The Bible is full of fantastic and sometimes hard-to-fathom miracles. These are performed by Jesus, by His disciples and followers, and by God Himself. Sometimes, in our constant reading and telling of them, we can take miracles for granted and neglect their ultimate meaning and place in things. Youngsters hearing about miracles might wonder why we don’t see these unearthly feats accomplished today. The ideas we focus on here, however, are that miracles are more than just supernatural events. For one thing, they model for and remind us of the importance of faith in our daily lives. They also show us a little bit about who God is and what is significant to Him. In this first miracle of Jesus, we will witness something spectacular, surprising, and fun!
Lesson focus: Amazing things are possible when we have faith in Jesus and do what He tells us to do; even without physically visible miracles, we can hope and trust in God above all.
Passage: John 2:1-11
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Water bottles and/or cups, drink packages (powder or drops), water, clay (modeling or air-drying clay). Optional coloring page “Jesus turns water into wine”
Lesson Opening: Water race…start out with a little challenge. Hand each student a water bottle or a cup that is partially full. Have the children line up against one wall of the room, and move towards you as you call directions. They might start by simply walking across the room, but then instruct them to hop on one foot, waddle like a duck, leap like a frog, etc…all while trying not to spill (much) of the water! *Note: this activity can be done outside for warm weather, or even made into a water game by squeezing sponges or relay-passing a cup with holes down a line…
On the last round of things, have kids form a line from the wall to where you stand, and pass their water down to where you can pour it into a larger pitcher (preferably not transparent). Invite them to have a seat and ask if that activity made them thirsty. Look at the water and complain about how “boring” plain water is…with your back turned, pour in the powdered or droplet drink mix, and then begin to pour the newly “changed” water into cups to serve to students.
Was it surprising that the water poured into the pitcher was different when it came out? Was it what children expected? Explain that today they will be learning about what happened at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, and how it was also an unexpected event. Ask students if they have ever been to a surprise party, or any birthday party (be prepared to rein in tangent stories about Anna Kate’s amazing Minnie Mouse party with the bounce house and the piñata and…). Also ask if anyone has been to a wedding before, and what types of things took place. Well, today’s Bible story happens to take place at a wedding. Jesus was there with his mom and disciples…
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. –John 2:1-2
Now, in those days weddings were a big deal that could last for days on end. There was a lot of eating and drinking going on. But the hosts came upon what was really a terrible problem: they ran out of wine (feel free to call it “grape juice” if you feel this will bring up too many questions about alcohol consumption in the Bible…though really it was probably much safer and widely drunk in the Ancient Middle East…but that’s another topic). There were thirsty guests still having a blast with the party, and nothing to give them! Imagine going to a party where the food or the cake ran out before everyone was finished. Well, in Jesus’s time, they couldn’t just send for another pizza so easily. But Mary (the mother of Jesus) approached him…
When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” -John 2:3-5
Note the attitude Mary has here…why do you think she told Jesus about the situation? What did she think He could do?
Here is where one of the main points of this lesson opens up: Mary believed in Jesus. She knew who He was, and even though she had raised Him and fed Him and cuddled Him in childhood, she knew what He would do, and she had faith that He could do anything. Even after Jesus rebukes her, she still tells the servants to do what Jesus says. She had faith. Ask what students think “faith” means…well, it really means believing in what we don’t see. Mary had not yet seen anything miraculous done by Jesus (unless he showed early signs like burping up doves or something…), but she believed it would happen. And remarkably, the servants seem to believe, too, because they follow directions:
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, 9 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 10 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.” -John 2:6-11
So after blindly obeying their instructions, the servants risk being taken for fools and bring the water to the main host of things. Somehow in the trip between the jars and the banquet master, the water has become wine! Not just any wine, but the cream of the crop wine. The host is quite impressed, as the servants surely are, too…
But what is the point? Why bother?
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 2:11
Ask students why they think Jesus did this, and what we can take away from it. For one thing, Jesus was opening His public ministry here, in order to prove who He was and who God was. Another element we see is that God cares about all things. Most of the miracles in the Bible have to do with healing or curing physical ailments, or even bringing back to life the dead. But this is just a little speed fermentation process. Jesus cared to provide for the guests (and his mother) just as much as he cared to heal sight or cure disease. We also see, though, that faith can make what is impossible happen. This is not to say that God will grant everything we ask just because we pretend to believe. What it does mean is that when we approach God for anything at all, or any time we pray, we can know that He is there and that He cares. Even if we don’t see signs and wonders, we can still have faith in His desire for our good.
Jars of clay for any purpose…make “pots” to remember the jars in the story and what the miracle meant. Provide students with lumps of air-drying clay and invite them to make jars like the ones in the story. Allow for freedom of shape to some degree, but encourage them to form the clay in some form of a cup or vessel like the wine jugs described. If time allows (or perhaps as a follow-up), have kids decorate their clay with jewels, markers, or paint; or invite them to do so at home.
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Ask Him to help us have faith in Him and thank Him for making what seems impossible come to life.