John 2:3
And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) When they wanted wine.—Better, the wine having failed.

They have no wine.—The question “What was the import of this remark?” has been often asked, and very variously answered. And yet the answer does not seem far to seek. The next verses fix its meaning as the expectation of an outcome of supernatural power. This is quite in harmony with the mother’s hopes and musings, without any previous miracle on which to base them (John 2:11). For many long years she had kept in her heart the Son’s words and deeds (Luke 2:51). She must have heard of John the Baptist’s witness, of the events of the Baptism six weeks now past, and on that very day every hope must have started into new life, as she heard from those who came with Him how conviction had seized upon their own minds. To cause the. increase of meal, and prevent the failure of the cruse of oil (1Kings 17:14), was within the power of the prophet whom they expected as herald of the Messiah. Here was an unexpected need, caused, it may be, by the presence of Himself and followers at that festival. Can He not, will He not, supply the need, and prove Himself indeed the Christ?

John 2:3-4. And when they wanted wine — It is probable that, in consequence of its being known that Jesus would be present at this feast, a greater resort of company came than was expected, and that this occasioned a failure of the wine. The mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine — Some infer from this application which she made to Jesus, that she had either seen some of his miracles in private, or had received from him some hint of his intentions of working one now. For, without supposing the one or the other of these, one can hardly imagine why she should thus apply to him on this occasion: for, doubtless, she knew, both that he had not money to buy a quantity of wine, and that if he had, it would not have been proper for him to have done it, as it must have been interpreted as an affront to the bridegroom. But the supply that she expected from him was undoubtedly by his working of a miracle; and it is plain, from her direction to the servants afterward, that, notwithstanding the rebuke she justly met with, yet she had still a view to this. Jesus saith unto her, Woman — Using a plainness of language, suited to the simplicity of those ages and countries. For that this compellation was not in those days accounted disrespectful, has been fully evinced by critics from the best authorities. We find in this gospel, (John 19:26,) our Lord addressing his mother by this title, on a very moving occasion, on which he showed her the most tender affection and regard. What have I to do with thee? — Or rather, What hast thou to do with me? namely, to direct me when and how my miracles are to be wrought. The original expression, τι εμοι και σοι, is rendered by some, What is this to me and thee? namely, that they want wine: What concern is it of ours? it does not belong to us to provide necessaries for this feast. But Jesus, says Dr. Doddridge: “was of so benevolent a temper, and Mary seems to have been so far concerned as a relation, that it does not appear this would have been a proper reply. The words seem rather to be intended as a rebuke to Mary, and it was surely expedient she should know that Jesus was not, upon such occasions, to be directed by her. And nothing is more evident than that the phrase, in other places, has the meaning that our version gives it.” Thus also Dr. Campbell: “It was, no doubt, our Lord’s intention in these words gently to suggest, that in what concerned his office, earthly parents had no authority over him. In other things he had been subject to them.” To translate the clause, What is it to me and thee? “at first sight appears preferable to other versions, because the most literal. But, as Bishop Pearce well observes, had that been the evangelist’s meaning, he would have written, τι προς εμε και σε; as in John 21:23, τι προς σε, what is that to thee? and Matthew 27:4, τι προς ημας, what is that to us?” He observes, further, that the common version suits the phrase in every place where it occurs; and that the other conveys a worse sense, a sense not suitable to the spirit of our Lord’s instructions, as “not favouring that tender sympathy, which his religion so warmly recommends, whereby the interests and the concerns of others, their joys and their sorrows, are made our own.” 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.” So Macknight. Or, he may speak of the time when he intended to perform the miracle desired by his mother; for which the proper moment, though very near, was not yet quite come. Some translate the clause interrogatively, Is not mine hour come? the season of my public ministry, at which period thy authority over me ends? Upon the whole, our Lord’s answer to his mother was not in the least disrespectful, nor did she consider it as implying a denial of her request, as is evident from the temper with which she received it, and from her desiring the servants (John 2:5) to wait on him, and to execute his orders punctually. Many writers have interpreted this rebuke of our Lord as being given 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.2:1-11 It is very desirable when there is a marriage, to have Christ own and bless it. Those that would have Christ with them at their marriage, must invite him by prayer, and he will come. While in this world we sometimes find ourselves in straits, even when we think ourselves in fulness. There was want at a marriage feast. Those who are come to care for the things of the world, must look for trouble, and count upon disappointment. In our addresses to Christ, we must humbly spread our case before him, and then refer ourselves to him to do as he pleases. In Christ's reply to his mother there was no disrespect. He used the same word when speaking to her with affection from the cross; yet it is a standing testimony against the idolatry of after-ages, in giving undue honours to his mother. His hour is come when we know not what to do. Delays of mercy are not denials of prayer. Those that expect Christ's favours, must observe his orders with ready obedience. The way of duty is the way to mercy; and Christ's methods must not be objected against. The beginning of Moses' miracles was turning water into blood, Ex 7:20; the beginning of Christ's miracles was turning water into wine; which may remind us of the difference between the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ. He showed that he improves creature-comforts to all true believers, and make them comforts indeed. And Christ's works are all for use. Has he turned thy water into wine, given thee knowledge and grace? it is to profit withal; therefore draw out now, and use it. It was the best wine. Christ's works commend themselves even to those who know not their Author. What was produced by miracles, always was the best in its kind. Though Christ hereby allows a right use of wine, he does not in the least do away his own caution, which is, that our hearts be not at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, Lu 21:34. Though we need not scruple to feast with our friends on proper occasions, yet every social interview should be so conducted, that we might invite the Redeemer to join with us, if he were now on earth; and all levity, luxury, and excess offend him.When they wanted wine - A marriage feast among the Jews was commonly observed for seven or eight days. It is not probable that there would be a want of wine at the marriage itself, and it is possible, therefore, that Jesus came there some time during the marriage feast.

They have no wine - It is not known why Mary told this to Jesus. It would seem that she had a belief that he was able to supply it, though he had as yet worked no miracle.

3. no wine—evidently expecting some display of His glory, and hinting that now was His time. The word usterhsantov may as well be translated, coming short, or behind, as wanting; and so some think it is to be understood; but Mary tells Jesus, they had no wine: they either had none, or she discerned it came short; they had not enough. It lets us know the frugality of him who made the feast. But whether Mary told her Son of it in expectation that he should supply it by a miracle, or that he should entertain the company with some pious discourse while the want should be supplied, is not so easy to determine: that which seems to oppose the first (and most generally received) opinion, is, that this was the first miracle he wrought, which we have upon record; nor had our Saviour by any words given her hope to see any miraculous operations from him; for though some say he had, from the last verse of the former chapter, yet the words can hardly be strained to such a sense, nor doth it appear that Mary was in Judea to hear them. But yet it seems probable she had some such expectation, both from our Saviour’s answer, John 2:4, and from her saying to the servants, John 2:5,

Whatsoever he say unto you, do it; and though Christ had as yet done no public miracle, yet what the virgin might have seen of him in thirty years time, while he lived at home with her, we cannot tell. And when they wanted wine,.... Or wine was wanting; not through the intemperance of the guests, rather through the poverty of the family, who were not able to provide very largely; and it may be by reason of a larger number of guests than were expected; however, so it was ordered by Divine Providence, that there might be an opportunity for Christ to manifest forth his glory:

the mother of Jesus saith unto him, they have no wine; being concerned for the family, lest they should be put to shame and disgrace, and the entertainment should not proceed with becoming credit and honour; and knowing the power of Christ to help in this time of necessity, she modestly moves it to him, perhaps by a whisper, sitting next him; or, it may be, might call him out, and just drop the hint; being well persuaded of his power, as she might; not from any miracles wrought by him in her family for the support of it, when in distress; for as Christ wrought no miracle, in the time of his public ministry, for the support of himself, or his disciples, but for others, it is not likely he should do it for his family in private life; but from the wonderful things told her by the angel that brought the news of her conception, and by the shepherds, and by Simeon and Anna, which she had laid up in her heart; and from his being the Messiah, who, according to the general belief of the nation, was to work miracles; and particularly from the last words of the preceding chapter; See Gill on John 1:50, for she might be present at the delivery of them; and therefore might hope that as this was the first opportunity that offered after, that he would display his power in supplying the family with wine in this time of exigence.

{2} And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

(2) Christ takes good enough care of our salvation, and therefore has no need of others to remind of it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 2:3. Ὑστερήσ. οἴνου] because a scarcity of wine had occurred,—on what day of the marriage feast (it usually lasted seven, Genesis 29:27; Jdg 14:14; Tob 9:1-2; Tob 10:1) we are not told.[134] The expression ὑστερεῖ τι, something fails or runs short, belongs to later Greek (Mark 10:21; Isaiah 51:14; Nehemiah 9:21; Dios. v. 86).

οἶνον οὐκ ἔχουσι] they are short of wine, they, i.e. the family of the bridegroom, who provided the feast. They might be disgraced by the failure of the wine. The words, however, are not only an expression of interest, which was all the more reasonable, as the deficiency was accelerated by the invitation of her Son and His disciples; but they also contain, as Jesus Himself understood (John 2:4), an indirect appeal for help, as is confirmed by John 2:5, which was prompted by thoughtful consideration for the credit of the house providing the feast. Some find herein a call to work a miracle. But wrongly, because this would imply either that Mary had inferred from the conception, birth, etc., of her Son, His power of working miracles, which she now expected Him to display, or that Jesus had already, on some previous occasion, though in a narrower circle, done some wonderful works (the former hypothesis in Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Baumgarten, Maier, Godet, Hengstenberg, and many more; the latter in Lücke and others),—assumptions which are equally incapable of proof. Wrongly too, because the supply of this want of itself so little suggested the need of a miracle, that the thought of so disproportionate a means occurring to Mary’s mind without any adequate reason, even by the recollection of such traits as are related in Luke 2:49 ff. (Brückner), or by the miracle at His baptism, or by the call of the disciples, or by the declaration of John 1:51, of which she would be informed at the marriage (Godet), is quite inexplicable, even supposing that she had observed more clearly than any others the change which had taken place in her Son, and had therefore with fuller expectation looked up to Him as the Messiah (Ewald’s view, comp. Tho luck). Far rather did she wish to prompt Jesus in a general way to render help; and this she would suppose He would do in the most natural manner (by furnishing wine), which must have appeared as obvious a way as that of miracle was remote. But Jesus, in the feeling of His divine call (John 2:4), intended to render help in a special and miraculous manner; and accordingly, with this design of His own in view, returns the answer contained in John 2:4. In this way the obscurity of the words is removed (which Lampe and De Wette dwell upon), and at the same time the objection raised from John 2:11 (by Strauss, B. Bauer, Schweizer, Scholten) against the entire narrative, upon the assumption that Mary (from the Logos standing-point of the evangelist, it is supposed!) expected a miracle. Lastly, it is purely gratuitous to suppose that Mary wished to give a hint to Jesus and His disciples to go away (Bengel, Paulus); yet Ebrard (on Olshausen) has brought this view forward again, explaining afterwards “mine hour” of the time of His death, when Jesus would have to leave the marriage (the marriage figuratively representing the period of His earthly ministry). This is not profundity, but a mere playing with exegesis.

[134] The text does not say that it lasted only one day, as Hengstenberg finds expressed in ver. 1, where we are simply told that the marriage began on the third day,—which has nothing to do with its duration. Nor is there any hint in the text of “poor circumstances,” for it speaks of the master of the feast and of servants. Least of all does the inviting of Jesus’ disciples along with Himself imply poverty. This also in answer to Godet.John 2:3. Through this unexpected addition to the number of guests the wine began to fail, ὑστερήσαντος οἴνου. ὑστερέω, from ὕστερος, signifies “to be late,” and hence “to come short of,” “to lack,” and also “to be awanting”. Cf. Matthew 19:20, τί ἔτι ὑστερῶ; and Mark 10:21, ἕν σοι ὑστερεῖ. Here the meaning is “the wine having failed,” or “given out”. Consequently λέγει ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ πρὸς αὐτὸν, Οἶνον οὐκ ἔχουσι. Bengel supposes she wished him to leave “velim discedas, ut ceteri item discedant, antequam penuria patefiat”. Calvin suggests “fieri potest, ut [mater] tale remedium [miraculum] non expectans eum admonuerit, ut pia aliqua exhortatione convivis taedium eximeret, ac simul levaret pudorem sponsi”. Lampe says: “Obscurum est”. Lücke thinks Jesus had given proof of His miracle-working previously. The Greek commentators and Godet suppose that when she saw Him recognised as Messiah the time for extraordinary manifestation of power had arrived. The words show that she was on terms of intimacy with the family of the bridegroom, that she knew of the failure of the wine and wished to relieve the embarrassment. She naturally turns to her oldest son, who had always in past emergencies proved helpful in counsel and practical aid. But from the words of Jesus in reply, “Mine hour is not yet come,” it certainly would seem as if she had suggested that He should use Messianic powers for the relief of the wedding guests.3. when they wanted wine] Better, when the wine failed. Perhaps the arrival of these six or seven guests caused the want; certainly it would make it more apparent. To Eastern hospitality such a mishap on such an occasion would seem a most disgraceful calamity.

They have no wine] Much comment has here obscured a simple text. The family in which she was a guest was in a serious difficulty. Perhaps she felt herself partly responsible for the arrangements: certainly she would wish to help. What more natural than that she should turn to her Son and tell Him the difficulty? Probably she did not expect a miracle, still less wish Him to break up the party, or begin a discourse to distract attention from the want. The meaning simply is—‘They have no wine; what is to be done?’John 2:3. Ὑστερήσαντος, failing [coming short]) How many days the marriage-feast lasted, on what day of it the Lord came and the wine failed, is not known.—οὐκ ἔχουσι) The newly-wedded couple have not. She means this: I would wish you to withdraw, in order that the rest also may withdraw, before that the scarcity be made evident to all.[45] Adopting this [Bongel’s] sense as the meaning of Mary, the reply of Jesus not only does not appear harsh, but is most full of love.

[45] This seems mere conjecture. Lücke more probably supposes that the Lord Himself had recently given some reason to expect that He would manifest His Messiahship in wonderful works. Indeed she herself might have inferred this from prophecy: Isaiah 35:5-6; Genesis 49:10-11.—E. and T.Verse 3. - A large accession of guests in such a humble home might easily be supposed to make a famine in the provisions, and so we read, And when the wine failed - either from this cause, or from the poverty of the hosts, whose willingness and welcome were larger than their means, or by reason of an advanced stage in the festival - the mother of Jesus saith to him, They have no wine. The simple presence of the Lord and of his mother, of such guests as these. at a wedding feast, is a Divine rebuke of all that morbid asceticism which crept from Essenism and Orientalism into the Christian Church, of all that false pietism and fancied purity which made marriage a contamination, and exalted virginity to an unnatural elevation. The tender hearted interest felt by the blessed mother of the Lord in the condition of the hosts, and her tone of authority towards the διάκονι, are eminently natural; her tacit request for help, though she does not specify the way in which the help should be given, implies on her part something of presumption in indicating to our Lord the course he should adopt. A question of great interest arises - What did she mean by her appeal? Bengel suggested that Mary simply intended: "Let us depart before the poverty of our hosts reveals itself." This makes Christ's reply an acceptance of her hint; but along other lines the rabbis were accustomed to say that wine and life were in the mouth of a rabbi (see Geikie's 'Life of Christ,' 1:475; Wunsche, in loc.). We are expressly told that this is the beginning of signs, and therefore we have no right to conclude that, previous to this, in the home at Nazareth, Jesus had been accustomed to conquer fate and master poverty and compel circumstances by miraculous powers for his own or for his mother's support. We know that it was a temptation of the devil that he should perform some such miracle for his own sustenance, and that he had sternly suppressed the suggestion of the evil one. The mother must have known his powers, and must have known his mind on this very matter. What did she suggest? Was she thinking mainly of the need of wine, or firstly and chiefly of the honour and glory of her Son? She supposed that a moment had arrived when he should by some royal act assert his imperial rights, and give an order which would be obeyed as that of Sovereign Prince. Precisely the same spirit prevailed always in his home and among his disciples - an eager desire that he should manifest himself to the world (cf. John 7:4-6). The disciples did not lose it on the night of the Passion, or the eve of the Ascension (John 14:22; Acts 1:6). If this was the real meaning of the remark, "They have no wine," it becomes singularly interesting to observe the method of our Lord. The request for a supply of additional solace and refreshment was complied with. The suggestion to show himself to the world was as resolutely withheld. There was no pomp, no claim, no self-assertion; there was quiet, boundless, affluent love. The glory of Divine love was manifested, the need was satisfied; but the impression was not intended to go beyond the hearts of those beings who would partially understand it, at the right time. They wanted wine (ὑστερήσαντος οἴνου)

Literally, when the wine failed. So Rev., Wyc., and wine failing. Some early authorities read: "they had no wine, for the wine of the marriage was consumed." Marriage festivals sometimes lasted a whole week (Genesis 29:27; Judges 14:15; Tobit 9:1-2; 10:1).

They have no wine

Implying a request for help, not necessarily the expectation of a miracle.

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