John chapter 2 says "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 2:11- "What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs"

These verses seems to indicate that Jesus had his disciples gathered at this wedding and this miracle of water to wine is called out to be the first of the miracles that Jesus performed.

However when we look at Mark chapter 2, it begins with the account of Jesus healing the paralyzed man lowered from the ceiling. THEN it recounts that Jesus called Levi (Matthew).

This confuses me chronologically. Was wedding miracle performed after Levi was called? if so does it mean that the miracle of healing of the paralyzed man the predecessor of the Cana miracle?

If this has already been answered some where else, kindly point me to that post.

  • 1
    It's important to note that "signs" in John's Gospel takes on a technical meaning. There are seven "signs" in John that seem to be distinct in some way from the miracles recorded in the synoptic Gospels. So when it says this is the first of the "signs" that's actually not the same as saying it was Jesus' first miracle, although this distinction is commonly overlooked. I will try to do some research on this tomorrow and add more info or write a full answer.
    – P. TJ
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 2:09
  • Interesting view point. I am trying to understand the difference between signs and miracles. If I understand it right, healing of a blind man would be considered a miracle but walking on water or calming a storm are considered signs.
    – user18904
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 19:25

3 Answers 3


Combining the narratives of the Synoptics and John, the storyline is:

  • Baptism, fast in the desert, temptations: 6 weeks (42 days) (the 3 Synoptics);
  • Encounter with the first five disciples in Bethany, travel to Galilee, wedding in Cana: 1 week (Jn 1:29-2:11);
  • Stay in Capernaum: 1 week (Jn 2:12);
  • Travel to Jerusalem for Passover (Jn 2:13), cleansing of the Temple (Jn 2:14-21), miracles in Jerusalem during Passover (Jn 2:23): 1 week [*];
  • While in Jerusalem, encounter with Nicodemus (Jn 3:1-15);
  • Stay in Judea with the disciples (Jn 3:22);
  • Beginning of travel to Galilea by way of Samaria (Jn 4:3-4);
  • In Sicar, encounter with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:5-39);
  • Two-day stay in Sicar (Jn 4:40);
  • Continuation of travel to Galilea and arrival there (Jn 4:43-35). This coincides with Mt 4:12 and Mk 1:14.

This combined narrative makes sense of the disciples' response to Jesus' calling in Mt 4:18-22 and Mk 1:16-20.

[*] The week counting up to the first Passover is for the only purpose of establishing that Jesus' baptism must have taken place no later than 9 weeks before the Passover of 28 AD (30 March), i.e. no later than 28 January 28 AD. That point was not asked but it does not hurt to mention it.


John 2:1 simply says that Jesus went to the marriage with his disciples, not with all of his disciples.

John recounts the very first disciples being called before the Cana wedding in 1:35-43. John omits, however, the calling of Matthew (Levi), which is given by the other Evangelists in Matthew 9:9, Mark 2:13-14, Luke 5:27-28.


If we ignore the casting out of demons, the first miracle, or 'sign, mentioned in Mark's Gospel as performed by Jesus was actually when he cured Simon's mother, and then he performed many miraculous cures and exorcisms:

Mark 1:30-34: But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

This, of course, was long before Jesus met Levi, but also of note is that Levi did not become one of the apostles. In Mark 2:14, it is made quite clear that Levi was the son of Alphaeus, but in Mark's list of apostles, Matthew was also clearly not a son of Alphaeus, but a second disciple called James was. Had the author of Mark thought otherwise, he could have listed Matthew with James as sons of Alphaeus, as he did with John and James, sons of Zebedee:

Mark 3:17-18: And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,

The confusion arises because disciples are not meant to change their minds when called by Jesus, yet this seems to happen when Mark omits Levi in the list of the twelve apostles. Matthew's author resolves Levi's unexplained absence simply by not mentioning Levi at all, and by having Matthew as the disciple who was a tax collector, as Levi had been in Mark's Gospel, so that two thousand years of tradition have held that Levi and Matthew must be the same person.

This means we should not think of the disciples in terms of the calling of Levi, and it may be very possible for Jesus to have had an informal group of disciples before he met Levi.

Mark 3:14-18 do make it clear that Jesus had not ordained his twelve disciples until some time after the various miracles of chapter 2. This means that John 2:2-11 can probably only be harmonised with Mark by assuming that the disciples were at this stage only an informal group of followers, probably consisting of Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael and an unnamed disciple, all of whom are mentioned in John chapter 1.

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