Day 279: “The Third Day” Since When? (John 2)

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. (John 2:1)

Through the Bible: John 2-4

The story of Jesus turning the water into wine at a wedding begins with, “On the third day there was a wedding…” Which raises the question, “the third day of what?” or, “the third day since when?”

It’s hard to argue that the events of John 2 happens immediately after John 1. For one thing, there are already three references to “the next day” in John 1 (see verses 29, 35, 43). If John 2:1 was immediately sequential, that would make it the fourth day. Also, Galilee is about eighty miles north of Judea, where John the Baptist was. That would mean He had walked between 25 and 30 miles a day to get there. Of course, that could explain why Jesus was seemingly short with His mother in verse 4 (“Woman, why do you involve Me?”). If I had walked 80 miles in three days, I would be short with people too!

But there’s actually a simpler explanation for what “on the third day” referred to. It may simply have meant the third day of the week. Tuesday. Tuesday is considered an auspicious, or lucky day in Judaism. This goes all the way back to the creation story. The third day is the only day of creation that gets two “It was good” pronouncements from God (see Genesis 1:9-12). So Tuesday was thought to be a good day to start a business, or plant a crop. A baby born on Tuesday was considered doubly blessed. And while it’s a stretch to say that Tuesday was a preferred day to get married in Judaism, it was definitely a good day.

So maybe “the third day” in John 2 is a nod back to the creation story. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time John did that. Look how he begins his gospel: “In the beginning was the word” (John 1:1). And how appropriate that Jesus makes water yield wine on the same day His heavenly Father commanded the ground to yield fruit.

Today, rejoice at the perfection of God’s Word. He doesn’t miss a detail. And even these four simple words—”on the third day”—serve to connect two different stories into God’s Great story. Creation and Re-creation. Seed into fruit. Water into wine.

And it was good.


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