Christ turneth water into wine: departeth to Capernaum, and also to Jerusalem where he purgeth the temple of the buyers and sellers: he foretelleth his death and resurrection. Many believed because of his miracles, but he would not trust himself with them.
Anno Domini 30.
John 2:1. And the third day there was a marriage— On the third day after Jesus and his disciples arrived in Galilee, they went to a marriage feast (see on Matthew 22:1-2.) in Cana; which is mentioned, Joshua 19:28, as situated in the possession of the tribe of Asher not far from thecity of Sidon, and by consequence in the most northern part of Galilee. Hence it was called Cana of Galilee, to distinguish it from another Cana in the tribe of Ephraim, mentioned Joshua 16:8; Joshua 17:9. This latter Cana therefore was at no great distance from Jerusalem. Here Jesus furnished wine by miracle for the entertainment, at the desire of his mother, who was also bidden. Dr. Clarke thinks, that our Lord, in the course of his private life, had sometimes exerted his divine power for the relief of his friends; and that his mother, having seen and heard of those miracles, knew the greatness of his power, and so applied to him on this occasion. Or we may suppose that she had heard him speak of the miracles he was to perform, for the confirmation of his mission, and the benefit of mankind, and begged him to favour his friends with one in the present necessity. Probably Mary interested herself in this matter, because she was a relation, or an intimate acquaintance of the new-married couple, and had the management of the entertainment committed to her care. Some have supposed that this marriage was celebrated at the house of Cleophas or Alpheus, whose wife was sister to the mother of our Lord, (Ch. John 19:25.) and one of whose sons was Simon the Canaanite, whom some have thought to have been so called from being an inhabitant of this Cana, Mark 3:18 and this may be considered the more probable, as Mary was not only present at the feast, but was there—as a person concerned, and was solicitous about supplying them with wine, which, mixed with water, was the common beverage of the country: and when the feast was over, we are told, John 2:12 that Jesus was attended, on his leaving Cana, not only by his disciples, but by his brethren, or nearest kinsmen, who most likely came thither, as relations, to be present at the marriage. As Mary here is spoken of alone, it may be reasonable to conclude, that Joseph was now dead, and that he lived not to the time when Jesus entered on his public ministry; especially as he is nowhere mentioned in the gospel afterwards.
John 2:2. Jesus was called, and his disciples,— Was invited, &c. The persons called his disciples, who were with him at this marriage, as also at Jerusalem, and who accompanied him to the distant parts of Judea, and baptized those who offered themselves to his baptism, (see Ch. John 3:22, John 4:1-2.) seem to have been Philip, Simon, Andrew, and Nathanael, the four mentioned in the preceding chapter; for as these transactions happened before the Baptist's imprisonment, (Ch. John 3:24.) we cannot think that the disciples present at them had followed Jesus in consequence of the call given near the sea of Galilee, Matthew 4:18 or the call spoken of Luke 5:1; Luke 5:39 because it is certain that neither the one nor the other was given till after the Baptist was put in prison.
John 2:3. When they wanted wine, &c.— The wine beginning to fail;— υστερησαντος . But a small stock possibly was provided at first, as the persons were not in the highest circumstances; and that began to fail the sooner, as greater numbers of guests attended than were expected, probably on account of Jesus, whose fame began to spread abroad. His mother, provident for the young couple, and having conceived great expectations, as she had good grounds, of her wonderfulSon,whosemiraculousconceptionshecouldneverforget,—anymorethan the wonderful circumstances which attended his birth,—and whose entrance on his public ministry she now observed with joy, witnessed as it was by a voice from heaven, and by the testimony of the Baptist—in this situation of things his mother saith unto him, They have no wine; hinting, as our Saviour's answer shews, that he would afford some miraculous supply; and it is plain, that notwithstanding the rebuke she met with, yet she had still a view to this by her direction to the servants afterwards, John 2:5.
John 2:4. Woman, what have I to do with thee?— The compellation with which Jesus addressed his mother, sounds harsh in our language, because with us it is never used, where respect is meant to be shewn. Nevertheless, woman anciently was a term of honour, being used in speaking to persons of the first quality, as wefind in the politest writers of antiquity. Besides, it was that by which our Lord addressed her at a time when his respect and tenderness for her cannot be called in question,—ch. John 19:26. The clause which in our translation runs, What have I to do with thee, might be rendered so as to have a milder aspect. What hast thou to do with me? For the original words τι εμοι και σοι, are evidently used in this sense, 2 Samuel 19:22. Mark 5:7. What hast thou to do with me? Mine hour is not yet come. "The season of my public ministry in this country is not yet come. Before I work miracles in Galilee, I must go into Judea and preach, where the Baptist, my forerunner, has been preparing my way." Some translate the latter clause interrogatively, Is not mine hour come? "The season of my public ministry, at which period your authority over me ceases?" Upon the whole, our Lord's answer to his mother, though perhaps intended as a slight rebuke, was not in the least disrespectful; as is evident likewise from the temper with which she received it, and from her desiring the servants to do whatever he ordered them. The generality of writers upon this subject have observed, with great justice I have no doubt, that this rebuke was intended by our Lord, in his prophetic spirit, as a standing testimony against that idolatry, which he foresaw after-ages would superstitiously bestow upon his mother, even to the robbing him of the right and honour of his alone Mediatorship and intercession.
John 2:6. After the manner of the purifying of the Jews,— Besides the purifications appointed by the law of God, there were a multitude of others then practised, in compliance with the tradition of the elders. Possibly this clause is thrown in by St. John, by way of explanation, as he wrote this gospel for the use of the Gentiles, who might be strangers to the Jewish customs. These water-pots are said to contain two or three firkins a-piece. Now the measures of the ancients are so very uncertain, that it is hardly possible to determine the exact contents of these vessels: some have computed them to contain about two or three hogsheads; and the Greek is so rendered in our translation, as to make them contain above one hundred gallons; but it is hardly probable the vessels were so large; and as the original word μετρητας signifies no more than measures, it is much better that we should leave it as we find it, unless the quantity could be determined with more certainty. It seems most probable that as the Jewish bath was the most common measure used in liquids, this is the quantity designed, where measuresare expressed without any limitation; and as the Jewish bath is reckoned to contain four gallons and a half, the contents of these vessels, if they are computed only at two measures each, will amount to no less than fifty-four gallons.
John 2:7. Fill the water-pots with water:— Mary was without doubt blameable for presuming to direct her Son in the duties of his ministry, her parental authority not extending to those matters; therefore he very justly gave her the gentle rebuke, John 2:4 in which he insinuated that his miracles were not to be performed at the desire of his relations for civil and private reasons; but in pursuance of the great ends that he had in charge,—the conversion and salvation of mankind. But though Mary might have had only private reasons of conveniency for asking this miracle, yet Jesus, knowing that it would tend to the confirmation of his disciples' faith, and to the advancement of his great cause, thought proper to comply; being not the less willing to exert his power, because his friends would reap some benefit from the matter of the miracle. Ordering the servants therefore to fill thewater-pots, which were at hand, to the brim, with water, he converted the whole mass of the liquid into excellent wine. The quantity of water turned into wine on this occasion, deserves notice. We have spoken something on the subject in the preceding note. The following is Dr. Macknight's remark: "The six water-pots in which the wine was formed, being appointed, for such purifications or washings as required the immersion of the whole body, were of a very large capacity; so that, being filled to the brim, there was an abundance of wine produced: but the deists, a sort of people who look on all Christ's actions with an evil eye, have not let this escape their censure, making it the subject of ridicule. This might have been spared, had they considered that the speech made by the governor of the feast to the bridegroom, John 2:10 does not imply that any of the company were drunk, as they would have itbelieved: it is only a comparison between the order in which he had produced his liquor, and that commonly observed by other people. [But see the note on that verse.] Besides, it ought to be considered, that Jesus did not order all the wine he furnished to be drank at this solemnity; though, according to the custom of Judea, it lasted a whole week. [See Judges 14:12; Judges 14:20 and the notes on Solomon's Song.] It is probable, that our Lord designed to provide for the future occasions of the new-married couple, making them a valuable and seasonable nuptial present in this delicate though miraculous manner: and surely he, who in the first creation made such liberal provision for the necessities of men, might on a particular occasion, when he was formingnourishment for the natural life of his friends, do it plentifully; because thus the favour was enhanced, and by the quantity furnished he both shewed his own exuberant goodness, and gave such magnificence to the miracle, as removed it beyond all probability of fraud. Whereas, had the quantity been considerably less,—only the cup, for instance, which was borne to the governor of the feast (as some have thought), who knows but the enemies of Christianity might have affirmed that here was no miracle at all; but that the water was artfully changed, and wine put into its place?—an impossible cheat in so large a quantity, especially as the transmutation happened the moment the vessels were filled. We need not then dispute with the deists, concerning the capacity of the measure mentioned by the Evangelist: let them make it as large as they please; let them suppose it was the attic measure of that name, equal to our firkin, and that each water-pot held three of those measures, the miracle will still be decent, and in all respects worthy both of the wisdom and goodness of him who performed it."
John 2:8. Bear unto the governor of the feast.— Among the Greeks, Romans, and Jews, it was usual at great entertainments, especially at marriage feasts, to appoint a master of the ceremonies, who not only gave directions concerning the form and method of the entertainment, but likewise prescribed the regulations in respect to drinking. Jesus therefore ordered the wine which he had formed, to be carried to the governor of the feast, that by his judgment passed upon it, in the hearing of all the guests, it might be known to be genuine wine of the best kind. Our Lord's furnishing wine for the feast by miracle shews, that all the creatures which God's power hath formed for, and his bounty bestowed on man, may be used consistently with piety, provided that the benefits be sanctified to us by the word of God, and by prayer; that is, if they be used in moderation, as the word of God directs, and with due expressions of thankfulness. We may observe, that every circumstance in this miracle was wonderfully directed by our Lord to shew its reality. For this purpose, Jesus ordered the water-pots to be filled with water; for the servants who poured the water out of one vessel into the other, could easily see that there was nothing but water in the vessel from which they had poured; and when the other was filled to the brim, it was equally visible that the vessel which they had filled, had nothing but water in it likewise. Further, it was known to all the guests that these pots or vessels never contained any thing but water; and as all the guests had washed themselves with the fluid contained in them, they were convinced that they held nothing but water. The changing of the water in the vessels was another proof to the same purpose; and the drawing out instantly shewed that there could be no fraud. The servants were so far from being parties with Jesus in any collusion, that they seem not to have known, or to have been willing to obey him, had not Mary ordered them to do it; which is another proof of the reality of this miracle. The ignorance of the governor concerning the filling of the pots, and the change made in the water, shews that he could not have been concerned in any deceit; as his, and not the guests tasting of the wine, and applauding it, shews that no other person could have been a party in the fraud, if there was any. These and other circumstances, which the diligent reader will observe, abundantly prove the reality of the miracle, and set it above the probability of a cavil.
John 2:9-10. The governor of the feast called the bridegroom,— The governor's application to the bridegroom, and not to Jesus, shews him to have been ignorant of the miracle; and could have proceeded from no other reason than his persuasion, that this wine had been provided at the expence of the bridegroom. Surprised at the exquisite delicacy of the flavour, he said to the bridegroom, "It is usualwith most men to set forth the good wine— τον καλον οινον, —at the beginning; and when men have drank plentifully,— οταν μεθυσθωσι,— then that which is worse: thou hast proceeded in a different manner; thou hast kept the good wine until now." In which words every discerning reader must remark, that there is not the least room for those many blasphemous insults upon the pure and spotless character of the holy Jesus, which deists and infidels have the hardiness to throw out, as we hinted on John 2:7. For, in the first place, the governor of the feast does not say even so much as that the present guests had drank plentifully; he only urges the common proceedings in such festivals as these; and the words rather countenance a contrary opinion, for he says, "Every man sets forth good wine at the beginning, and when it shall happen that men shall have drank plentifully, then that which is worse: thou (without any connecting particle in the original) hast kept the good wine until now. Thou hast not done as others do; the best wine comes last." Herein is the whole of the comparison: he by no means says that they had drank plentifully, or to excess: it is more than probable, that there was no appearance of such irregularity or excess; seeing that the governor was thus capable of distinguishing the relish of the good wine so instantly, which, when men have well drunk, is not the case; and therefore it is, that, as he says, bad wine is brought last. However, allowing, secondly, that the words, when men have well drunk, did refer to the present guests; yet the true meaning of the original word ΄εθυσθωσι, and its use in scripture, shew that it signifies, not criminal drinking, or drinking to excess; its proper and immediate sense is, to drink after sacrificing, and so it is used in a religious import; and in several instances in scripture it is applied to drinking where there could be no excess. See Ephesians 5:18. But, thirdly, allowing both these objections to be true, namely, that these guests had already drunk well, and that the word so rendered does import criminal drinking; yet it will by no means follow, that the miracle which Christ now wrought was intended to encourage any vice of this sort. Far from the mouths of Christians, far from the hearts of men, be the least surmise or supposition of such a sort! It is most reasonable to conclude, that the change of the water into wine drew off their attention wholly from the feast to this divine and wonderful Person, who thus manifested forth his glory,and obtained the faith of his disciples: it is most reasonable to conclude, that this was a great means of sobriety and seriousness, bringing the be-holders to the usual admiration What manner of man is this!
John 2:11. And manifested forth his glory:— That is, demonstrated his power and character to the conviction of the disciples, and in some sense and degree to that of all the guests. This being the first miracle that they had ever seen Jesus perform, it tended not a little to the confirmation of their faith, and made his fame spread over all the neighbouring country. Moses confirmed his mission by producing water from a rock; but our Lord, by changing water into wine: and by that change he manifested himself to be the Lord of the creation. It was as easy for that Omnipotence which is the author of all things, to do this in the present method, as it is for him to do it every year from the moisture descending from heaven, which is imbibed by the roots of the vine, and after frequent filtrations is ripened in the grape. It is true the frequency with which this change occurs, renders it familiar and unnoticed; but when water is changed into wine in the vessels, the novelty makes a stronger impression on the mind; and the effect, though not a greater exertion of Almighty power than that which is produced by the common course of nature, strikes us much more than that which is become familiar.
John 2:14. And found in the temple— Moses, in Deuteronomy 14:24-25 from considering the necessity of the Jews resorting to the capital of their country, and the inconveniences which would attend the driving the cattle which were to be offered, and could be offered only there, gave them liberty, under the direction of Jehovah, to carrymoney with them, and purchase their victims on the spot. When, therefore, the Jews were dispersed among all nations, this injunction seemed not only convenient and prudent, but even necessary; and therefore it was appointed that those animals which were used in sacrifices, should be sold without the temple near the gates. This institution whichwas so convenient, was in process of time turned into abuse; and the market was at length kept in the very court of the Gentiles, the only place which was allotted to the Gentiles to worship in. The noise of the cattle, and the hurry of the place, were great obstacles to worship, especially when we consider that the numbers who thronged this court, amounted at one passover to no less than 3,000,000; when, according to Josephus, no less than 256,500 victims were offered. But the abuse did not rest here; for it is generally supposed that the priests let out this part of the temple for profit; and that the sellers, to enable themselves to pay the rent of their shops and stalls, demanded an exorbitant price for their commodities. Nay, it is said, that the priests and Levites very often sold the animals which they had received for sacrifices, to the dealers in cattle at a lower rate, that they might sell them again with profit; so that the same sacrifice was often sold to different persons, and the spoils or gains of the sacrifices were divided between the priests and the salesmen. In order to expedite this traffic, there were money-changers at hand, who gave the Jews of foreign countries the current money of Judea, in lieu of the money of the countries whence they came; and for this service they took a premium, which upon the whole became very considerable. Thus was the temple profaned by the avarice of the priests, and literally made a den of thieves. When our Lord viewed this scene of iniquity, we need not wonder at his indignation; for it was a zeal, which shewed his high regard to religion, and his implacable enmity to vice; while at the same time it illustrated the character given him by the prophet Malachi 3:1.
John 2:15. A scourge of small cords,— It has been very justly observed, that this circumstance, seemingly slight, is inserted to shew that the instrument could not have been the cause of so wonderful an effect.
John 2:16. Make not my Father's house, &c.— It is remarkable, that at this ejection of those who profaned the temple, our Saviour says, Make not my Father's house, &c. but when he repeated this miracle towards the close of his life, when he had proved his divinity by a variety of miracles, he says My house, (Matthew 21:13.) and rises in his expression there, respecting the abuse of this house; in which the Jews were the more inexcusable, and therefore deserved severer rebuke the second time, on account of this first experience of his holy indignation.
John 2:17. And his disciples remembered, &c.— In the apprehension of the disciples, their Lord exposed himself to great danger by turning out a body of factious and interested men, whom the priests and rulers supported. On this occasion, therefore, they called to mind that text in the Psalms, where it is said, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; imputing their Master's actions to such a concern for the purity of God's worship, as that by which David, his great type, was animated. See on Psalms 69:9.
John 2:18. Then answered the Jews, &c.— A fact so public and remarkable as this, could not but immediately come to the knowledge of the priests and rulers of the Jews, whose supreme council sat in a magnificent chamber belonging to the temple; a fine rotunda, called from its beautiful pavement, Lishcath Hagazith, which stood on the wall of the temple, part of it within, and part of it without its sacred precincts. There seems to be no doubt that the Jews here mentioned were rulers; because we know that the great assembly of the Jewish rulers,—the sanhedrim,—sat in the temple. Christ's driving out the buyers and sellers must undoubtedly have come to their knowledge; and as their office seemed to authorise them to call him to an account, we are sure that their prejudicesagainst him would incline them to do it. The truth is, this affair had the mark of anextraordinary zeal; a zeal nothing inferior to that for which the prophets were famed; and this was the reason why the rulers came to him, desiring to know by what authority he had undertaken singly to make such reformation in the house and worship of God, especially in reference to matters which had been declared lawful by the council, and by doctors of the greatest reputation: and if he had any real authority for doing such things, they required him to shew it them, by working a miracle for that purpose. See John 2:23.
John 2:19. Destroy this temple,— The miracle which our Lord had already performed, in driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, was sufficient to convince them of the authority by which he made this reformation, if they were to have been convinced by any miracle at all. Therefore our Lord, instead of satisfying their unreasonable demands, refers them to the great miracle of his resurrection; but refers them to it in such obscure terms, as prejudiced minds could not understand, till the prophesy itself was cleared and explained by the event; yet, if he either pointed to his body, or alluded to their commonly received opinions, one would wonder that they should have mistaken his meaning so far, as to suppose that he meant the temple in which they were at that time assembled. The temple itself was supposed to be inhabited by the Divinity, and to derive its holiness from that circumstance; but as the Divinity dwelt in the body of Christ, that body deserved the name of temple more justly than the building made with hands. One of the rabbies says expressly, that the Messiah, the holy Son of David, is the Holy of Holies; and if that opinion existed in the time of Christ, as probably it might, there could be no great obscurity in the application of this term then. By a similar figure of speech, the apostle calls the bodies of believers—the temple of God, on account of the inhabitation of the Holy Ghost. See Mark 14:58. Instead of destroy this temple, Dr. Heylin reads, ye will destroy. In the prophetic stile, says he, the imperative is often used for the future.
John 2:20. Forty and six years was this temple, &c.— Hath this temple been in building. Heylin. Though Herod finished what he proposed in eight or nine years, yet the Jews continued to beautify and adorn the temple for many years afterwards, even to the year 65.
John 2:22. And they believed the scripture,— They yet more firmly believed the scripture in all its prophesies concerning the Messiah's kingdom; and their faith in him was confirmed by the word which Jesus had spoken; for such a wonderful event as the resurrection of Christ, considered in its connection with this solemn prediction, justly appeared as the fullest conceivable proof of the whole plan of redemptio
John 2:23. In the feast-day,— At the festival, — εν τη εορτη . Dr. Heylin renders it at the festival of the passover. See on Matthew 26:5. The miracles here spoken of, as well as those Ch. John 3:2 and John 4:45 plainly refer to some miracles wrought by Christ, the particulars of which are not transmitted to us.
John 2:24. Jesus did not commit himself unto them,— Did not discover himself to be the Messiah. He did not trust to those who believed merely on account of his miracles.—Because he knew all men. He had perfect knowledge of their dispositions, and was assured, on the present occasion, that the belief of many was not yet grown up to a full conviction; and foresaw that they would quickly fall off, when they found that he was rejected by the great men, and did not erect a secular empire. From the caution which Jesus used, we may learn, not rashly to put ourselves and our usefulness into the power of others; but to study a wise and happy medium between that universal prejudice and suspicion, which, while it wrongs the best and most worthy characters, would deprive us of all the pleasures of an intimate friendship; and an undistinguishing easiness and openness of temper, which might make us the property of every hypocritical pretender to kindness and respect.
Inferences drawn from the marriage in Cana, John 2:1-11. Was this then the first public miracle, O Saviour, that thou wroughtest? And could there be a greater miracle than this, that, having been thirty years upon earth, thou didst no miracle till now? That thy Divinity did hide itself thus long in flesh? That so long thou wouldst lie obscure in a corner of Galilee, unknown to that world which thou camest to redeem? That so long thou wouldst strain the patient expectation of those, who ever since the appearance of thy star waited for the revelation of a Messiah? We, silly creatures, if we have but a grain of virtue, are ready to set it out to the best appearance. Thou who receivedst not the Spirit by measure, wouldst content thyself with a willing obscurity, and concealedst that power which made the world—under the roof of a human breast, in a cottage of Nazareth! O Saviour, no one of thy miracles is more worthy of astonishment than thy not doing of miracles!
Thy first public miracle graceth a marriage. It is an antient and laudable institution. That the rites of matrimony should not want a solemn celebration, the Son of the Virgin, and the mother of that Son are both at the wedding. He that made the first marriage in Paradise, bestows his first miracle upon a Galilean marriage. He that was the author of matrimony, and sanctifies it, doth, by his holy presence, honour the resemblance of his eternal union with his church of the faithful. How boldly may be contemned all the impure adversaries of wedlock, when the Son of God pleases thus to honour it!
Happy is that wedding, where Christ is a guest! O Saviour, there is no holy marriage whereat thou art not; however invisible, yet truly present by thy Spirit and gracious benediction. Thou who hast betrothed thy believing people to thyself in truth and righteousness, do thou consummate that happy marriage of ours in the highest heavens.
It was no rich or sumptuous bridal to which Christ, and his mother, and his disciples, vouchsafed to come. We find him not at the magnificent feasts or triumphs of the great. The proud pomp of the world did not agree with the state of a servant: this Galilean bridegroom, before the expiration of his festival, wants drink for the accommodation of his guests.
The blessed Virgin feels a charitable compassion; and, from a friendly desire to maintain the decency of a hospitable entertainment, inquires into the wants of her host, pities them, and seeks anxiously to redress them. How well does it become the eyes of piety and Christian love to look into the necessities of others!
To whom should we complain of any want, but to the Maker and Giver of all things? When they wanted wine, The mother of Jesus said unto him, They have no wine. The blessed Virgin certainly, in some degree, knew to whom she sued. It would have been hard if some of the neighbour-guests, when duly solicited, had not been able to furnish the bridegroom with so much wine as might suffice for the remainder of the feast: but Mary evidently thought it best not to lade at the shallow channel, but rather to go to the fountain-head, where she might dip and fill the firkins at once with ease. It may be she saw that the train of Christ might help forward that defect; and therefore she justly solicits Jesus for a supply. Whether we want bread, or water, or wine, necessaries or comforts, whither should we run, O Saviour, but to that infinite munificence of thine, which neither denieth nor upbraideth? We cannot want if we cleave to thee: we cannot abound but from thee: give us what thou wilt, so thou give us contentment with what thou givest.
But what is this we hear?—A sharp answer to the suit of a mother.—Woman, what have I to do with thee? He, whose sweet mildness and mercy never sent away any supplicant discontented,—doth he only frown upon her who bare him?—He that commands us to honour father and mother, doth he disdain her, whose flesh he assumed? God forbid! But love and duty do not exempt parents from due admonition: she solicited Christ as a mother; he answers her as a woman: if she was the mother of his flesh, his Deity was eternal. She might not so remember herself to be a mother, that she should forget she was a woman; nor so look upon him as a son, that she should not regard him as a God: he was so obedient to her as a mother, that withal she might obey him as her God. Neither is it for us, in the holy affairs of God, to know any faces; yea, if we have known Christ heretofore according to the flesh, henceforth know we him so no more; much less do we substitute a woman as a mediator between God and man.
Yet even in this rough answer, as it may seem, doth the blessed Virgin descry cause of hope. If his hour was not yet come, it was therefore coming: when the expectation of the guests and the necessity of the occasion have made fit room for the miracle, it shall come forth and challenge their wonder. Faithfully therefore and observantly does she turn her speech from Jesus to the attendants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
However, she that had said of herself, Be it unto me according to thy word, now humbly says to others, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. This is the way to have miracles wrought for us, and in us,—obedience to his word. The power of Christ did not depend on the officiousness of these servants: he could have wrought wonders equally without their contribution; but their perverse refusal of his commands might have rendered them incapable of the favour of a miraculous exertion.
This scanty house was yet furnished with many and large vessels for outward purification, as if iniquity had dwelt upon the skin. Alas! it is the soul which needs scouring; and nothing can wash that, but the Blood which they desperately wished upon themselves and their children, for guilt, not for expiation. Purge thou us, O Lord, with hyssop, and we shall be clean; wash us, and we shall be whiter than snow.
The waiters could not but think so unseasonable a command, as we read in John 2:7.—Fill the water-pots with water, to be very strange. "It is wine that we want; why do we go to fetch water? If there be no other remedy, we could have sought this supply unbidden:" and yet so far has the command prevailed, that instead of talking of carrying flaggons of wine to the table, they go to fetch water in their vessels from their cisterns. There is no pleading of improbabilities against the command of an Almighty power.
How liberal are the provisions of Christ! If he had but turned the water in one of those vessels into wine, it had been a just proof of his power. But the abundance magnifies at once both his power and mercy. The munificent hand of God regards not our wants only, but our honest affluence; it is our sin and our shame if we turn his favours into wantonness.
There must be first a filling, ere there can be a drawing out. Thus in our vessels, the first care must be of our receipt, the next of our expence: God would have us to be first cisterns, and then channels. Our Saviour would not be his own taster, but he sends the first draught to the governor of the feast. He knew his own power, they did not; neither would he bear witness of himself, but draw it out of the mouths of others. They who knew not the original of that wine, yet praised the taste, John 2:10. Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, &c. but thou hast kept the good wine until now. The same bounty which expressed itself in the quantity of the wine, shews itself no less in the excellence: nothing can fall from that Divine hand which is not exquisite: that liberality would not provide mean accommodation for its guests. It was fit that the miraculous effects of Christ, which came from his immediate hand, should be more perfect than the natural. O blessed Saviour, how delicate is that new wine which we shall one day drink with thee in thy Father's kingdom! Yes, gracious Lord, thou shalt turn this water of our earthly afflictions into that wine of gladness, wherewith our souls shall be richly replenished for ever and ever! Make haste, my beloved; and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The first miracle of Jesus was wrought at a marriage-feast in Cana of Galilee. It was probably a marriage of some near relation of his mother Mary's, who seemed not to be there merely as a guest, but as one of the family. Christ was invited, and refused not the invitation given him on this occasion, but went with his disciples to grace the bridal feast with his presence and company, and put an honour upon the institution. Note; (1.) Our marriages can only then be expected to issue happily, when Jesus with his benediction crowns the indissoluble union. (2.) Religion teaches none to be unsocial or uncivil, but commands us to rejoice with those that rejoice. We are told,
1. The concern expressed by the mother of Jesus to her Son on account of the deficiency of the wine at this entertainment. The number of the guests, perhaps more than were expected, consumed the small quantity which these persons, who were probably in mean circumstances, had provided, and they might not be able to afford more. It seems she expected that he would soon begin to display his glorious power, and intimated that the present necessity afforded an opportunity for his miraculous assistance. Note; A genuine Christian interests himself in the distresses of his friends; and, when he can do no more to relieve them, fails not to commend their case to the kind Saviour's notice.
2. Our Lord gives her a reprimand for interfering in matters which did not belong to her. Though he was her son after the flesh, yet in the exercise of his miraculous powers he acted as the Son of God, and owed her no obedience. What a direct condemnation of the horrid idolatry of that church, which prays to the mother to command her Son! Besides, he adds, My hour is not yet come: the time for the public manifestation of his glory, by his openly performing miracles, was not yet come.
3. Though his mother silently submitted to his pleasure, she entertained hopes that he would grant her request, and take the matter into his consideration; and therefore privately bade the servants obey whatever orders he should give them. Note; (1.) We must not be discouraged in our faith, if our prayers are not immediately answered. (2.) Christ's commands are implicitly to be obeyed, without reasoning or hesitation.
4. Christ performs the miracle; and with circumstances which eminently displayed his glory. Six water-pots of stone were placed there, containing about two or three firkins each (see the annotations.). These water-pots Christ bids the servants fill with water to the brim, that there might be no suspicion of fraud in the miracle. They obeyed, and instantly the strange conversion was wrought. He orders them hereupon to draw out and carry this liquor to the governor of the feast, the person who was master of the ceremonies, or sat in the most honourable place on that occasion. No sooner had he tasted the wine which had been water, than he was struck with the delicious flavour, and, unacquainted whence it came, he observed to the bridegroom with surprize his unusual method of procedure. Others usually produced their best wine first, and afterwards, when men had well drank, that which was worse; but he had kept the good wine to the last, as the grace-cup, to conclude the entertainment. Note; (1.) God's creatures, and wine among the rest, are given for the good of man, and may be used with moderation; only we must be very careful that we do not, by intemperance, abuse our mercies and turn our blessings into curses by excess. (2.) Feasts need a governor to restrain the irregularities of those, who else perhaps, to their shame, would have no government over themselves. (3.) Whatever consolations believers here enjoy, the greatest are reserved for them at last, when, at the marriage-supper of the Lamb, they shall drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.
5. At the conclusion of this miracle the evangelist observes, that this was the first which Jesus performed after his entrance on his ministry; wherein he manifested forth his glory in such displays of his power and grace, wrought by his authoritative word, as exalted his own great name, and proved his own eternal Godhead and glory; and his disciples believed on him, confirmed in their assurance of the truth of that high character which he assumed. Note; The more we become acquainted with Christ in his word, the more shall we be convinced that this is he who should come, and shall be engaged to rest our souls on him for life and salvation.
2nd, Capernaum was the place where Christ usually resided, Matthew 4:13. Hither he came with his mother, brethren, and disciples, who, struck with what they had seen, attended him to observe the further manifestations of his divine power and glory which he should make. His abode at this time at Capernaum was not many days, the Passover being at hand, which called him up to Jerusalem. Where we find him,
1. Purging the temple of those intruders who had defiled that holy place. Under pretence of accommodating with sacrifices, and change of money, those who came up to worship, a market was kept in the temple by the connivance of the priests, who probably made some considerable advantage by permitting such a profanation. But Christ, beholding with indignation such corruptions in the house of God, immediately began to vindicate the honour of that sacred inclosure, and, having made a scourge of cords, he drove out the traders with their beasts, overturned the tables of the money-changers, and bade those who sold doves to take them away; remonstrating with them on the wickedness of their conduct, Make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. Note; (1.) The love of filthy lucre is generally at the root of the corruptions which creep into the church of God. (2.) If God is our Father, we cannot but be grieved to see him dishonoured, and should zealously appear in his cause. (3.) They who are bold and faithful for God, will often see that one can chase a thousand; and that, if we dare stand up in his name, the consciences of sinners will cover them with confusion.
2. The disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. And this still more confirmed their faith, as they observed the scripture prophesies accomplished in him.
3. Being questioned by the Jews concerning the authority on which he acted, and required to give a sign in proof of the mission to which he pretended, He answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Since they refused to be convinced by other miracles, he refers them to the last sign which should be wrought, even his resurrection from the dead by his own divine power, after they had destroyed the temple of his body. As he had now cleansed his house from their profanations, so would he raise his own body which they should slay, and not suffer it to see corruption. They understood him as if he meant the material temple where he then was, which had now been forty-fix years building and beautifying (see the annotations): and they looked upon it as the most absurd of pretensions, for a mere man, as they presumed him to be, to assert that he could do that in three days, which had employed thousands of workmen so many years. Thus they ridiculed his assertion, though it appears they understood not his meaning. Note; (1.) It is just with God to give those up to their vain imaginations, who have no love of the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. (2.) The grossest mistakes have been entertained by understanding literally what the scriptures have spoken figuratively, as in the doctrine of transubstantiation, drawn from the words of Christ, This is my body. (3.) The body of Jesus was the true temple, in which the fulness of the Godhead dwelt; and of him the temple at Jerusalem was but the type and figure. (4.) As the temple was the medium of worship, and they who prayed turned their faces thitherward, so is it through Christ Jesus alone that we can have access to and acceptance with God.
4. His disciples, though they, no more than the Jews, understood his meaning at that time, yet afterwards, when the events verified the prediction, and the Spirit poured out from on high opened their minds to understand the scriptures, reflected on this prophesy, and seeing the accomplishment of it in his resurrection, were the more deeply confirmed in their faith of the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. Note; The truths of scripture which we learn in younger years, though not understood at that time, yet are frequently of singular use when, at any future period, our souls are converted, and the eyes of our minds are opened, through the grace of God.
3rdly, During the seven days of the feast Christ preached openly the doctrines of his kingdom, and wrought mighty miracles in confirmation of the truths that he taught. In consequence of which,
1. Many believed in his name; at least, for the time, they were so struck with his miracles as to give their assent to his doctrine, and own him as the Messiah. But,
2. Jesus did not commit himself unto them, did not trust himself with them, or repose any confidence upon them; because he knew all men; the wickedness of some who would play the hypocrite in order to betray him; and the weakness of others, who in a time of danger might, through timidity, be tempted to desert him, or, through mistake and indiscretion, raise some disturbance through their vain imaginations that his kingdom was temporal, and his throne to be established by arms. And, being thus all-wise, he needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man, was acquainted with his inmost thoughts, yea, knew them before they were formed. Note; (1.) We should be cautious in whom we confide, and try before we trust. (2.) Christ knows the secrets of all hearts; he sees the devices of his subtle enemies, and the faults of his pretended friends; and he will bring every sinner to judgment, and every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 2". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany