On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there,
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.
1. After all those years of quiet and obscurity Jesus manifested Himself not as the Son of Mary, but as the Son of God.
The third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee.I. THE OCCASION ON WHICH THE MIRACLE WAS WROUGHT.
1. The time. The third day after the interview with Nathanael.
2. The place. Cana, about nine miles from Nazareth. Called Cans of Galilee to distinguish it from another town of the same name in Ephraim.
3. The company.(1) The mother of Jesus there probably on the ground of relationship. It has been supposed that the wedding was in the family of Cleopas or Alphaeus, whose wife was Mary's sister.(2) The most interesting and instructive fact is that Jesus was there. In Him the social element was prominent. In this respect He differed totally from His forerunner. He may have meant to teach those of His disciples, who had been followers of the Baptist, the great lessons of human intercourse, marriage, etc.(3) Jesus' disciples Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael and John.
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH LED TO IT.
1. The fact stated "They wanted wine;" Mary called Him aside and told Him so.
2. The manner in which the announcement was received.(1) Not disrespectfully.(2) Yet in the way of mild censure which rebukes Mariolatry.(3) Because the proper season for the exercise of His Divine power had not arrived.
3. The appropriate advice that was given. Christ requires universal and prompt obedience.
III. THE FEATURES BY WHICH IT WAS DISTINGUISHED.
1. Nothing could be more simple. There was no pomp or parade.
2. Nothing could be more extraordinary. No means were used.
3. Nothing could be more convincing. Deception was impossible.
IV. THE CONSEQUENCES WHICH ENSUED.
1. The display of Christ's glory.
2. The confirmation of the disciple's faith.
(The miracles of the Lord Jesus.)
2. He showed His power not to a hermit of the desert, but to a social gathering, teaching us the sanctity and blessedness of domestic life.
3. He commenced His ministerial life not as a stem preacher of righteousness beside the sea which covered the sins of Sodom, but as a helper of innocent rejoicings at a marriage feast. While we love our sins our place is by the Dead Sea; but if we heed the call to repentance, we pass from the desert to the feast. The narrative teaches us important lessons.
I. NEVER ACCEPT A FORM OF RELIGION WHICH MAKES PEOPLE GLOOMY AND MOROSE. The people who would shut all the sunshine out of life and stifle its innocent laugh, and hush the happy song, have not read the gospel of Jesus aright. There are times for separation, but as a rule it is in the midst of our daily round that Jesus works His miracles of mercy.
II. THE SANCTITY OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE. No marriage can be blessed unless Jesus and His disciples are invited. It is quite possible to go through a form of marriage which is quite legal, but which is a mere contract, and has no mark of holy matrimony about it. When we see marriage contracts for money, or position, or to hide the results of sin, we may be sure that Jesus has not been invited, and that there can be no blessing.
III. JESUS IS EVER WORKING THE SAME WONDERFUL CHANGE AND IS SHOWING FORTH HIS POWER. All nature is a miracle lesson.
1. The seed sown in weakness is raised in power, and we learn that as God gives us our daily bread so He gives us the True Bread from heaven.
2. Every growing vine with its clustering grapes shows us the miracle of water made wine, telling us that Jesus is the True Vine, and that we are the branches, and that without Him we cannot live.
3. The them receives the rains of winter and returns them glorified in the rose of summer; the helpless chrysalis takes unto itself wings, and flies as the beautiful butterfly. And the same miracle is shown in our Lord's dealings with men. He came to raise and put new strength into fallen humanity. The miracle was wrought on the first disciples — on Peter who denied his Master, but was changed into a pillar of the Church, etc.
(H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)
1. It has not that visible stamp of Divinity which is the peculiar glory of most of Christ's miracles. They do not disturb, but restore the true order of nature. In these we see the victims of disorder emancipated, and disorderly forces remedied. They show the Son of God engaged in a conflict with physical as well as moral disorder, and exhibit on a small scale what the cross exhibits on a large.
2. Christ's treatment of His mother seems contrary to the tender spirit we should have expected.
3. The other miracles recorded by John were in connection with discourses to which they led and revealed the inner glory of His grace and troth. But the fact that it was wrought in connection with a domestic scene will help us to clear up these difficulties. It was fitting —(1) That He should here break away from His mere earthly relationship to mother and home.(2) That He should here inaugurate that ministry which differed from His wilderness experience and the habits of the Baptist. His object was to hallow the legitimate enjoyments of life, and conquer the world, not turn His back upon it.
4. The particular form of the miracle illustrates —(1) The enriching power of Christ, His power to improve and perfect the sources of human gratification. Though not repeated in form, the miracle is constantly repeated in spirit in the greater sweetness of the poor man's morsel and the poor man's .life when flavoured with God's blessing.(2) The generosity of Christ who giveth liberally and upbraideth not: afterwards shown in the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and foreshadowed in prophecy (Isaiah 4:1).
5. It is in thorough harmony with the Johannine miracles. Of the eight, three bear on the elements of bodily nourishment, and spiritually on the nourishment of the soul. It is also in harmony with Christ's teaching in John: the parable of the living bread and of the vine: the vision of heavenly refreshment through Christ in the Apocalypse.
(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)I. THE PLACE WHICH THIS MIRACLE HOLDS AMONG THE MIRACLES OF CHRIST. The first.
1. As indicative of the general character of those which followed. The product of Christ's omnipotence and good will.
2. As the beginning of those wonders which had as their object to manifest forth Christ's glory.
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE MIRACLE WAS WROUGHT.
1. The failure of the wine perhaps through the unexpected advent of Jesus and His disciples.
2. Mary's appeal based upon her anxiety for the credit of the entertainers and comfort of the guests.
3. Mary's faith in Jesus not merely as her Son, but as the Son of God.
4. Mary's modesty and humility: she demands nothing, and prescribes nothing.
5. The displeasure of Jesus tenderly teaching Mary —(1) That her relationship was no ground on which she might make application, and that her former claims on this ground had passed away.(2) That in all matters connected with His great work she was no more to Him than other believers.(3) That as He was David's Lord so was He hers.(4) That what He was about to do was not to be done for the reason for which she desired it.
6. Christ's announcement of His hour: His, not Mary's; the time of the total failure of the wine.
III. THE MIRACLE ITSELF.
1. Expected by Mary.
2. The preparation and co-operation of the servants.
3. The arrival of the hour.
4. The drawing forth of the water made wine.
5. The surprise of the governor.
IV. THE THINGS IN WHICH WE ARE INSTRUCTED BY THE MIRACLE.
1. The anticipation of ecclesiastical corruptions.(1) The Roman depreciation of marriage..(2) The Romish distinction of meats; that a man is holier for what he eats or from what he abstains.(3) Mariolatry.
2. The duty of temperance and self-denial amidst the profusion of temporal mercy. The great abundance tested self-restraint. The same principle applies to all enjoyments — dress, furniture, reading.
3. The superior excellency of the Gospel's dispensation.(1) As contrasted with Moses' first miracle turning water into blood.(2) The kingdom of god is not meat and drink.
4. The sanctifying influence of Christ's presence.
(A. Beith, D. D.)
Sermons by the Monday Club.Notice —
I. THAT RELIGION ENLARGES THE PLEASURES OF SOCIAL LIFE. Christ's presence did not interfere with the ordinary proceedings. There was no look on His face that chilled the company. He made no protest against the glad music of the nuptial chant. No one expressed the wish that Jesus had stayed at home. The wedding feast would have been a wretched failure had He stayed away. And religion is misunderstood if it is supposed to lessen the happiness of life. A good deal of worldly pleasure is feverish, delirium which religion condemns, but it rules out no innocent pleasure. It commands men to rejoice always. What untold miseries it has swept away. There is more happiness in the Christian cottage than there was in Caesar's Palace.
II. THAT SOCIAL LIFE IS THE MOST PROMISING SPHERE FOR RELIGIOUS USEFULNESS. Christ did not feel out of place here, although a careless observer might think it better for Him to be in the Temple teaching. He was here because of His perfect sympathy and to do good. Social life furnishes the Christian with his great opportunities, Faithfulness in religious exercise not the whole of duty. The Christian in society is the foremost preacher. He is there to bear witness to the sympathy of religion with everything that is wholesome, and to protest against everything that is pernicious.
(Sermons by the Monday Club.)I. Our Lord had passed through the conflict of the wilderness and the initial stages of His work as the caller of men, and had, moreover, come off a long journey. He therefore NEEDED RELAXATION and found it at a wedding feast, and in the company of his friends. Showing us that no man can or ought to be incessantly engaged in strife or labour. If he does he will prematurely wear out or break down. Time for rest and unbending is urgently required after any severe strain to body or mind.
II. The previous work and conflict was PROFOUNDLY RELIGIOUS; So was the relaxation. The danger in our relaxations is to accumulate other burdens by forgetfulness of self or God. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink do all to the glory of God."
III. CHRIST UTILIZED THE HOURS AND MEANS OF RELAXATION FOR DISTINCTLY RELIGIOUS ENDS. His aim is ever to leaven society religiously.
1. By the manifestation of His glory, so that —
2. His disciples may believe on Him.
IV. CHRIST EMPLOYED IN HIS RELAXATION THOSE INFINITE RESOURCES OF HIS FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS, which even in the wilderness He could not be induced to exert on His own behalf. He declared to Nicodemus that He could do exceeding abundantly above all he could ask or think; here He fulfilled the declaration.
(J. W. Burn.)
I. HOW HONOURABLE IN THE SIGHT OF CHRIST IS THE ESTATE OF MATRIMONY.
1. Society is never in a healthy condition, and true religion never flourishes where marriage is lightly esteemed.
2. Christ's blessing and presence are essential to a happy wedding.
II. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN IT IS LAWFUL TO BE MERRY AND REJOICE.
1. True religion was never meant to make men melancholy, but the contrary. The Christian has no place at races, balls, theatres, etc., but he has no right to hand over to the devil innocent recreations.
2. It is not easy to hit the mean between the lawful and the unlawful. But the golden rule is Luke 2:49.
3. While we should take our gladness into religion we should take our religion into the world.
III. THE ALMIGHTY POWER OF JESUS CHRIST.
1. An act of will without any visible means.
2. The same power is at the disposal of His people.
(Bp. Ryle.)I. ATTENDED BY CHRIST'S FRIENDS; those connected through blood and by grace. Marriage though not a Christian sacrament is a religious ordinance (Genesis 2:24; .Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31); honourable in all (Hebrews 13:5), and when the parties are well matched by affection and religion, a matter for hearty congratulation. Ordained for the happiness of the individual and the development of the race, it is calculated, when undertaken "solemnly, advisedly, and in the fear of God," to promote the welfare of husband and wife, and to secure a home for godly upbringing of children (Malachi 2:15).
II. GRACED BY CHRIST'S PRESENCE. The first wedding on earth attended by God (Genesis 2:25). Not strange, therefore, that Christ should have set a mark of honour on His Father's institution; while it was peculiarly appropriate that He should inaugurate His mission by placing His hand on the springs of humanity, lifting up this holy ordinance which perhaps had suffered more than any other by the fall and restoring it to its pristine dignity and beauty.
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)
I. CHRIST'S MINISTRY OPENS ON A SCENE OF HUMAN HAPPINESS
1. God Himself is essential happiness and would have us happy.
2. We are disposed to make God the sharer of our sorrows; He here teaches us to make Him the partner of our joys.
II. CHRIST'S FIRST APPEARANCE TO THE WORLD WAS AT A WEDDING. A standing protest against the tendency to make it a virtue to abstain from marriage. This tendency was denounced by Paul as one of the most pernicious doctrines of false teachers.
III. OUR LORD'S FIRST MIRACLE WAS WROUGHT IN CONNECTION WITH AN EVENT, THE BRIGHTEST AND MOST INNOCENT IN HUMAN LIFE. It was not to the sinful outcasts of society that He gave His first and special manifestation of Himself, but to those who were keeping His laws and exercising aright the natural affections He had given them. Heaven always comes nearest to the purest home. The gospel prefers to receive men at their best, not at their worst, and to gather into its treasury of grace, not the wrecks of human life, but the rich spoils of its youth and strength.
IV. THE MIRACLE TOOK PLACE AT THE VILLAGE OF THE ISRAELITE, INDEED IN WHOM THERE WAS NO GUILE. This disciple had the blessedness of the pure in heart who see God. He who manifested Himself to the sleeping patriarch in a dream at the top of the ladder, revealed Himself to Nathanael in waking reality at the foot, as a servant ministering to the necessities of others, and enriching the enjoyments of human life by His blessing. He who appeared to Jacob in a fleeting vision for the purpose of establishing a covenant relationship with a particular family and nation, has opened up by His Incarnation a free intercourse between God and man.
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)I. WHAT THEY ARE BY NATURE.
II. WHAT THEY BECOME BY SIN.
III. WHAT THEY AGAIN BECOME ONLY BY THE GRACE OF CHRIST.
(J. P. Lange, D. D.)I. THAT CHRIST GIVES US THE MOST PRECIOUS FOR NOTHING.
II. MAKES A GLORIOUS THING OUT OF COMMON.
III. GIVES THE BEST LAST.
IV. GIVES ACCORDING TO HIS OWN TIME, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR IDEAS.
(Harless.)I. THE PATHETIC VALUE THERE IS IN THE SIMPLEST FORMS OF HUMAN LIFE. A little village mentioned four times in the Bible, and then only by one writer, now extinct, and yet having a sweet, bright fame throughout Christendom, so that Pilgrims go to look up its ruins. A common wedding has made it immortal, while the names of great cities have perished.
1. A most significant sanction of the marriage relation. The New Testament scheme of faith and practice was inaugurated in direct sympathy with human hearts and established in the centre of the family institutions.
II. JESUS OUR LORD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS, or if of any of the poor. Jesus is present at every true marriage.
III. JESUS NEVER SET HIS MOTHER UP TO BE A MADONNA. He deeply respected her, but did not allow her to dictate to Him. In "Woman" there is no reproach. It is the same word as that addressed to her on the cross. But in "What is there now which is common to you and me," He intends to suggest His independence.
IV. A NOBLE MOTTO FOR EVERY SINCERE CHRISTIAN (ver. 5). Mary was neither humbled nor discouraged.
V. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE SON OF GOD OVER NATURE. Three characteristics of this miracle: its mystery, its magnitude, its morality.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
I. Observe how RELIGION BEFORE AND WITHOUT CHRIST HAS DEALT WITH SOCIETY. Its effort and prayer has been to be "taken out" of it to save itself, But this instinct, right in itself, has been shown in ways suicidal. Selfishness bad in nature, is worse in religion. Christ's Epiphany to society was an original idea among the religious. The dream of every religion but the Christian was celebrate monasticism. Even Christianity has relapsed into it literally, and also morally in the selfishness which marks out certain persons, phrases, recreations as signs of a world lying in wickedness. Far less difficult would Christian duty be if we might quit the world and have done with it, but we cannot and dare not. This parable of our Master's life shows us this.
II. How CHRIST DEALS WITH SOCIETY. He finds in the world homes beautiful with natural affection, and tables spread with God's bounties. Into this, with the treacherous ashes above and the latent fires below, Christ comes and says, "Use this world as not abusing it," and by His presence helps us to obey His precept. Realize, then, this sanctifying presence in business, e.g., or pleasure, and we shall realize that which will quicken both with Divine life. We shall then be there to exert the same helpfulness to others through Christ, as Christ exerted at this feast.
1. Jesus was there with His disciples, not a solitary Messiah.
2. Let the disciples now take the Master with them. For some, alas I this would be irksome, and so they either go without Christ, or else stay away. The former is sinful, the latter faithless.
I. JESUS NOT ONLY TOLERATES THE SOCIAL USAGES OF LIFE — its festivities among the rest — BUT ENCOURAGES AND SANCTIFIES THEM. Some gloomy people frown upon the common signs of cheerfulness, but for this habit we have here the eternal antidote.
II. WE NEED CHRIST AT SEASONS OF SOCIAL FESTIVITY AS MUCH, OR EVEN MORE, THAN AT OTHER TIMES. Pure religion is never unseasonable. If we think we give our worship to God, and stop the devil's mouth by an occasional indulgence, the devil will soon get our worship too. There is no more fatal mistake than to think that if we pay our dues in the House of God, we may please ourselves in the house of man. Jesus should be always bidden at our seasons of joy; for be sure that if we do not send Him our invitation, the devil will come without one.
III. THERE IS AN EXQUISITE TENDERNESS IN OUR LORD'S BINDING HIS DISCIPLES TO HIM at this marriage feast. He does not speak to them of the cross as yet. He speaks as they are able to bear it. Coming after His long fast in the wilderness, He breathes no asceticism. He who had been so hardly pressed for bread, turns water into wine. He will train us as we need to be trained.
IV. IF CHRIST IS SHUT OUT FROM THE HOUSE OF FEASTING, WE MUST NOT WONDER AT HIS ABSENCE FROM THE HOUSE OF MOURNING.
(Harry Jones, M. A.)The ministry began at a marriage festival which ended on Calvary, and its glory was manifested by both.
I. THE FUNDAMENTAL, ORIGINAL, AND ULTIMATE CONDITION OF LIFE IS BLESSING. Life begins in Eden, passes by Gethsemane and Calvary, and ends in heaven. It is God's will that man should be everywhere and always blessed. Misery lies not in God's making, but in the devil's marring.
II. OUR LORD SOUGHT TO SEVER HIMSELF AT ONCE AND ABSOLUTELY FROM THE ASCETIC SPIRIT. He came to add to the mirth of all feasts, the brightness of all homes, the gladness of all songs. He was absolutely free from the monkish idolatry of sorrow. He simply went about His Father's work in whatever direction it might be.
III. CHRIST REVERSED THE DEVIL'S UNIFORM METHOD AT FESTIVALS. Did ever any one get the best of the world's wine, or the devil's, at the end of the banquet? But whatever He gives has an infinite store behind it. Hence we are saved by hope. The pain and toil are for the moment, the joy grows into eternity
IV. CHRIST SHOWED THE TRUE SPIRIT OF SELF-SACRIFICE. The joy sympathetic with the joy of the Lord.
(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)
Family Churchman.1. Temperance amidst plenty.
2. The profusion of Divine gifts.
3. Christ's presence changes the circumstances of His people.
4. Christ turns the lower into the higher; the common to the valuable.
5. Christ does not work till the necessity is felt.
6. Christ works according to His own will, without human interference.
(Family Churchman.)i.e, from the Church in her public authority, to do whatsoever Jesus commands. Whence we may note, that the way to have a plentiful effusion of the Spirit with His Word and ordinances, is for ministers to be faithful in their work. They are to fill up the water-pots of purification with water; that is all they can do. They can, in the use of the ordinances of God's house, and the appointed means of grace and purification, he instant in season and out of season; they can fill the water-pots up to the brim; they can be abundant in preaching the Word — which, as it comes from them, is only water — a dead letter, a sapless, tasteless, spiritless thing — but this is what Christ will bless for the supplying of His Church with wine.
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)
(S. S. Times.)i.e, there never was any occasion for it." His advice to his children with respect to their marriage was, "Please God, and please yourselves, and you will please me"; and his usual compliment to his newly-married friends, "Others wish you all happiness. I wish you all holiness, and then there is no doubt but you will have all happiness."
(Life of Philip Henry.)Meum and Tuum. Converting each into the other, it endears them both, and turns a slavish, deadening drudgery, into a free and joyous service. And by bringing home to every one's heart that he is something better than a mere self, that he is the part of a higher and more precious whole, it becomes a type of the union between the Church and her Lord.
(J G. Hare)
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
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