Scripture Reference: John 2:1-11
Suggested Emphasis: The miracles of Jesus were more than just tricks. They were ways to show the power of God and build faith in people.
Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding in the city of Cana. When the hosts ran out of wine to serve the guests, Mary had total confidence that her son, Jesus, would take care of the situation. He miraculously turned plain water into excellent wine.
The exact location of Cana is not known. It is west of the Sea of Galilee. It is close enough to Nazareth and the area around the Jordan that Jesus, his mother and Jesus’ disciples were all guests at the wedding.
The feast was a big part of the wedding custom. It would have been shameful for the host to run out of wine for his guests. Mary must have been well acquainted with the host because she saw it as her responsibility to help with the problem. She also seems to have charge over the servants since she gave them orders to obey Jesus. Perhaps this was a relative or even another of Mary’s children (Jesus’ sibling) who was getting married.
It is interesting that Mary trusts Jesus to fix the problem. We know that he has not performed a public miracle before this time (verse 11). In what way did Mary know that Jesus would solve the problem? She may or may not have expected him to perform a miracle. Jesus knew that his power was not given to him for his own gratification. He reminds Mary that what she is asking him to do is not of the magnitude that his purpose on earth was.
Whatever Mary’s expectations might have been, they were surpassed. Jesus miraculously produced some more wine. He ordered the servants to fill six stone water jars with water. These were not special jars. They were used to hold water used in ceremonies. The text says that the jars were quite large (verse 6).
Jesus then ordered the servants to take a sample from the jars. This was to be given to the man in charge of the banquet. When he tasted it – it was wine! The water had been miraculously turned to wine!
It was not just any wine – it was excellent wine. Usually guests were served the best wine at the beginning of the banquet. After they had been satisfied with wine then their taste was dulled. That is when the inferior (cheaper) wine was brought out. In this case the person in charge thought the bridegroom might have made a mistake. The wine that Jesus had produced was the best wine of the night.
The lesson from this miracle is more than just turning water to wine. Jesus used old containers that were used in ceremonial purification (verse 6). He filled the containers with something totally new and good. This was a good way for him to introduce the purpose of his ministry. The Jewish nation was the container by which the Messiah would be poured out to the world.
Another parallel is the fact that drinking too much wine dulls us to know the difference between right and wrong (good to point out to kids!). The wedding guests had been drinking so long that they probably didn’t appreciate the beautiful taste of the new wine. The Jews had practiced their religion mindlessly for so long that they did not appreciate the Messiah.
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Show the class some of your wedding pictures or have a guest come to class and show their wedding pictures. Discuss the wedding and the celebration afterward. Was there a meal? Did you have plenty of food and drink or did you run out. What would you have done if you had run out? What weddings have the students been involved in? “In today’s story we are going to learn about a wedding that Jesus and his mother attended. Let’s listen to hear what happened at the feast following the wedding.”
Jesus and the disciples were invited to a wedding in the town of Cana. When they arrived at the wedding they saw Jesus’ mother, Mary. She had been invited to the wedding too. There were many people at the wedding. After the wedding they had a big wedding feast. They celebrated and ate lots of good food.
The groom provided wine at the wedding. Wine is a kind of alcoholic drink. The problem with alcohol is that some people do not know when to stop drinking it. That is what happened at this wedding. Some people drank so much that there was none left for the rest of the guests.
Jesus’ mother knew that Jesus could help. She told him the problem. Then she told all the servants to do exactly what Jesus told them to do.
Jesus reminded his mother that fixing the wine problem was not the reason he came to earth. Jesus came to earth to be the Messiah.
But Jesus wanted to help his mother. He told the servants to go and get water. Then he told them to put the water in six large water pots. After all the pots were full then he told them to dip out the water and take it to the man that was in charge of the wedding feast.
The servants did just as Jesus said. They filled the six pots with water and then they dipped out some water and took it to the man in charge of the wedding feast. The man took a taste and he could not believe it! This was the best wine he had ever tasted. Usually, the best wine comes first and then the cheap wine. This time it was just the opposite. The last wine (the wine that Jesus made) was the best wine.
How could this have happened? The servants put plain water into the jars and the water turned to wine. That is impossible! No one could make that happen, could they? But Jesus made it happen.
When something is impossible but it happens anyway – that is called a miracle. Jesus performed many miracles after this but turning water to wine at the wedding in Cana was Jesus’ first miracle.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download these illustrations and slideshow. Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- In what city did Jesus perform His first miracle? Cana
- What kind of event was Jesus attending when He performed His first miracle? A wedding
- What was Jesus’ first miracle? Turning water to wine.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Have two containers – one transparent and one not. The transparent container should contain clear water. Place food colouring or dry purple drink mix in the bottom of the container that is not transparent. Pour the water into the container with coloured drink mix. Then pour it back into the transparent container allowing children to see that it has now been “changed”. After the children have seen the effect then be sure to explain that it is a trick. Discuss the fact that Jesus did miracles – not tricks.
- Use identical cups and place Refresh or Kool-Aid or similar drink in each one. Make one correctly and dilute the others (some more than others.) Give each child an empty cup. Pour a little from one of the Refresh cups into each of the children’s’ cups and let them taste it. Do this for each of the Refresh cups and let the children vote on which of them contains the “best” drink. Talk about the fact that when Jesus changed the water to wine, it was the best wine.
- Have a cup of water and pass it around to each child asking them to turn it into wine. After each child has a go, and they reply that they can’t do it and that is not possible, talk about how miraculous it is that Jesus was able to do this. To further reinforce the idea, explain the process of making wine and how it takes a long time to make good wine. You can demonstrate this by smashing grapes and trying to get the juice into a cup.
- A woman teacher could drape a cloth over her head like a veil and then tell the story from Mary’s point of view (or a servant’s point of view). A man teacher could tell the story from the bridegroom’s point of view.
- Use wooden or plastic spoons to make puppets. Draw faces on the inside of the spoons and wrap a piece of fabric around the handle as clothing. Let children use these to act out the story.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and worksheets about Jesus turning water to wine (Calvary Curriculum)
- A good selection of both online and printable puzzles, activities and story words covering a selection of Jesus’ miracles and healings gardenofpraise.com