Why Did Jesus Turn Water into Wine?

Great wine takes a long time to ferment. Jesus bypassed the entire timeframe in moments, which only God can do. God knew the glory that would be revealed in that moment, marking the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Danielle Bernock
Glass of wine sitting on the edge of a vineyard

The story of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana is found only in the Gospel of John. Why? This might be because Matthew, Mark, and Luke weren’t present for the miracle, but John was.

Although in John’s gospel, he doesn’t specifically identify himself as being one of Jesus’ disciples yet or being present at the wedding in Cana, yet we can reasonably conclude that he was.

Similarly, John’s record of the story doesn’t explicitly say why Jesus turned the water into wine. What Jesus did, he did quietly, and he never said why.

I suggest there is one reason why, but there are many things we can see.

We’ll start with the text.

Jesus Changes Water into Wine

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.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour 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 realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him (John 2:1-11).

What John Saw

John said that it was through this “sign” that Jesus revealed his glory for the first time. John saw glory in Jesus. Glory is a big word meaning honor, dignity, and splendor. These words point to the deity of Jesus. It’s interesting how quietly this miracle took place but how many divine attributes of Jesus can be seen.

We See Honor

Some say Jesus did this miracle simply to appease his mother. Or, as some have put it, he obeyed her. But Jesus was an adult and was no longer subject to her authority. To this, they may respond that he was honoring her. Or could it be that she exhibited faith with her words, “do whatever he tells you,” and he honored her faith? Either way, we see honor.

We See Authority

In changing the water into wine, Jesus demonstrated his authority over all things down to the molecular level. Some argue he didn’t turn water into wine but into grape juice. This is simply ridiculous, but just to humor such criticism, it takes a miracle for either transformation to occur. Water doesn’t change its molecular makeup without the authority of the Creator.

Dr. Cliff Lewis explains:

At a molecular level, the water, basically hydrogen and oxygen, was changed into wine that contains sugars, yeast, and water, which contain carbon and nitrogen along with oxygen and hydrogen. Thus, by changing water into wine Jesus demonstrated his authority over even the atomic structure of atoms by commanding oxygen and hydrogen atoms to disassemble and reform into other atoms of different configurations.

 The amount of energy it would take to perform this atomic deconstruction and reconstruction is staggering. This intermolecular energy being released is the source of the explosive energy from an atomic bomb. However, since Jesus caused the wine atoms to come back together, he would have to put this astronomical amount of energy into the atoms in order to have them reconstruct. To do so without any visible energy transformation of the liquid (John does not say anything about people noticing the transformation) indicates a mastery of natural law far beyond our current comprehension. And he accomplished it with no physical exertion. 

We See Power

Changing water into wine requires demonstrating power over time and space. Wine requires many processes that cover a long period of time. The growth of the plant. The maturation of the grape. Harvesting the grape. Treading the grapes into juice. The aging time required for fermentation. Great wine takes a long time to ferment. Jesus bypassed the entire timeframe in moments, which only God can do.

We See Counterculture

Jesus had the servants fill the ceremonial washing jars, which were used for washing the outside of the body according to the law, and refilled them with something inside the body. This demonstration is just the beginning of his counterculture teaching. Over and over he would come to challenge the ways of the religious leaders, and the thinking of the people.

We See Even More Now

Jesus turning the water into wine marked the beginning of his ministry. There are many other things we can see in this situation by looking at what Jesus taught after this. Things they didn’t know yet.

We can see more by diving deeper into these:

  • Jesus is a bridegroom and the marriage supper of the lamb. Jesus is the vine.
  • At the last supper, the wine represents the blood of Jesus that cleanses us inside.
  • The simplicity of this miracle mirrors the simplicity of grace found in Jesus.
  • It’s written “on the third day a wedding” and Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
  • Jesus was told “you have saved the best till now” the new covenant is a better covenant based on better promises. 

Hebrews 8:6 says, “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one since the new covenant is established on better promises.”

Maybe you can see even more things to investigate.

One Reason Why

As I said at the beginning of this article, there is one reason why Jesus turned the water into wine. How can I know this when Jesus didn’t say? Because he said it later in John 5:19,

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”

I submit that Jesus turned the water into wine because his Father directed him to do so. The Father knew the glory that would be revealed in that moment as well as what we’d be able to learn later. He did this because he loves us.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/kmellis


Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, speaker, and coach who helps people embrace their value and heal their soul through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn (now available in audio), Love’s Manifesto and Because You Matter. A long time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/ 


Originally published September 01, 2020.