[4]   Signs and Discourses 1: Marriage at Cana (2:1-25)

Section C. Signs and Public Discourses of the Christ (2:1-12:50)

o        This section describes the public ministry of Jesus. The emphasis is on His ministry in Judeo, particularly the 3 to 4 Passovers Jesus attended in Jerusalem. The highlights were the 7 signs (showing that Jesus is Christ) and the 7 public discourses or sermons.



[C1]    2:1-11............. FIRST Sign - water into wine


This particular miracle signifies the transforming power associated with Jesus. Symbolically, the water of the law was transformed into the wine of the gospel: a contrast between the old Jewish order of things, which was based on trying to observe the Law, and the new Christian order of things which springs from the grace and truth brought into the world by Jesus the Messiah.

This is possibly the same incident as Mt 21:13-13; Mk 11:15-17; Lk 19:45-46 occurring at the climax of Jesus’ ministry; though some argued that there were two such cleansing.

It was probably the event that sparked off the opposition of the high priests and led to Jesus’ arrest. John’s placing of the incident is based on a theological rather than a chronological approach.


2:1       Cana, qualified by “of Galilee”, not a wellknown place

The lack of any mention of Joseph (in anywhere in this Gospel) may infer that he had died before this time (though some people think that 6:42 indicate that Joseph was still alive then).

The bridegroom and his friends made their way in procession to the bride’s home. This was often done at night, when there could be a spectacular torchlight procession. Then the new couple would go in procession to the groom’s house where the wedding banquet was held.

2:3       The running out of wine meant more than the disruption of the festivities (Tradition: “There is no rejoicing save with wine.”) or social embarassment. The bridegroom and his family may well be liable to a lawsuit as they were legally required to provide a feast of a certain standard. The bridegroom’s family might be liable to loose one half the value of the presents they received.

It is likely that the master of the family was poor and had prepared for the minimum provision.

Mary knew that Jesus was the Messiah and she trusted His resourcefulness.

2:4       “Woman” is not as cold in the Greek and is a term of respect or affection.

However, it is unusual to find it used by a son to his mother.

Such a term may indicate that there was a new relationship between them as He entered His public ministry.

Jesus said that it was not yet time for Him to act.

2:5       Mary knew that Jesus was not unmindful of the present difficulty.

2:6       Stone waterpots were used to carry water for purification (Mk 7:1-4); the servants would have poured water over the hands of every guest.

2:8       “The master of the banquet” was likely one of the guests charged with the duty of being the chairman who presided over the gathering (like a toast master). He was clearly not a servant, for he could summon the bridegroom.

2:10     The phrase “have had too much to drink” means “are drunken”.

2:11     The miracles are called “signs” in this Gospel. It is not so much that they arouse wonder and are hard to explain, nor even that they are demonstrations of the divine power, but rather that they point us to something beyond themselves. They show us God at work. They are meaningful.

Jesus “revealed His glory”. John’s emphasis is to show that “Jesus is the Christ” (20:31).

The disciples are now said to have “believed” in Him.


[C2]    2:12-25........... Jesus in Jerusalem

·         Cleansing the temple (2:12-17)
·         Destroying and raising the temple (2:18-22)
·         Jesus and people: inadequate faith (2:23-25)


2:12     Capernaum (by the sea of Galilee) was Jesus’ centre throughout most of His ministry, and it might even be called His own town (Mt 9:1).

“went down” from Cana which was on the uplands - accuracy of John’s record.

“His brothers”, children of Joseph and Mary

2:13     John refers to 3 or 4 Passovers (2:23; 6:4; 11:55; possibly also 5:1) which are central to his Gospel, reflecting the messianic significance of Jesus.

2:14     The selling took place in the outer courtyard called the Court of the Gentiles. It is to provide a convenience for people who came to worship and sacrifice from far away. They would then have a nearby supply for sacrifices.

People were “exchanging money” for getting the approved currency to make money offerings.

2:16     Jesus’ objection of the practice as shown in Mark was the dishonesty of the traders. Here, however, the objection appears to be simply for their presence. For Gentiles, they could only stay in the outer courtyard to pray or meditate. The noise of such activities would disrupt them. The activities could have been located outside the Temple.

2:17     Ps 69:9. It is one of John’s great themes that every critical moment sees the fulfilment of Scripture.


2:18     The Jews recognized Jesus’ action was a messianic action. They therefore demanded that Jesus authenticate his implied claims by producing a “sign”. Interestingly, they did not dispute the rightness of his action.

2:19     Jesus’ saying became one the charges against Him later.

Jesus usually refused to give a sign when asked for one. But in the Synoptic Gospels, he regularly pointed to His resurrection as the only sign that would be given to these people.

“destroy” is literally “loose”. It can refer to the loosening of the component parts from one another, like breaking up of part of a ship (Ac 27:41). It can also be used of the dissolution of life, or killing.

The irony is that ultimately the Jews themselves were to be the means of bringing about the sign they asked Jesus to provide, and which they did not recognize when it came.

The word “temple” denotes a shrine, the sanctuary, the very dwelling place of God.

Jesus probably implies that God dwelt in Him in a very special way.

God’s presence is more manifest in Jesus than in the Temple; Jesus was consequently talking about the only true Temple.

2:20     Josephus says the work of rebuilding the Temple (by Herod, partly to satisfy his lust for building and partly to attempt to satisfy his Jewish subjects) was begun in the 18th year of Herod’s reign (20-19 BC). The Temple was not completed until AD 63. The incident would have to happen about AD 27-28, 46 years after the beginning of construction.

The pattern in this Gospel is that a saying of Jesus was completely misunderstood. (see passages in 3:3ff; 4:10ff; 4:32ff; 6:41ff; 6:51ff; 11:11ff; 14:7ff).

2:21     John’s comment clarifies the meaning of Jesus that it was referred to His resurrection.

2:22     “The Scripture” refers to a single passage in the Bible, but not clearly identified, perhaps Ps 16:10 or Is 53:12.


2:23     Many believed after seeing the “signs”; it was not a deep faith but a first attraction to the Lord.

It shows the success of Jesus’ ministry.

2:24     Jesus had unusual knowledge of men (also 4:17; 5:42; 6:61, 64; 13:1, 11; 18:4) and He put His trust in none of them.

The imperfect tense denotes His habitual attitude.

2:25     Jesus’ divinity is implied here as the OT says that God alone knows “the hearts of all men” (1Ki 8:39).