John 2:6
Now six stone water jars had been set there for the Jewish rites of purification. Each could hold from twenty to thirty gallons.
Christ and SocietyDean Vaughan.John 2:1-11
Christ At a FeastBp. Ryle.John 2:1-11
Christian FestivityHarry Jones, M. A., J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.John 2:1-11
Eastern Marriage CustomsH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:1-11
General Analysis and Illustrations of the Cana MiracleJonathan Edwards.John 2:1-11
Human FeastsJ. P. Lange, D. D.John 2:1-11
Jesus and NatureJ.R. Thomson John 2:1-11
Jesus and Social LifeJ.R. Thomson John 2:1-11
Jesus and the Marriage StateJ.R. Thomson John 2:1-11
Lessons of the IncidentFamily ChurchmanJohn 2:1-11
Marks of the Grace of ChristHarless.John 2:1-11
Marriage Happy Where Christ is AcknowledgedLife of Philip Henry.John 2:1-11
Religion for Joy as Well as for SorrowJ. A. Seiss, D. D.John 2:1-11
The Blessing of MarriageJ G. HareJohn 2:1-11
The Marriage Feast At Cana a Pledge of the Marriage Supper of the LambJ.R. Thomson John 2:1-11
The Miracle At CanaThe miracles of the Lord Jesus.John 2:1-11
The Miracle At CanaH. J. W. Buxton, M. A.John 2:1-11
The Miracle At CanaW. G. Blaikie, D. D.John 2:1-11
The Miracle At CanaA. Beith, D. D.John 2:1-11
The Miracle At CanaSermons by the Monday ClubJohn 2:1-11
The Miracles of Nature and the Miracles of ChristJohn 2:1-11
The Popularity of This Cana MiracleH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:1-11
The Relaxation of Jesus ChristJ. W. Burn.John 2:1-11
The Transformation of the MeanJ. A. Seiss, D. D.John 2:1-11
The Water, the Wine, and the WeddingC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 2:1-11
The Wedding FeasH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:1-11
The Wedding FeastT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 2:1-11
At What Precise Point the Wonderful Transubstantiation Took PlaceH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:6-9
Filling the Water-PotsH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:6-9
Human Effort She Necessary Condition of Divine HelpJ. S. Exell, M. A.John 2:6-9
Surplus WineBp. Wordsworth.John 2:6-9
TastedBp. Ryle.John 2:6-9
The Governor of the FeastH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:6-9
The Governor of the FeastH. W. Watkins, D. D.John 2:6-9
The Naturalness of the MiracleBp. Alexander.John 2:6-9
The Secret Nature of Our Lord's WorkH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:6-9
The Servants KnewH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:6-9
The Significance of the Water-PotsH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:6-9
The Water-PotsH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:6-9
The Water-Pots in the Way of ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 2:6-9
Why the Water-Pots Were FilledH. Macmillan, LL. D.John 2:6-9
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.

Six water-pots of stone.
I. THE USE OF OLD MATERIAL FOR NEW PURPOSE. In the natural word vegetable life grows out of the mould of vegetable decay. The tabernacle was constructed of Egyptian materials and many of the laws and customs had an Egyptian form. Prophecy took shape from political circumstances. When Christianity became the dominant religion, it absorbed all that was excellent in previous religions. In Rome every church is built out of heathen ruins. In short, it is an universal principle in religion to make a heavenly use of ordinary things, just as Christ used the water-pots of the law for the first blessing of Christianity.

II. THE CLOSE CONNECTION BETWEEN ALL PARTS OF REVELATION as one harmonious scheme of grace. The old and new covenants are not antagonistic but complimentary. Jesus was foretold by Jewish prophecy, born under the law, lived a Jew, choose Jews for His disciples, and conformed to Jewish customs. And when the two roads diverged through Jewish unbelief it was Christianity that maintained the true tradition as is shown in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

III. THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE OUTWARD AND THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE INWARD. These people were keeping the natural ordinance of God in all its purity and also doing what the law required for their purification. The water-pots represented the best side of Jewish faith and life; but their emptiness declared their insufficiency and their number and size, their unsatisfyingness. However frequent and copious their ablutions, they could not remove sin. The law could make nothing perfect. It did not touch the heart. The wine of grace imparts an inward life and thoroughly cleanses moral impurity.

IV. THE NEEDS AND PROVISION OF ATONEMENT. The wine with which the water-pots were filled spoke eloquently in its origin — being the sacrifice of the vine, the life-blood of the grape, crushed out of it when trodden under foot of man in the winepress — of that atoning blood of Him who is the True Vine poured forth on the cross, which cleanses from all sin.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

We are struck with several peculiarities of these water-pots. They were not made by the potter out of clay, but were hewn by the carver out of the compact limestone of which the rocks in the neighbourhood were formed. They were constructed of stone, as the ecclesiastical canon enjoins fonts to be, since that material is less liable to impurity. In all likelihood, therefore, they were not closed-up jars with a narrow orifice, as they are usually represented in paintings, like the wine amphoras of clay which we see among the ruins of ancient cities, such as Pompeii and Rome; but large massive stone basins or tazzas, with wide mouths, like those which the Greeks and Romans constructed of marble, alabaster, or porphyry for their numerous lustration, of which we see splendid specimens in our great art museums, and especially in the Vatican sculpture gallery. This shape would approximate more closely to that of the sacred laver in the Temple, which they would doubtless take as a model for these domestic utensils, intended to form a link of connection between the ceremonies of public and private worship. Owing to their large size and great weight they were not movable, but were fixed in one spot, in the hall or vestibule, or near the entrance of the house, in a position analogous to that of the laver in the Temple, which was also a fixture. Another thing that strikes us is the enormous capacity of these water-pots, which were capable of containing from sixteen to twenty-four gallons each. The frequent ablutions of the Mosaic and of the subsequent traditional law required a large supply of water. Vessels so massive as these must have lasted for many generations; and there is a probability that some trace of them, or of others like them, of the same date, may have survived down to a comparatively late period. They were placed in the vestibule of the house and each guest as he arrived removed his travel stains with their contents; and large as was the quantity of water which they held, the company was so numerous that the whole six were emptied.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

An artist was painting a large picture of this marriage feast. A friend came to see his work and his first remark was, "What lovely water-pots!" The painter immediately blotted them out, saying, "I want you to look at Christ, not at the water-pots." What a lesson for the teacher, "I am determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified." What a lesson for the disciple, "Consider Jesus the Apostle and High Priest of our profession." What a lesson to the penitent sinner, "Looking unto Jesus": not His beautiful Church, nor His learned ministers, but Him. Fill the water-pots with water. — About the miracle generally, note —

1. The wine was harmless, or Christ would not have made it.

2. The great quantity is accounted for by the great number of guests. At Eastern weddings often an open house is kept, and they last several days. The miracle was simple and unostentatious, as near the course of nature as the supernatural can go. Learn from this to do good works quietly and naturally.


1. As a rule, when Christ is about to bestow a blessing He gives a command. The blind man was sent to Siloam; the palsied man had to stretch forth his hand; Jairus' daughter was commanded to arise; and Lazarus to come forth. The same principle holds good in grace. The sinner must repent and believe, to be saved: Zion must awake and arise before she can be blessed and multiplied.

2. Christ's commands are not to be questioned, but to be obeyed. Had the servants been like modern captious critics they would have objected: that what was wanted was not water but wine. And sometimes Christ's command does not seem pertinent to the point in hand. The connection between faith and salvation not always apparent. Sometimes the command may seem trivial and some other duty preferred. But the connection and importance must be left with the Commander.

3. Whenever we get a command it is always wisdom to carry it out zealously "up to the brim." Do not be afraid of an overplus.

4. Our earnest obedience is not contrary but necessary to our dependence on Christ. Faith without works is dead, being alone. To leave all to Christ is not faith but laziness.

5. One action alone is not sufficient. The water was only water although the water-pots were full. Even so after sinners and saints have done all they could, nothing is done till Christ speaks the word of power.

6. Although human action in itself falls short of the desired end, yet it has its place, and God has made it necessary by His appointment.(1) It was not necessary in itself that the water-pots should be filled, but it was necessary that all should be open and above board. It was just the same with Elijah, who filled the trenches with water to show that there was no concealed fire.(2) It was instructive to the servants. The master did not know, but the servants did. So earnest believers who do the work now are those who know about it.

II. THE APPLICATION OF THESE PRINCIPLES. Let us see how to carry out the command.

1. Use in the service of Christ such abilities as you have. Jesus chose what was ready to hand. The pots and the water. So Christ employs men, not angels. If those He chooses have no golden chalices let them fill their earthen vessels. The servants improved what they had: for the water-pots were empty and they filled them. Let the preacher improve his gift of learning, fill his intellect to the brim, and expect Christ to turn the water into wine.

2. Use such means of blessing as God appoints: Scripture study; attendance at the means of grace, etc.

3. Use the means heartily. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well.

4. Remember when you have done all you can there is a great deficiency left behind. After the most strenuous industry water is still water.

5. Trust in Christ to do the miracle.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. Their faith was kindled by Mary's. It was apparently a foolish and capricious thing they were asked to do. Why should they be taken away from a useful work to one of supererogation? The guests had washed, and no more water was required. The first miracle thus brought out the necessity of faith for the work of Christ.

2. Their effort was needed also; just as much in its way as the power of Jesus: viz., to fill the water-pots, and to draw, and to bear. The first miracle, therefore, was wrought in accordance with God's law of labour, in which man cooperates with Himself.


1. The emptiness of the vessels, significant of —(1) The emptiness of Jewish rites which had no efficacy in themselves.(2) The induced insufficiency occasioned by Pharisaism which emptied the institutions of the Law of all their meaning by their abuse of them. As a man by pouring water into a full cup displaces some of the water already there, so by their works of supererogation they made the Law of none effect.(3) The emptiness of the institutions of Judaism of the significance they once possessed. They had served their purpose. The fulness of time had come.

2. The word of Jesus indicates —(1) That He came not to destroy the Law but to fulfil it.(2) As He Him. self did so He commands others to do: fill the water-pots, invest the latter with its significance, put the element of truth into the empty form, teaching and doing what it requires.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

I. THE EXTREMITY INTO WHICH THE GUESTS WERE LIKELY TO BE BROUGHT. l. Under this extremity the servants did not give way to foolish speculation or gloomy forebodings. They made Jesus acquainted with it.

2. Having obtained instruction from Christ they rendered a prompt and absolute obedience. They offered no suggestion. Had the thought occurred to them they would have dismissed it. Christ is ever ready to guide the perplexed, but demands their obedience. Had the servants partially or wholly disobeyed there would have been no relief.


1. Appropriate. Wine was needed and wine was made.

2. Opportune. Christ did not wait until the wine had failed and the host humbled.

3. Abundant.

4. Secured the commendation of those who were unconscious of it.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I. TO REMOVE ALL APPEARANCE OF DECEPTION. It was not a small quantity own at the bottom where it might have been mixed with the dregs of wine by sleight of hand. The quantity was so great that there was no possibility of collusion. The water was seen in the mouth of the vessels.

II. TO AFFORD A WEDDING PRESENT TO THE YOUNG COUPLE. Jesus was no mean, stingy giver. He did things in a royal way, and symbolised here both the qualitative and quantitative excellence of the gospel, the plenteousness as well as the power of His redemption.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

The quantity of water changed into wine was very great — about 135 gallons — and the true reason of the large surplus beyond present need was that there might be in this residue — as in the twelve baskets remaining over and above the barley loaves after the miraculous feeding — a visible and abiding proof and record of this mighty work; and that whenever the wedded pair brought forth any of this wine from time to time, to welcome and regale any of their friends, they themselves might be reminded and speak to others of His divine love and power which produced it; so that the effects of the miracle might extend far beyond the time and place and circumstances of its first operation; and that the water made wine might diffuse the knowledge of the Gospel and become a fountain of living water for the salvation of souls. The bread of the loaves could not be kept long; and, therefore, in that case the surplus produced was less. But the good wine of Cana might be preserved for many years.

(Bp. Wordsworth.)

Jesus did not even speak. There was no pomp of circumstance. The attention of the guests was not arrested. The wine took its place among the ordinary refreshment of the table.

I. CHRIST'S UNIFORM WORK WAS SO QUIET AS NEVER TO STARTLE THE SPECTATORS. It was so with His Incarnation; His early life; His ministry, in which He did not cry or lift up His voice; His wonderful works, which were done in humble villages for the benefit of poor persons.

II. THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST CAME AND COMETH WITHOUT OBSERVATION, as an artic summer steals into the very bosom of winter, and ere the ice and snow have passed away, bright verdure creeps over the earth, and hosts of brilliant flowers laugh in the sunshine as if by magic. The very essence of God's kingdom is secrecy. It is the kingdom of Him whose glory is to conceal a matter. The dawning of the day and of the year cometh without Observation.

III. THE METHOD OF THIS MIRACLE AFFORDS US MUCH COMFORT AMIDST THE ANXIETIES CAUSED BY THE DISCOVERIES AND SPECULATIONS OF SCIENCE. What though science is showing us that God is working in nature by uniformitarian methods, and not by cataclysms! What though it should reduce the field of the miraculous, and bring much of what we tought were the wonders of God's supernatural dispensations within the cycle of natural law! Such a conclusion, satisfactorily established, ought not to shake faith, because such a method would be in entire harmony with what Jesus has revealed of the kingdom of God in nature and in grace.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

There are many speculative difficulties about miracles. We are used to reasoning up from them to Christ; may we not reason from Him down to them? Given a Being like Christ, and the miracles are but the fitting framework of that Divine picture. The sick healed, the bread multiplied, the water turned into wine, the winds hushed, the dead raised, all these cease to be unnatural — "His name is wonderful." Therefore the supernatural is His natural element; supernatural works are natural to Him. For the believer the Person of Christ witnesses to His miracles. For the unbeliever, the miracles witnessed to His Person.

(Bp. Alexander.)

In primitive times the person at whose charge an entertainment was given, was chief manager of it. He distributed to every guest his portion. Those to whom particular respect was due were helped to the best parts, and to a larger share, as in the case of the mess of Benjamin. In after times this custom was laid aside as illiberal and invidious, and the guests were allowed to help themselves. But at these entertainments of a later age a master or governor was usually elected by the guests, whose business it was to determine the laws of good-fellowship, and to see that every man was duly supplied. The guests were obliged to be in all things conformable to the commands of this important functionary. He was called an architriclinos, meaning literally one who presided over an entertainment, where there were three sets of cushions arranged for the guests to recline upon at table. He was not a servant who had charge of dishes and provisions, and appointed to serve the guests, but a friend of the bridegroom, and was appointed by him as the chairman of the banquet, to insure that all things should be done properly and in order. This is clearly proved by the authority which he is seen to possess, the freedom of his conduct at the feast, and the terms of equality and intimacy upon which he stood to the bridegroom. The name of his office was given to the Christian convent, erected in Cana by the Empress Helena, which was known far on in the Middle Ages as the "Holy Architriclinos."

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

They bear it.
whether it was in the filling of the waterpots with water, or in the transferring of their contents into smaller vessels — we are not told. There is a veil over this as over all creative acts, and we cannot trace beginnings. Severn, the friend of Keats, painted in Rome a picture of the Marriage of Cana; but he did not complete it. He represents the servants in it pouring the water out of one vessel into another. The water issues from the vessel clear as crystal; but in the are formed by its descent it is refracted into a red colour. There can be no doubt that the painter caught the true idea of the transformation. What the servants drew out as water they received into their vessels as wine.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

A vessel was let down into the pitcher, and was then carried to the ruler of the feast, who would distribute the wine in it to the guests. Ruler rather than "governor." The same English word should be used throughout the two verses. What exact office is denoted by the Greek word is uncertain, as it occurs nowhere else in the Bible, and is very rare in the classical authors. The chief English commentators (Alford, Wordsworth, Trench) are agreed that he was chosen by the guests from among their own number, but this opinion has not commanded the general assent of scholars; and there seems more reason to think that the person intended is what we should call the "head-waiter," whose duty it was to taste the viands and wines, to arrange the tables and couches, and to be generally responsible for the feast.

(H. W. Watkins, D. D.)

This word supplies a strong incidental argument against the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation. The occasion before us is the only known occasion on which our Lord changed one liquid into another. When He did so change it, the reality of the change was at once proved by the "taste." Why is it, then, that in the pretended change of the sacramental wine in the Lord's Supper into Christ's blood the change cannot be detected by the senses? Why does the wine after consecration taste like wine, just as it did before? The pretended change of the bread and wine is contradicted by the senses of every communicant, and that which contradicts our senses we are nowhere required in God's Word to believe.

The guests took no part in the preparation for these miracles, did not contribute their own shares of faith and labour, and consequently were not aware that the heavens had been opened, and the ladder of communication between heaven and earth set up in the midst of them. Their hands were idle, and therefore their eyes were veiled. Only the servants knew, and they knew because they had helped Christ to perform the miracle by drawing the water, by doing what they had to do. The revelation came to them through their work, and was the reward of it. The secret of the Lord was with them because they had done the will of God. And is not this true of all work which is a revelation? It is not in idle speculation, in mere theorizing and musing, in standing looking on with folded hands, that we understand the plans and purposes of God, but when we enter into the field and work along with Him. It is in doing the will of God that we know the doctrine that it is of God. Doing God's will puts a spiritual telescope into our hand, whereby we can see the things that are unseen and eternal, which the mere eye of speculation could never see; or a spiritual microscope, which enables us to see wonderful things in God's law, which the mere eye of curiosity could never discern. The teacher who instructs others becomes wiser himself by so doing. Engaging in the work of converting souls; we can sympathize with the Divine Son, who left the Father's house and came to seek and save that which was lost.
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