St Augustin: A Role Of Signs And Wonders

The gospel according to John recorded signs and wonders performed by Jesus to move its readers to believe that this  Nazarene son of a carpenter is God’s promised Davidic Messiah, the Son of God and “that by believing [they] may have life in his name.”(Jn 20:31). The first sign, changing water into wine, recorded in John 2:1-11 gave John’s readers a solid clue of who Jesus is.

The climax of this narrative is found in verse 11: ” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” Unlike any other signs ever performed by prophets in Israel’s history viz. manifesting God’s glory, John wanted his readers to understand what he meant by John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ” and John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” so that they could join in with Jesus’ disciples in believing in Him.

In Tractates on the Gospel according to St John, Aurelius Augustin, the Bishop of Hippo, explained the role of signs and wonders. He wrote:

T[he] miracle indeed of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby He made the water into wine, is not marvellous to those who know that it was God’s doing. For He who made wine on that day at the marriage feast, in those six water-pots, which He commanded to be filled with water, the self-same does this every year in vines.For even as that which the servants put into the water-pots was turned into wine by the doing of the Lord, so in like manner also is what the clouds pour forth changed into wine by the doing of the same Lord. But we do not wonder at the latter, because it happens every year: it has lost its marvellousness by its constant recurrence.

And yet it suggests a greater consideration than that which was done in the water-pots. For who is there that considers the works of God, whereby this whole world is governed and regulated, who is not amazed and overwhelmed with miracles? If he considers the vigorous power of a single grain of any seed whatever, it is a mighty thing, it inspires him with awe. But since men, intent on a different matter, have lost the consideration of the works of God, by which they should daily praise Him as the Creator, God has, as it were, reserved to Himself the doing of certain extraordinary actions, that, by striking them with wonder, He might rouse men as from sleep to worship Him. A dead man has risen again; men marvel: so many are born daily, and none marvels.

St. Agustin then concluded that Jesus turning water to wine was wrought by the same God who made all things.  We ought not wonder at the water turned wine, “but love Him because He did it in our midst, and for the purpose of our restoration”


A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume VII: St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies. 1888 (P. Schaff, Ed.) (57-8). New York: Christian Literature Company.(paragraph added)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.