Jesus: Bringer of the New Covenant (2:1-11)

Bible Passage: John 2:1-11

John’s gospel is structured around seven signs, seven sayings, and seven witnesses, which together form a picture of who Jesus is. This is the first of the signs and it is one of the best-know miracles in the ministry of Jesus, when he turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This sign works on several different levels, each building on one another to reveal more about Jesus.

Jesus the Provider: At its most basic level, this is the story of a provision miracle. There was an embarrassing situation at a wedding where the couple had failed to provide what was needed for their guests (and in that culture this would have been a cause of shame). Jesus’ mother knows that Jesus can do something and so directs the servants to him, and Jesus has them fetch water which he turns into wine. In this way, the miracle shows that Jesus is able to provide supernaturally, and it invites us to trust in him with whatever need or lack there is in our own lives as somebody who had the power to provide in supernatural ways.  .

Jesus the Bridegroom: For John to choose a miracle that took place at a wedding as his first sign is no coincident, and this is backed up by Jesus performing a role that would usually be the responsibility of the groom (providing wine). This same theme is picked up in 3:29 (also with Jewish purification rituals as part of the context) where John the Baptist describes himself as the best man with Jesus as the groom. Throughout the Bible the story is told of the marriage between God and his people, and in the New Testament this is refined as Christ and the church. This first sign in John points out attention to Jesus as the heavenly bridegroom for his people.

Jesus the Bringer of the New Covenant: One detail in this passage that is sometimes missed is that the jars used for the water were originally used in Jewish purification rites. This is mentioned on purpose, because the water in the jars is supposed to be a symbol of the old covenant. The water is fine, but what Jesus transforms it into is so much better – not just any wine but the best wine! This is a picture of the new covenant. Jesus is taking the old covenant and transforming it into something so much better, and this sign is supposed to point us to this.

Potential Applications:

  • The image of Jesus as bridegroom is one that speaks of intimacy and is one that we could dwell on more. Invite people to draw near to Jesus as their groom and enjoy the closeness of his presence.
  • This passage reveals the glory of Jesus to us. It should cause a response of praise, and obedience (just as Jesus’ mother told the servants to ‘do whatever he tells you’).
  • There will likely be people in the congregation with provision needs. You could offer prayer for Jesus to provide for their needs just as he provided for the needs of this bride and groom.