Almost everyone thinks Jesus’ first miracle is the water-to-wine event at the wedding in Cana. But is it? Let’s examine the Bible and see what it says is the first miracle of Jesus.
John 2 is the only gospel that mentions the wedding at Cana. There it says:
It’s clear when reading the story that Jesus and his disciples were at the wedding. Jesus recruited some disciples, including Andrew and his brother Simon Peter in the previous chapter in John 1. So we can assume Simon (and Andrew) was at the wedding.
A significant catch of fish is mentioned in Luke 5 and is a contender for being an earlier miracle of Jesus, as studied below. It is hinted at in Matthew 4 and Mark 1, and less so in John 1. But it is mentioned in detail in Luke, so the focus here will be on Luke’s account.
In Luke 4, Jesus is teaching in a synagogue then goes to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick, Jesus is asked to act on her behalf and Jesus heals her (Luke 4:38-39… miracle?). This is the first interaction between Jesus and Simon in Luke’s account. It appears Simon is getting to know Jesus a little and must have been positively affected by His healing of Simon’s mother-in-law. But there’s no indication as of yet that Simon was a follower or disciple.
Luke 5 begins with Jesus preaching to a significant crowd by the lake of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee). To deal with the crowd, Jesus gets into an empty boat that belonged to Simon, and asks him to push out a ways so He could preach to the crowd. After He was done speaking, Jesus tells Simon to put the nets out for a catch in the deeper water. Simon replies that he’s tried it all night, but will try it again. Simon makes a great catch, enough that two boats begin to sink due to the large catch. Simon (interestingly, now called Simon Peter for the first and only time in this event and chapter), in response to the catch, says he is sinful and isn’t worthy of being in His presence. The text then mentions that James and John were fishing partners with Simon. Jesus says not to be afraid, now you’ll catch men (Luke 5:1-10). And here’s the most notable verse:
This outline and specifically verse 11 shows that this fishing event occurred before Simon Peter, James and John were Jesus’ followers or disciples. But clearly they were disciples at the wedding at Cana.
In examining the Bible, it is clear that this fishing episode was an event that occurred before the Cana wedding and was miraculous in nature.
One verse that must be addressed is that which immediately follows the Cana wedding. Here it is:
People take this verse and without full consideration, claim that the water-to-wine miracle at Cana was the first miracle of Jesus. But the entire sentence must be considered, including the “and manifested his glory.” The NASB says the word signs in this verse means an attesting miracle, and the rest of the verse confirms (or attests) this. What this means is that this miracle was the first to affirm the glory that was rightfully Jesus’ as being from God, of God, and God Himself. This was done as a public display of who He is, displaying Godly glory in and through Himself. And through this miracle his disciples believed in Him.
Now think about this relative to the miraculous fish catch in Luke. There, Jesus performed what must be considered a miracle for the benefit of the fishermen, to display to them that He is worthy of being followed by them. And this surely authenticated what He’d been preaching prior to this in the synagogues and moments before in the boat. This miracle was an attestation to His God-given authority on earth relative to the people He was directly affecting… fishermen. And Jesus goes on to say that the fishermen will now catch men.
In summary, it seems clear upon examining the Bible that the first miracle of Jesus was not miracle at Cana. Yes, the Bible shows that the water-to-wine miracle was His first display that attested to His glory as God’s son, an event His disciples attended. But there are other miracles that surely occurred before the wedding, and even before the fish catch (see Luke 4).
- Miraculous fish catch… done to show Jesus is worthy to follow… fishermen became disciples
- Miracle at the Cana wedding… done to show Jesus’ glory as being God-sent… disciples became believers
Many thanks go out to the makers of The Chosen, who showed this timeline accurately in season 1 which eventually prompted me to do this study and article.