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The New Testament Commentary Vol Iii John by B.W. Johnson

The First Miracle.

|On the third day| after the events narrated in the closing portion of the last chapter there occurred the first exercise of miraculous power on the part of the Savior. The scene was Cana of Galilee, the northern district of Palestine, to which he had returned immediately after the witness of John (Chap.1:43). (Joh 2:1)

1. And the third day there was a marriage. It is well known that the marriage ceremonies of the Jews began at twilight. It was the custom in Palestine

|To bear away The bride from home at blushing shut of day,|

2. Both Jesus and his disciples were invited. He now had disciples, those called in the few days before, John, Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael. As the invitation of Jesus is named apart from that of Mary it was probably sent after he and his disciples had returned to Galilee. (Joh 2:3)

3. And when they wanted wine. The Revision says, |When the wine failed.| From some cause, perhaps from a larger number of guests than was expected, the wine gave out. |None but those who know how sacred in the East is the duty of lavish hospitality, and how passionately the obligation to exercise to the utmost it is felt, can realize the gloom which this incident would have thrown over the occasion, or the misery and mortification it would have caused to the wedded pair. They would have felt it to be, as in the East it is still felt to be, an indelible disgrace.| -- Farrar. It has been supposed that this deficiency was due to the presence of the disciples of Jesus, who had been invited after all the preparations were made. The mother of Jesus saith to him, They have no wine. The solicitude of Mary could hardly be expected from one not a relative, but why did she appeal to Jesus? In part, because it was natural to speak to him in her perplexity, and in part, likewise, because she hoped he would meet the difficulty. She knew who he was, and could not doubt his ability to do what had been done for the widow's cruse of oil (1 Kings 17:14). Perhaps, also, she felt that the failure of the supply was due to his bringing his five disciples. If his |hour was come,| why should he not create the supply needed? (Joh 2:4)

4. Woman, what have I to do with thee? These words in our language sound harsh and almost rude, but the term rendered woman was so respectful that it might be addressed to the queenliest, and so gentle that it might be spoken to those most tenderly loved. It is used by servants to queens, and Christ uses it when he, from the cross, commends his mother to the care of John. The time, too, had come for Jesus to act no longer as Mary's son; henceforth earthly ties of blood were not to bind him. |Whosoever did his will,| the same was to be |mother and sister and brother.| This is implied in his question. Mary must understand that, henceforth, he is the Son of man and the Son of God, rather than her son, and under her authority. Chrysostom says, |The answer is not that of one rejecting his mother, but of one who would show her that, having borne him, would avail nothing, were she not faithful,| and St. Augustine adds: |As much as to say, thou art not the mother of that in me which worketh miracles.| This language, partly a rebuke to Mary, shows very plainly that the Catholic fiction of Mary being immaculate, the |Queen of Heaven,| and |the Mother of God,| is all nonsensical. Mine hour is not yet come. The hour of his full manifestation, as the divine King of Israel. If his mother was rebuked for attempting to direct him in the days of his flesh, how absurd to address her as if she had the right to command him on the throne of glory! -- Wesley. (Joh 2:5)

5. Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. The words of Mary to the servants show: 1. That the family where the wedding took place were in comfortable circumstances; 2. That Mary had some right to direct, being probably a relative; 3. That she understood from the manner of the reply, more than from the words, that Jesus would relieve the difficulty in some way. (Joh 2:6)

6. There were set there six water-pots of stone. These water-pots were to supply water for the washings usual at feasts (see Mark 7:4). The Jews were regarded ceremonially unclean if they did not wash both before and after eating. This was done in a formal manner, and was, with the washing of cups, pots and brazen vessels, a ritual observance on which the Pharisees laid great stress. The six water-pots, on this occasion, each held two or three firkins, meaning, it is supposed, the Hebrew bath, a measure of seven and a half gallons. The pots would hold about twenty gallons each, and the whole capacity would be about one hundred and twenty gallons. (Joh 2:7)

7. Jesus said, Fill the water-pots with water. Some have commented on the amount of wine made by Jesus.1. There is no proof that he made more than was needed for the number of guests and the length of the feast, where wine was the common beverage of the people.2. It is God's way to pour out his bounty in abundance. When the 5,000 were fed there was twelve baskets over. (Joh 2:8)

8. He said, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. They had poured in water and they took out wine. |He that had made wine that day in those six water-pots does the same every year in the vines. For as what the servants put in the water-pots was changed into wine by the operation of the Lord, just so what the clouds pour forth is changed into wine by the operation of the same law.| -- Augustine. (Joh 2:9)

9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted. The ruler of the feast, and the governor of verse 8th, are the same. It was customary to choose, sometimes by lot, a president who regulated the whole order of festivities. The ruler of the feast on this occasion was a guest, chosen to this honorary office. As he presided at the banquet he had known nothing of the failure of the wine, or the source from whence the new supply came. Called the bridegroom. Probably called to him across the table. (Joh 2:10)

10. Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine. The language of the ruler is sportive, but still he states a custom. The best wine was offered when the appetite of the guests was sharpest and most critical. After they were well filled and had entered fully into the spirit of the feast, poorer was offered. Are drunken. Not intoxicated, but have drunk considerable. The Revision says, |Have well drunk.| Satan gives his good wine first; so the drunkard finds it; so did the prodigal son. Afterwards he gives the bitter; red eyes, pain, hunger, wretchedness. Thou hast kept the good wine until now. What meaneth Christ making wine. It must be borne in mind that among the Greeks and Romans and in Palestine there were three kinds of wine: 1. Fermented wines, which, however, were very unlike our fiery liquors, and contained only a small per cent. of alcohol. These were mixed with two or three parts of water. The laws of Zaleucus, the Locrian, put to death anyone who drank unmixed wine, except as medicine. The fermented wine, at first mild, and then diluted with water, was a drink as used, that had no intoxicating power unless used in enormous quantities.2. New wine, the fresh juice of the grape, like our new cider, not intoxicating.3. Wines in which, by boiling the unfermented juice of the grape, or by the addition of certain drugs, the process of fermentation was stopped, and which had no intoxicating properties. We cannot surely determine which kind the Savior made here, but we agree with Whedon, who says: |We see no reason for supposing that the wine of the present occasion was that upon which Scripture places its strongest interdict, (Proverbs 20:1; 23:31; Isaiah 22:13,) rather than that eulogized as a blessing (Psalms 104:15; Isaiah 55:1).| Even adopting the view that it was fermented wine, it was totally unlike the fiery and undiluted drinks sold as wines in saloons, used in many families, offered at hotels and wine parties, and even poured out at communion tables. In the use of the usual wine of Palestine there is not the slightest apology for drinking as a beverage the alcoholic drinks which are the curse of our times. With regard to them the only safe rule is |to touch not, taste not, handle not.| They are the |cup of Devils.| It is a shame that anyone should pretend to quote the example of Christ as an apology for being a modern tippler. (Joh 2:11)

11. This beginning of miracles. This was the first miracle of Christ. The stories told in Catholic fables and in the Apocryphal New Testament are baseless. He had refused to make bread to feed his own hunger in the wilderness, but he was ready to supply the needs of others. A miracle is a supernatural act, in which a higher power employs, modifies, or suspends the laws of nature. Jesus did this by his own power; his apostles in his name. Peter says: |In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise and walk.| Christ says: |Young man, I say unto thee, arise!| Manifested forth his glory. This was the first supernatural manifestation of his divine power; that he by whom all things were made controlled the powers of nature. His disciples believed in him. They already believed, but their faith was made firmer. The five named in the last chapter are meant. (Sec 2)

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