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OUR LORD’S FIRST MIRACLE
III. QUAR., LESSON IX., AUG. 26, JOHN 2:1-11
Golden Text—”This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory”
The golden text of this lesson suggests its import: this beginning of Christ’s miracles manifested forth or typified the glory of his coming Kingdom and power. The circumstance of our Lord providing wine for a festive occasion, and that, too, by the performance of a miracle, as if to emphasize the propriety of its use on such occasions, is quite a difficulty in the way of advocates of total abstinence, and quite an argument in the mouths of those who favor the use of wine as a beverage. But both the difficulty and the argument disappear before a
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clear conception of the object of the miracle.
Calling to mind Matt. 26:29—that our Lord would no more drink of the fruit of the vine with his disciples until he should drink it new with them in the Kingdom; and also the prophecy of Isaiah 25:6, “In this mountain [the kingdom of God] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, … of wines on the lees well refined”—we recognize in the exhilarating wine an apt symbol of joy and gladness. To partake of the cup of the Lord in the present time signifies to share in his sufferings, humiliation and death; but to partake of his cup in the coming age will mean to share in his glory and joy. That will be the new wine in the Kingdom.
The first miracle was given to symbolize this ultimate object of the work upon which he was then entering, which was to glorify his Church and then to spread a feast of fat things (of rich blessings) and of wine (of joy) before all people. How appropriate that such a foreshadowing of future glory should be the first of his wonderful works.
In observing the typical features of the miracle we notice, (1) That its performance was on the occasion of a wedding, following the wedding ceremony. So the joy and blessings of Christ’s Kingdom, both to the Church, his bride, and also to the world, will follow the marriage of the Lamb and his espoused virgin Church.
(2) Next we notice that this typical marriage was on “the third day” (verse 1), reminding us very forcibly of our Lord’s statement to some of the Pharisees (Luke 13:32): “Go ye and tell that fox [Herod], Behold I cast out devils and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected; “and again (John 2:19,21,) “Destroy this temple [“the temple of his body”—the Church], and in three days I will raise it up.” The three days here referred to were days of a thousand years each—the fifth, sixth and seventh thousand-year-days from creation. Jesus then lived in the fifth; and now, in the dawning of the seventh, his body will be “perfected” and “raised up” to kingdom power and glory. The marriage of the Lamb will be in the third day of her existence as the body of Christ, and in the seventh of the world’s history.
(3) We notice that the miracle consisted in the turning of the water in the vessels for purification into the desirable beverage, the “good wine.” Water is a symbol of truth (Eph. 5:26), the use of which is for refreshing and cleansing the Lord’s people; and it is through this very cleansing agency that the Church is to be glorified and the world blessed. Divine truth, having by its blessed inspiration to godliness and holiness, accomplished its cleansing purifying work, will be gloriously realized in the blessings and joys of the Kingdom.
(4) The Lord’s reply to Mary, who informed him of the lack of wine, is also significant. “Jesus said to her, What [is that] to me and to thee, O woman? Mine hour has not yet come.” (Verse 4—Diaglott.) The “woman,” the Church, need not yet inquire for the new wine of joy. The hour for exaltation and glory has not yet come, and as yet we have to do only with the dregs of the cup of humiliation and sacrifice. And if we partake of this cup now we will surely drink the new wine with him in the Kingdom. Let us take the advice of Mary—”Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it,” and in due time faithful obedience to all his directions will be amply rewarded by the privilege of participating with him in the joys of the Kingdom, the “new wine.” And following that will come for all people the feast of fat things and of wines on the lees.
By the early disciples this typical significance could not have been discerned; but they did see in the power that could work such a miracle the evidence of his claim to be the Son of God, while to us in the light of the dawning Millennial day the finer lines of type and prophecy are due to be understood and are clearly manifest.
The occurrence has no more bearing on the temperance question than had the taking of a colt to fulfill the prophecy of Zech. 9:9 (Matt. 21:1-5) a bearing on the question of the rights of private property. All things belong to God and have their legitimate and illegitimate uses. Under the rule which Paul gives (1 Cor. 8:13), the disuse of wine as a beverage is certainly commendable under present conditions, while its limited use for medicinal purposes is warranted by 1 Tim. 5:23.
— August 15, 1894 —