Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

John 2

Verses 1-11

Our Saviour had lived on the earth for thirty years, and had worked no miracle. There was the hiding of his power. He had been subject unto his parents, and had lived in obscurity. Now he has broken through the obscurity, and he begins his public ministry by working a miracle.

John 2:1. And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;

“The third day.” John keeps a kind of diary for Christ. In those first days there was something for every day, and they were a specimen of the whole life of the Saviour. He could never say, like Titus, “I have lost a day.” Every day had its deed, glorifying to God, and blessed to men. Let us also try to labour for Christ every day; let there be no day without its mark. May God grant that there may be something to make every day memorable! “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee.” The first miracle of our Lord was not wrought at Jerusalem; but away there in the back settlements, in “Galilee of the Gentiles.” It was necessary for him to be seen, and to work miracles which might be seen; but he began in an obscure region, among a despised people.

John 2:1. And the mother of Jesus was there:

This expression leads to the belief that there was some kind of kinship between the bridegroom or the bride and the mother of Jesus, for it is not said that she was invited to be there, but that she “was there.”

John 2:2. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

Happy marriage, where Christ is invited to be present! Where Christ goes, his disciples go. If they suffer with him, they also rejoice with him. If he goes to a feast, they must go, too: “Both Jesus was called, and his disciples.” They were only five; but five is a large number to add to a poor family’s wedding party. It shows the generosity of their heart that they invited Jesus to come and bring his disciples; and he went to put honour upon marriage, especially as he foresaw that the day Would come when the apostate church of Rome would reckon marriage to be dishonourable, and not permit one who was married to officiate as a minister.

John 2:3. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

I notice that John calls Mary “the mother of Jesus.” I suppose he had in his mind the dying word of Christ, “Behold thy mother!” Such things make a deep impression upon us; and we are apt, when writing, to use the phrases that have been burnt into the memory. “The mother of Jesus.” Because she has been too much exalted in the Romish church, I fear that we run to the other extreme, and think too little of this woman to whom the angel Gabriel said, “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” “They wanted wine.” They had not been long married before there was want in the house. Even in the brightest days of life, they wanted something more; and the mother of Jesus saw that they were in want, and that the marriage festival would be dishonoured; so she went to her son and she said, “They have no wine.” I fear she spoke a little like an ordinary mother addressing her son; but the time had come when that discipline was to end. Mary was not his mother as the Son of God. He was about to work a miracle, and he would have her and all his relatives know that he would not use his miraculous powers merely for their advantage; but for the glory of God and the instruction of men.

John 2:4. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

It was a very difficult position for him to be in, to act the part of a loving and obedient son as far as his manhood was concerned, and yet, as the Son of God, by no means to compromise his divine character, but to stand out there as being under no influence of the flesh. Just as we are not to know Christ after the flesh, so he no longer knew mother, or brother, or friend, according to earthly relationship; and when Mary intruded her motherhood upon him, it was but right and fitting that he should say, “What have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” The Saviour had an hour for everything; an hour for suffering, and an hour for working; and he did everything punctually, promptly to the minute. That was one of the beauties of his life: “Mine hour is not yet come.” Perhaps he meant, “My hour to work this miracle is not yet come;” and he would not be hurried by anybody. Beloved, it is not easy to be familiar with Christ, as I trust we are, and yet always to maintain humble deference to his sacred will. Never let us pray as if we were dictators, or his equals. We must keep our place, however near we come to the dear bosom of our Lord. He is still in heaven, and we are upon earth. He is the Master, we are the servants; and if we are as favored as his mother was, we must not go too far, as she did.

John 2:5. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

This holy woman took the rebuke in silence. She said nothing; she felt the force of Christ’s words, she proved that she did by now fully believing that he would do something or other. Had he not said, “Mine hour is not yet come”? Did not that mean that the hour would come, and that he would do something by-and-by? So she quietly accepted his reproof. Oh, you who are in great trouble, you feel as if you could force the hand of Christ; but you must not think of doing that. Even if you could have power over him, you would be very foolish to use it. Let him alone; he knows best how and when to show his grace towards you. Keep silence before him, and in patience commit your way unto him.

John 2:6. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

I admire the accuracy of the Holy Spirit. John does not know exactly how much these vessels held; they were not made to measure things in, so he writes, “containing two or three firkins apiece.” Let us always speak correctly; sometimes, “almost” or “thereabouts” will be words that will just save our truthfulness. Let us not speak positively when we do not know; and when the accuracy of a statement is necessary, and we cannot give it in terms that are definite, let us give it in words like these, “containing two or three firkins apiece.” These were great “waterpots of stone.” Stone will not, as a rule, hold the flavour of anything that has been in it, like an earthen vessel would do; so these pots, which had contained nothing else but water, could not be suspected of having any lees of wine concealed therein, or any flavouring material that would make the water taste like wine. No, they were genuine stone waterpots.

John 2:7. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

There was no fear of anything but water being there: “They filled them up to the brim.” They obeyed Christ to the letter. If Christ says to you, “Fill the waterpots with water”, fill them up to the brim. Never cut down his commandments; carry them out as far as the largest interpretation can go.

When you are bidden to believe in him, believe in him up to the brim. When you are told to love him, love him up to the brim. When you are commanded to serve him, serve him up to the brim.

John 2:8. And be saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

“Draw out now.” “Now.” He had not turned the water into wine by any incantation. He simply willed it, and it was done. He said, “Draw out now.” He did not want to leave it unnoticed, because he had not worked a miracle before, and he could not say whether this was one. He was sure it was; so he said to the servants, when they had filled the waterpots with water, “Draw out now. Do not bring it to me for me to taste it; I know what it is. Take it to the chairman of the festival, to him who sits at the head of the table, and is the judge of the wine: “and they bare it.” The holy confidence of Christ is admirable. May we be able, by faith, so to work, with a calm consciousness of divine help! But notice this. Whenever the Lord fills any of you with a blessing, think that you hear him say, “Draw out now.” He does not fill these pots that they may keep full. “Draw out now.” Did you have a good time last Monday night at the prayer-meeting? Some of us had. “Draw out now.” Have you lived near to God of late, and are you very happy? “Draw out now.” If he has filled you up to the brim, draw out now; for, if you try to store it up, it will become useless. Selfishness will poison it all.

John 2:9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

There was no collusion, for the governor, who tasted it, did not know where it came from; and the servants, who knew where it came from, did not taste it, so that they did not know what it was like. If anybody objects to the Saviour making wine, I think that the best reply is that all the wine which is made of water will do nobody any hurt, and the more of it the better; and this was so made, certainly. They say that there is a devil in every grape. There were no grapes here; and I am afraid that there is not much of them in most of the wine that is made nowadays; there is something worse than devil in that.

John 2:10. And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

That the governor of the feast did not understand, but he admired it and here is a picture of what our Lord always does. He gives his people the best last. At first, the wine of the kingdom is mingled with much bitterness, salt tears of sorrow flow into it, but it improves as we go on; and when we shall drink it with him, in the kingdom of God, what will it be like? The joy of Christ’s love on earth is heaven, but when we get to heaven, and drink it fresh from the everlasting spring, what will that joy be? Oh, the blessedness laid up for the people of God! We pluck some of the fruit from the trees, and eat it; but the fruits laid up in the fruit-chamber, to get ripe by-and-by, are the very pick of the fruit of the tree of life. You who live for the world have had your best already; but, as for our feast with Christ, we go from good to better, and from better to the best.

John 2:11. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory;

Moses turned water into blood; Christ turned water into wine. One brought a curse upon the common things of daily life; the other put an added sweetness and blessing into them.

John 2:11. And his disciples believed on him.

They did believe on him before; but now they had ocular demonstration of his divine power and Godhead; and they believed as they had not believed before. May you and I often make distinct progress in faith, so that it may be said of us also, “His disciples believed on him”!

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 2". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.