The Best Wine: John 2:1-11 -- By: Karl T. Cooper

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 41:2 (Spring 1979)
Article: The Best Wine: John 2:1-11
Author: Karl T. Cooper


The Best Wine: John 2:1-11

Karl T. Cooper

“No one has ever seen God” (Jn. 1:18); not even Moses with whom God spoke face to face (Ex. 33:11). Whet Moses said, “I pray thee, show me thy glory” (Ex. 33:18) God said, “You cannot see my face; for man shall not see in and live” (Ex. 33:20). Yet when Jesus Christ came into the world, he brought a message of astounding grace: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9). How can this be? Because Jesus is the only-begotten God; because “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn. 1:18, 1:14).

This is the whole message of the Gospel of John—the glory of God, which is the glory of Christ, manifest among men. For twelve chapters John shows that glory diffuse, as it were: manifest in sign and word; for nine he shows the glory focussed: concentrated in the keenness of a love that loved to the end (Jn. 13:1).

The passage before us (Jn. 2:1–11) is from the first half of the Gospel. It is the first of the seven signs by which Jesus progressively reveals his person and work. It deserves special attention as the first sign; the fact that it stands without an interpretive discourse (like the raising of the nobleman’s son, 4:46–54, and the walking on the water, 6:16–21) makes it all the more challenging to the interpreter. This article attempts to wrestle with some of the problems which arise from a consideration of the story itself, and from a consideration of the significance of the story.

I. The story.

The setting of the story is straightforward enough. Having been to the Jordan to be baptized by John, and having found some followers in that neighborhood (four are mentioned),

Jesus returns home to Galilee, taking those followers along. Somewhere along the way the little group is met with an invitation to a wedding nearby.

Apparently, Jesus’ mother Mary is close to the family of the groom. She seems to have a significant part in helping with the preparations for the festivities. It is not said that she was invited; rather she was already present when Je...

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