The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)

Lesson 4


(John 2:1-12)


1.     We do not know a great deal about the way weddings were conducted in the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry (John 2:1).

2.     The wedding was preceded by a betrothal, which was a very solemn affair and much more binding than our engagement period. To break off an engagement in modern times is not, as a general rule, much more difficult than simply returning the engagement ring.  But in 1st century Israel it required the same procedure as a divorce.

3.     The wedding was usually held in the evening, because the bridegroom and his friends were escorted to the bride’s house in a torchlight procession.

4.     The wedding ceremony took place in the bride’s house.  Then there was another torchlight procession, this time with all the guests going to the home of the bridegroom.

5.     It was here that the marriage feast was held.  It was often a lengthy affair and might go on for a whole week.  John does not mention the bride or the bridegroom.  Neither do we know who performed the marriage ceremony.

6.     But we know that Jesus was there!  I do not remember all the guests who attended my wedding but I distinctly remember that Jesus was there!

7.     It is significant that our Lord’s first (John 2:11) miracle was at a wedding.  Our Lord put His approval on the sacred institution of marriage.

8.     After preaching a message on the sin of adultery this morning, I am glad I can preach tonight on the blessings of marriage.  Marriage was ordained by God way back in the Garden of Eden.   And the devil has been attacking it ever since – through divorce, infidelity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc.

9.     My message tonight is entitled, “Lessons From Our Lord’s First Miracle.” 



1.     Note John 2:1, where it says, “the mother of Jesus was there.”

        not “the Mother of God”

        not “the Queen of Heaven” (cf. Jer. 44:17-19)

        not “the Holy Virgin Mary” (cf. John 2:12; Matthew 1:25; 12:47; 13:55, 56; John 7:3-5; Acts 1:14; I Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19)

        not a “co-redemptrix or a co-mediator” – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).

2.     Our Lord addressed His mother as “Woman” (John 2:4).  This is significant because the Gospel of John stresses the deity of Christ.  Our Lord, in His omniscience, knew that in the centuries which were to follow, the idolatrous system of Romanism would develop with its unscriptural exaltation of Mary.

3.     Our Lord corrected His mother but He was not being rude or disrespectful to her.  Dr. Vincent in his Word Studies says, “It was a highly respectful and affectionate mode of address.”

4.     Our Lord told His mother, “Mine hour is not yet come” (2:4).  Our Lord’s steps were perfectly timed down to the very second (cf. 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1; 17:1).  This is one of the themes in the Gospel of John.



1.     My father does not know much about the Bible but he knows that Jesus turned the water into wine.  Yes, but was the wine fermented?  I do not think so.

2.     Some people assume that every mention of wine in the Bible refers to fermented wine.  But when the King James Bible was translated, the word “wine” could refer to either fermented or unfermented wine.

3.     Even today, many modern dictionaries (e.g., Webster’s Dictionary) explain that the word “wine” could be used for either fermented wine or unfermented (grape juice).

4.     In the Bible, when wine is fermented, God warns us to stay away from it.

        Noah planted a vineyard, drank fermented wine, and got drunk (Genesis 9:20-23).

        Lot’s daughters made their father drink fermented wine (Genesis 19:30-38).

        “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Pro. 20:1).

        “Who hath woe?  Who hath sorrow?  Who hath contentions?  Who hath babbling?  Who hath wounds without cause?  Who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine…” (Pro. 23:29ff).

5.     However, there are many Scriptures which commend the drinking of wine.  This refers to unfermented wine, which is a symbol of joy and blessing (cf. Psalm 104:15; Isaiah 55:1).

6.     I knew a preacher who insisted that the Bible allowed for social drinking.  Despite the fact that he was a good Bible teacher, I was quite disappointed when he came to preach at our church in Queens (I was not the pastor).  Not long afterward I heard that he and some of his friends were at a restaurant and some of them were getting drunk.  This is a terrible testimony.

7.     Would our Lord allow for such a thing?  His enemies called Him a “wine-bibber” but that was slander.  They also called him “gluttonous” (cf. Matthew 11:19).  In fact they also called Him illegitimate and demon-possessed (cf. John 8:41, 48).

8.     Proverbs 23:20 says, “Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”

9.     If the six water-pots of stone were filled with fermented wine (John 2:6), then our Lord would be surrounded by winebibbers.

10.According to Scofield’s margin (and this can be verified by checking other study books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.), “one firkin = about 9 gallons.”

11.This would mean our Lord produced about 162 gallons of wine (John 2:6, 7).

12.But if this wine were fermented that would cause some of the wedding guests to be intoxicated, and that would be a sin (cf. Habakkuk 2:15, 16). 

13.And our Lord could never sin, and would never sin!

14.Some preachers get around this by claiming that the wine was fermented but not as strong as the popular wines of today.  F. B. Meyer wrote, “And we must remember that the light wines of the Galilean vintage were very different to the brandied intoxicants with which we are too familiar.”



1.     “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name (not Mary, not the pope, not Allah) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

2.     Interestingly John never once refers to our Lord’s mother as “Mary.”   She is referred to as “Woman” (2:4; cf. 19:26).

3.     The purpose of John’s Gospel is to exalt Christ, not Mary.

4.     There is symbolism here in this passage.  In fact, there is much symbolism in the Gospel of John (cf. 2:19-21).

5.     The “water-pots of stone” (2:6) represent the dry (they were empty) dead religious system that the Jews were trapped in.  Our Lord had something much better for them (cf. 2:6-11).

6.     The phrase, “after the manner of the purifying of the Jews” reminds us of their ritualism. Religion without Christ is nothing but a dead ritual.  It is still the same way today.

7.     The Passover had degenerated into “the Jews’ Passover” (2:13).  It used to be the Lord’s Passover, but not any longer (cf. 7:2).

8.     There are many people trapped in a dead religion that cannot help them, cannot change them, and cannot save them. This is because only Jesus can save them.  

9.     Mary said, “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it” (2:5).  Jesus says, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

10.The ruler of the feast said to the bridegroom, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10).

11.That is the way the world operates – they will give you their best up front but eventually you will be down to the bitter dregs at the bottom.

12.Such is the world. First the pleasures of sin, but then the wages of sin; gold at the top, but clay at the bottom; riotous living and then eating slop with the swine; fleshpots in Egypt, but chains of bondage.

13.But when you call on Jesus, He will save the best for later on (eternity in heaven).



1.     Moses’ first miracle was a plague – he turned the water into blood (Ex. 7:19ff).  This speaks of the judgment of God.

2.     But our Lord’s first miracle was turning the water into wine – this speaks of grace (cf. John 1:17).

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