The miracles of Jesus

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Return to Eden


 Wedding in Cana

One of the Bible’s best known places is Cana. The precise location of this first century Galilean village is still the subject of scholarly debate, but the miracle said to have taken place there has passed into popular folklore:

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he 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 realise where it had come from, thought the servants who had drawn the water knew. John 2:1-9

The Gospel records that as a result of the miracle, “the disciples believed in him”. Of course, sceptics might say Jesus had performed a party trick, albeit a pretty spectacular one. But if it was just a trick, there were some pretty strange elements to it. Magicians revel in the bafflement of their audience, whereas Jesus doesn’t tell anyone what he has done.

But perhaps it is no wonder Jesus keeps his miracle quiet. Once again, this miracle has shocking symbolic power. What Jesus did revealed even more explicitly who he believed he was. John’s Gospel makes a special point of mentioning that the water jars were overflowing with a superabundance of new wine. The miracle had produced huge amounts, in fact it has been calculated at something close to 120 gallons.

But this superabundance had a symbolic meaning. The disciples would have been familiar with the Jewish prophecies, which described a time in which there would be plentiful food for everyone and an end to illness and impurities. It was the time they’d all been waiting for, when the rule of Satan would be replaced by the rule of God. It would be nothing short of a return to Eden. And it was clear from the Jewish scriptures and the Dead Sea scrolls that only one person would usher in this new age of plenty. It would be God himself.

Turning water into wine; walking on water; exorcising demons – these were all the actions of a man by now certain of his identity. Much more than that, they were acts that first century Jews expected only God to perform.

This page is an extract from The Miracles of Jesus by Michael Symmons Roberts, which accompanies the BBC TV series.
Main image: copyright BBC / Religion 2006

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About this module

In his own time, Jesus was famous as a miracle worker. The miracles shocked those who saw them – not because of the spactacle, but because of the dangerous message they carried about Jesus. In these pages we follow the new BBC series, The Miracles of Jesus, and try to decode three miracles to find out what they were all about.

This section of Rejesus is based on The Miracles of Jesus by Michael Symmons Roberts, which accompanies the BBC TV series

Images copyright BBC / Religion 2006

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arrow Jesus' miracles

arrow Who is Jesus

arrow Battle with evil

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