The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2


Chapter 7—The Marriage at Cana

After this, Jesus returned to Jordan, as has been previously stated, and was declared by John to be the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” At this time, also, he chose John, Andrew, Simon, Philip, and Nathanael, for his disciples, all of which has been recounted in connection with the history of John the Baptist. Jesus now entered upon the great work of his life. 2SP 98.2

There was to be a marriage in Cana of Galilee. The parties were relatives of Joseph and Mary. Christ knew of this family gathering, and that many influential persons would be brought together there, so, in company with his newly-made disciples, he made his way to Cana. As soon as it was known that Jesus had come to the place, a special invitation was sent to him and his friends. This was what he had purposed, and so he graced the feast with his presence. 2SP 99.1

He had been separated from his mother for quite a length of time. During this period he had been baptized by John and had endured the temptations in the wilderness. Rumors had reached Mary concerning her son and his sufferings. John, one of the new disciples, had searched for Christ and had found him in his humiliation, emaciated, and bearing the marks of great physical and mental distress. Jesus, unwilling that John should witness his humiliation, had gently yet firmly dismissed him from his presence. He wished to be alone; no human eye must behold his agony, no human heart be called out in sympathy with his distress. 2SP 99.2

The disciple had sought Mary in her home and related to her the incidents of this meeting with Jesus, as well as the event of his baptism, when the voice of God was heard in acknowledgment of his Son, and the prophet John had pointed to Christ, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” For thirty years this woman had been treasuring up evidences that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Saviour of the world. Joseph was dead, and she had no one in whom to confide the cherished thoughts of her heart. She had fluctuated between hope and perplexing doubts, but always feeling more or less of an assurance that her son was indeed the Promised One. 2SP 99.3

She had been very sorrowful for the past two months, for she had been separated from her son, who had ever been faithful and obedient to her wishes. The widowed mother had mourned over the sufferings that Jesus had endured in his loneliness. His Messiahship had caused her deep sorrow as well as joy. Yet strangely, as it appears to her, she meets him at the marriage feast, the same tender, dutiful son, yet not the same, for his countenance is changed; she sees the marks of his fierce conflict in the wilderness of temptation, and the evidence of his high mission in his holy expression and the gentle dignity of his presence. She sees that he is accompanied by a number of young men who address him with reverence, calling him Master. These companions tell Mary of the wonderful things they have witnessed, not only at the baptism, but upon numerous other occasions, and they conclude by saying, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the long-looked-for Messiah.” 2SP 100.1

The heart of Mary was made glad by this assurance that the cherished hope of long years of anxious waiting was indeed true. It would have been strange enough if, mingled with this deep and holy joy, there had not been a trace of the fond mother's natural pride. But the guests assembled and time passed on. At length an incident occurred that caused much perplexity and regret. It was discovered that from some cause the wine had failed. The wine used was the pure juice of the grape, and it was impossible to provide it at that late hour. It was unusual to dispense with it on these occasions; so the mother of Christ, who, in her capacity of relative had a prominent part to perform at the feast, spoke to her son, saying, “They have no wine.” In this communication was a hidden request, or rather, suggestion, that He to whom all things were possible would relieve their wants. But Jesus answered, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” 2SP 100.2

His manner was respectful, yet firm; he designed to teach Mary that the time for her to control him as a mother, was ended. His mighty work now lay before him, and no one must direct concerning the exercise of his divine power. There was danger that Mary would presume upon her relationship to Christ, and feel that she had special claims upon him and special rights. As Son of the Most High, and Saviour of the world, no earthly ties must hold him from his divine mission, nor influence the course he must pursue. It was needful that he should stand free from every personal consideration, ready to do the will of his Father in Heaven. 2SP 101.1

Jesus loved his mother tenderly; for thirty years he had been subject to parental control; but the time had now come when he was to go about his Father's business. In rebuking his mother, Jesus also rebukes a large class who have an idolatrous love for their family, and allow the ties of relationship to draw them from the service of God. Human love is a sacred attribute; but should not be allowed to mar our religious experience, or draw our hearts from God. 2SP 101.2

The future life of Christ was mapped out before him. His divine power had been hidden, and he had waited in obscurity and humiliation for thirty years, and was in no haste to act until the proper time should arrive. But Mary, in the pride of her heart, longed to see him prove to the company that he was really the honored of God. It seemed to her a favorable opportunity to convince the people present of his divine power, by working a miracle before their eyes, that would place him in the position he should occupy before the Jews. But he answered that his hour had not yet come. His time to be honored and glorified as King was not yet come; it was his lot to be a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. 2SP 102.1

The earthly relation of Christ to his mother was ended. He who had been her submissive son was now her divine Lord. Her only hope, in common with the rest of mankind, was to believe him to be the Redeemer of the world, and yield him implicit obedience. The fearful delusion of the Roman church exalts the mother of Christ equal with the Son of the Infinite God; but he, the Saviour, places the matter in a vastly different light, and in a pointed manner indicates that the tie of relationship between them in no way raises her to his level, or insures her future. Human sympathies must no longer affect the One whose mission is to the world. 2SP 102.2

The mother of Christ understood the character of her Son, and bowed in submission to his will. She knew that he would comply with her request if it was best to do so. Her manner evidenced her perfect faith in his wisdom and power, and it was this faith to which Jesus responded in the miracle that followed. Mary believed that Jesus was able to do that which she had desired of him, and she was exceedingly anxious that everything in regard to the feast should be properly ordered, and pass off with due honor. She said to those serving at table, “Whatsoever he sayeth unto you, do it.” Thus she did what she could to prepare the way. 2SP 103.1

At the entrance of the dwelling there stood six stone water-pots. Jesus directed the servants to fill these pots with water. They readily obeyed this singular order. The wine was wanted for immediate use, and Jesus commanded, “Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.” The servants beheld with astonishment, that instead of the crystal water with which they had just filled those vessels, there flowed forth wine. Neither the ruler of the feast nor the guests generally were aware that the supply of wine had failed; so, upon testing it, the ruler was astonished, for it was superior to any wine he had ever before drank, and vastly different from that which had been served at the commencement of the feast. 2SP 103.2

He addressed the bridegroom, saying, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” In this miracle, Jesus illustrates the truth that while the world presents its best gifts first, to fascinate the senses and please the eye, he gives good gifts, ever fresh and new unto the end. They never pall upon the taste, the heart never sickens and tires of them. The pleasures of the world are unsatisfying, its wine turns to bitterness, its gayety to gloom. That which was begun with songs and mirth ends in weariness and disgust. But Jesus provides a feast of the soul that never fails to give satisfaction and joy. Each new gift increases the capacity of the receiver to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of his Lord. He gives, not with stinted measure, but above what is asked or expected. 2SP 103.3

This donation of Christ to the marriage supper was a symbol of the means of salvation. The water represented baptism into his death, the wine, the shedding of his blood for the purifying of the sins of the world. The provision made for the wedding-guests was ample, and not less abundant is the provision for blotting out the iniquities of men. 2SP 104.1

Jesus had just come from his long fast in the wilderness, where he had suffered in order to break the power of appetite over man, which, among other evils, had led to the free use of intoxicating liquor. Christ did not provide for the wedding guests wine that from fermentation or adulteration was of an intoxicating character, but the pure juice of the grape, clarified and refined. Its effect was to bring the taste into harmony with a healthful appetite. 2SP 104.2

The guests remarked upon the quality of the wine, and presently inquiries were made that drew from the servants an account of the wonderful work that the youthful Galilean had performed. The company listened with unbounded amazement, and exchanged words of doubt and surprise. At length they looked for Jesus, that they might pay him due respect and learn how he had accomplished this miraculous conversion of water into wine; but he was not to be found. He had, with dignified simplicity, performed the miracle, and had then quietly withdrawn. 2SP 104.3

When it was ascertained that Jesus had really departed, the attention of the company was directed to his disciples who had remained behind. For the first time they had the opportunity of acknowledging themselves to be believers in Jesus of Nazareth as Saviour of the world. John related what he had heard and seen of his teachings. He told of the wonderful manifestations at the time of the baptism of Jesus, by the prophet John, in the river Jordan; how the light and glory from Heaven had descended upon him in the form of a dove, while a voice from the cloudless heavens proclaimed him to be the Son of the Infinite Father. John narrated these facts with convincing clearness and accuracy. The curiosity of all present was aroused, and many anxious ones who were looking and longing for the Messiah, thought it was indeed possible that this might be the Promised One of Israel. 2SP 105.1

The news of this miracle wrought by Jesus spread through all that region and even reached Jerusalem. The priests and elders heard with wonder. They searched with new interest the prophecies pointing to the coming of Christ. There was the most intense anxiety to know the aim and mission of this new Teacher, who came among the people in so unassuming a manner, yet did that which no other man had ever done. Unlike the Pharisees and other dignitaries who preserved an austere seclusion, he had joined the mixed assembly of a festal gathering, and, while no shadow of worldly levity marred his conduct, he had sanctioned the social gathering with his presence. 2SP 105.2

Here is a lesson for the disciples of Christ through all time, not to exclude themselves from society, renouncing all social communion and seeking a strict seclusion from their fellow-beings. In order to reach all classes, we must meet them where they are; for they will seldom seek us of their own accord. Not alone from the pulpit are the hearts of men and women touched by divine truth. Christ awakened their interest by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them at their daily avocations, and manifested an unfeigned interest in their temporal affairs. He carried his instruction into the households of the people, bringing whole families in their own homes under the influence of his divine presence. His strong personal sympathies helped to win hearts to his cause. 2SP 106.1

This example of the great Master should be closely followed by his servants. However instructive and profitable may be their public discourses, they should remember there is another field of action, humbler it may be, but full as promising of abundant harvests. It is found in the lowly walks of life, as well as the more pretentious mansions of the great, at the board of hospitality and gatherings for innocent social enjoyment. 2SP 106.2

The course of Jesus in this respect was in direct contrast to that of the exclusive leaders of the Jews. They shut themselves up from sympathy with the people, and sought neither to benefit them nor win their friendship. But Christ linked himself with the interests of humanity, and so should those who preach his word. This should not be, however, from a desire to gratify the inclinations for personal enjoyment, or love of change and pleasure; but for the purpose of embracing every opportunity to do good, and shed the light of truth upon the hearts of men, keeping the life pure and uncorrupted by the follies and vanities of society. 2SP 106.3

The special object of Jesus in attending this marriage feast was to commence the work of breaking down the exclusiveness which existed with the Jewish people, and to open the way for their freer mingling with the people. He had come not only as the Messiah of the Jews, but the Redeemer of the world. The Pharisees and elders refrained from associating with any class but their own. They held themselves aloof, not only from the Gentiles, but from the majority of their own people; and their teaching led all classes to separate themselves from the rest of the world, in a manner calculated to render them self-righteous, egotistical, and intolerant. This rigorous seclusion and bigotry of the Pharisees had narrowed their influence and created a prejudice which Christ would have removed, that the influence of his mission might be felt upon all classes. 2SP 107.1

Those who think to preserve their religion by hiding it within stone walls to escape the contamination of the world, lose golden opportunities to enlighten and benefit humanity. The Saviour sought men in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of lakes, and at the marriage feasts. He spent much time in the mountains, engaged in earnest prayer, in order to come forth braced for the conflict, strengthened for his active toil among men in real life, enlightening and relieving the poor, the sick, the ignorant, and those bound by the chains of Satan, as well as teaching the rich and honorable. 2SP 107.2

The ministry of Christ was in marked contrast with that of the Jewish elders. They held themselves aloof from sympathy with men; considering that they were the favored ones of God, they assumed an undue appearance of righteousness and dignity. The Jews had so far fallen from the ancient teachings of Jehovah that they held that they would be righteous in the sight of God, and receive the fulfillment of his promises, if they strictly kept the letter of the law given them by Moses. 2SP 108.1

The zeal with which they followed the teachings of the elders gave them an air of great piety. Not content with performing those services which God had specified to them through Moses, they were continually reaching for more rigid and difficult duties. They measured their holiness by the multitude of their ceremonies, while their hearts were filled with hypocrisy, pride, and avarice. The curse of God was upon them for their iniquities, while they professed to be the only righteous nation upon earth. 2SP 108.2

They had received unsanctified and confused interpretations of the law, they had added tradition to tradition, they had restricted freedom of thought and action, till the commandments, ordinances, and service of God, were lost in a ceaseless round of meaningless rites and ceremonies. Their religion was a yoke of bondage. They had become so fettered that it was impossible for them to attend to the essential duties of life, without employing the Gentiles to do many necessary things which were forbidden the Jews to do for fear of contamination. They were in continual dread that they should become defiled. Dwelling constantly upon these matters had dwarfed their minds and narrowed the orbit of their lives. 2SP 108.3

Jesus commenced the work of reformation by bringing himself into close sympathy with humanity. He was a Jew, and he designed to leave a perfect pattern of one who was a Jew inwardly. While he rebuked the Pharisees for their pretentious piety, endeavoring to free the people from the senseless exactions that bound them, he showed the greatest veneration for the law of God, and taught obedience of its precepts. 2SP 109.1

Jesus rebuked intemperance, self-indulgence, and folly; yet he was social in his nature. He accepted invitations to dine with the learned and noble, as well as the poor and afflicted. On these occasions, his conversation was elevating and instructive, holding his hearers entranced. He gave no license to scenes of dissipation and revelry, yet innocent happiness was pleasing to him. A Jewish marriage was a solemn and impressive occasion, the pleasure and joy of which were not displeasing to the Son of Man. This miracle pointed directly toward breaking down the prejudices of the Jews. The disciples of Jesus learned a lesson of sympathy and humanity from it. His relatives were drawn to him with warm affection, and when he left for Capernaum, they accompanied him. 2SP 109.2

By attending this feast, Jesus sanctioned marriage as a divine institution, and through all his subsequent ministry, he paid the marriage covenant a marked respect in illustrating many important truths by it. 2SP 110.1

Jesus next proceeded to introduce himself to his own people in his true character. He went to Nazareth, where he was known as an unpretending mechanic, and entered a synagogue upon the Sabbath. As was customary, the elder read from the prophets, and exhorted the people to continue to hope for the Coming One, who would bring in a glorious reign, and subdue all oppression. He sought to animate the faith and courage of the Jews, by rehearsing the evidences of Messiah's soon coming, dwelling especially upon the kingly power and glorious majesty that would attend his advent. He kept before his hearers the idea that the reign of Christ would be upon an earthly throne in Jerusalem, and his kingdom would be a temporal one. He taught them that Messiah would appear at the head of armies, to conquer the heathen and deliver Israel from the oppression of their enemies. 2SP 110.2

At the close of the service, Jesus rose with calm dignity, and requested them to bring him the book of the prophet Esaias. “And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” 2SP 110.3

The scripture which Jesus read was understood by all to refer to the coming Messiah and his work. And when the Saviour explained the words he had read, and pointed out the sacred office of the Messiah,—a reliever of the oppressed, a liberator of the captives, a healer of the afflicted, restoring sight to the blind, and revealing to the world the light of truth,—the people were thrilled with the wisdom and power of his words and responded to them with fervent amens and praises to the Lord. Jesus had not been educated in the school of the prophets, yet the most learned Rabbis could not speak with more confidence and authority than did this young Galilean. 2SP 111.1

His impressive manner, the mighty import of his words, and the divine light that emanated from his countenance, thrilled the people with a power they had never experienced before, as Jesus stood before them, a living expositor of the prophet's words concerning himself. But when he announced: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” the minds of his hearers were brought back to consider what were this man's claims to the Messiahship—the highest position that man could occupy. 2SP 111.2

The interest of the congregation had been thoroughly awakened, and their hearts had been stirred with joy; but Satan was at hand to suggest doubts and unbelief, and they remembered who it was that addressed them as the blind, and the captives in bondage who needed special aid. Many of those present were acquainted with the humble life of Jesus, as the son of a carpenter, working at his trade with his father Joseph. He had made no claims to distinction of greatness, and his home was among the poor and lowly. 2SP 111.3

In marked contrast with this humble man was the expected Messiah of the Jews. They believed that he would come with honor and glory, and set up, by power of arms, the throne of David. And they murmured: This cannot be the One who is to redeem Israel. Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? And they refused to believe him unless he gave them some marked sign. They opened their hearts to unbelief, and prejudice took possession of them, and blinded their judgment, so that they made no account of the evidence already given when their hearts had thrilled with the knowledge that it was their Redeemer who addressed them. 2SP 112.1

But Jesus now showed them a sign of his divine character by revealing the secrets of their minds. “And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself; whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” 2SP 112.2

Jesus read the inmost thoughts of those who were before him, and met their questioning with this relation of events in the lives of the prophets. Those men whom God had chosen for a special and important work were not allowed to labor for a hard-hearted and unbelieving people. But those who had hearts to feel, and faith to believe, were specially favored with evidences of God's power displayed through his prophets. 2SP 113.1

By the apostasy of Israel in Elijah's day, Jesus illustrated the true state of the people whom he was addressing. The unbelief and self-exaltation of the ancient Jewish nation caused God to pass over the many widows in Israel, and the poor and afflicted there, to find an asylum for his servant among a heathen people, and to place him in the care of a heathen woman; but she who was thus especially favored had lived in strict accordance with the light she possessed. God also passed over the many lepers of Israel, because their unbelief and abuse of precious privileges placed them in a position where he could not manifest his power in their behalf. On the other hand, a heathen nobleman, who had lived faithful to his convictions of right, and fully up to his highest privileges, but who felt his great need of help, and whose heart opened to receive the lessons of Christ, was, in the sight of God, more worthy of his special favors, and was cleansed from his leprosy, as well as enlightened in regard to divine truth. 2SP 113.2

Here Jesus taught an important lesson that should be received by all who profess his name to the end of time. It was this: That even the heathen, who live according to the best light they have, doing right so far as they are able to distinguish right from wrong, are regarded with greater favor by God than those who, having great light, make high pretensions to godliness, but whose daily lives contradict their profession. Thus Jesus stood before the Jews, calmly revealing their secret thoughts, and pressing home upon them the bitter truth of their unrighteousness. Every word cut like a knife as their corrupt lives and wicked unbelief were laid before them. They now scorned the faith and reverence with which Jesus had at first inspired them, and they refused to acknowledge that this man, who had sprung from poverty and lowliness, was other than a common man. They would own no king who came unattended by riches and honor, and who stood not at the head of imposing legions. 2SP 113.3

Their unbelief bred malice. Satan controlled their minds, and they cried out against the Saviour with wrath and hatred. The assembly broke up, and the wicked people laid hands upon Jesus, thrusting him from the synagogue, and out of their city, and would have killed him if they had been able to do so. All seemed eager for his destruction. They hurried him to the brow of a steep precipice, intending to cast him headlong from it. Shouts and maledictions filled the air. Some were casting stones and dirt at him; but suddenly he disappeared out of their midst, they knew not how, or when. Angels of God attended Jesus in the midst of that infuriated mob, and preserved his life. The heavenly messengers were by his side in the synagogue, while he was speaking; and they accompanied him when pressed and urged on by the unbelieving, infuriated Jews. These angels blinded the eyes of that maddened throng, and conducted Jesus to a place of safety. 2SP 114.1