“On the third day” something completely unexpected happened. It was not understood by men and falsely attributed to some when others recognized it. The master of the feast speaks to the bridegroom when he should be speaking to Jesus. The mother of Jesus does not understand what is being done but knows her Son’s will is best. What should have been bitter and common flows instead uniquely sweet and rich – the end is better than the beginning.
Thus the change of water into wine is not merely first in a list of signs John is making. It is also the “source” (another and better translation of the Greek) of Jesus’s signs. It shows you how all the rest of the signs and the work of Christ are going to be. It manifests His glory and makes His disciples trust in Him. In seeing Cana they also see – though they cannot yet know how this will come to pass – Calvary and Easter.
The surpassing glory of Christ is unfathomable to those around Him. His mother does not know who should direct His actions, issuing a passive commandment to Him to do something about the embarrassing situation. The stone jars unique to Jewish culture to preserve them from contaminating residues of unclean substances are ready to handle water but not wine. They were ready only to serve one purpose and will now serve another. The guests and the master and the bridegroom were all prepared for things to wind down, but at the last the best is served.
But the servants knew. Those who see the sign worked by Him know. In obedience to His command to fill the jars with water, the servants will see the wine and pour it out themselves. They will know what the host and the master and the guests do not know – they will know the Source of these wonders and the Giver of the gifts of the very best at the very last.
There is more in this text than a lifetime could afford time to tell, and each of the characters could serve as the embarkation point for their own sermon. Why does His mother speak the way she does? What glory did the disciples perceive in Him now that will later in large measure fail them as they fail Him? How did the guests react? In his way John opens up all these things without answering them right away. He allows you glimpses of what is yet to come with Christ and with His disciples but does not now tell you everything. The evangelist mirrors the Lord, Who manifests His glory but has glory yet to come, Who makes the wine flow from the water jars but will make His blood to flow from divine flesh, Who eats and drinks at Cana but will give flesh for our eating and blood for our drinking so that we live forever.