Why Did Jesus Turn Water into Wine?

by Jenny Black on

Articles 5 min read
John 2:1–11

Have you ever wondered why Jesus, the creator of the universe, took the time to make wine for a wedding feast? My finite mind can’t help but think it was a waste of His omnipotent power and divine authority to act on behalf of such a temporal problem. Even more intriguing is the fact that Jesus would have this be the first miracle that ushered in His ministry on earth. Jesus made wine from water for the wedding guests.  Of all the miracles He could have performed, it seems a bit lackluster. Doesn't it? Yet, nothing about Jesus or the words of Scripture will ever be found lacking. Therefore, it must be my deficient comprehension that prevents me from understanding the breathtaking depths of this compelling story.  

In John chapter 2, Jesus’ mother, Mary, approached him during a wedding celebration in Cana. She said, “They have no wine.” Jesus asked her, “Why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.” Her response to His question was to tell the servants to do whatever Jesus told them.  

As the story continues to unfold in verse 6, John says,  

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 

If you're like me, you have read this passage more than a handful of times and have managed to gloss over the distinct details in verse 6, thinking them unnecessary for your understanding. Which begs the question: Why did John take the time to tell the reader the number, purpose, and capacity of the water jars?  

John wants his readers to know that these six water jars had a divine purpose of providing the Jews with a ritual purification that was required by the law to wash away their impurities. In addition to that, John notes in verse 7 that Jesus instructs the servants to fill the water jars.  

These extraordinary details point out the obvious imperfections the water jars possessed in their ability to purify people. First, there were only six, which is one less than the number seven, signifying they are short of obtaining completion or perfection. In addition, what the jars contained was lacking. In other words, they fell short both externally and internally for the purification of men. 

Consider the rich symbolism that these jars represented to their onlookers. They were meant to cleanse people of impurities, but they lacked the power to purify them from the inside out. 

Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Water never had the ability to inwardly purify men; only the blood of Jesus can do that because “He, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without blemish to God to purify our conscience for eternity” (Hebrews 9:14). 

After the servants filled the water, to the brim, in all six jars, 

Jesus told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” 


They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. 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.” 


What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 

Jesus, the Living Water, came alongside the six, imperfect water jars, and He alone perfected what was missing. He took the water, which lacked the power to cleanse men of unrighteousness, and He turned it into wine. This moment foreshadowed the blood that would be drawn from Jesus during His death on the cross (Luke 22:20). His perfect sacrifice would have the power to cleanse men and women of their sins once and for all, from the inside out. Jesus was not only ushering in his ministry on earth, but He was also pointing His people to a new and lasting covenant for the forgiveness of sins, which would replace the previous one that was lacking.   

It’s quite profound if you think about it. Jesus ushered in His ministry on earth by providing wine for the wedding guests in Cana, and in His last book of the Bible, in Revelation 19:6-8, He brings it full circle with the wedding of the Lamb in Heaven. 

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: 


“Hallelujah!     For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad     and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come,     and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean,     was given her to wear.” 

We, as believers in Jesus, are the bride of Christ, and according to this passage we will be guests at the wedding of the Lamb, clothed in bright and clean linen that has been washed not by water, but the perfect blood of Jesus. On that marvelous day, Jesus’ atonement for our sins will have honored our Lord and Master, to the glory of our Bridegroom, Jesus our Messiah. All because Jesus turned water into wine for His wedding guests. 

About the Author

Jenny Black (Master of Social Work, The University of Texas at Arlington) is the Central Counseling Director and Women's Minister at Central Bible Church.