5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.
His mother said to the servants,
Mary did not take Jesus’ statement in a negative way or even as a refusal of her request. To her credit she accepted Jesus’ statement as the will of God. She recognized the plan of God for her son.
“Whatever He says to you, do it.”
The recorded words of Mary are very few in Scripture. The Bible does not put a focus on her. She, however, put focus on Jesus and His words: “Do whatever He tells you.”
Mary knew Jesus would handle the problem properly. Although she did not fully understand the plan of God, she submitted to what Jesus said about it. Mary was content to leave the problem with Jesus.
Having established His priorities with Mary, He proceeded to do something that would ratify His mission to the public. He would begin to perform miracles to validate that He was Messiah.
Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews,
These waterpots were carved out of “stone.” Stone waterpots were used for storing water for ritual purification. The jars were not earthenware or pottery because that would allow impurities to seep into the water. Thus, unlike clay pots, stone pots protected from impurities seeping into the container.
containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.
These large stone pots would have held 20 to 30 gallons each. This would add up to about 120 to 180 gallons of wine for six jars. There were a large number of guests at the wedding.
Jesus said to them,
Jesus’ asking the servants to execute something for Him indicated that He did not reject His mother’s request. Her request was merely to fix the lack-of-wine problem, but Jesus went beyond her simple request to inaugurate His public ministry with a miracle.
“Fill the waterpots with water.”
Jesus wanted to make sure that all the wedding guests had enough wine to drink. He asked the servants to “fill” the waterpots with water. Jesus’ command to fill the stone pots with water was no simple task because of the size of the pots.
“With water” indicates that the servants put nothing else but water into the pots and that they filled them to the “brim.”
And they filled them up to the brim.
By filling the pots to the “brim” with water, Jesus left no room for any alternative explanations for this miracle. This sentence shows the magnitude of the miracle. The water had turned to wine by this point.
And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.
Jesus gave directions to the servants to simply draw out some of the wine from the pots to give to the head waiter. There was to be no mistake that this was H2O turned to wine. The servants then took some of the wine to the head waiter.
God does not ask Christians to exclude themselves from social interaction in the world.
Jesus was no austere killjoy. He gladly went to a wedding to rejoice with a couple on their wedding day. There are those who are suspicious of any kind of happiness or joy. To them Christianity should be draped in black. This is appropriate for the undertaker but not for the Christian. There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar.
There are fanciful stories of Jesus committing miracles as a child. The phrase here “this beginning of signs” shows that these fairy tales are pure myth. There are stories that Jesus made clay pigeons and they turned into real pigeons. This phrase here clearly shows that this was the first miracle Jesus ever performed in His humanity.
These stories are from pseudo-gospels that are fantastic stories about Jesus’ boyhood. Another story tells of Jesus playing with some of His playmates and throwing a stone at one of them and killing him accidentally. Jesus is said to have stopped playing and raised the child from the dead and then continued playing. Pure fiction. Another story tells of the Jordan River catching fire when Jesus was baptized. Again, pure myth.
Do you think the fact that these six water pots were used for “purification” has any significance. As I recall, my college NT Professor, Dr. George Redding, understood that wine to be drunk by the wedding guests would never have been put in such pots. As I recall, he taught that the water that turned into wine was the water which the servant drew out to take to the “master of the feast.” Jesus said to fill them with water and to draw out “some” (water). (I understand that tradition says that all the water in these “unholy pots” was turned to wine.)
This is not at all a challenge to your teaching. I’m just wondering if you have heard anything like the above paragraph and what your response is to it. Thanks! (A retired pastor and now interim pastor of a Baptist church.)
Judson, thanks for your blog. It was right that it was normal procedure not to put anything impure into these purification pots, however, it appears to me that we need to take the extant statements at face value. The original purpose of these pots (made of a single stone because it kept the water pure) was for ritual purification before and after ceremony. The pots were filled with “water,” not wine, but miraculously the water turned to wine. Because the apostle John indicates that this was a simeion miracle (a miracle that points to something significant) to attribute any other purpose is to interpolate a meaning not extant in the text.
There is no problem to challenge my teaching here. Admittedly, there is not enough information in the text to make dogmatic statements about specifics not in the text. What we can affirm is that water was turned to wine in a great amount (120 gallons), that is, into water pots used for purification (Jn 2:6).