Now six stone water jars had been set there for the Jewish rites of purification. Each could hold from twenty to thirty gallons.
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."
II. THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST IS UNIVERSAL IN ITS RANGE.
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.)
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)
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.
I. THE PRINCIPLES INVOLVED IN OUR LORD'S MODE OF PROCEDURE.
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.)I. THE SERVANTS.
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.
II. THE COMMAND OF JESUS. Notice —
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.
II. THE HELP WHICH WAS AFFORDED IN THEIR EXTREMITY. The aid rendered was —
1. Appropriate. Wine was needed and wine was made.
2. Opportune. Christ did not wait until the wine had failed and the host humbled.
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.)
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.)
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)
They bear it.
(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)
(H. W. Watkins, D. D.)"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.
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