Some Background Information:
As we know, John doesn’t use the term miracle in his Gospel, but rather refers to these displays of Jesus divine power and authority as signs. In all there are seven such signs recorded, although it is plain from chapter 20, verses 30-31, that he witnessed many others that are not recorded within his Gospel. The seven signs that are recorded are as follows:
- The wedding at Cana (2:1-11)
- The royal official’s son (4:46-54)
- The curing of the paralysed man (5:1-15)
- The feeding of the multitude (6:1-15)
- Walking on water (6:16-21)
- The curing of the blind man (9)
- The raising of Lazarus (11)
For John these signs, in turn, are intended to reveal the true nature of Christ, that He is the revelation of God Himself and our only hope of salvation. They are all entirely connected with faith and the only correct way for us to respond to them is through faith. The fact that John records only seven, as there would have been others, is possibly to do with the fact that this was the number of perfection in the ancient world.
However, having said all of this, although almost all theologians and commentators agree that there are seven signs recorded in John’s Gospel, some believe that 4 and 5 i.e. the feeding of the multitude and the walking on water should be tied together, and that the seventh sign is in fact the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Himself – the ultimate revelation of Jesus as the Son of God. Nevertheless, the general consensus seems to be that the signs are as listed above and that another reason for there being seven, is that they in themselves all point to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, the perfect Son of God.
(Something else worth noting is that all of the above effectively happen in the first half of the Gospel and it is only after these that the Beloved Disciple is mentioned. But we will come to that at a later date.)
Three of the signs appear in the Synoptics as miracles; the offical’s son, the feeding the multitude and the walking on water. Three more are of a general healing type also found in the Synoptics, the curing of a paralytic, the healing of the blind man and the raising of a person from the dead (although no one in the Synoptics has been dead as long as Lazarus). The only sign that has no direct or indirect comparison anywhere in the Synoptics is this first one, The wedding at Cana.
Read John 2:1-11
What are our initial thoughts on reading this passage? What appears to be the overall theme?
- A new start: The New Covenant in Jesus replacing the Old Covenant within Judaism (Symbolised in the wedding itself and in the purification jars – of which there were six.)
What is the significance of Mary, the Mother of Jesus in this passage?
- She is present at the beginning of the Ministry of Jesus (She will also be there at the end)
- She shows faith in Jesus even before witnessing any of these signs.
What do we make of this idea that Jesus ‘Hour’ had not yet come?
- Probably a term used to denote the time of Jesus passion, death and resurrection.
- John uses these signs to point forward to Jesus ‘Hour of Glory’.
- And we see at the end of the passage that this sign was to reveal the glory of Jesus and that from then on, his disciples believed in Him.
Ultimately, then, this passage is all about the dawn of a new beginning in Christ and, for John at least, marks the beginning of Jesus ministry – a ministry in which He would ultimately reveal Himself to us as the living revelation of God. But what does this passage mean to us?
Do we believe that we can have a new beginning, a new and fresh start in Jesus?
Can we demonstrate the same faith as Mary and ‘stay the course’ as she did?
Have we come to believe in the same way as those who witnessed those events that day did?
Something for us to reflect and ponder upon!