At the wedding in Cana Jesus solved a crisis by turning water into wine. For the children it’s really wonderful that Jesus demonstrates his willingness to respond to our everyday needs. We know that we can trust him with all of our problems!
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
– Philippians 4:4 (ESV)
This story records the first miracle of Jesus. It’s a miracle quite different to many of the other miracles of Jesus that are recorded in the gospel. This was not a life or death situation by any means, but it’s incredibly significant because Jesus reveals a number of important things about himself by turning water into wine. We can see prophetic or symbolic significance to the fact that Jesus turned ordinary water (in jars used for ritual cleansing) into extraordinary wine (which represents the blood of Jesus). This is particularly intriguing when we consider that this was the way that Jesus chose to reveal his power as the promised Messiah to those closest to him.
Supplies: a pottery jar, a clear pitcher filled with water and a seemingly empty wine glass (but with a spot of dry red food-coloring in the bottom).
Tell the story from John 2:1–12
To tell the story we’ll be using a food-coloring ‘trick’ to simulate turning water into wine. When teaching young children about miracles, the use of magic tricks can provide valuable object lessons. Miraculous things do in fact seem magical to us! However, it is important to distinguish that Jesus wasn’t a magician doing tricks. He really does have the power to make miracles happen.
Today’s story is all about Jesus’ first miracle in the Bible. It happened at a wedding feast at a place called Cana. A wedding feast is a big party to celebrate that someone got married and it could carry on for days! Jesus was there with his family – his mom was there, and we know that he also had some of his disciples with him.
Now, have any of you ever been to a wedding? Some of you may not ever have been to a wedding, but I know that all of you have been to a birthday party! In fact, you’ve all had a birthday party haven’t you? Now, think for a moment. What are some of the most important things that you need for a party? That’s right, you need games… and snacks… and juice… decorations… maybe a piñata… and definitely a cake! Now, imagine you had a party and all your friends arrived and you realized that there was no cake. You could still get together and have some fun, but it wouldn’t really be a party would it? It would be more of a get-together. It would be much more special; it would be a real party, if there was a cake!
That is kind of what happened at this wedding at Cana. They got there and started having the party and then they ran out of wine. Now, the wine was just as important to the party in those days as what cake would be if you were having a birthday party. Everyone would soon be thirsty and the party would have to end. And that would be sad because normally a wedding celebration would carry on for days! So, when the wine ran out Jesus mother came to him to tell him about the problem. She said: “Jesus, the wine has run out.” She knew that he could do something about it and she said to the servants: “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do”.
Let me tell you that Mary was quite right: it’s always a good idea to do what Jesus tells you to do. And do you think the servants did what Jesus told them to do? Yes, they did! And something amazing happened.
Here’s what happened. Nearby there were six massive water jars. (At this point you can hold up the pottery jar that will be in Room). They were much bigger than this jar but let us pretend that this was one of the jars. Each one was so big that it could hold a bathtub full of water! In fact, these jars were made to carry water for people to wash themselves. People weren’t supposed to get inside the jar like you get into a bathtub, but they would scoop water out to clean themselves. Now, these jars weren’t full, and Jesus wanted the jars to be full. So, he told the servants to go fill the jars with water. Now, I wonder what the servants were thinking. They were at the wedding and they had run out of wine but Jesus was telling them to go get water. That was strange, but they did what Jesus told them to do and they filled up the stone jars with water. They filled the water to the brim! (At this point you can pour water into the pottery jar from the plastic jug).
When they finished doing what Jesus told them to do he then told them to do something else. He said to them: “Draw some of the water out and take it to the master of the banquet”. Now, can you imagine how strange it would have been for the servant to take a glass of water to the master of the banquet, when what the master of the banquet needed was more wine. But the servant was obedient to Jesus and took some of the water to the master of the banquet. (At this point you can pour some water from the jar into the wine glass).
When master of the banquet tasted the water, it wasn’t water… It was WINE! (by now the food coloring will have dissolved and the water will have turned red). Jesus had miraculously turned the water into wine and the master of the banquet said: “Wow, this wine is the BEST! Normally people give the best wine at the beginning of the party but you’ve saved the best wine for last!”
Yay! Jesus had saved the day and the people could carry on celebrating the wedding. We can learn from this story that Jesus cares for us and that we can talk to him about our problems just like Mary did. We can tell him if we’re feeling sad, or if we’ve lost something like your favorite toy or maybe your friend has moved to another city. You can talk to Jesus about it!
You can leave it here for the 4-5s, but for the older kids you can talk about communion and how it represents the body and blood of Christ. If you wanted to refer to it for the little ones then keep it simple:
Have you seen how the grownups will have a little piece of bread and wine on a Sunday? The bread and wine is a reminder of how much Jesus loves us. He said that when we drink the wine we should remember him. Jesus fixed the problem at the wedding by turning water into wine. Jesus fixes us when we are broken too. He forgives us when we sin and become far away from him. When we share Communion at church, we remember Jesus and are reminded of his forgiving power!
As part of the snack time the children will be allowed to turn their water into something special with some drink mix!
Prayer: Thank you Jesus that we can come to you with our problems. Lord, we know that you give us reason to celebrate! We believe in you this morning and we put our faith in you Jesus! Amen.
- Why was it a problem that they ran out of wine?
- What were the big stone jars used for?
- Why do you think Mary told Jesus about the problem?
- Why do you think Jesus was able to turn water into wine?
- Do you think that his disciples were surprised?
IDEA: Water Jar Relay – Supplies: cups, 4 pitchers.
Jesus asked the servants to fill pitchers full of water. When the master tasted the water it had been changed into fine wine!
- 4s and 5s – Split the children into two teams. Have them line up on one side of the room. On the other side have a pitcher full of water (but not too full) and one empty for each team. Have the first child from each team run to a helping volunteer, dip the cup in the full pitcher and then pour it into the empty pitcher. They then run back and tag the next child to go. The team that fills their empty pitcher first wins! Children can go more than once. Instead of running have them crab walk or walk backwards or skip or hop down to the pitchers.
- Older kids – Split into two equal teams. Have them sit in a line a foot apart or so. On one end have a pitcher full of water and several cups next to it. On the other end have an empty pitcher. Have the first child in line fill a cup with water and then hand it to the next person on down the line. The child at the end pours it into the empty pitcher and then hands the cup back up the line. The children remain seated the whole game. The team to fill their pitcher first is the winner.
Featured Image Credit: Wilhelm Borremans, The Miracle at Cana, 1717