In his gospel, John refers to the miracles Jesus performed as “signs” because they demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah. These miracles are among the witnesses John assembles to give testimony about Jesus. As he states near the end of the gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:30-31).
The miracle performed at the wedding feast in Cana is the first of the seven major “signs” John records in the first 11 chapters. During the wedding feast the host ran out of wine which would have cast shame upon the groom and even carried potential legal consequences. So, at the request of his mother, Jesus turned approximately 120 gallons of water reserved for religious purposes into wine. In verse 11 John states quite clearly the purpose of the sign: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”
Jesus’ first sign was pregnant with meaning. It was an announcement in water and wine of the arrival of the Messianic era. The Christ had come and so the festivals and regulations of the Law of Moses, having served their purpose, now gave way to their Substance. This passage is not about marriage or how to be a good host. Those are good matters to consider but the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana is all about Jesus. It is about his Person as the long-awaited Messiah. It is about the work he has come to do which fulfilled all that the ceremonial laws had anticipated. Turning over 100 of gallons of water into fine wine is no small thing. Indeed, it a rather impressive miracle that pointed to the glory of Jesus. But as he explained to his mother, this was not yet his “hour.” Jesus’ hour would be accompanied by the most significant unveiling of his glory as he hung upon a cross of execution. At that hour Jesus would work his greatest miracle as he made atonement for the sins of his people.