Jesus’s First Miracle Foreshadows His Atoning Sacrifice

Excerpt from Matriarchs of the Messiah 

Jesus’s First Miracle Foreshadows His Atoning Sacrifice

Mary looked at the empty wine pots and wondered what they would do. The weeklong marriage celebration at Cana was far from finished, and already the wine was gone.

Jesus was now thirty years old, the age at which a man could become a rabbi. Mary was aware of the special powers that her Son possessed. She might not have understood the fulness of His ministry, but she knew that His words had power, a power as invisible and as tangible as gravity or electricity. She had been watching for the time when He would begin revealing His powers to others. He had been baptized; He had selected His Apostles. His ministry had begun. The time was now.

Mary sent for Jesus. Before she uttered a word, Jesus looked at the empty pots and said to His mother, “What have I to do with thee? My hour is not yet come” (John 2:4).

Mary turned to the servants and told them simply, “Do whatever He tells you to do.” Then she backed away.

Jesus told the servants to fill six water pots with water. These were not household containers used for drinking water; they were “water pots of stone, after the manner of purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece” (John 2:6). The Jews used clay pottery for kitchen purposes. These stone pots were designated to catch the water that would be used for ceremonial washing. A firkin was equal to about nine gallons, so these were heavy pots, able to hold at least twenty gallons each. Jesus told the servants to fill the water to the brim. When they had finished, He told them to draw out the liquid and take it to the host of the feast who, after tasting it, declared it to be the best wine of the party. The host was surprised, saying, “Thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). Ordinarily the best wine was served at the beginning of a feast, when guests could taste the difference, and cheaper wine was served at the end of the party, when guests were already somewhat inebriated and less able to discern good wine from bad. Thus the host was startled to taste such fine wine at the end of the wedding feast.

Why did Jesus perform His first miracle and “manifest forth his glory” (John 2:11) for such a seemingly trivial and superficial event as a local wedding? In fact, symbolically there was much more to this miracle than providing wine for a party. Wine is a symbol of Jesus’s atoning blood. By changing the ceremonial water from the stone pots into wine, He symbolically demonstrated that the cleansing water of the Mosaic law was being transformed into the saving blood of Jesus Christ. The best—Christ Himself—had indeed been kept for last.