6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
JOHN 2: 6-10 ESV
6 ἦσαν δὲ ἐκεῖ λίθιναι ὑδρίαι ἓξ κατὰ τὸν καθαρισμὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων κείμεναι, χωροῦσαι ἀνὰ μετρητὰς δύο ἢ τρεῖς. 7 λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Γεμίσατε τὰς ὑδρίας ὕδατος· καὶ ἐγέμισαν αὐτὰς ἕως ἄνω. 8 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Ἀντλήσατε νῦν καὶ φέρετε τῷ ἀρχιτρικλίνῳ· οἱ δὲ ἤνεγκαν. 9 ὡς δὲ ἐγεύσατο ὁ ἀρχιτρίκλινος τὸ ὕδωρ οἶνον γεγενημένον, καὶ οὐκ ᾔδει πόθεν ἐστίν, οἱ δὲ διάκονοι ᾔδεισαν οἱ ἠντληκότες τὸ ὕδωρ, φωνεῖ τὸν νυμφίον ὁ ἀρχιτρίκλινος 10 καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Πᾶς ἄνθρωπος πρῶτον τὸν καλὸν οἶνον τίθησιν, καὶ ὅταν μεθυσθῶσιν τὸν ἐλάσσω· σὺ τετήρηκας τὸν καλὸν οἶνον ἕως ἄρτι.
JOHN 2: 6-10 SBLGNT
Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 4, in his commentary in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, writes,
Setting the scene for the miracle to follow, the evangelist says, Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Stone jars were used for holding water for ceremonial washing because the stone was believed not to contract ritual uncleanness. The reference to the jars being ‘the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing’ may be a factual detail or suggestive of the symbolic significance of the miracle (see below). These were large jars, holding 20 to 30 gallons each, a detail included to enable the reader to appreciate the magnitude of the miracle soon to be performed.
7–8. The jars were not full, so Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ Jesus’ action confirms that his response to his mother was not a refusal to act. His mother had told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you,’ so they filled them to the brim. Their obedience is unquestioning. The evangelist draws attention to the fact that they filled the jars to the brim, emphasizing the miracle’s magnitude to follow. Then Jesus told them, Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet. They did so. The servants did what Jesus told them without question. Their obedience showed implicit faith in Jesus’ word, for the servants’ embarrassment would be great if what they brought to the master of the banquet turned out to be just water!
9–10. The evangelist continues, the master of the banquet tasted the water turned into wine. He does not tell us when the miracle occurred. Was it when the jars were filled? Was it when the servants drew from the jars they had filled? Was it as they carried what they had drawn to the master of the banquet? In any case, when the master of the banquet tasted what the servants brought to him, it was wine. The evangelist adds, He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. The evangelist suggests that only water was what they drew from the stone jars by saying the servants who had drawn the water knew. The miracle occurs as they carry what they had drawn to the master of the banquet. The obedience of the servants and their faith in Jesus, then, played an important part in this miracle.
The master of the banquet was astonished by what he tasted. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ The day’s custom was to offer the best wine first so that the guests would appreciate the host’s provision, and then when their palates had been dulled by too much drinking,( The NIV translation ‘had too much to drink’ softens the force of the verb used here, which means ‘to be drunk’ or ‘intoxicated’.) bring out the wine of lesser quality. Jesus’ provision of quality wine well into the celebration meant this custom was reversed.
By mentioning earlier that the six jars held 20 or 30 gallons each, the evangelist implies that the amount of wine Jesus would provide was substantial, even extravagant. The question arises, Why did Jesus make so much wine? Possibly he was fulfilling his obligations as a wedding guest. As guests, Jesus and his disciples were expected to provide wedding gifts. On the other hand, it could have been a symbolic action. In the Old Testament, abundant wine (and oil or milk) are signs of the age of fulfilment:
They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD—
the grain, the new wine and the oil,
the young of the flocks and herds.
‘In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD,
‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman
and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains
and flow from all the hills.
I will bring back my exiled people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.’
Jesus’ conversion of such a large quantity of water into wine would indicate that the long-awaited kingdom of God had arrived. God himself had drawn near in the person and ministry of Jesus, and fulfilling the promise of abundant blessings was beginning to be fulfilled.
Isn’t it ironic that the narrative concludes with John’s statement in verse 10, ‘you kept the good wine till the last.’ The presence of Jesus Christ, who is the last and the ‘good wine’ underwrites the ministry that follows. This miracle sets the revelation of the Truth personified by Jesus Christ, who is the last to reveal Himself to all who are willing to set aside themselves and anchor their life in Him.
As Jesus begins his ministry, the miracles underscore no other better than Him, whom the Father has sent. Today as we look back into scripture, the revealed Truth cannot be set aside. The world has spawned distractions that lure us away from the Truth in Christ, and we are enticed to accept its immoral attractions because it feeds our need of self gratitude and desire. God is steadfast and does not waver in His promises and what he offers is absolute, while the world wavers and moulds itself to meet any perversion we seek.
Unless we set aside our lust and perverted need for self gratification and seek an eternity of freedom bound in the love and grace of God, we will continue to convict ourselves into oblivion.
That is why God, the Father, saved the Best for the Last, and unless we see the magnitude of His grace, we will never see the Truth, the Life and the Way.