Previous: The Ten Lepers Cleansed Up: Miracles Next: The Impotent Man at The Pool of Bethesda.

Miracles:

The Water Turned Into Wine

John 2:1-12

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus was called and His disciples to the marriage, etc,

Q. WHAT do you here understand by a marriage in Cana of Galilee?

A. By a marriage in Cana of Galilee, according to the literal sense of the above history, is to be understood what is literally expressed; but according to the spiritual sense, by the marriage here spoken of, is to be understood a spiritual marriage, which is such a marriage as that mentioned in the parable, and to which the kingdom of heaven is compared, where it is said, The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king which made a marriage for his son. This marriage is the marriage of goodness and truth, thus the marriage of the lord with His church, and with every individual composing the church, and therefore whether we speak of the lord's church, or of a marriage, it is the same thing, since, as the conjunction of goodness and truth is truly and properly a marriage, in like manner the same conjunction truly and properly constitutes what is called the church. When therefore it is said, There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, the words spiritually relate to the establishment of the church among the Gentles, for by Cana of Galilee is meant a Gentile city, agreeable to what is written in the prophet, where it is said, By the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations [or Gentiles,] (Isai. 9:1).

Q. But it is written concerning this marriage, That the mother of Jesus was there, and does Jesus was called and His disciples to the marriage how do you understand these words?

A. These words, like all other parts of this divine history, have both a literal and a spiritual meaning, and according to their literal meaning they imply what they literally express; but according to their spiritual meaning, they involve in them an internal sense, which lies concealed within the letter, as the soul is concealed within its body. Agreeable, therefore, to this internal sense, by the mother of Jesus being there, or at the marriage, is to be understood that the affection of good was there, this affection being always dignified in the sacred Scriptures by the venerable title of mother, inasmuch as all things in the church are derived from that affection; again, when it is added, That both Jesus was called and His disciples to the marriage, the words imply, that in this establishment of the church, conjunction was sought with the divine being through the humanity which he assumed, and conjunction also with all the several orders of good and of truth derived from that being, and represented by His disciples.

Q. And what do you understand by the words which follow, where it is written, That when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, They have no wine?

A. These words also, according to their literal sense, mean what is literally expressed, and have relation only to the material liquor called wine; but according to their spiritual sense, they have a deeper and more interior meaning, having relation to spiritual wine, or to that wine of which Jesus Christ speaks in another place, where He says, Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, (Matt. 9:17); and again, I will not drink now on of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom, (Matt. 26:29). The wine then here referred to, and called new wine, is nothing else than the interior spiritual sense of the Jewish law and ritual, opened by the incarnate God; in other words, it is that interior apprehension of the divine truth contained in the. sacred Scriptures, which Jesus Christ in another place calls His blood, and also the blood of the New Testament, as being distinct from that external apprehension of the same truth which before prevailed, and which He calls old wine. That wine in the sacred Scriptures is spoken of according to a spiritual signification, is evident from the following passages amongst many others, In the hand of the lord there is a cup, and the wine is red, (Psalm 75:8). And again, Come buy wine and milk without money, and without price, (Isaiah 55:1). According then to this spiritual interpretation, by their wanting wine, or, as it might be more properly expressed, When the wine was finished, is to be understood that there was no longer any spiritual apprehension of truth in the church; and by the mother of Jesus saying to him, They have no wine, is further to be understood that this was perceived by the affection of good in the church.

Q. But it follows, that Jesus said to her? Woman, what have I to do with you? mine hour is not yet come what do you conceive to be the import and meaning of these words?

A. When the blessed Jesus, on this occasion, applied the term woman, and not mother, He designed to teach the instructive and important lesson, that He was no longer her son, but by nativity, as well as by conception, was the son of god, thus was jehovah manifest in the flesh. It is further to be understood, that in the process of His glorification, or of making His humanity divine, He successively put off the infirm humanity which He received from the mother, and in the same degree put on a humanity-from the father, which He finally made a divine humanity. It is further observable, that in addressing His mother at the time of His crucifixion, He again calls her woman, (John 19:26), to denote a second time that He was no longer her son.

Q. And what do you understand by the words applied on this occasion, What have I to do with you? mine hour is not yet come.

A. The former part of these words is not expressed in agreement with the original Greek, which might be more properly rendered, What (is it) to me and to you? Still however it is difficult to discover the precise purport of these. words, as applied by the blessed Jesus. Their most probable design appears to be this, that by an apparent refusal to attend to His mother's importunity, He might put her faith to a trial, in like manner, as He afterwards put to trial the faith of His apostle Philip, by the question, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? (John 6:5), on which occasion it is added in the verse which follows, And this he said to prove Him, for He Himself knew what He would do. In the present case, therefore, it is not improbable that He might intend to prove His mother, and consequently those represented by His mother, when yet he himself knew what He would do. It is accordingly added, mine hour is not yet come, because by His hour not being yet come, is to be understood that His humanity was not yet fully glorified, or made divine, and thus that He was not yet in a state to confer on His church all that blessing which He came to confer, by opening the minds of men to an interior or spiritual apprehension of the heavenly truths contained in His holy word.

Q. But it is written in the next verse, that His mother says to the servants, Whatsoever He says to you, do how do you understand these words?

A. According to the sense of the letter, these words contain an instruction from the mother of Jesus to the servants attendant at the marriage, to do whatever Jesus required them to do; but according to the spiritual sense above referred to, they contain a dictate from the affection of good in the church to the lower principles of the natural mind, to submit themselves in all things to the order, authority, and precept of the incarnate god. For the church in general may be regarded as an individual house or family, in which goodness and truth are as the husband and wife, whilst the affections of goodness and truth are the sons and daughters, and natural delights with their several sciences are the men-servants and maid-servants. The servants therefore here spoken of are to be regarded according to this spiritual idea.

Q. And how do you understand the words which follow, And there were set there six water-pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece?

A. By the six water-pots of stone, set according to the purifying of the Jews, are spiritually to be understood those things in the holy word, and thence in the Jewish church and its worship, which were representative and significative of divine things in the lord and from the lord, which contained internal things; on which account also they were six and of stone, because the number six signifies all, and is predicated of truths; stone also signifies truth; and the purifying of the Jews signifies purification from sins, thus all things of the Jewish church, for the church regards purification from sins as all that belongs to it, since in proportion as any one is purified from sins, in the same proportion lie is a church.

Q. And what do you conceive to be the purport of the next verse, where it is written, Jesus says to them, Fill the water-pots with water, and they filled them up to the brim?

A. According to the literal sense of this, history, the above words mean what is literally expressed; but according to the spiritual sense, they have a deeper and more edifying meaning. For according to the spiritual idea, by the water-pots here spoken of are signified, as was above observed, all those things in the word, and thence in the Jewish church and its worship, which were representative and significative of divine things in the lord and from the lord. When the lord then says of these water-pots, Fill them with water, it is to be understood, agreeable to the above spiritual interpretation, that it is the divine will and intention, that the representatives and significatives of the Jewish church should be regarded as the continents of all divine and heavenly truths, and should thus be filled in the minds of all true believers with that living watery of which Jesus Christ speaks in another place, where He says, Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life, (John 4:14). And again, when it is added, that they filled them up to the brim, it is to be understood that the will and intention of the lord was fulfilled by a devout acknowledgement in the church, that all representatives and significatives in the holy word are full of his life, because they have relation to Him and to the things of His eternal kingdom.

Q. How then do you understand the words which follow, And He says to them, Dram out now, and bear to the governor of the feast?

A. According to the spiritual interpretation above given of this history, by the command, Draw out now, is to be understood divine requirement that instruction from the word should be given agreeable to the idea above suggested of its spiritual contents; and by bearing to the governor of the feast, is further to be understood divine requirement that this instruction shall be imparted to all those who are principled in the knowledges of truth, all such being represented and signified by the governor of the feast; and lastly, by its being added, they bare, is to be understood, that this requirement was fulfilled by those whose office it was to instruct.

Q. But it is written further, that when the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was; but the servants which drew the water knew; the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and says to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse, but you have kept the good wine until now how do you understand these words?

A. By the water here said to be made wine, is to be understood spiritually the truth of the external church, such as was the truth of the Jewish church, converted by divine presence and agency into the truth of the internal church, such as is the truth of the Christian church: hence by the lord making water wine is spiritually signified, that He made the truths of the external church truths of the internal church, by opening the internal things which lay concealed in them; and by the ruler of the feast tasting this water made wine, is to be understood that they, who were principled in the knowledges of truth, had a perception of this extraordinary change; and by his not knowing whence it was, but the servants which drew the water knew, is further signified that the cause of this change in the apprehension of truth was not known to those who were in the knowledges of truth, but only to those who were instructors in truth; and lastly, by his calling the bridegroom, and saying to him. Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse, but you have kept the good wine until now, is to be understood that every church commences from truths derived from good, but closes in truths not of good, and that even now in the end of the church, truth derived from goody or genuine truth, is given, namely, from the lord, who is the true bridegroom. For by the beginning is meant the commencement of a church; and by good wine, the truths derived from good which are then taught in that church; and by that which is worse, truths not originating in good, but received and taught under the influence of self love and the love of the world, at the end of the church; and by the good wine kept until now, the truths derived from good which will again be opened by the lord for the establishment of a new church.

Q. And how do you understand the concluding words of this history, where it is written, This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him?

A. By beginning is here to be understood, not only precedency in regard to time, but also in regard to importance, and therefore it here implies, agreeable to the spiritual idea above-mentioned, that the conversion of water into wine, or what amounts to the same thing, a spiritual apprehension of the word of god implanted in the place of a natural one, is the first and chief of miraculous agency; and by manifesting forth His glory on this occasion, is further to be understood the revelation of the internal spiritual sense of His most holy word, this sense constituting what is properly called glory, as in the following passages, The glory which You gave Me I have given them, (John 17:22); and again, father, I will that they also whom You have given Me may he with me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, (John 5:24); and again, We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth: lastly, by His disciples believing on Him, is to be understood their faith in His sole and supreme divinity, as resulting from the manifestation of His glory, or, from the revelation of the interior truths of His holy word, since all faith properly so called is the result of the reception of interior truth seen in its connection with its divine source, the great lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

Q. What then is the general instruction which you derive from this miracle?

A. By the literal sense of this miracle I am taught again to adore the divinity and omnipotence of my god and saviour, so wonderfully displayed in the act of turning water into wine, whilst by its spiritual sense I am taught an additional edifying lesson both of instruction and of comfort. For from its spiritual sense I learn that the blessed Jesus is ever in the act of turning water into wine in the minds of all His true disciples, by raising them out of natural and external views of the truths of His holy word, into spiritual and internal views, and by thus enabling them to see, that His holy word throughout, with all its representatives and significatives, both under the Jewish and Christian dispensation, has respect to Himself, and to the interior spiritual things of His eternal kingdom. Lastly, I learn that every church, at its commencement, is founded on truths derived from heavenly good of love and charity, but that in the process of its decay, those truths are separated from their heavenly source, and are thus deprived of their life, being received and taught under the influence of self-love and the love of the world, I am resolved therefore, through divine assistance, to profit by the above instruction, and for this purpose to keep my eye constantly fixed on the incarnate god, whenever I am admitted to the high honour and happiness of hearing and reading His holy word, that so I may discover that He is the very life and soul of all its sacred truths, and that every type and figure points to him and His kingdom as the great realities in which they originate. Thus may I hope to see my water turned into wine, and in that conversion to behold a new manifestation of my saviour's glory, which may conduct me finally to the blessed privilege of ranking among those happy ones of whom it is said, That they believed on Him. amen.


Previous: The Ten Lepers Cleansed Up: Miracles Next: The Impotent Man at The Pool of Bethesda.