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The First Miracle
Summary —The Marriage at Cana. The Water Made Wine. The Passover. Jesus at Jerusalem. The Temple Cleansed. The Resurrection Foretold.
1. And the third day. After the conversation with Nathanael. Immediately after it he departed into Galilee (1:43). A marriage in Cana. The site of Cana is not certainly known. Dr. Robinson, Giekie and other authorities place it at a ruin now called Kana, twelve miles north of Nazareth. The mother of Jesus was there. Reasons are suggested from the narrative that follows for believing that Mary was related to the family. As Joseph is never mentioned as living after Jesus entered upon his ministry, he is supposed to have died before this time.
3. And when they wanted wine. The Revision says, “When the wine failed.” For some cause, perhaps from a larger number of guests than was expected, the wine gave out. In the East, where hospitality is so lavish, this would cause great mortification. The mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. The solicitude of Mary could hardly be expected from one not a relative, but why she appeal to Jesus? In part, because it was natural speak to him in her perplexity, and in part, likewise, because she hoped he would meet the difficulty.
4. Woman, what have I do to with thee? These words in our language sound harsh and almost rude, but the term rendered woman was respectful and gentle (John 19:26). This language, partly a rebuke, to Mary, shows very plainly that the Catholic fiction of Mary being immaculate, the “Queen of Heaven,” and “the Mother of God,” is all nonsensical. Mine hour is not yet come. The hour of his full manifestation, as the divine King of Israel.
6. There were set there six water-pots of stone. These water-pots were to supply water for the washings usual at feasts (see Mark 7:4). The Jews were regarded ceremonially unclean if they did not wash both before and after eating. See notes on Matt. 15:2. The pots each held about twenty gallons.
8. He saith, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. “He that had made wine that day in those six water-pots does the same every year in the vines. For as what the servants put in the water-pots was changed into wine by the operation of the Lord, just so what the clouds pour forth is changed into wine by the operation of the same law.—Augustine.
9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted. The ruler of the feast, and the governor of verse 8th, are the same. It was customary to choose, sometimes by lot, a president who regulated the whole order of festivities.
10. Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine. The language of the ruler is sportive, but still he states a custom. The best wine was offered when the appetite of the guests was sharpest and most critical. Have well drunk. Not intoxicated, but have drunk considerable. Satan gives his good wine first; so the drunkard finds it; so did the prodigal son. Afterwards he gives the bitter; red eyes, pain, hunger, wretchedness. Thou hast kept the good wine until now. What meaneth Christ making wine? In Palestine there were three kinds of wine: 1. Fermented wines, which, however, were very unlike our fiery liquors, and contained only a small per cent of alcohol. These were mixed with two or three parts of water. The fermented, at first mild, and then diluted with water, was only intoxicating when used in enormous quantities. 2. The unfermented juice of the grape. 3. An intoxicating drink called “new wine” in Acts 2:13. Whedon says: “We see no reason for supposing that the wine of the present occasion was that upon which Scripture places its strongest interdict (Prov. 20:1; 23:31; Isa. 22:13), rather than that eulogized as a blessing (Psa. 104:15; Isa. 55:1). Even adopting the view that it was fermented wine, it was totally unlike the fiery and undiluted drinks sold as wines in saloons, used in many families, offered at hotels and wine parties, and even poured out at communion tables. In the use of the usual wine of Palestine there is not the slightest apology for drinking as a beverage the alcoholic drinks which are the curse of our times. With regard to them the only safe rule is “to touch not, taste not, handle not.”
11. Manifested forth his glory. This was the first supernatural manifestation of his divine power; that he by whom all things were made controlled the powers of nature. His disciples believed on him. They already believed, but their faith was made firmer.
12. After this he went down to Capernaum. From the hilly region of Cana to the low-lying shore of the Sea of Galilee. His mother and his brethren. Catholics and some Protestants have held that these “brethren” were not brothers in the flesh, but kinsmen. The phrase, “his brethren,” occurs nine times in the Gospels, and once in Acts. The natural interpretation is always that they were his brothers, sons of Mary. Two places (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3) mention his sisters. Had it not been for the dogma that Mary remained a virgin, a dogma that has no foundation in the Scriptures, it would never have been doubted that these “brethren” and “sisters” were her children.
13. The Jews' passover was at hand. See Exodus, chapter 12, for institution of the passover. It was celebrated yearly at Jerusalem. This is the first that the Lord attended after he began his ministry, and of this attendance there is no mention in the other Gospels.
14. Found in the temple. In the Court of the Gentiles, which was within the temple walls. Those that sold oxen and sheep and doves. These were for the sacrifices. The great crowds who came to Jerusalem at this time could not bring victims, and the traffic in oxen, sheep, kids and doves became enormous. It would have been proper enough if it had been conducted at stockyards, but the priests made a monopoly of it and installed it right in the temple. The Court of the Gentiles, “a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:15–19), was filled with cattle, ordure, and the din of traffic. The changers of money. Every Jew paid a half-shekel annually to the support of the temple (Exod. 30:13), but Gentile money was the coin in usual circulation, and this was refused at the temple. These money brokers, agents of the priests, furnished Jewish coin at a heavy charge. Edersheim says that this traffic alone cleared the priests what would be equivalent to about $300,000 a year.
15. Made a scourge of small cords. Rather as a symbol than for use. Drove them all out. He had the right to cleanse his Father's house and here first asserts his authority. The traffickers fled before his glance, awed by a superhuman majesty.
16. Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise. How often still the Father's house is so desecrated! This cleansing was a different one from that which occurred three years later at the close of his ministry (Matt. 21:12).
17. The zeal of thine house. Quoted from Psalm 69:9.
19–22. Destroy this temple. His own body. The sign that he would give the Jewish nation was his Resurrection. The Jews did not understand him, nor his own disciples, until after he rose from the dead. Forty and six years. It had been forty-six years since Herod the Great began the reconstruction of the temple, and it was not yet entirely completed. When Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrim, these words were brought up as blasphemy.
23. Many believed. The miracles wrought that they saw at this time are not recorded. They are alluded to again in 3:2. These believed that he was a man sent from God, but did not trust in him as the Christ. The nature of their belief is stated in 3:2.
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