What was Jesus’s first miracle? An overview of John 2

Summary: In John 2, Jesus and his disciples attend a wedding feast. The feast runs out of wine. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, approaches him about the situation and after saying that his time has not yet come, he performs a miraculous sign when he turns water into wine. 

It’s debated what Mary was expecting when she came to Jesus. At the end of our passage, John tells us in verse 11 that this was the first of Jesus’ signs at Cana in Galilee. But the best evidence from the gospels seems to be that this was the first miracle he performed, anywhere. 

That’s the view I hold. And on that view, it seems unlikely that Mary would have expected Jesus to perform a miracle here. Jesus is her faithful son. She’s going to him for help in a time of need. The miraculous works of Jesus are done for specific purposes within his ministry. 

The Bible doesn’t tell us very much about the early years of Jesus. Aside from his birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, there are just two other events recorded of the early years of Jesus and they’re both in Luke’s gospel. Luke 2 tells us of the baby Jesus being brought to the temple. And then we’re told a story from Jesus’s childhood where his parents go to Jerusalem for the Passover and mistakenly think he’s with them when they leave. And that’s all that we have of the younger Jesus. 

So what was the rest of his childhood like? Was he doing miracles? 

At the end of John, the apostle talks of how the world would not contain the books about what Jesus had done were they all to be written down (John 21:25). But I don’t think we should assume he was doing miracles his entire life. Again, the miracles are done for specific purposes within his ministry to point to his divinity and glory.  

In Mark’s gospel, during the ministry of Christ, the people in his hometown are seeing the mighty works and hearing the teaching of Christ, and this is all new to these people. 

On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him (Mark 6:2-3). 

With the fact that the author will say that this is Jesus’ first sign, I don’t believe Jesus had done any miracles prior to this. 

Before his ministry began, I don’t hold to a view that Jesus was just doing miracles left and right as a kid. Biblically, there’s no support for that. Theologically I think it makes more sense that he wasn’t.

His miracles aren’t magic tricks. In the X-Men comic books and movies, the various characters are mutants who live in the natural world and are born with various powers. But they have to be trained to control their powers. 

In the original X-Men movie, before some of the main characters wind up at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, the characters are all realizing the powers they have. Rogue’s power is that she absorbs your energy just by touching you and so she goes to kiss her boyfriend and puts him in the hospital. They have these powers that they can’t even control. 

I think it’s important not to have that image in mind for the younger Jesus. 

He’s not a superhero. He’s God incarnate.  

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