John 2
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Public men are sometimes anxious with regard to a first appearance, that it should be upon a scene, in society, and with accompaniments worthy of themselves or of their own conceptions of themselves. Jesus proved his superiority to human vanity and weakness in performing his first "sign" in a lowly home at a villager's wedding. His conduct in this was just like himself.

I. THE LORD JESUS WAS OPPOSED TO ASCETICISM. Religion and asceticism are often in the popular mind associated; and pretenders have often taken advantage of the association. Even true prophets, like Elijah and John the Baptist, have had a strain of asceticism in their nature, a vein of asceticism in their life. And vigorous sects, like the Essenes, have sometimes gained a reputation and an influence by a self-denying life led for self-denial's sake. In Christian times again and again this principle has sprung into prominence, and has exercised immense power over society. One thing is clear, that Jesus had no sympathy with isolation, unsociableness, austerity.

II. THE LORD JESUS FREQUENTED ALL KINDS OF HUMAN SOCIETY. He dined with Pharisees and with publicans with an impartial sociability. He does not seem to have refused invitations to partake hospitality, from whatever quarter they might come. It was a complaint brought against him by the formalists, that he was "gluttonous, a wine bibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners." This was untrue; but it points to a truth, viz. that our Lord had no aversion to social gatherings. He frequented the society of men, in order to diffuse his influence and his doctrine; and chiefly that men might see and hear and know him, and through him the grace of God.

III. THE LORD JESUS ENCOURAGED HIS DISCIPLES TO MIX FREELY WITH THEIR FELLOW MEN. There were at this period but few of them - perhaps five; and this was an early stage of their discipleship. But there was something for them to learn at the marriage feast; and, as the narrative tells us, the experience was most profitable to themselves. At the same time, there was a lesson regarding their own misson and the methods of its fulfilment, which more or less they acquired by participating in suck social gatherings as these. They were to learn that those who would be spiritual helpers of men must first be, and prove themselves to be, their friends.

IV. THE LORD JESUS SANCTIONED LOVE AND MARRIAGE. Society is not possible apart from family life; and it is not a good sign of the morals of a community when men's social enjoyments are disconnected from virtuous women and from holy homes. It is universally acknowledged that Christ has exalted woman to her rightful and intended position; and it has not generally been considered how largely this effect has been owing to our Lord's treatment, first of his own mother, and secondly of the bride of Cana, on this occasion. The domestic relations should form the nucleus, so to speak, of the social life of humanity. They are the true and Divine antidote to man's selfishness and passions. And Christ teaches us that pleasure is to be found, not only in the world, in the society of the profligate, but in that home life, those sacred relations, which are too generally regarded as associated with disappointment, cheerlessness, and misery.

V. THE LORD JESUS APPROVED AND PROMOTED INNOCENT FESTIVITY. In his provision of wine for the wedding feast, we observe that Jesus did two things.

1. He gave his friends what was not an absolute necessity, but an enjoyment, a luxury. The guests might have drunk water, but the Divine Friend did not choose that they should be compelled to do so. He gives us better gifts than we deserve, if not better than we desire.

2. He gave his friends abundance, more than enough for the occasion. There was a supply for future need. It is thus that he reveals the liberality of his heart and the munificence of his provision. - T.

Of the services which our Lord Christ has rendered to human society, none is more conspicuous and undeniable than the honour which he has put upon marriage. Of all institutions and relations existing among men, there is none which has met with so much slander, hate, and scorn, as matrimony. The sinful and the selfish, not content with avoiding marriage themselves, overwhelm those who honour and enter upon wedded life with ridicule and contempt. This is not to be wondered at, inasmuch as true and honourable marriage involves abstinence from unlawful pleasures, and also a fidelity and constancy of affection amidst the changes, responsibilities, and troubles incident to this estate. From the narrative before us, and other instances in our Saviour's life and teaching, we learn that Christ commands, sanctions, and hallows matrimony for many sufficient reasons.

I. AS TENDING TO HONOUR WOMANHOOD. Those who disparage wedded life are usually found to take a base view of the feminine sex, to regard women rather as instruments of sensual pleasure than as the honourable companions of men. The true wife takes a position which not only ennobles herself, but raises her sex. In this respect marriage is in complete opposition to concubinage and polygamy and those temporary alliances which there seems a disposition, even in some civilized communities, to look upon with favour.

II. AS COMBATTING THE SELFISHNESS OF SINFUL MEN. Many a naturally self-indulgent and self-seeking man has experienced the benefit of a relationship which has drawn his thoughts away from self, and has led him to interest himself in his wife and children, and for their sake to labour with strenuous diligence, and to submit patiently to inconveniences and privations. Instead of living to gratify himself, and regarding the other sex as offering opportunities for such gratification, such a man has learned to look upon human life as an opportunity for bearing the burdens and cheering the lot of others. And virtuous fidelity becomes a silent but effectual witness against the prevalent and seductive vices of mankind.

III. AS PROMOTIVE OF THE TRUE WELFARE OF SOCIETY. The family is the divinely ordered unit of human society. This has been recognized even in pagan nations. But Christianity, in giving to the world a higher ideal of marriage, was rendered a vast service to every Christian state. The increase of the population, the prevalence of industry and of knowledge, the formation of virtuous habits, all contribute to national prosperity; and all are promoted by the sacredness and honour of the marriage tie.

IV. AS CONTRIBUTIVE TO THE PROSPERITY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. It is in holy households that the most intelligent and useful and steadfast members of Christian Churches are trained; it is from these that the ranks of the spiritual ministries are recruited; it is these that hand down the uncorrupted truth from generation to generation. The children of prayer and watchfulness rise up to become the strong men in the arsenals and in the armies of the Eternal.

V. AS EMBLEMATIC OF DIVINE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS. Christ himself implanted the germ of that idea of the spiritual and Divine marriage which so developed under the Apostle Paul. He is the true Bridegroom, and his Church is the true bride. But for our appreciation of what is involved in this mystic and hallowed relationship we are dependent upon our acquaintance and experience of matrimony as existing in human society. Thus we learn what depth of meaning lies in the statement, "Christ loved his spouse the Church, and gave himself for it!" - T.

In recording this incident, the evangelist tells his story with beautiful simplicity, and as if scarcely conscious that it contains what is marvellous and supernatural. It doubtless seemed to him so natural that Jesus should have acted as he did, that he wrote without drawing any especial attention to what in the narrative was evidently miraculous. John had himself seen so many instances of the superhuman authority of his Master, that he could not think of that mighty and gracious Being as acting otherwise than as he did. In this mighty work and sign which has immortalized the Galilaean village of Cana, we behold Jesus -

I. ASSERTING HIS SUPREMACY OVER NATURE. Most of Christ's miracles were of this character; they exhibit him as governing and controlling with perfect ease the natural forces, whether physical or physiological, which the Creator has associated with the various forms of matter. It would be idle curiosity to speculate upon the methods in which bread was multiplied, and in which water was turned to wine. The poetic rendering of the change may be accepted -

"The conscious water saw its Lord, and blushed."

II. MAKING USE OF HUMAN AGENCY. This was according to our Lord's wont. He bade his disciples distribute the bread; he directed the blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam; and on this occasion, though he might have dispensed with the assistance of the servants, he chose to make use of their agency, both in filling the water pots, and in pouring out from them that draughts might be borne to the master and to the guests. It is thus that the Lord Christ chooses to confer blessings upon men; he uses some to provide for the wants of others, both bodily and spiritually; he entrusts to each some ministry of blessing, and each becomes his brother's keeper.

III. MAKING USE OF EXISTING MATERIALS. It would, perhaps, have been as easy for Jesus to have filled the empty vessels with wine as to transform the water with which he chose that they should be filled. But this would not have been his way. lie did not work marvels for the marvels' sake. He took the material which was to hand, and wrought upon it. It is a good lesson for us to learn; let us take the circumstances in which Providence has placed us, the characters with whom Providence has associated us, and seek and strive to use them for God's glory.

IV. CHANGING THE INFERIOR INTO THE SUPERIOR. A thaumaturge might have attempted to change wine into water, a man into a beast. But such a method of proceeding was not possible to Christ, who carries on a process of spiritual evolution in which the lower form is displaced by the higher, and indeed is transformed into it. It is thus that our Divine Lord works in the human heart and in human society. Nihil tetigit quod non ornavit. He has passed his wonder working hand over many a heart, many an institution and usage of men; and lo! the water of nature is transfigured into the wine of grace.

V. CALLING UPON NATURE TO YIELD OF HER BEST AND ABUNDANTLY. The wine which the Divine Guest provided was the best at the table, and of it there was far more than enough. When Jesus exerts his power he exerts it to high purpose; his gifts are gracious and liberal. He dowers his Church with choicest bestowments; so that they who are his own may justly say, "All things are ours." When he gives himself unto his spouse, the Church, he declares, in the fulness of his love and liberality, "All that I have is thine." - T.

This first "sign" of our Lord's public ministry may be taken as an emblem and an earnest of a vaster gathering, a more sacred festivity, an eternal fellowship. Observe the elements of heavenly bliss here anticipated upon earth.

I. DIVINE ESPOUSALS. Then shall it be proclaimed, "The marriage of the Lamb is come."

II. CONGENIAL SOCIETY. The mother and brethren of the Lord, the disciples, the happy pair, the joyous guests, figure the assembly and Church of the Firstborn.

III. ABUNDANT PROVISION. AS Jesus secured an ample supply for want and for enjoyment, so shall the banqueting house of the immortals be richly furnished with all spiritual viands for satisfaction and for delight.

IV. PERPETUAL FESTIVITIES. The Jews celebrated a wedding by festivities extending over several days; but of the feast of salvation and of life there shall be no end. Blessed are they which are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb. - T.

Just as the scarcity of provisions in the wilderness gave Jesus an opportunity to supply the need of a multitude; just as it was permitted that a man should be born blind, "that the works of God should be manifest in him;" so the falling short of the supply of wine at Cans gave an opportunity for the performance by Christ of a beneficent and instructive miracle. And the lesson is one widely impressive and helpful which is thus conveyed concerning human need and Divine grace and supply.

I. GOD LETS MEN WANT. It is a paradox, but it is a truth, that it is for our good to suffer need of many kinds.

1. Thus he teaches us how slender are our resources, and how soon exhausted.

2. Thus it is suggested to us to look without, to look above, for the satisfaction of our desires.

3. Thus it is arranged that, when God interposes upon our behalf, we shall welcome and value his intervention.


1. He does this at the right moment, when the pressure is heavy enough, but not too heavy.

2. He does this in the exercise of his own power, that the glory may be his.

3. He does this in a gracious and affectionate manner, displaying his sympathy as well as his authority.


1. All blessings come thus to be regarded as the immediate bestowments of Heaven.

2. And are seen to be the outward revelations of the attributes of the Father's heart.

3. And are the occasion of devout acknowledgment and fervent adoration. - T.

God has his own times for all his works. His Son, Christ Jesus, knew no haste; he laboured sometimes to exhaustion; he shrank from no suffering or privation. Yet he was thirty years of age before he began his ministry; and now and again in the course of that ministry he withdrew from the public gaze. When the time came for conflict and death, he was ready for the encounter. But until the time came he was not to be forced into the position which he knew he was to take. Neither the urgency of his mother and his brethren, nor the restlessness of some of his disciples, nor the impulses of the multitude, could move him to take a step for which he was not yet prepared. "Mine hour," said he, "is not yet come." There was -

I. AN HOUR FOR HIS ADVENT. This seems to us to have come late in the history of our sinful humanity. But it was in "the fulness of the time" that Jesus came.

II. A SEASON FOR HIS ENTRANCE UPON THE PUBLIC MINISTRY. Why this should have been deferred so long, it is impossible for us to say; but there was a sufficient reason. A delay which seems to us protracted is as a moment to the Eternal.

III. A TIME FOR THE MANIFESTATION OF HIS GLORY BY MIRACLES. Again and again the Jews, and even his own disciples, impatiently urged the Lord to assert his supernatural power. It was characteristic of him that he commenced his series of "signs" in the quiet domestic scene at Cana. He was not to be hastened in this or in any of his plans.

IV. AN HOUR FOR HIS GIVING UP OF HIMSELF TO DIE. We cannot read the words of the text, spoken at the commencement of his public life, without having our thoughts carried, by way of contrast, to the close of that wonderful career, when our Lord exclaimed, "Father, the hour is come!" Until then, none could take from him his life.

V. A TIME FOR THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF THE WORLD. Jesus had waited, and, after his ascension, his disciples were enjoined to wait. The promise of the Father was to be fulfilled in its appointed time; when they should receive power from on high, then was to commence the great work of their life.

VI. AN HOUR FOR THE SECOND COMING. "God hath appointed a day." "Of that day and hour knoweth no man." Why should we, like Mary, like the short-sighted disciples, urge and implore the immediate appearance of the Lord? His hour has not yet arrived, or he himself would be here. It is ours reverently to expect, patiently to wait and hope. "He that cometh will come, and will not tarry." - T.

As his mother knew Jesus the best, so she reverenced him the most. She had reason for thinking and for speaking as she did regarding her Divine Son. In the words she addressed to the servants at the house where the wedding feast was celebrated, her estimation of Jesus came forth from her lips unconsciously. We admire her character, and we receive her testimony. The Church takes up this her language, and addresses those who are within the house and those who are without, and, pointing to the Divine Lord, says, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it."

I. THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST IS UNIQUE AND ABSOLUTE. There are limits to the authority of all human leaders, teachers, and masters, however wise and good, and it would be folly to bind ourselves to obey them in all things. But it is wisdom to yield an unhesitating allegiance to our Divine Lord.

1. For his authority is Divine in its nature. He that honoureth the Son, honoureth the Father who sent him.

2. His commands possess the authority of rectitude. Herein lies the incontrovertible ground of our obedience. Reason and conscience acknowledge and approve the claims of the Lawgiver and the Law. None does wrong who obeys Christ, even though he may thus be led into suffering and danger.

3. To this is added the sacred authority of love. All that Jesus has done and suffered for us constitutes a claim upon our cheerful loyalty. "If ye love me," is his appeal, "keep my commandments."


1. It is manifestly binding upon all his people. They are admonished to "call no man Master;" and, at the same time, they are thus addressed: "Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am." The word "whatsoever" may remind us that occasions may arise when it will be very difficult to obey our Lord's behests; such occasions will test our fidelity and sincerity and constancy; and they will enable us to commend ourselves to him "whose we are and whom we serve."

2. It is truly binding upon all mankind. He is "Lord of all," because he is Saviour of all. He claims submission and service as his right. He says to all who hear his Word, "Come unto me;" "Learn of me;" "Follow me." Whatsoever, then, he saith unto you, do it! Such obedience will be for your true interest, your eternal peace and happiness. - T.

True religion and all its benefits are progressive. Instead of looking back to a golden age, the people of God have ever been encouraged to turn the gaze of their hearts towards the future. The counsels of God have been gradually unfolded, and the visions of inspired seers have in measure been realized. There is no sign of exhaustion in the resources of Divine grace, in the provisions of Divine beneficence. Every age of Church history, every period of Christian experience, has heard the amazed and grateful acknowledgment offered to heaven: "Thou hast kept the good wine until now."

I. GOD'S GRACE IS PROGRESSIVELY REVEALED IN THE INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE OF CHRISTIANS. The longer Jesus is known, the more are his benefits realized, and the more is he valued. Advancing years, seasons of affliction and adversity, the approach of the end of the pilgrimage, afford growing opportunities of testing the faithfulness of the Father and the friendship of the Christ. The wine of grace mellows and refines with the lapse of time and the enlargement of experience.


1. Time has unfolded to the understanding and the heart of humanity the character of Christ. There certainly never was a time when that character was so studied and so appreciated as now.

2. Time has proved the extent and the variety of Christ's power to bless. Days of persecution, days of missionary zeal, days of defence and confirmation of the truth, have succeeded one another; and every epoch seems to reveal to humanity the goodness of the wine in a heightened and more precious degree.

3. Time has shown what Christianity can do to develop and improve society. As new forms of social life have come into being, as new social needs emerge, as new difficulties arise in human relationships, these successive events make it evident that what the world wants is supplied in the Son of man. That new conditions of human society are approaching is certain; but it is equally certain that our Divine religion will prove its adaptation in the future as in the past. Under the guidance of Providence, there is in store for our humanity larger, richer, better life; and the Lord Christ shall fill the multiplied and ampler vessels with the choicest vintage of his love.

III. GOD'S GRACE WILL BE PROGRESSIVELY REVEALED IN ETERNITY. The wine is good. here and now; Christ saves from sin, strengthens for duty, renews and purifies and blesses. But surely those who are brought to the kingdom above, where the question is not of conflict but of service, not of patience but of praise, shall, upon tasting the spiritual delights of eternity, be constrained to exclaim, "Thou hast kept the good wine until now." - T.

All that a man does may be regarded as significant of his character and aims in life. How far more obviously and instructively is this the case with the actions of the Son of God! Yet, though whatever Jesus did may be regarded thus, there are certain works of his which the evangelist notes especially as being signs. Of these works, the deed performed at Cana is remarked to be the first in point of time.


1. They were works, and mighty works; such as implied great power on the part of the Worker; such as were not wrought by ordinary men.

2. They were wonders, or miracles, fitted to arrest the attention, awaken the inquiry, excite the surprise, of beholders.

3. As in this instance, they were deeds authoritative over nature, its elements, processes, and laws.

II. OF WHAT THESE SIGNS WERE SIGNIFICANT. That they did speak to the minds and hearts of those who beheld them, is clear; they compelled the inquiry, "What manner of man is this?" The works led the witnesses to ask concerning the Worker; for they testified of him.

1. Of a Divine presence and power among men. The signs were as the cry of a herald, as a trumpet call summoning the attention of all who were capable of understanding. They spake in plainest language, and their voice and utterance was this: "The King of nature and the Lord of man is here!"

2. Of Divine compassion and mercy. Observe the contrast between the mediators of the old covenant and the new. The first sign which Moses wrought was to turn water into blood; the first which Jesus presented to men was to turn water into wine. We see pity in its varying grades excited by human want and. misery, manifesting itself in the exercise of authority prompted and guided by love.

3. Of Divine adaptation to special needs of men. There was vast variety in the miraculous ministrations of Immanuel. The first sign proves that the same Lord who supplies the most urgent wants is not unmindful of the social pleasures and comforts of men. There is delicate discrimination and thoughtful adaptation and suitability in the marvels which Jesus wrought. Bread for the hungry, healing for the sick; yet also wine for the joyful and the festive.


1. Not primarily to unbelievers. Whether there were any such in the happy circle in whose midst and for whose benefit the first of the signs was exhibited, we do not know; probably all were friendly and receptive, and none more than partially enlightened. Jesus did not go into public and perform a wonder to amaze a multitude.

2. But to his disciples. There was no sign from heaven for the unspiritual, but for the believing and affectionate there were proofs given that their confidence and love were not misplaced. "His disciples believed on him," i.e. all the more as they saw more of the might of his word and the tenderness of his heart. - T.

Does it seem to the reader of this simple narrative that this language is somewhat strained - is pitched rather too high? An obscure village, a homely festival, a peasants' party; - are these suggestive of, harmonious with, this great word "glory"? Ah! let us not be deceived by outward, appearances; but rather remember that, as the world judges, there was no glory in Jesus any more than in his surroundings, his associates. Be it ours to form a wiser, juster, truer judgment.


II. GLORY WAS SHOWN FORTH IN THE REVELATION OF CHRIST'S OWN LOVE AND GRACE. To the purged vision of evangelists and apostles there was a higher glory in the pity of the Redeemer than could have been displayed by any sign from heaven. "They beheld his glory...full of grace and truth."

III. GLORY WAS REFLECTED UPON THE COUNTENANCES AND THE HEARTS OF THE ASSEMBLED COMPANY. The master of the feast, the bride and the bridegroom, may little have known who and what manner of person they had invited and were entertaining in Jesus of Nazareth. But henceforth! - surely henceforth he must have been to them the Divine Friend and Lord. Whosoever will welcome Jesus to his home and to his heart shall learn the mystery alike of his majesty and of his love.

IV. GLORY WAS REVEALED TO CHRIST'S OWN DISCIPLES. These five newly found companions and pupils were soon privileged with intimations of the unique character and power of their Master. It was a lesson memorable and precious as being the first among many. They who learn from Jesus lessons of love and pity, lessons of wisdom and power, learn at the same time a lesson of moral splendour and majesty which shall prepare them for renewed manifestations in a long, an infinite series.


There is singular simplicity and beauty in this statement, coming where it does at the close of this narrative.

I. OF WHOM IS THIS BELIEF ASSENTED? Not, as might perhaps have been expected, of strangers, who witnessed the mighty work and sign, but of five men here named "the disciples" of Jesus.

II. WHAT WAS THEIR PREPARATION FOR THIS BELIEF? Undoubtedly their admiration and affection for Jesus, who had sought them or welcomed them, and shown them the friendliness of his heart.

III. WHAT WAS THE OCCASION OF THIS RELIEF? It was the "sign" they witnessed, the moral glory which they discerned in the Master's sympathetic and gracious action. Coming to hearts so prepared, the wonder did its work effectually.


1. The satisfaction, rest, and joy of their own minds.

2. The resolve and ability to publish the Saviour's fame, and bring men to behold his glory. - T.

Notice -

I. THE MIRACLE IN RELATION TO JESUS HIMSELF. The miracle, with its attending circumstances, was:

1. A manifestation of his glory. Every act and every word of his manifested the glory of his character, but his miracles were spiritual and natural signs of the Divinity of his Person and the distinguishing feature of his character. His miracles were purely voluntary. Still, he pleased to perform them in order to manifest his glory - the fulness of his Divine and human life.

2. It was a manifestation of his own glory. The glory manifested by the greatest and best of men is only derived and borrowed; but Jesus manifested his own glory - that which originally and inherently belonged to him as the "Son of God," and now as the Son of God in human nature. What glory was specially manifested by this miracle and its attending circumstances?

(1) The thorough sociality of his nature. His first public appearance was in the house of joy, at a marriage feast, and that of a young couple in humble circumstances, so that he was not attracted by worldly distinction or self-interest, but by the simple sociality of his nature. He was not an Ascetic or a Stoic, but a perfect Man. His Divine nature did not interfere with his human instincts so as to keep him away from the human family. Thus the human side of his character was very different from and superior to that of the "Baptist." He lived out of the world; Jesus lived in it. And on this occasion was strikingly manifested the warm sociality of his nature, one of the chief glories of his Divine-human character, and thus representing faithfully the character of God, which is intensely social. Although invisible and infinite, yet he mingles with all the innocent joys and piercing sorrows of his creatures. He is present in the genial sunshine and in the dark cloud.

(2) The absolute independency of his conduct. His mother innocently interfered. She had long expected a display of his power, and, as she thought, the occasion had come. She says, "They have no wine." Being touched by the breath of a carnal notion, he gently but firmly rebuked it: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" In every instance of interference with his Divine course, such as that of Peter, or that of his enemies, he invariably rebuked it. If anything could vary his course, it would be parental and filial affection; but even this had to give way - it was ignored. His Divine sovereignty shone brilliantly under all human conditions; he acted as God in the nature of man. In this instance he gives a reason for his conduct, which he was not called upon always to do: "Mine hour is not yet come." There is not a great difference between his "hour" and that of his mother; the greatest difference is moral, and it was immediately checked - it vanished before the sovereignty of Divine rectitude and the glory of Divine propriety. It did not affect his mother's love and faith; and if she could speak to those who superstitiously seek her intercession, she would point them to this incident, and say now as then, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." She at once comprehended and began to preach the revealed and absolute independency of his conduct, the sovereignty of his position.

(3) His absolute control over the elements of matter. The water was made wine.

(a) This was done by his mere will. Nothing was said, nothing was done. The elements were pliant to his will. It was done with the greatest ease.

(b) It was done openly, before the disciples and the crowd.

(c) It was done immediately. There was no break in the festive joy. No disappointment on account of failure; no anxiety on account of delay. What took him months to do in the ordinary course of things, he did now in a moment; and the water, as if competing with other elements in raising a commemorative monument to the presence of its Lord, made haste to obey, and "blushed" its homage.

(d) It was done perfectly. The wine was pronounced "good," not extraordinary. God in miracles is not superior to God in nature. God's works, however performed, are Divine and uniform, and all his gifts are good. Man disimproves things, - turns the water into blood. Christ improves everything - the water is made wine. Jesus reverses the human order. The good wine is kept last. This is the Divine order. In all the earthly life of Jesus it was so, and eternity will not alter this order. In the enjoyment of heaven the language of blissful experience will ever be, "Thou hast kept the good wine," etc.

(4) The singular benevolence of his character. This was a miracle of kindness, as all his were. This was the natural keynote of his life and of his nature. Whenever his power rode forth in majesty, kindness was ever in its chariot, and the ocean of his benevolence was ever tremulous to the least breath of want; there was no need of a storm. Some might think that more wine was extravagance; but Jesus thought and felt differently. He knew how any lack in this direction would hurt the virgin feelings of a newly wedded couple. So that he is tenderly and delicately kind. The quality of the wine is good, and the quantity is kingly - probably from sixty to a hundred gallons. "Too much," says some one. Yes, too much for a peasant, but not for a king. He gave for himself and friends. None shall suffer for being kind to him, but he will repay with Divine interest. There was enough for the guests and enough to spare, as his wedding gift to the young pair to commence life with. "Fill to the brim." All his vessels are filled to the brim, and the cup of blessings which he sends round his people is not merely brimful, but "runneth over." Just like himself.

(5) His gracious power and readiness to satisfy the natural expectations of faith. To supply the lack of wine at the feast was not the chief reason of the miracle. This was only secondary. There was a higher reason, and a more spiritual significance. It was performed in answer to the natural expectations of faith. There was another newly wedded couple in the feast of Cana - Jesus and his disciples. They had believed on him without a miracle, but expected one at no distant date. Faith accepted him on trust. At the proper time he fully pays in hard cash, and his power and readiness to satisfy the lawful demands of faith shone forth with Divine brilliancy; and here is the climax of his glory in this miracle. Genuine faith shall never cry to him, "Show me thy glory," in vain.

3. This was only the beginning of the manifestation of his glory. The beginning of miracles; hence the beginning of his self-manifestation.

(1) The beginning of the manifestation of his glory was perfect. There is a special interest connected with the first performances of men of genius, and invariably they are inferior to their maturer efforts. But this first miracle of Jesus is as perfect in execution as his last; he never improved. It is not the first attempt of a pupil, but the first demonstration of a master. The first miracle of the Son of God was as perfect of its kind as his last.

(2) The manifestation of his glory was gradual. It was so then, and is so still. Faith could not stand the full blaze of his glory; it would dazzle rather than nurse it. We cannot stand the full glare of the sun, how much less that of its Creator! Christ feeds faith as a nurse feeds the babe, and manifests his glory, not in full blaze, but sometimes in startling flashes, and ever in genial rays, so as to suit the conditions and requirements of faith.

(3) The manifestation of his glory will be ever progressive. It was so while he was here on earth. He increasingly manifested his glory from Cana to Bethany, and on to the great miracle of the cross with its sequences - the resurrection, etc., which still unveil his glory, scene after scene, to the human family. And ever since he has been progressively manifesting his glory on this and the other side, and will continue to do so, till it will reach a dispensational climax in his second coming, when he will be glorious in his saints, the rich trophies of his redeeming victories. His glory is such in its fulness and variety that time cannot contain it and eternity will not exhaust it. But after ages have passed, away, and the heavens flooded with its radiance, then its manifestation will only be beginning.

II. THE MIRACLE IN RELATION TO THE DISCIPLES. "And his disciples believed on him." This implies:

1. That they had faith in him already. Otherwise they could, not be called his disciples, much less be his disciples. Faith in Christ is the first condition of Christian discipleship. The disciples' faith was kindled, by the preaching of John, and declared as they met Jesus on the banks of the Jordan.

2. That their faith wanted confirmation. It was yet young and tender, still clinging to him like the vine to the tree. It was weak in itself, but strong in its demands, longing in its expectations, and eloquent in its secret prayers for a Divine manifestation and nourishment.

3. The miracle satisfied the present want of their faith. Jesus through it manifested his glory, and they believed on him. Faith progresses with the progress of revelation, as revelation progresses with the development of faith. While the guests generally enjoyed the miraculous wine, faith had a higher enjoyment in drinking the wine of Jesus' manifested glory, and was invigorated and established. The wine of Cane was soon exhausted, but the glory of him who made it still shines, and faith still delights to revel in its light and buskin its sunshine. "And his disciples believed on him. All believed in the wine, but not in him. The majority remained with the material, and soon forgot him; but the disciples rose to a diviner sphere, and left the stream and dipped their pitchers in the well. Many enjoy the gifts, but forget the great Giver. But faith almost forgets the gifts in the Giver, leaves the rays and flies upwards like an eagle to gaze on the Sun, the Source of light. And this is wise. Have the fountain, and you have the stream. Have Christ, and you have all.


1. If married couples wish a happy life, let them commence it by inviting Jesus to their marriage feast. Let him be the chief Guest, and he will give the proper tone to it, as well as to the after life. A good beginning is half the battle. The evil one will be there, whether invited or not; he does not observe the rules of propriety. But Jesus wants to be invited, and if invited he will be there; for he loves even the best earthly illustration of the loving connection between himself and his bride, the Church.

2. Many invite Jesus to their scenes of sorrow, but not to their scenes of joy. He shall perform all the drudgeries of life, but not mingle with any of its luxuries. He is invited to the sick and death bed, but not to the marriage feast. This is neither kind nor wise. Let us remember that he can enjoy as well as suffer and pity. He can rejoice with those that rejoice, as well as weep with those that weep. And if we invite him to the sunshine of marriage, we have claim on his presence in the gloom of dissolution.

3. Those who invite him to their marriage feast will be amply repaid here and hereafter. He will have his marriage feast soon - the grandest and happiest marriage that ever occurred in the universe, and the most sumptuous and lasting feast. With regard to those who invited him, he will certainly return the compliment, and invite them; and blessed are they who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."

4. There is infinite glory as well as grace in Christ. Let faith help herself. Faith drew out the miracle, and the miracle drew out faith, and both met in glory. "Draw out now,'" says Jesus. It is water. Yes, but draw out, and it will be wine. The quality and quantity of blessings depend on the quality and quantity of faith. Jesus is fail. "Draw out now." - B.T.

I. THE OCCASION. It is possible, of course, to lay too much stress on the circumstances and nature of the first sign Jesus gave respecting his own character and mission; but it is better to go to the extreme in this direction that. to pretend that this beginning has no significance at all. Nothing would have been easier than to let the wedding feast pass over without exercise of the special power of Jesus. What necessity could there be for guests having wine rather than water? But if we speak thus, what necessity was there for any of the miracles of Jesus? They helped just one here and there out of the vast mass of needy ones. Jesus looks with a kindly eye on the innocent pleasures of men. His disciples had been disciples of John the Baptist, and John was an ascetic, a Nazarite, a man of the wilderness; and now that these disciples of John had become disciples of Jesus, they cannot learn too soon that their new Teacher proceeds by different methods from those of John. Not that blame of John is thereby implied. John had his own work to do in his own way, and Jesus had his work to do in his way. Jesus will become all things to all men, that he may save some. He cannot truly weep with the weeping unless he can also rejoice with the rejoicing. He takes men as they are, and tries to get hold of them by some timely service. It is a Christian act to increase the innocent pleasures of the world. Where the cup of gladness is not full, Jesus will fill it. The good of this miracle is made manifest as one considers what an effectual protest it is against those who would make religion the necessary enemy of deep-rooted social customs. Here were a bride and bridegroom, to whom the more serious side of life would come soon enough. For the present they desire their wedding feast to pass off creditably. Is it not likely they would feel somewhat humiliated to think the provisions were running short? and was it not, then, a worthy aim in Jesus to make every one satisfied, and at the same time to give an opportunity for the whole neighbourhood to be impressed by his power?

II. THE MIRACLE ITSELF must be looked at along with the feeding of the multitudes. Jesus does not create wine or create bread. He has visible material before him, and to it he adds what makes it sufficient for the need. But we must believe that he adds what he finds elsewhere in the world. He makes available, in his own way, stores already existing. We toil and wait, and the results of our operations are bread and wine. Jesus, if needful, can bring the same results without any toiling or waiting. His sphere is eternity. We can do nothing without time for a settled order of processes; but whatever Jesus can do at all, he can do at once. Really he was doing in a moment what he does with every vine, with every grape, only he does it by agencies stretching over a longer period. - Y.

The conduct of our Lord in the temple reminded the disciples of the words of the psalmist, "The zeal of thine house," etc. They supplied a most appropriate text to the symbolic sermon of our Lord. Genuine religious zeal as illustrated by the conduct of our Lord here. Notice it -

I. IS THE CHIEF OBJECT OF ITS CONCERN. It is the glory of God and the purity of his house and worship. Under the influence of this zeal:

1. Our relationship to God and his relationship to us are specially felt. It was so in the case of Christ now, and in a special manner he felt and proclaimed God to be his Father. "My Father." Jesus ever felt this relationship; and in the degree in which we are possessed of holy zeal, we shall feel our relationship to God and his to us.

2. God's relationship to his house is felt. Jesus calls the temple his Father's house. And so it was. It was his earthly habitation, where his glory should have shone, his Name should be honoured, his worship devotedly observed, and his people abundantly blessed. Holy zeal ever feels God's relationship to his house, and looks at and speaks of it as the house of God, and not of men.

3. A burning interest in God's house is felt. Jesus could not look on the temple with indifference; but, feeling God to be his Father, and the temple his Father's house, as a loving and dutiful Son, he felt an absorbing interest in its welfare. His Father's house was his own, and their interests and zeal were identical. This holy zeal does not stop with trifles, but is engaged with the highest and most momentous subjects - the glory and honour of God, and the purity and success of his cause on earth.

II. THIS ZEAL IN CONTACT WITH A GREAT ABUSE. The house of God was made a house of merchandise.

1. This abuse is quickly seen. No sooner had Jesus entered the temple than this terrible abuse attracted his notice. How many were there that saw it not! Coldness of the moral nature results in blindness to moral evil. But where this zeal is present, and burning in the breast, then the moral eye is keen and the moral visions are clear, and iniquities and abuses are quickly seen in their magnitude and horror.

2. This abuse is keenly felt. No sooner seen than fully realized and felt - felt as repugnant to Jesus as to God himself, and filled him with feelings of disgust amt indignation. Where this zeal is predominant, not merely the moral eye is keen to discern social and religious evils, but the moral heart is sensitive of their injuriousness and intolerant of their existence.

3. This abuse is unmercifully condemned. Condemned:

(1) As an abuse of the place. Making God's house a house of merchandise. Merchandise in itself is not condemned. As such it is right and necessary, and was even necessary in connection with the service of the temple, but not in the temple. In the market it is proper; in the house of God it is profanation.

(2) As an abuse of privileges. People professed to come to the temple to worship Jehovah, but Divine worship is exchanged for human business. In our Father's house we should be about our Father's business. It is a house of merchandise, but merchandise of a spiritual order - not between man and man, but between man and God. It is an exchange, but not that of foreign coins for those of the temple, but an exchange of repentance for forgiveness, faith for Divine justification and peace.

(3) As an insult to God. An insult to his authority, purity, and honour. What an affront to the Lord of the temple! what an insult to the Divine Father, to be turned out of his own home, and what is most distasteful to him, worldliness, admitted instead! and what a breach of trust, what irreligiousness of feelings and conduct, which are unmercifully condemned by holy zeal!

III. THIS ZEAL EXERCISED IN THE REFORMATION OF ABUSES. As illustrated in the conduct of our Lord, we see that:

1. It is ever active and aggressive. It does not. remain in mere speech and sentiment, but ever rushes into aggressive action. It can no more remain long in the presence of evil without attacking it, than a hungry lion in the presence of his prey, or a powerful army in the presence of the foe.

2. It is most sweeping in its demands. It will not be satisfied with anything short of a complete reform. Our Lord entered the temple and drove out all that sold oxen, etc., and even the innocent doves had to leave. The language of holy zeal with reheard to social and religious evils, is, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house," etc. Between good and evil, truth and error, there is an eternal difference, there can be no compromise; an eternal war, there can be no truce; nothing will satisfy it but a complete surrender.

3. It is intensely earnest. How intensely earnest was our Lord on this occasion! He made a scourge of small cords, a sign, not merely of authority, but also of terrible earnestness. This instrument was not apparently adapted to attain the end in view, but it was the best he could get, and answered his purpose. He wished to destroy the merchandise, not the merchants. Holy zeal, while not regardless of adaptation, will ever use the one available means. It will attack the walls of Jericho with ram's horns, go forth against the giant with a shepherd's sling, and clear the temple with a scourge of small cords. The intensely earnest man is never idle for want of suitable weapons.

4. It is heroically courageous. It carries its possessor away to attack foes who from a human point of view he can never hope to vanquish. What was Jesus to the mighty opposition he confronted? He had:

(1) The opposition of interested persons. Those in the trade - the host of dealers in oxen, etc.

(2) The opposition of interested patrons. The rulers of the people and the governor of the temple.

(3) The opposition of a consenting and benefited public. The crowd who would be more likely to sympathize with the aristocracy of the place than with the carpenter's Son of Nazareth. But this combined opposition he fearlessly confronted, and commenced his task almost alone. Holy zeal is ever courageous, and makes its possessor, if not beside himself, far beyond and above himself.

5. This zeal is entirely self-sacrificing. Liberty, personal safety, and even life is set at nought. It was so with Jesus now. He purified his temple at the risk of his life, and at last he gave himself as a sacrifice, not to the fury of his foes, but to the flames of his burning zeal. "The zeal of thy house," etc. And those under its influence are ever ready to sacrifice even life to their master passion and purpose.

IV. WE HAVE THIS ZEAL GLORIOUSLY TRIUMPHANT. Our Lord drove out the merchants and their merchandise with scarcely any opposition; and did, as one has said, what a powerful army could not do so quickly and completely. How did this zeal triumph, and how must it ever triumph?

1. By its own inherent strength. It is powerful in itself, even when it has only comparatively weak men as its instruments; but how much more powerful when swaying great and well balanced souls, such as Luther, Wickliffe, Paul, and especially our Lord, who is the Son of God as well as Son of man! In such as these, its voice is thunder, its deeds are lightning, its words are two-edged swords, and its chariots and horses are of fire. Its march is majestic, its consciousness of success is supreme, and, should a cloud appear in its firmament, it must soon vanish before its dazzle. It ever goes forth conquering and to conquer, and in its own energy and majesty is terrible.

2. By the strength and justice of its cause. Its demands are ever reasonable, and its cause is just. Jesus was right, and these merchants and their patrons were wrong, and, in the presence of holy enthusiasm, they felt it. He had a scourge of small cords, but he had a more terrible scourge than this - he made a scourge of their guilty consciences, and with it whipped them out. They writhed under the lashes; and corruption slunk away before the majesty of burning holiness; and the unrighteous practice gave way before the heat of embodied justice on fire. Right is ever stronger than wrong, good than evil, and truth than error. Let true principles blaze in the lives and actions of their adherents; they must be triumphant.

3. By its ever-accompanying Divinity. Jesus was a Divine Person, and his act in the temple was miraculous. True; but is not God ever against evil, and on the side of good? Holy zeal is ever accompanied with Divine authority and power; it is really the natural expression of all virtue, the burning presence of holiness, and the flaming manifestation of God's holy nature, who is a consuming Fire. The act of Christ in the temple was symbolic. God is ever on the side of purity and order, and the feeblest voice raised for them and against evil. God is in that voice, and it must triumph.


1. Our Lord was a Reformer. One of his first acts was to reform the worship of the temple. His followers should be the same; the disciples should follow their Master, and the motto of their lives should be reform.

2. Before we can be true reformers, we must be inspired with holy and burning zeal. This is an essential element of a reformer, as the revealer of evil and the inspiring motive of attack. Without it we cannot see as Jesus saw, we cannot act as he acted; but with it we shall be true reformers. Jesus will have true representatives, holiness will have a voice, and iniquity a scourge.

3. When holy zeal becomes absorbing and universal, abuses and evils in the Church and the world must retire, and the Church and even the earth will indeed be the house of God and the gate of heaven. - B.T.

Going to Jerusalem meant going to the temple, so far as Jesus was concerned. Where could he go more fittingly than to what he calls his Father's house? Jesus could not but think how often the Divine glory had been manifested in that temple, how many generations of worshippers had trodden its courts, what countless offerings had been presented, what multitudes of beasts had been slain. All places of religious assembly are a grand testimony to man's need of God. How it must have helped Jesus to direct his ministries, as he observed the people in their professions of approach to their Maker! Consider here -

I. AN INSTANCE OF THE WRATH OF JESUS, AND WHAT CAUSED IT. Jesus pitied men far oftener than he was angry with them; and yet there were times when not to have been angry would have argued an imperfect sense of right. To be downright angry with a man is sometimes the best way of approaching him for his good. The anger of Jesus on this occasion must have done good. Jesus found buyers and sellers turning a religious duty into a trade transaction. The offering to God was forgotten; only the making of a good bargain was remembered. Both the claims of God and the religious needs of men were utterly neglected.

II. AN ABSURD QUESTION AND A PUZZLING ANSWER. When our hearts do not perceive the truth that is laid right before them, then we are very likely to ask absurd questions. The very expelling of the traffickers gave the clearest sign that he who expelled had the right to expel. Still, Jesus can take the greatest absurdities of men as occasions for uttering the profoundest truths. The cleansing of a defiled temple is reckoned an insufficient sign, so now he adds that, if the Jews will give him the opportunity, he will rebuild a destroyed temple. No one understood his meaning at the time; it was enough if people remembered his words. The meaning would appear when it was wanted. "He spake of the temple of his body." Compared with that body, the temple at Jerusalem, in all its glory, beauty, and service, was but a poor, profitless structure. We must ever be on the alert to see realities, and not let our eyes be deceived by mere appearances.

III. THE PROMISED SIGN. Note what Christ does not ask for. He does not say, "Defile this temple." It was not in the power of the Jews to defile the temple of the Body of Jesus. The temples of our bodies are more or less defiled to begin with; but there was in Jesus a vital power repelling every taint of disease, and a heart that in its purity kept evil far away. Men could destroy what they could not defile. They were able to take away the natural life of Christ, though they could not lead him into the smallest act of sin. Thus we see how the so called destruction is a small evil compared with defilement. We call it destruction for want of a better word, but it is really glorification and freedom. The building of men, held in such veneration by the Jews, was utterly destroyed before many years had passed away, and no mighty hand was reached down from heaven to put it together again. Its work being done, it was better gone from the sight of men. But these same Jews, not knowing what they were doing, destroyed a temple which God raised again, and raised in a glory and a power which it bad not known before. So may it be with the temple of our body. Service will not cease with the glorified body; it will but rise into higher opportunities and higher joys. - Y.

High purposes were subserved by the exercise of the Saviour's authority both at the beginning and at the close of his ministry. If there was in this conduct an evidential meaning for the Jews, there was also a symbolical meaning for all time.


1. The true answer to this inquiry is to be found in the language of the Lord himself. The temple was his Father's house. It was the building which was originally erected in a measure upon the model of the tabernacle of the wilderness, the pattern of which had been communicated by Jehovah in some way to Moses, the servant of God. It was by Divine command that a certain special locality and building were set apart and consecrated to the service of him, who nevertheless "dwelleth not in temples made with hands."

2. The holy memories of national history gathered around this sacred edifice. The original tabernacle was associated with Moses and Aaron; the first temple at Jerusalem with the great kings - David who prepared for it, and Solomon who built it; the second temple with the great leaders of the return from the Captivity; and this restored edifice, in its costly magnificence, with the royal Herodian house.

3. The sacrifices which were offered, the priesthoods that ministered, the festivals which were observed, the praises and prayers which were presented, in these consecrated precincts, all added to the sanctity of the place.

4. And it must be remembered that the house of the Father was the house of the children; that our Lord himself designated the temple "a house of prayer for all nations. This may not have been acknowledged or understood by the Jews themselves. Yet there were intimations throughout their sacred literature in its successive stages that they, as a nation, were elected in order that through them all the nations of the earth might be blessed. The width of the counsels of Divine benevolence is apparent to all who study the psalms and prophecies of the Old Testament Scripture; and our Lord's language connects those counsels with the dedicated house at Jerusalem.

5. To our minds the temple possesses sanctity through its devotion to a symbolical use, for by anticipation it set forth in emblem the holiness of our Lord's body and the purity of the spiritual Church of Christ. The temple at Jerusalem should be destroyed in the crisis of Israel's fate; the sanctuary of the Lord's body should be taken down; and the holy temple, consecrated to the Lord, should grow in stateliness and beauty until all the living stones should be built into it for grace and glory eternal.

II. BY WHAT THE HOLINESS OF THE TEMPLE WAS VIOLATED. There must have been an infamous desecration in order to have awakened such indignation in the breast of Jesus. We can see two respects in which this was so.

1. The building was abused and profaned in being diverted from sacred to secular uses. Where there should have been only sacrifices, there were sales of beasts and birds; where there should have been only offerings, there was money changing.

2. The sanctity of the temple was violated by the cupidity of the rulers, who, it is well known, made a sinful and scandalous profit for themselves by the transactions which awakened the indignation of Jesus.

3. Nor was this all, injustice and fraud were added to cupidity - the temple became a den of thieves."


1. By the interposition of One of the highest dignity. Christ was "greater than the temple;" he was the Lord of the temple; nay, he was himself the true Temple appointed to supersede the material structure.

2. By the exercise of just and manifested authority. The demeanour and the language of Jesus were such as to preclude resistance, to silence murmuring. The Lord came to his own inheritance, to the house of his Father.

3. By the comparison of the edifice at Jerusalem to his own sacred body. In the language he used in his subsequent conversation with the Jews, he "spake of the Temple of his body," and in so doing he attached to the sanctuary a holiness greater than was conferred upon it by all the associations of its use and of its history. - T.

John gives us, in the course of his Gospel, wonderful evidences and illustrations on this point. When people came to him, he seemed to see right into their hearts and through their present lives into all their past. Instances in Nathanael, Nicodemus, and the woman of Samaria. The power of Jesus in this respect as much supernatural as that by which he raised Lazarus from the dead.

I. IT IS JESUS WHO KNOWS WHAT IS IN MAN. His awful power of knowing the secrets of human hearts is his power. Hence we behold the exercise of it without being startled or alarmed. The woman at the well does not seem to have been at all terrified by her discovery of the omniscient, resistless eye of Jesus. We are made to feel that Jesus knows us altogether; but at the same time, we are assured as to the use he will make of his knowledge. He does not come to expose us to our fellow men. He does not come to protect us from them, although he will do so if it be needful. The injuries of others do not penetrate to the heart, do not burden the conscience, so Jesus does not trouble about them. What gives him concern is the evil we work to ourselves. What a scratch is to a deep stab, that the very worst thing another can do is as compared with what we ourselves do. We have cause to rejoice that it is Jesus who has a knowledge so complete, a knowledge so certain to be used for our best advantage. It is Jesus, the professed Saviour Jesus, who loves little children, Jesus who takes pity on hungry multitudes - he of the truest, tenderest heart that ever beat in a human bosom - it is he who knows what is in man.

II. JESUS KNOWS WHAT IS IN MAN. He never needs to act doubtfully and upon speculation. His knowledge is not in appearance, but in reality. It ranges over human nature in all the vast extent of it. He knows the real and the ideal, the actual and the possible; how bad men are, and how good they may become. His real knowledge is to be contrasted with our assumed knowledge. He knows us round and round and. through and through. It is not a knowledge of the weakness and follies of men just to make better use of them.

III. JESUS WANTS MAN HIMSELF TO KNOW WHAT IS IN MAN. First, that we may know ourselves, and that for the practical purpose of making the best of our lives. We need great knowledge to make the best of life, with its rich opportunities, its great difficulties, its strict limitations. Jesus wants us to have a living sense of our ignorance and our weakness. He wants us to discover how blind the natural man is when confronted with spiritual things. He wants us to be persuaded how low we can sink, how high we can rise. Then, as far as we know ourselves truly, we shall know others also. They are weak, even as we; and, if we become strong in Christ, we shall hope for the same strength for them.

IV. JESUS WANTS US TO KNOW WHAT IS IN HIM. Wants us to see human nature in its purity and its perfection. Knowing the perfection of Jesus rightly, we shall not despair, but aim to be drawn onward to it ourselves. - Y.

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