winepress with rich red juice pouring out

John 2:1-12 in Story Form

A Wedding Feast to Remember

After Jesus arrived in Galilee, He and His disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana.  Jesus’ mother was helping oversee the festivities for the family.


On the third day of the seven-day wedding feast, the wine steward whispered to Mary, “We are running out of wine.”


Mary laughed.  “That’s impossible.  They ordered more than enough.”


The wine steward looked around nervously and whispered, “I know, mistress, but the vineyard didn’t deliver the full amount we ordered.”


“What?” Mary asked in disbelief.  “Show me.”


The wine steward turned on his heel and began leading her to the cellar where the wine was stored to keep it cool.  When they arrived, Mary began taking inventory.  She knew how much had already been served and how much should still be there.  Sure enough, the count came up short.


Horrified, she turned to the servant, “Quick, go to the market and buy more,” she ordered.


The servant sighed.  “I already went.  They don’t have any.”


Mary’s mind raced trying to find a solution. Socially, this would be a terrible blow to the newly married couple and their families.


“Well, send servants out to all the vineyards and markets within walking distance.  Tell them to buy whatever they find and have it delivered here.”


As each servant returned throughout the afternoon, tired and empty-handed, Mary became increasingly concerned.  How in the world could there be no wine for sale anywhere, she fumed in exasperation?


About mid-day on the fourth day, the wine steward approached Mary with desperate eyes, “The last of the wine is actually in the cups of the guests at this very moment.  What are we going to do?”


Mary’s heart sank and she leaned against the wall for support.  She had exhausted every possible means of covering the wine merchant’s error but to no avail.


It was only a matter of time, she knew before the guests became aware that there was no more wine. Then the gossip and criticism would begin, the guests would begin leaving, and what was intended to be a happy celebration of the union of this couple would end in social disgrace that would take years to overcome.


Mary looked over the guests who were currently enjoying themselves and her eyes fell on her son, Jesus, and stopped.  She remembered how Jesus always cared deeply for the people around him who were mistreated, ostracized, or socially inept.  He never passed up an opportunity to lift their burden through word or deed.


The angel had told her that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, even before she became pregnant with Him.  Surely, He could do something to help in this unfortunate situation.  Before she had consciously thought through what she was going to do, she found herself standing next to Him.


Jesus looked up and smiled at her.  Now that she was here, she had no idea how to make the request without putting Him on the spot, especially since His disciples were clustered around Him.


Worry creasing her brow, Mary bent and whispered in His ear, “They have no wine.”


Jesus looked questioningly at His mother.  He knew the implications of running out of wine at a feast, and He read the hope in His mother’s eyes that He would do something.  Jesus got up and walked into the kitchen with Mary.


“Dear woman,” He softly replied, “what does this have to do with you or Me?  It is not yet time for Me to begin my ministry to the people.”


Mary simply looked at Him steadily, her eyes saying everything she couldn’t find the words to express.


His brow furrowed as He absorbed her look for a long moment.  Then a corner of His mouth lifted, and He gently squeezed her arm.  His eyes began to wander around the kitchen and came to rest on the water pots leaning against the wall.  Thoughtfully, he looked at the nervous little clot of servants who had been serving the wine.


Mary, watching Him closely, knew He had thought of something. She followed His eyes as they rested on the knot of servants.


She cleared her throat and ordered, “Whatever Jesus tells you to do, do it.”


Jesus looked down at His mother’s upturned face and chuckled softly, His eyes twinkling with merriment.


Mary kissed him quickly on the cheek and then headed back to the feast to tell the master of ceremonies that the next round of wine would be delayed.  Surely he could devise something to keep the guests occupied until the issue was resolved.


Jesus turned back to look at the water pots.  He counted six of them, each able to hold 20 to 30 gallons of water.  A glint of mischief in His eyes, He turned with a broad smile to the servants who stood looking at Him uncertainly.


“Fill all the water pots to the brim with fresh water from the well,” Jesus told them.


The servants’ eyes opened wide with shock and confusion.  What difference would that make?  Nobody liked to drink water at these feasts, they thought. But they had been ordered to do whatever He said, so they silently emptied the old water out of the water pots and began filling them with fresh, cool water from the well.


It took some time for them to fill all six water pots to the brim with fresh water.  But when the last jar was filled, they turned and looked at Jesus to see what He would do next.


“Yosef, draw some out and take it to the master of ceremonies, ” Jesus told him.


Adrenaline shot through Yosef. Had this man gone mad?  Take water to the master of ceremonies?  He will be incensed and I will take the brunt of his anger!  He looked desperately at the other servants who had involuntarily taken a step away from him. No one moved.  No one said a word.  He looked back at Jesus questioningly.


Jesus stood looking at him calmly, expectantly, with a suppressed excitement Yosef didn’t share.


Well, better get it over with, he decided.


He took a serving pitcher and began filling it from one of the water pots.  Everyone, especially Yosef, saw the clear water flow into the pitcher.  When it was full, he looked anxiously at the other servants.  Fearful round eyes stared back at him.  No help there.


Then he looked at Jesus and a strange calm filled him.


Squaring his shoulders, he headed to where Ibrahim, the master of ceremonies, stood watching the guests as the storyteller enthralled his hearers with his rendition of a traditional love story in honor of the newlyweds.


The remaining servants clustered around the door where they could see what happened to Yosef when he served the water to Ibrahim.


When Ibrahim caught sight of Yosef coming towards him with a pitcher, the worry lines eased on his face.  Mary must have found some more wine somewhere and she’s sending a sample for my approval.  He quickly held out his cup for the wine.


Yosef hesitated, glancing furtively over his shoulder at the door to the kitchen.  Just beyond the knot of servants at the door, he could see Jesus standing looking directly at him.  He smiled encouragingly and gave a slight nod.


Turning back to the master of ceremonies, Yosef began pouring the water from the pitcher into the cup.


Only. . . it wasn’t water.  It was grape juice. Rich and red.  Yosef could even smell it as he poured.


He was so shocked he nearly dropped the pitcher.  But from long practice, he managed to fill the cup without spilling a drop.  In wonder, he stepped back to watch as Ibrahim lifted the cup to his lips and began to drink as he scanned the guests.


But the moment he tasted the wine, all his attention became riveted on his cup.  Slowly he took another drink.


“This is the best wine I have ever tasted,” he said quietly in awe.


Just then, the bridegroom walked past the master of ceremonies on his way back to his seat beside his bride.  The bridegroom must have had some special reserves set aside to surprise his guests with.  It’s the only logical explanation, the master of ceremonies thought.  Impulsively, he grabbed the bridegroom’s arm, stopping him in his tracks.


“This is amazing!  Normally everyone serves the good wine first and then when the guests are getting full, they serve the more inferior wine. But you have kept the best wine until now.”


The bridegroom, surprised and confused, stammered his thanks.  The last he had heard, he was on the brink of social ruin.  Now the master of ceremonies was complimenting him on the wine?  He looked questioningly at Yosef, but the servant wasn’t looking at him.  He was staring in open-mouthed astonishment at the cup.


Ibrahim let go of the bridegroom’s arm and slapped him on the back.  “You really had us worried for a while there.  I suppose you had this planned all along.” He chuckled happily, raised his cup to the bridegroom, and then drained it to the last drop.


The bridegroom smiled and laughed nervously.  He watched as Ibrahim turned to Yosef for a refill.  When he saw the rich juice pour into the cup, he hurried off to find Mary to find out just how much it had cost him and to thank her profoundly for locating such high-quality wine to save his reputation.


As Ibrahim relished another long sip of the amazing grape juice, he noticed the knot of servants at the kitchen door.  Suddenly coming to himself, he realized they were waiting for him to let them know it was okay to serve the rest of the guests.


With joy, he raised the cup and smiled, “Serve the guests.”


When they didn’t move, he hissed,  “Quickly, quickly!”


The servants hurried to do his bidding, not really believing what they had seen.  But as they dipped the fragrant, rich, red juice from the water pots and poured it into their serving pitchers they began laughing and exclaiming over the miracle.


As the guests tasted the remarkable juice, they eagerly listened to the servants relate the incredible details of the miracle to them.


The bridegroom, in awe of the miracle performed on his and his wife’s behalf, went searching for Jesus to thank him personally. He never found Him.  Apparently, soon after the master of ceremonies was served the fresh juice, Jesus left without even letting His disciples know.


Instead of a social embarrassment, the wedding became the most memorable and talked about wedding in all of Cana for years afterward.


The miracle convinced the disciples that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.


After the wedding feast was over, Jesus, along with His mother and brothers, and His disciples, went to Capernaum and they stayed there for a few days.



Read more first person stories from The Gospel of John or explore  Lessons from the Gospel of John.

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