The Beginning of Miracles

John alone of the four Evangelists tells us that Jesus was present at a marriage feast. He also tells us, and he alone, that He stood with bereaved and sorrowing women at a closed grave. The marriage is the brightest day of a man's life, its true beginning, the closed grave is the darkest day, the end of all its hopes and joys, and Jesus was at both.

It was given to John alone to tell us so. This is remarkable for John is the one who shows us the Lord in His divine glory. He was Jesus of Nazareth truly, the despised and rejected of men, from the most despised of all the towns of Galilee. Philip speaks of Him by this Name in chapter 1, and it was the Name that Pilate gave Him when he wrote the writing for the cross. But Jesus of Nazareth was the Word without a beginning, and the Word was God. Is God interested in the joys and sorrows of men then? Yes, He is. "The only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him;" and we believe that these two incidents are recorded for us in John's Gospel, in order that we might be impressed with this great fact.

It was at the marriage that He performed His first miracle and at the grave He performed His greatest. Our subject is the former. There He began to manifest His glory, the first ray of it shone in the darkness and penetrated the minds and hearts of His chosen disciples and they believed on Him. Of this incident it has very beautifully been said, "Here He tolled for the first time the great bell of the universe, that summoned men to listen to His sermon."

It was a humble feast to which He went. These friends of His were poor in circumstances and lowly in heart. Only such would have asked Him to share their joy, and only to such would He have gone. The rich and ruling who had their mansions in Jerusalem did not want Him, and "men full of meat" had their own wine and plenty of it, and wanted none of His, but may we not conclude that these humble Galileans had a felt but unspoken need in their hearts when they bade Him to their marriage?

"The mother of Jesus was there, " and her character comes out in the incident; she was observant and compassionate. Things were not going well and she sensed it. There was a great lack at that feast, and the young people were beginning to be embarrassed, and she realized it, and for their sakes she speaks to the Lord. It is more than likely that she had often turned to Him in her own need, now she speaks to Him of others' need. "They have no wine." Or may it be that she had waited long for Him to manifest Himself, and vindicate Himself and her, and had begun to chafe at the long and apparently useless delay?

We may be sure that His rebuke was ministered with great tenderness, and in such a way that she would not be humiliated in the presence of others. But it was not for her to direct Him, and she had still to learn that He had to be about His "Father's business" and to wait His Father's time and His Father's word; and she had to learn to wait also. "Mine hour is not yet come" was a mysterious word; it runs through this Gospel, and we cannot in this paper search out its meaning; it reached far beyond that marriage feast, but it did not mean that He would not intervene for the present need.

I notice that there is a reference from this saying to Isaiah 30:18 in the "Scofield Bible." "Therefore will the Lord wait that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted that He may have mercy upon you. . . blessed are all they that wait for Him." He waits for the right moment to bless, and happy are those that wait for Him. He will not move before His time and He cannot be behind it, and when He moves not only does He bless, but in blessing He is exalted; His glory shines forth as in our story. And that passage reminds me of another word in the same prophecy. I will quote it as it is given in Darby's New Translation, "Never have men heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor hath eye seen a God beside Thee, who acteth for him that waiteth for Him" (Isa. 64:4). We see how He acted at the marriage feast and we may stake our everlasting well-being upon the fact that He is the same today. He still acts for him that waits for Him.

Six water-pots were there, the witnesses to an external and unprofitable purifying. Yet the water-pots were as empty as the wine bottles; but He was there, the Creator, full of love and pity for His needy creatures, to supply the lack and more beside. He only looked for a willing obedience to His word; then He would work, and these servants, who must have been impressed by His mother's words, were most admirable in their obedience. "Fill the water-pots, " He said, "And they filled them up to the brim." "Draw out now and bear it to the Governor of the feast, " He said, "And they bare it." No doubts nor questions entered their minds. It was enough that He commanded, and they obeyed with enthusiasm. This willing and unquestioning obedience is an indispensable condition for blessing. How often He would have filled us with all joy and peace in believing, but we did not trust Him enough to simply obey His word.

Obedience results in intelligence. The governor of the feast did not know from whence this good wine had come, nor did the bridegroom, "but the servants which drew the water knew." But if this governor did not know from whence the good wine had come, he knew the ways of men and the character of the world. "Every man, " said he, "at the beginning doth set forth the good wine: And when men have well drunk, then that which is worse." It is even so, "the grass withereth and the flower fadeth." Such is man: with what hope he begins and with what disappointment he ends. How doleful are the words, "then that which is worse." Alas for those who have no resources nor hopes outside, their own plans and schemes, that are bounded by the world and its lusts that pass away.

"But thou hast kept the good wine until now." Yes, He gives the good wine that never fails and of which those who drink do not tire. How wonderfully, how bountifully He gives.

"Light that groweth not pale with day's decrease;
Love that never can fail when life shall cease;
Joy no trial can mar,
Hope that shineth afar,
Faith serene as a star
And Christ's own peace."

Of this miracle it has been said, "The quality and greatness of the gift were worthy of God; and we see the generosity all the more clearly when we remember that this bountiful Creator had a little while before refused to create bread to save Himself from the pangs of hunger."

Deep lessons and illuminating dispensational truths are hidden in the story and will yield themselves to the searching heart, but we must not miss that that lies on the surface. We are taught by it that the Lord is interested in the lives of His creatures and He will give His presence to them in their bright days and dark days if they desire Him and will ask Him. We are taught also that the brightest of God's gifts beneath the sun fails, for even the best is marred by sin, but that the Lord has come to bring in a new life and a new joy that cannot fail, to give to all who are obedient to Him joy unspeakable and full of glory, and this is the beginning of miracles. If this is the beginning, what shall the end of His gracious wonders be?

"If here on earth the thought of Jesus' love.
Lifts our poor hearts this weary world above;
If even here the taste of heavenly springs
So cheers the spirit that the pilgrim sings:
What will the sunshine of His glory prove?
What the unmingled fullness of His love?
What hallelujahs will His presence raise?
What but one loud eternal burst of praise?"

In His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand there are pleasures for evermore.