number of times after that and we looked at that last Sunday as one of those times. But the truth is, this is the first time. This chapter is a chapter of firsts.

The Lord Jesus lived upon this Earth approximately 30 years before He began His public ministry. Matthew tells us that after His baptism, Jesus fasted for 40 days and was tempted by Satan. Following that, He began to call His disciples. That is all in chapter four. His baptism is in chapter three in Matthew. The temptation is at the beginning of chapter four and towards the end of chapter four, the calling of the disciples. We looked at part of chapter five this morning and that was the beginning of His preaching and teaching ministry.

John chapter two seems to take place somewhere after He began to call some of His disciples but not all of them at this point, not the full twelve, but before He began His public preaching and teaching ministry. So probably around the time of Matthew chapter three or four, and certainly before Matthew chapter five. Why does that matter? It helps us understand that this chapter, John chapter two, is again a story and a chapter of beginnings. Some things are done for the first time; it is a chapter of firsts.

The Wedding at Cana

In John chapter two, at the beginning of the chapter, we have Jesus’ first miracle. Now how do we know it is the first miracle? Because John told us it was and that is clear.

John 2:1: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:”

John 2:2: “And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.”

John 2:3: “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.”

The need here is small compared to the needs Jesus takes care of later. He would heal the sick, the lame, deaf, and the blind. On a number of occasions, He would even raise the dead. To need wine is a very small need by comparison. But it was something these folks thought they needed.

There are a lot of things we could apply to that, but one of them is that the Lord is concerned even with the smaller things in your life and not just the big needs. Yes, if somebody is very ill, that is a big need. If you are under financial pressure, that is a big need. The other large needs and emotional needs and other type of needs that you have are huge, but you have small needs too. In this case, it is one of the smaller needs. The Lord is concerned about the smaller things in your life, things that are important to you but not to other people. That is what we are seeing here but there is more to this story than that. That is the beginning of it, that is the need. But notice something in verse four, it is a much larger statement.

John 2:4: “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”

What does He mean that “mine hour is not yet come”? He had not begun His public ministry yet. He had not started yet and that is what He is saying to her. “Mine hour is not yet come” means that this is not the time.

And then in verse five, let me set it up for you. Years ago, we had some tracks here called “Mary’s Command to Catholics.” I liked that track because I would be talking to people who were Catholic, trying to witness to them but they were not interested. I would give them the track and they would take that and read it. The track was good because it got read. Do you wonder what Mary’s command to Catholics is? It comes from the Bible, here it is in verse five:

John 2:5: “His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

Do you wonder what Mary would tell you or a Catholic person or anybody if you came to Mary and say, “What do I do?” “Whatever Jesus tells you, do that.” That is what she would tell you and that is the fact of it. You may be asked, “On what authority do you have that on?” Well, they are going to ask that to Jesus a little bit later here. But the truth of the matter is, we have it on the authority of God. Mary’s command and to all of us is, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

The First Miracle

Then the miracle occurs:

John 2:6: “And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.”

These were six large water pots used for washing, to be sure you were clean after the manner of purifying of the Jews. That is what they were there for, all six of them, so it could have been a pretty large group at the wedding.

John 2:7: “Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.”

John 2:8: “And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.”

So, they filled the pots, drew the water, and brought it to the governor of the feast.

John 2:9: “When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,”

This is probably the father of the bride who was in charge of the wedding. And when he tasted the wine, he did not know where it came from.

John 2:10: “And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.”

This man knew something about wine and he probably wasn’t a great wine connoisseur himself, but he noticed something different about this wine. What does he notice about it? It was better tasting. Wine is mentioned often in the New Testament. The Greek word translated for wine is “oinos.” Oinos is where we get our English word “wine.” There is the case where Paul says, “be not drunk with wine wherein is excess but be filled with the holy spirit” — that is the kind of wine you drink. The Greek word there is oinos. But if you have fresh wine made of grapes that have just been squeezed and the juice comes out and has not had a chance to ferment yet, the Greek word for that is also “oinos.” Going to the Greek does not help you here, “oinos” makes no difference if it is fresh-squeezed, aged, or fermented, the same word is used for all.

So, what made this a good wine? I think based on what we’ve read, that this wine is fresh-squeezed and not fermented. We must read the context of the story. Let’s back up a little:

John 2:7: “Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.”

John 2:8: “And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.”

John 2:9: “When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,”

John 2:10: “And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.”

How old do you think that wine was when the governor tasted it? It could not have been more than five minutes. It had not had time to ferment. “Don’t you think Jesus would have already made it fermented?” Why would He? What would be the point of that? I believe what is being said here is “you have brought out the fresh wine, and not that which has been fermented.” We may disagree on that, but when we get to Heaven we will find out, and then you can say I was right. I am joking of course. But it seems apparent to me from the context that this is fresh-squeezed. I think this is significant. But the bigger significance is found in verse eleven:

John 2:11: “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.”

One commentator believes at this point there were only two disciples. I’m not sure because it does not tell us the number, but it does seem that it was before He called all of the twelve. We said that earlier. Whatever disciples were there, two, three, or four, they believed in Him when they saw this miracle.

But why did He do this miracle, a small need? They ran out of wine and needed some wine. So, He turns water into wine to meet a small need. It looked like a good number of people at the wedding so at that point it is bigger, but it is nothing compared to raising the dead or healing the blind or the lame or the deaf or anything like that. So why did Jesus do it? Did He have to do it? No, He could have gone to the bridegroom or the governor of the feast and say that they should have planned better. He could have done that, but He did not.

Making His Glory Visible

The first part of verse eleven, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee and manifested forth his glory;” – this is the first miracle He does, small in comparison to bigger ones, but He did it to make His glory visible. To whom? To His disciples. “Well, wasn’t it for everybody at the feast?” No, the governor did not even know where that wine came from. There were only a few people there who knew what Jesus actually did. But He shows them to what end? The last part of verse eleven, “and his disciples believed on him.”

If you study through the gospel of John, which I encourage you to read or read again, there are key words used in the gospels. One of the key phrases in the gospel of Matthew is “kingdom of Heaven.” Key words in Mark are “immediately” and “straightway.” The key word in the gospel of John is “believe.” When you get to the end of the gospel, he writes that he wrote this gospel so that we would believe. That is what the gospel of John is all about, believing. Jesus does this miracle so that these two, three, or four disciples, who are following Him at the point, would believe. Were they Peter, James, and John? We do not know; it does not say.

John 2:12: “After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.”

There is a significant statement in this verse. Who goes with Jesus at this point? Later on, He will have a large following that follows Him everywhere. But at this point, there are only a few following Him. His mother, Mary, goes with Him, his brethren (not to mean His brethren disciples, because they are mentioned next), and His disciples. So, they go with Him to Capernaum. The reason I do not think Peter, James, and John were at the wedding in Cana is that this is the first time Jesus goes to Capernaum. Later on, that will be His ministry headquarters, the place where He works out of primarily. But that is where He met Peter, James, and John. So, it is a good chance that they were not at the wedding feast.

The rest of the verse, “they continued there not many days” Capernaum is about east-south-east of Nazareth and it is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. That is significant because the next scene takes place in Jerusalem and it is quite a distance away. Let’s look at that.

The First Passover of Jesus’ Ministry

John 2:13: “And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,”

Note here that anytime anyone is traveling to Jerusalem, they are traveling up to Jerusalem. And if they are leaving Jerusalem, they come down from Jerusalem. Why is that? Well, literally, Jerusalem sits on a plateau and you have to physically go up to get to it. But the bigger significance of this is it is the Holy City. You are always pictured as going up to Jerusalem like you were going up to the New Jerusalem, and if you were leaving there, you would be coming down from there. You would be doing it physically anyway, but you would be doing it with spiritual significance.

Jesus is going to Jerusalem at Passover. Now, if you go back to Luke’s gospel, you are going to find that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, traveled to Jerusalem every year for Passover. But this Passover is significant because it is the first Passover of His public ministry. How long do we know Jesus’ public ministry was? It was approximately three-and-a-half years, it covers three Passovers. So, that is how we know that. This is the first of the three Passovers. Jesus is going up to Jerusalem the first time to present Himself as Messiah — very significant in verse thirteen.

Cleansing of the Temple

Then in verses fourteen through seventeen, we have another first:

John 2:14: “And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:”

In the outer court of the temple, there were people there selling animals to the worshippers for sacrifice. In the law, which God gave Moses, you were supposed to bring your own animal for sacrifice. But this was Jerusalem, this is the big temple that Herod built in modern times, at that time 2,000 years ago. It is modern times and things were done differently than in Moses’ time and Solomon’s time, they were done the “new” way. There is no need to bring your own animal, you can buy your animal right in the outer court, and there were moneychangers.

The moneychangers were important because even today the Israeli money is the shekel. At that time, it was also the shekel. But if you were out of the city of Jerusalem, at that point, you did not buy with shekels, you used Roman coin. But the Roman coin was not accepted at the temple. You would bring your Roman coin to the moneychanger at the temple, and they would exchange it for shekels so you would not give your sacrifice in Roman coin, which would be considered defiled and unclean.

That upset Jesus. Why did it upset Him? Remember when we discussed how publicans did not get a salary but got their money by charging people on their taxes? Well, guess how the moneychangers made their money. To keep it simple, let’s use dollars. You have ten dollars in Roman coin and that will be worth three dollars in shekels. Jesus came in and told them they should not be doing that, is that what He did? No, you know what He did.

John 2:15: “And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;”

John 2:16: “And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”

John 2:17: “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”

We’ve spent a lot of time on this cleansing of the temple for this reason. Remember, this is the first of three Passovers when Jesus goes to Jerusalem, marking His public ministry, and the first cleansing of the temple. Three years or so later, at Passover time again, Jesus enters the temple and does the same thing, during that last week before the crucifixion. So, this is the first time He does it to begin His public ministry and He does it again at the end of His public ministry, right before the cross. Do you see why this chapter is a chapter of firsts? They are very important, very significant firsts.

By What Authority?

“Where do you get your authority to say the things you say, preacher?” From the word of God. But they asked Jesus where He gets His authority.

John 2:18: “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?”

They are asking who He thinks He is to come in and do all that He did in the outer court. Who is asking this question? The people asking this question are the Jews. Everyone mentioned in this chapter is Jewish, but John uses the term “the Jews” to mean the religious leaders. They are all Israeli, there is not a person in this story who is a Gentile. We mentioned Romans but John made no mention in the text. So, the religious leaders say to Jesus, “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?” or “Who gave you the right to come in here and do this? By what authority are you doing this? Give us a sign. Do you think you are the Messiah or somebody?”

John 2:19: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

This is again, the first time Jesus makes a prophecy of His resurrection. Notice the reaction:

John 2:20: “Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?”

We spoke this morning that Israel is ready to rebuild the temple now. With everything ready and everything in place ready to go, they still think it will take six months to build it. Makes sense, if you ever built anything, you know it takes time. They are saying it took 46 years to build the temple, King Herod’s temple. They said to Jesus, “It took 46 years to build the temple and you say you can raise it three days? We’d like to see that. You really think you are somebody, don’t you?” Notice what John says in the next verse:

John 2:21: “But he spake of the temple of his body.”

I Corinthians 3:16: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

Paul wrote this and later in chapter six he wrote about the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit again:

I Corinthians 6:19: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit today and Jesus’ body was the temple of the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus tells them if they destroy this temple, then in three days, He will raise it up again. There is another interesting thing about that. Look at it carefully:

John 2:19: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Jesus says, “in three days I will raise it up.” The tenth chapter in the gospel of John, Jesus says:

John 10:18: “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Who raised Jesus from the dead? He did. And He makes this prophecy here in the beginning of His public ministry. Disciples doubtless did not understand at that time, but as John writes later:

John 2:21: “But he spake of the temple of his body.”

How do you know he figured it out later? Look at the next verse:

John 2:22: “When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”

There are a couple of references in the Old Testament to Jesus’ resurrection and we may be able to look at those in the next week or two. But the truth of the matter is, John is saying they believe in the truth of the Old Testament prophecies and the words that Jesus said regarding His resurrection. So, not only was He crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day, He told them three years or more ahead that this was going to happen. This is the first time He tells them, but He tells them again and again. But it isn’t until it happens that they really understand what He’s telling them.

John 2:23: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.”

Jesus has now begun to do other miracles. He did his first miracle up in Cana, but now He is in Jerusalem and is doing other miracles. No doubt, healing miracles.

He Knew Men’s Hearts

John 2:24: “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,”

Jesus did not commit Himself to them — that is a striking statement. Verse 23 tells us there were many who believed in His name, even His disciples when they saw the miracles. But Jesus does not commit to them. Why not? “Because he knew all men” …

John 2:25: “And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”

What is it that He knows that is in man? He knows the corruption of the heart. That is what He knows. He knows how fickle people can be. I do not know if you have ever come across somebody like this. People say they love the Lord, then they turn totally away from the Lord. Did Jesus know that some of these people who professed to believe in Him at that point would later on turn away from Him? Yes, go to the end of the sixth chapter of John. You find that many of those who followed Him turned away. After His sermon on the bread of life, they turned away and walked no more with Him. And Jesus, at that point, turned to the twelve and says, “Will you also go away?” He knew the corruption of the human heart. That is what verses 24 and 25 are telling us.

This chapter is a chapter of firsts. Jesus did miracles to confirm to those who saw Him that He was indeed Messiah, Christ, the Savior. There were many men before He came and during the time He was there, who claimed to be the Messiah. Most of them were under the classification of zealots. One of those zealots became a disciple of Jesus. Maybe there were more than one, but one we know for sure.

Many people claimed to be the Messiah. They knew from Daniel’s prophecy that it was time for the Messiah to come and they were looking for him. There were people claiming, “Yes, that’s me.” and they were getting followers behind them. Most of them ended up killed by the Romans.

So, Jesus is coming, and He is presenting Himself as Messiah, but what is His message? Some of these other claimants to Messiah had a long following, hundreds were following them. Jesus at this point had only a small number. Why should people believe Him? The answer is simple. The miracles. Others were getting political things organized and they were going to drive out the Romans, which they never did. They never succeeded at that. But Jesus is not driving out the Romans. What is He doing? He is doing miracles. Why? Because that is what the prophecies of Isaiah and other prophecies said the Messiah would do. Isaiah 61 tells us that the Messiah would do miracles when He came.

Secondly, Jesus prophesied His resurrection. So that those who had trusted Him as their Savior and then followed Him would be able to testify of the Gospel. The resurrection is the sterling proof of the Gospel. No other religious leader, and I don’t even like applying that title to Jesus, but many do, not one other religious leader has resurrected. Jesus gives the prophecy of the resurrection so those who would trust Him would have solid evidence to testify of the Gospel. They were told many times that they did not understand. They were told that they would only understand when they saw the resurrected Christ.

The takeaway from this:

  1. Sinful man needs a Savior. We do. We needed a Savior then, and we need a Savior now. All through the human race, sinful man needs a Savior.
  2. Our sinless Savior gave us an undeniable guarantee of His deity. He was who He claimed to be. He was Emmanuel, God with us. And His salvation, that whosoever believes in Him has everlasting life, and solid evidence that the Gospel is true, He gave us through His resurrection.

I can stand here and give you with 100% accuracy that Jesus is who He claimed to be. And the Gospel story is true and is life-changing, not only for this earthly life but for eternal life. It is our job, and it is our privilege to share that Gospel.

Get in-depth knowledge by viewing or listening to the sermon: A First Miracle and a First Prophecy

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Dr. Michael L. McClure, our lead pastor, is known for his in-depth knowledge and effective teaching style of biblical truths applicable to every day living.

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