There is no way to know for certain why Jesus chose a wedding in Cana to perform His first miracle (John 2:1–11). We can hypothesize, however, and we have some Old Testament prophecies to help us piece together some possibilities.
It seems that Jesus’ family had close connections to the event in Cana. The fact that Jesus’ mother, Mary, is concerned with the lack of wine (John 2:3) suggests that she was involved in the planning and organization of the wedding. The fact that after the wedding Jesus’ brothers travel with Him to Capernaum (John 2:13) indicates that Jesus’ whole family was present for the wedding. Could the wedding have been that of a relative of Jesus or a family friend? It is quite possible. Such a connection would explain Jesus’ presence at the wedding but not His decision to perform His first miracle there.
One consideration is that of honor. In those days, family honor was of vital importance. Weddings usually lasted for seven days, during which time food and wine supplied by the bride’s and groom’s families flowed freely. To run out of either implied a thoughtless or impoverished host. Running out of wine would bring dishonor upon the family name. As a personal favor, Mary turned to her divine Son for help. Her family was about to be shamed in the community, and she knew her Son could do something about it.
Jesus’ earthly ministry had begun at His baptism by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:16–17; Mark 1:9–12). The wedding occurred over a month later after Jesus had gathered about half of His disciples (John 1:43). Although He had never performed a miracle in public, it was time to demonstrate who He was.
It is interesting that the quality of wine He supplied was superior to anything that had been served thus far (John 2:10). The quality of the wine stunned the host. The miracle made a strong impression on Jesus’ new disciples, teaching them from the start that He could take care of them (Isaiah 46:4; Matthew 6:8).
Jesus’ creation of wine may be significant, prophetically. Jeremiah had foretold that in the Messianic age “they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD—the grain, the new wine . . .” (Jeremiah 31:12). Amos said that Israel “will plant vineyards and drink their wine” (Amos 9:14). The association of the Messiah with a time of plenty—including freely flowing wine—makes Jesus’ first miraculous sign all the more meaningful.
The fact that the miracle was performed at a wedding is also significant. By His attendance, Jesus places His stamp of approval on the marriage covenant, and with His miracle He shows from whence the blessings in a marriage spring. The love and joy inherent in a wedding ceremony are also characteristic of the ministry of Christ, who came into this world because of love (John 3:16) and brought joy to all who believe (Luke 2:10). Also, Jesus may have chosen this family situation to perform this miracle because it is something everyone in every culture can relate to. An ordinary setting became the showcase for His supernatural power. Perhaps that is another lesson He wants us to learn from it. He wants to do something supernatural in the everyday events of our lives, as well.