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Water to wine…Why was this His first sign? (Part two)

To read the introduction to this post, please click here

Whether a person is a Christian or not, if they understand that Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God and they are familiar with some or all of the details of this factual event, a few obvious and logical questions naturally spring forth from what is recorded in these few verses.

John 2:1-11 (ESV) 1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Questions like:

Why did Jesus use a word to address His mother that was apparently not mother-like?

Why did He turn around and do what He just told His mother He was not inclined to do?

And the biggest question of all—Why did He turn water into wine as His introductory miracle rather than something much more mind-blowing like walking on water, healing a man born blind, or raising someone from the dead?

I believe that the answers to these questions can be discovered by viewing what took place through nine non-Western culture glimpses.

The following is what that looks like.

NOTE:  If you’re not familiar with the broad descriptions of cultures as either Guilt/Innocence based or Honor/Shame based, click HERE to watch a very informative 5 minute video that will bring added clarity to what you’re about to read.

Vs. 1  On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

Based on Mary’s actions that are described in these verses, it appears that she had been invited to a wedding feast that was being put on by friends that she cared deeply about.

Jesus and His disciples were also there as invited guests.



3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

If Mary was there as a close friend of the family, she was probably doing what most of us do at the wedding of a family member or very close friend—helping out in whatever way possible to ensure that the wedding is the source of joy that the family, including the bride and groom, long for it to be.

As the traditional components of the wedding unfolded, including the distribution of wine to the guests, Mary discovered that the wine supply had been completely consumed.  

They were out of wine–which would have created a major crisis for this family. 

Culturally, wine was served throughout a wedding feast. 

Wine was one of those components at a wedding that is taken for granted and not even noticed—until it’s no longer available.  Its sudden absence would draw much more attention than its presence in the eyes of all the family members and guests.


1–Contrary to our individualistic culture’s conviction that the primary purpose of a wedding is to fulfill the lifelong dream of the bride, in a collectivistic, honor/shame based culture, a wedding is a community event that provides a unique opportunity to reinforce or increase the honor and prestige of the family in the eyes of those that matter to them. 

In that culture, running out of wine was a major blunder that not only would bring shame and dishonor on the family, but also opened the door for them to have a lawsuit brought against them by those they invited. 

Running out of wine was considered as equivalent to committing fraud against the guests.  The family gave the appearance of having sufficient resources for the number of guests they invited and they clearly didn’t—which could be viewed as acting fraudulently to all those in attendance.

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