2:1 And the third day1 there was a marriage2 in Cana of Galilee3; and the mother of Jesus4 was there: JESUS WORKS HIS FIRST MIRACLE AT CANA IN GALILEE. John 2:1-11
And the third day. From the calling of Philip (John
1:43). The days enumerated in John's first two chapters constitute a
week, and may perhaps be intended as a contrast to the last week of Christ's
20:1). It took two days to journey from the Jordan to Cana.
There was a marriage. In Palestine the marriage ceremony usually
began at twilight. The feast after the marriage was at the home of the
bridegroom, and was sometimes prolonged for several days (Genesis
29:27 wedding feast to one day.
In Cana of Galilee. The site of Cana is disputed. From the eighth
century a place called Kefr-Kenna (village of Cana), lying a little over
three miles northeast of Nazareth, has been regarded as John's Cana of
Galilee. But recently some ruins called Khurbet-Cana, twelve miles north of
Nazareth, which doubtfully are said to have retained the name of Kana-el-Jilil
(Cana of Galilee), have been preferred by some as the true site. In our
judgment Kefr-Kenna has the stronger claim. It is situated on a westward
slope of a hill, with a copious and unfailing spring adjoining it on the
The mother of Jesus. John never called our Lord's mother by her
name. He assumes that she is known to his readers. This is one of the many
points tending to show the supplemental character of John's Gospel. He
avoids repeating what is found in the first three Gospels.
2:2 and Jesus also was bidden, and
his disciples2, to the marriage.
And Jesus also was bidden . . . to the marriage. Being the Creator
of woman, and the author of matrimony, it was fitting that the Son of God
should grace a marriage feast with his presence.
And his disciples. This is the earliest use of the term
"disciples" in the ministry of Jesus. His disciples were Andrew,
Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and probably John and James.
2:3 And when the
wine failed1, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They
have no wine3.
And when the wine failed. Probably the arrival of Christ and his
disciples helped to exhaust the supply. Shortage of provision when guests
are invited is considered a sore humiliation the world over.
The mother of Jesus saith to him. The interest which Mary took in
the feast and the way in which she addressed the servants at family.
They have no wine. Though she merely states the unfortunate
condition to Jesus, her statement is a covert petition to him that would
remedy it, as our Lord's answer shows. She practically requested him to work
a miracle, nor is it strange that she should do this. Remembering the many
early sayings about him which she had treasured in her heart (Luke
2:19,51), and doubtless being informed of what had occurred at his
baptism, and of the proclamation which John the Baptist had made concerning
him, and seeing a group of disciples gathered about him, it was very
reasonable for her to expect him to do something which would reveal the high
purposes for which he had been born.
2:4 And Jesus saith unto her, Woman1,
what have I to do with thee2? mine
hour is not yet come3.
Woman. Jesus did not call her "mother", but
"woman," a term of courteous respect, but indicating no spirit of
obedience. Says Augustine,
"As much as to say thou art not the mother of that in me which
Moses recognized that parental duties were subordinate to divine (Deuteronomy
33:9); and Jesus emphasized the principles (Matthew
10:37). Jesus taught that relationship to him was spiritual, and not
12:46-50), and Paul coveted such relationship (2 Corinthians
What have I to do with thee? This expression is used frequently in
the Scriptures and invariably indicates a mild rebuke (1 Kings
17:18 2 Kings
3:13; 2 Chronicles
8:28). It means "leave me to act as I please", and Jesus uses
it to assert that he is independent of all human relationships in the
exercise of his Messiahship. It corrects two errors taught by the Catholic
Church: (1) Catholicism says that our Lord's mother was immaculate, but if
this were true she could not have incurred our Lord's rebuke. (2)
Catholicism teaches that Mary's intercession is recognized by Christ. But
this is the only instance on record of such intercession, and though it was
addressed to Christ while in the flesh and was concerning a purely temporal
matter, it was promptly rebuked.
Mine hour is not yet come. Our Lord's answer indicates that Mary's
request had in it more than a desire for the gift if wine. What she
principally wanted was to have Jesus manifest himself as Messiah. Now, Jesus
gave many secondary, but only one supreme, manifestation of his glory or
Messiahship. His miracles were secondary manifestations, but his Passion was
the supreme manifestation (John
12:38-40). Jesus called this supreme sign his "hour" (John
22:53). See also John
8:20. His mother sought for a supreme sign, but at that time only a
secondary sign could be fittingly given. The triumph at Pentecost was not to
be achieved at Cana.
2:5 His mother
saith unto the servants1, Whatsoever
he saith unto you, do it2.
His mother saith unto the servants. Though he had spoken words of
rebuke, his mother was neither offended nor discouraged because of them,
Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. Though her words are not
addressed to us, they will prove of untold profit to us if we obey them.
2:6 Now there were
six waterpots of stone set there1 after
the Jews' manner of purifying2, containing
two or three firkins apiece3.
Now there were six waterpots of stone set there. The details of the
account suggest that John was an eyewitness.
After the Jews' manner of purifying. The Jews regarded themselves
as ceremonially unclean if they did not wash their hands before eating (Matthew
Containing two or three firkins apiece. At Kefr-Kenna an old,
one-story house near the lower edge of the village is regarded by the Greeks
as the one in which this wedding feast was held. The room is a rude chapel,
and at one side stand two old stone mortars, one holding about eight gallons
and the other about ten, now used for immersing infants, but said by the
attending priest to be two of the identical waterpots here mentioned. The
simple-minded old man was not aware that the six waterpots held each two or
three firkins apiece--between eighteen and twenty-seven gallons, a firkin
being nine gallons--or double the quantity of his mortars. If he had known
this, he might have chiseled out his mortars a little deeper!
2:7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill
the waterpots with water1. And
they filled them up to the brim2.
Fill the waterpots with water. The jars had been partially emptied
by the ablutions of the company.
And they filled them up to the brim. This statement serves two
purposes: (1) It emphasizes the great quantity; (2) it shows there was no
room to add anything whatever to the contents of the jars. As to the
quantity, it was between a hundred six and a hundred sixty-two gallons. As
we do not know the number of guests nor the duration of the feast, we cannot
accurately measure the Lord's bounty. But as twelve basketfuls were left
after feeding the five thousand, there was doubtless here a like
sufficiency, and the surplus would serve as an acceptable gift to the
2:8 And he saith unto them, Draw
out now1, and bear unto the ruler
of the feast2. And they bare it.
Draw out now. The word "now" seems to indicate the
turning-point when the water became wine.
The ruler of the feast. According to the custom of that age, one of
the guests was usually chosen to preside over such festivities, and he was
called the ruler. Our modern toastmaster is probably a relic of this ancient
2:10 and saith unto him, Every
man setteth on first1 the good
wine2; and when [men] have drunk
freely, [then] that which is worse3: thou
hast kept the good wine until now4.
Every man setteth on first. When the taste is sharpest, and most
The good wine. The adjective "good" refers rather to
flavor than to strength.
And when [men] have drunk freely, [then] that which is worse. The
ruler was no disciple of Jesus, and he speaks in the merry spirit of the
world. He gives his own experience as to the habits of feasts, and his words
give no indication that those present indulged to excess.
Thou hast kept the good wine until now. It is part of Christ's
system to reserve the best until the last. Sin's first cup is always the
sweetest, but with God that which follows is ever superior to that which has
preceded it. As to the bearing of this miracle upon the question of
temperance, the New Testament elsewhere clearly condemns the immoderate use
of wine, and as these condemnations proceed from Christ we may rightly
conceive of him, as in this instance, doing nothing contrary thereto. The
liquors of this land in the strength of their intoxicating properties differ
so widely from the light wines of Palestine that even the most moderate use
of them seems immoderate in comparison. In creating wine Jesus did no more
than as Creator and Renewer of the earth he had always done. From the
beginning God has always so created or replenished the earth as to allow the
possibility of excess.
beginning of his signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee1, and
manifested his glory2; and his
disciples believed on him3.
This beginning of his signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee. This was
the beginning or first of the miracles, and John's statement brands as false
all the Catholic traditions which tell of miracles performed by Christ in
And manifested his glory. We should note also that it was a sign.
The value of the miracle was in what it signified, not in what it wrought.
It manifested the glory of Christ, part of which glory is his power to
change the worse into the better, the simpler into the richer. It is the
glory of Christ that he can transform sinners into his own likeness (1 John
3:2; 1 Corinthians
And his disciples believed on him. In this chapter John as a
disciple three times gives us a disciple's point of view as to Christ's
miracles; here, and at John
2:17,22. They implanted faith in those whose hearts were right before
5:38). The miracles of Christ created widespread excitement. There had
been none of a notorious nature since Daniel had been cast to the lions, and
had read the writing on Belshazzar's wall some five hundred eighty years
2:12 After this
he went down to Capernaum1, he,
and his mother, and [his] brethren, and his disciples2; and
there they abode not many days3.
JESUS' FIRST RESIDENCE AT CAPERNAUM. John
After this he went down to Capernaum. The site of Capernaum is
generally conceded to be marked by the ruins now called Tel-Hum. Jesus is
said to have gone "down" because Cana is among the hills, and
Capernaum was by the Lake of Galilee, about 600 feet below sea level. See Matthew
He, and his mother, and [his] brethren, and his disciples. There is
much dispute as to what the New Testament writers mean by the phrase
"the brethren of the Lord". This phrase, found in any other than a
Jewish book, would be taken to mean either the full or half brothers of
Jesus, and it has probably that meaning here. The Catholic Church,
contending for the perpetual virginity of our Lord's mother, has argued that
his brethren were either the sons of Joseph by a former marriage, or that
they were sons of Alphaeus (also called Clopas) and a sister of our Lord's
mother, who, like her, was also called Mary (John
19:25). This latter view is based upon the fact that two of the sons of
Alphaeus bear the same names as those borne by two of our Lord's brethren,
which is far more conclusive, since the names James and Judas were extremely
common. Moreover, we learn from John
7:5 that the Lord's brethren did not believe on him, and harmonists
place the time of this unbelief late in our Lord's ministry, when the sons
of Alphaeus were not only believers, but some of them even apostles. Our
Lord's brethren are mentioned nine times in the New Testament, and a study
of these references will give us some light. Three of them are rather
7:3,5,10; 1 Corinthians
1:19). The other six (Matthew
2:12) speak of his brethren in connection with his mother, and strongly
indicate that Jesus was the first-born of Mary, and that she had at least
four other sons, besides daughters. Against this conclusion there is but one
argument which has any force; namely, that our Lord committed his mother
into the keeping of the apostle John, rather than to his brethren (John
19:25-27), but this fact may be easily accounted for. Many mothers are
but scantily and grudgingly supported by their sons.
And there they abode not many days. Because the passover was at
hand, and he went up to Jerusalem. This notice of the brief sojourn of Jesus
at Capernaum thrown light on several things: (1) It shows where Jesus spent
most of his time between his baptism and the first passover. (2) It helps to
explain how the nobleman, who afterwards sought him at Cana, became
acquainted with him. (3) It prepares us to look for his first visit to
Nazareth at a later period. (4) It also explains why Jesus sought Capernaum
as his place of residence after leaving Nazareth. Moreover, it shows that
the natural ties of kindred were not immediately snapped by Christ. Until he
went up to the first passover, he abode with his mother and his brethren.
2:13 And the
passover of the Jews was at hand1, and
Jesus went up to Jerusalem2.
JESUS ATTENDS THE FIRST PASSOVER OF HIS MINISTRY (Jerusalem, April 9, A.D.
27.) A. JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE. John
And the passover of the Jews was at hand. We get our information as
to the length of our Lord's ministry from John's Gospel. He groups his
narrative around six Jewish festivals: (1) He here mentions the first
passover; (2) another feast, which we take to have been also a passover (John
5:1); (3) another passover (John
6:4); (4) the feast of tabernacles (John
7:2); (5) dedication (John
10:22); (6) passover (John
11:55). This gives the entire length of our Lord's ministry as three
years and a fraction.
And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. It was fitting that he should enter
upon his full ministry in this city, as it was still the center of what was
recognized as a heaven-revealed worship. The fitness of Jerusalem for such
beginnings was afterwards recognized in the preaching of the gospel of the
New or Christian dispensation (Acts
2:14 And he found
in the temple1 those that sold
oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting2:
And he found in the temple. Our English word "temple"
includes two Greek words, namely (1) The "naos," or sanctuary--the
small structure which contained the holy and most holy places, and which
answered to the tabernacle used in the wilderness. (2) The "heiron,"
or entire court space which surrounded the "naos," and which
included some nineteen acres. The "heiron" was divided into four
courts, and as one entered toward the "naos" from the east, he
passed successively through them, as follows: (a) Court of the Gentiles; (b)
of the women; (c) of Israel; (d) of the priests. It was in this outer or
Gentiles' court that the markets described in this section was held.
Those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money
sitting. This market in the temple was for the convenience of the
people, and the nearness of the passover increased its size. Oxen and doves
were constantly needed for sacrificial purposes, and as each family which
ate the passover required a lamb, they would be in the market in great
abundance. Josephus tells us it required about two hundred thousand lambs
for the passover feast, but his exaggerations will stand a liberal discount.
2:15 and he made
a scourge of cords, and cast all out of the temple1, both
the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers'
money, and overthrew their tables2;
And he made a scourge of cords, and cast all out of the temple. The
rest of the verse shows that "all" does not refer to men, but to
sheep and oxen. The scourge was used in driving them out.
And he poured out the changers' money, and overthrew their tables.
The Jews were each required to pay, for the support of the temple service,
one half-shekel annually (Exodus
17:24). These money- changers sat at small tables, on which their coins
were piled and counted.
2:16 and to them
that sold the doves he said, Take these things hence1; make
not my Father's house a house of merchandise2.
And to them that sold the doves he said, Take these things hence.
As the doves were in cages of wicker-work, they could not be driven out;
hence Jesus called upon their owners to remove them. Though Jesus cleansed
the house, he wrought no waste of property. The sheep and oxen were safe
outside the temple, the scattered money could be gathered from the stone
pavement, and the doves were not set free from their cages.
Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise. Jesus bases his
peculiar authority over the temple on his peculiar relationship to Him for
whom the temple was built. As a Son, he purged the temple of the Father. In
the beginning of his ministry he contested their right to thus appropriate
his Father's house to their uses, but in the end of his ministry he spoke of
the temple as "your house" (Matthew
23:38), thereby indicating that the people had taken unto themselves
that which truly belonged to God, even as the wicked husbandmen appropriated
the vineyard (Luke
20:14,15). The rebuke of Jesus was addressed to the priests, for the
market belonged to them, and the money-changers were their agents. Edersheim
says that this traffic alone cleared the priests about $300,000 a year.
Though churches differ widely from the temple, they are still God's houses,
and should not be profaned. Religion should not be mixed with traffic, for
traffic tends toward sin. Pharisaism is its fruit--a wish to carry on
profitable business, even with God. On this occasion Jesus objected to the
use of the temple for trade without criticizing the nature of the trade.
When he purged the temple three years later, he branded the traders as
disciples remembered that it was written1, Zeal2
for thy house shall eat me up.
His disciples remembered that it was written. See Psalms
Zeal. Loving concern for.
2:18 The Jews
therefore answered and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing
that thou doest these things1?
The Jews therefore answered and said unto him, What sign showest thou
unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? The Jews felt that only a
divinely commissioned person could thus interfere with the ordering of God's
house. They therefore called upon Jesus to give them a sign as an evidence
that he possessed such divine commission. The manner in which he had
cleansed the house of its traffickers was of itself a sign, if they had only
had eyes to see it. Jesus could not have thus cleansed the temple unaided
had he been a mere man. The power which he showed in the temple was much
like that which he manifested in Gethsemane (John
2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy
this temple, and in three days I will raise it up1.
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. John
here records this saying, and Matthew (Matthew
26:61) and Mark (Mark
14:58) tells us how at the trial it was twisted into a charge against
Christ; thus the evangelists supplement each other. For the temple in this
sentence used the word "naos," or sanctuary, the structure which
was peculiarly the seat of God's presence. The sanctuary was a figure or
symbol of the body of Christ, and the words of Jesus were a covert
prediction that as they were desecrating the symbol so would they destroy
his body, which it symbolized. They reverenced the Spirit of God neither as
it dwelt in the sanctuary nor as it dwelt in the body of Christ. The body of
Jesus was a temple (Colossians
2:9), and Christians and the church are also temples (1 Corinthians
3:16,17; 1 Corinthians
6:19; 2 Corinthians
5:1; 2 Peter
1:13). God's temples cannot be permanently destroyed. They are
2:20 The Jews therefore said, Forty
and six years was this temple in building1, and
wilt thou raise it up in three days2?
Forty and six years was this temple in building. The temple which
then stood upon Mt. Moriah was the third structure which had occupied that
site. The first temple, built by Solomon (B.C. 1012-1005), was destroyed by
Nebuchadnezzar. The second temple, built by Zerubbabel and Jeshua (B.C.
520), had been torn down and rebuilt by Herod the Great, but in such a
manner as not to interfere with the temple service. The sanctuary was
completed in one year and a half, while the courts required eight years.
Josephus says 18,000 workmen were employed in its erection. Additional
outbuildings and other work was not completed until A.D. 64).
And wilt thou raise it up in three days? To put before him the
difficulty of what he apparently proposed to do, they merely mention one
item--time. They say nothing of the army of workmen, nothing of a variety
and cost of material, nothing of the skill required in the process of
construction. How impossible seemed his offer! Yet by no means so impossible
as that real offer which they misunderstood. A man might rear a temple in
three days, but, apart from Christ Jesus, self- resurrection is unknown to
2:21 But he spake
of the temple of his body1.
But he spake of the temple of his body. John differs from the other
three evangelists, in that he frequently comments upon the facts which he
records. Both history and commentary are inspired.
therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he spake
this1; and they believed the
scripture2, and the word which
Jesus had said3.
When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered
that he spake this. It was three years before they understood this
saying. Thus truth lies dormant for years before it springs up in the heart
and bears fruit (1 Corinthians
And they believed the scripture. Several passages foretell the
And the word which Jesus had said. They believed that Jesus had
meant to predict that the Jews would kill him, and that he would rise again
on the third day.
2:23 Now when he
was in Jerusalem at the passover, during the feast1, many
believed on his name, beholding his signs which he did2.
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, during the feast. The
seven days' feast of unleavened bread (Leviticus
Many believed on his name, beholding his signs which he did. We
have no description of the miracles wrought at this time. See John
2:24 But Jesus
did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men1,
But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men.
The Greek word "pisteuo," here translated "trust," is
the same as that translated "believe" in John
2:23. They trusted him, but he did not trust them, for he knew them. He
did not tell them anything of his plans and purposes, and the conversion
with Nicodemus which follows is a sample of this reticence.
2:25 and because he needed not that any
one should bear witness concerning man; for he himself
knew what was in man1.
For he himself knew what was in man. John gives us many examples of
this supernatural knowledge which Jesus possessed. See John
21:17. This chapter itself gives us a faithful picture of "what was
in man". We find in it temples, profaners, money-makers, sign-seekers,
opposers of reform, false and weak professors of faith, etc., but none to
whom Jesus could trust himself.