Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

THE MIRACLES.

I.
THE WATER MAD E W IN E.

John ii. 1–11.

“THIs beginning of miracles” is as truly an introduction to all other miracles which Christ did, as the parable of the Sower is an introduc. tion to all other parables which he spoke. (Mark iv. 31.) No other miracle would have had so much in it of prophecy, would have served as so fit an inauguration to the whole future work of the Son of God. For that work might be characterized throughout as an ennobling of the common and a transmuting of the mean—a turning of the water of earth into the wine of heaven. Yet not to anticipate remarks which will find their fitter place, when the circumstances of this miracle have been more fully considered, what is this “third day,” which St. John gives as the date of this present miracle? It is generally, and, 1 believe, correctly answered, the third after the day on which Philip and Nathanael, of whose coming to Christ there is mention immediately before, (i. 43) had attached themselves to him. He and his newlywon disciples would have passed without difficulty from the banks of Jordan to Cana” in two days, and thus might have been easily present at the “marriage,” or, better, the marriage festival, upon the third day after that event. But besides the Lord and his disciples, “the mother of Jesus was there” also. It is most likely, indeed there is every reason to suppose, that Joseph was now dead; the last mention of him occurs on the occasion of the Lord's visit as a child to the Temple; he had died, probably, between that time and Christ's open undertaking of his ministry. The disciples called are commonly taken to be the five” whom he had so lately gathered, Andrew and Peter, Philip and Nathanael, (Bartholomew 7) and the fifth, the Evangelist himself. For St. John is generally considered to have been the second of the two scholars of the Baptist mentioned i. 35, 40, of whom Andrew was the other, both from all the circumstances being detailed with so great minuteness, and it being so much in his manner to keep back his own personality under such language as there is used (xiii. 23; xviii. 15; xix. 26, 35). If this was so, he would then be an eye-witness of the miracle which he is relating.:

* Among the most felicitous and most convincing of Robinson's slighter rectifications of the geography of Palestine, (Biblical Researches, v. 3, pp. 204–208,) is that in which he reinstates the true Cana in honors which had long been usurped by another village. It would seem that in the neighborhood of Nazareth are two villages, one of which bears the title of Kefr Kenna, and is about an hour and a half N. E. from Nazareth; the other, Kāna el-Jelil, about three hours' distance, and nearly due

north. The former, which has only greater nearness in its favor, is now always shown by the monks and other guides to travellers as the Cana of our history, though the name can only with difficulty be twisted to the same, the Kefr having first to be dropped altogether; and in Kenna, the first radical changed and the second left out; while “Kāna el-Jelil” is word for word the “Cana of Galilee" of Scripture, which exactly so stands in the Arabic version of the New Testament. In addition, he decisively proves that the mistake is entirely modern, since it is only since the sixteenth century that Kefr Kenna has thus borne away the honors due rightly to Kāna el-Jelil. Till then, as he shows by numerous references to a line of earlier travellers and topographers reaching through many centuries, the latter was ever considered as the scene of this first miracle of our Lord. It may have helped to further the mistake, and to win for it an easier acceptance, that it was manifestly for the interest of guides and travellers, who would spare themselves fatigue and distance, to accept the other in its room, it lying directly on one of the routes between Nazareth and Tiberias, and being far more accessible than the true. The Cana of the New Testament does not occur in the Old, but is mentioned twice by Josephus, who also takes note of it as in Galilee. (Vita, § 16, 64; Bell. Jud, l. 1, c. 17, § 5.) The Old Testament has only Kanah in Asher, (Josh. xix. 28,) S. E. of Tyre. * Yet later considerations on the first miraculous draught of fishes will leave it not unlikely that “disciples" here may mean only the two among the five who do not appear there, namely, Philip and Nathanael. # A late tradition makes St. John not merely an eye-witness, but to have been himself the bridegroom at this marriage, who, seeing the miracle which Jesus did, forsook the bride and followed him. The author of the Prologue to St. John, attributed to St. Jerome, relates: Joannem nubere volentem a nuptiis per Dominum fuisse vocatum, though without more close allusion to this miracle. The Mahometans have received this tradition, that St. John was the bridegroom, from the Christians. (See D'HERbelor's Biblioth. Orient, s. v. Johanna.) Nicephorus tells the story with this variation, that it was not St. John, but Simon the Canaanite who on this hint fol

We need not wonder to find the Lord of life at that festival; for he came to sanctify all life—its times of joy, as its times of sorrow; and all experience tells us, that it is times of gladness, such as this was now, which especially need such a sanctifying power, such a presence of the Lord. In times of sorrow, the sense of God's presence comes more naturally out: in these it is in danger to be forgotten. He was there, and by his presence there struck the key-note to the whole future tenor of his ministry. He should not be as another Baptist, to withdraw himself from the common paths of men, a preacher in the wilderness: but his should be at once a harder and a higher task, to mingle with and purify the common life of men, to witness for and bring out the glory which was hidden in its every relation.” And it is not perhaps without its significance, that this should have been especially a marriage, which he “adorned and beautified with his presence and first miracle that he wrought.” He foresaw that some hereafter should arise in his Church who would despise marriage, or if not despise, yet fail to give the Christian family all its honor. They should find no countenance from him.t

lowed Jesus; but the Kavavirno attached to his name, (Matt. x 4) and which is probably the only foundation for this assumption, does not mean, of Cana, but rather is of the same significance as Zn2dorff, the title which elsewhere (Luke vi. 15; Acts i. 13) is given him. He had belonged to these zealots till his zeal for freedom, which hitherto had shown itself in those stormy and passionate outbreaks of the natural man, found its satisfaction in him who came to make free indeed. Yet see what Mr. Greswell says, (Dissert., v. 2, p. 128, seq.,) against taking Zmżaroc-Kavavírmc. * Augustine, or another under his name (Serm. 92, Appendix): Nec dedignatus est conversationem hominum, qui usum carnis exceperat. Nec secularia instituta contempsit, qui ad haec venerat corrigenda. Interfuit nuptiis, ut concordiae jura firmaret. Tertullian, in his reckless method of snatching at any argument, finds rather a slighting of marriage than an honoring it in the fact that Christ, who was present at so many festivals, was yet present at only one marriage. Or this at least he will find, that since Christ was present but at one marriage, therefore monogamy is the absolute law of the new covenant. His words are strong (De Monogamid, c.9): Ille vo. rator et potator homo, prandiorum et coenarum cum publicanis frequentator, semel apud unas nuptias coenat, multis utique nubentibus. Totiens enim voluit celebrare eas, quotiens et esse. + EPIPHANIUs, Hares, 67. Augustine (In Ev. Joh., Tract. 19): Quod Dominus invitatus venerit ad nuptias, etiam exceptă mystică significatione, confirmare voluit quod ipse fecit. # How precious a witness have we here in the conduct of our Lord against the . tendency which our indolence ever favors, of giving up to the world, or still worse, to the devil, any portion or passage of man's life, which, in itself innocent, is capable of being drawn up into the higher world of holiness, as it is in danger of sinking down and coming under the law of the flesh and of the world! How remarkable a contrast does Christ's presence at this wedding feast with his mother and his disciples offer to the manner in which a man even of St. Cyprian's practical strength and energy,

The presence at that feast of himself and his disciples, who were just arrived from a journey, and whose presence might therefore have been in some degree unlooked for, may have increased beyond previous calculation the number of the guests; and so the provision made for their entertainment may have proved insufficient. We gather from ver. 5, where the mother of the Lord gives commandment to the servants, that she was in a house where it was not unseemly for her to mingle, and in some sort to interfere, with the domestic arrangements. It is very possible she may have been akin to one of the parties.” “When they wanted wine,” she was evidently distressed at their embarrassment, and would willingly have removed it. Yet what exactly she should have expected from her divine Son, when she betook herself to him, saying, “They have no wine,” is hard to determine. We know that this was his first miracle, the “beginning of miracles,” (ver. 11,) so that she could not, from already having witnessed displays of his power and grace, have now been emboldened to look for more in the same kind. Some, indeed, as Maldonatus mentions, and with whom he is inclined to consent, do not take so absolutely the statement which is there made, but with this limitation understood;—This was the first of his miracles in which he showed forth his glory; other such works he may have performed in the smaller circle of his family, and thus have prepared those who laid up such things in their hearts for something of the like kind now. But without evading in this way the plain meaning of the words of the Evangelist, we may well understand how she, who more than any other had kept and pondered in her heart all the tokens and prophetic intimations of the coming glory of her Son, may have believed that in him

gives up these very marriage festivals as occasions where, from the still surviving heathenism of manners, purity must suffer—where the flesh must have its way; so that his counsel is, not to dispute them with the world, not to vindicate them anew for holiness and for God, but only to give them up, and to avoid them altogether (De Hab. Virg., c. 3): Et quoniam continentiae bonum quaerimus perniciosa quaeque et infesta vitemus. Nec illa praetereo quae dum negligentiá in usum veniunt, contra pudicos et sobrios mores licentiam sibi de usurpatione fecerunt. Quasdam non pudet nubentibus interesse. And presently, after describing the disorders of such seasons, he adds, c. 4: Nuptiarum festa improba et convivia lasciva vitentur, quorum periculosa contagio est. Compare the picture which Chrysostom gives of marriage festivals in his time, (v. 8, p. 195, Ben. Ed.,) melancholy witnesses, yet not, as some would have us believe, of a Church which had fallen back into heathen defilements, but of one which had not as yet leavened an essentially heathen, though nominally Christian, society, through and through with its own life and power.

* Lightfoot supposes that it was a marriage in the house of Mary, (John xix. 25) wife of Cleophas. For the arguments see his Harmony, in loc., and MR. Garswell's Dissert, v. 2, p. 120.

was a latent power equal to the present need, and which he could put forth at his will, however he had restrained it until now.” Others assume that she had no definite purpose in thus speaking, but only that as she had ever found him a wise counsellor in the least as well as in greatest things, so she turned to him now.f Bengel's explanation is curious, that it was a suggestion to him that they should leave, and thus by their example break up the assembly before the embarrassment of their hosts should appear.] The Romanist expositors have been very anxious to rid our Lord's answer, “Woman, what have I to do with thee #" of every shadow of rebuke or blame. Whole essays have been written with this single purpose. Now it is quite true that in the address “Woman” there is nothing of the kind—nothing of severity or rebuke, however it may have something of such a sound to an English ear. We find our blessed Lord, even at the moment when probably he was addressing to his mother the last words that he spake to her on earth-when commending her to the care of the beloved disciple, using the same language, “Woman, behold thy son.” (John xix. 26.) So far from any harshness, the compellation has something solemn in it, and always must have, where the dignity of woman is felt and recognized. But it is otherwise with the words following, “What have I to do with thee f*$ If we compare them with the same or similar expressions elsewhere, the meaning of them will come clearly out, and it is this, “Let me alone; what is there common to thee and me? we stand in this matter on altogether different grounds.” All expositors of the early Church have allowed, even by the confession

* So Theophylact, Euthymius, and Neander. (Leben Jesu, p. 370.) + So Cocceius: Verba nihil aliud portendunt quâm Mariam tanquam solicitam et parentem operuisse ipsi defectum vini, ex condolentiánimirum. + Velim discedas, ut ceteri item discedant, antequam penuria patefiat. Calvin has a still more curious reason for this suggestion: Ut piā aliquá exhortatione convivistadium eximeret, ac simul levaret pudorem sponsi. § tuo kai got; Cf. Judg. xi. 12; 1 Kin. xvii. 18; 2 Kin. iii. 18, (LXX) where the same phrase is used; it is elliptic, and the word kowov may be supplied. Thus in the second of these passages, “What is there in common to us twain, to me a sinful woman, and thee a man of God, that we should have thus come together to my harm?" And in the third, “What have we in common, I, a prophet of the true God, and thou, the son of that idolatrous king Ahab, that thou shouldst ask counsel of me?” Cf. Josh. xxii. 24; 2 Sam. xvi. 10 (LXX.); Matt. viii. 29; Mark i. 24; Luke viii. 28. It is only out of an entire ignorance of the idiom that their explanation could have taken rise, who understand the words, “What is that to thee and me? What concerns it us twain that there is no wine?” I Two examples for many. Irenaeus (Con. Haer, l 3, c. 16): Properante Mariä ad admirabile vini signum, et ante tempus volente participare compendii poculo, Domi

« PoprzedniaDalej »