“This First Sign”

“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11 ESV)

John, who no doubt would have made a fine Marine [Keep it simple and direct, Lieutenant!], helpfully tells us exactly what the point is for relating this event from the life of Jesus.  It is Christ’s first sign and was done to manifest or reveal or demonstrate his glory. So if someone asks you, “What was the point of Jesus changing water to wine?” Your answer should be, “To demonstrate his glory, sir!”

The word “manifested” [which IMHO is, while accurate, a poorly chosen word] means “to reveal, or demonstrate or make known, or show.”  This sign is the beginning of Jesus showing to the world his glory. John introduced his readers to the theme of Christ’s glory in John 1.14:  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  As the New American Commentary points out:

Glory in John is derived from the Old Testament idea of God’s kābōd [my apologies for another over eager theological commentator.  Kabod is the Hebrew word for glory], which implies the mighty power of God evidenced in epiphanies or perceived manifestations of that power (e.g., Exod 16:6–10; 24:15–17; 33:18–23; 40:34). In John the mighty God is to be perceived as acting in Jesus. The signs therefore point the reader to the reality that the God of the Old Testament has acted anew in Christ Jesus.

The God who had been silent for the last 400 years, was now speaking and acting again, in a thirty year old carpenter from Nazareth, wonder of wonders, who somehow had the ability to turn water into excellent wine.  This was a sign indeed.

The disciples caught the import of this first sign by Christ.  John says: And his disciples believed in him.  Interesting expression that, because John will use the exact same words [ἐπίστευσαν εἰς for you Greek studs] seven more times in his gospel and every time it refers to a person or persons who believed in Christ.

  •  Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. (Jn 2.23 ESV)
  • “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”(John 4:39 ESV)
  • “Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”” (John 7:31 ESV)
  • “As he was saying these things, many believed in him.” (John 8:30 ESV)
  • “And many believed in him there.” (John 10:42 ESV)
  • “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him,” (John 11:45 ESV)
  • “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;”
    (John 12:42 ESV)

All of these witnesses “believed in” Christ when they saw the signs he performed and heard the words that he preached.  It is left for you [dear non avid reader] to decide for yourself.  Will you see what the disciples saw, what the Samaritan woman at the well saw, or will you go on your merry way, as blind as the master of the feast?


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