Last week we took a look at the beginning chapter of John’s Gospel. We talked about how Jesus is the reason for Creation and how John shows people pointing the way for others to reach Christ. I ended by encouraging you to reach out to a non-believer, and hopefully, you have had the time to do that this week. This week, the testimonies continue but they are not coming from others, rather they come from the actions of Jesus. His own actions become proof that he is who he claims to be.
Chapter 2 begins at a wedding. Jesus, his disciples and his mother are all in attendance. Jesus’ mother finds that the wedding has run out of wine, which is not good for the hosts and asks her son to help. Many scholars have argued as to why they are all at this wedding, and why Mary cares about the wine. Since an answer is not provided in scripture, we can only infer some ideas from our knowledge of history. I think the most compelling argument is that this is the wedding of a sister of Jesus’. I find this most compelling because the wedding custom would take place at the groom’s family location, and since we know Jesus is from Nazareth, I think it would be fair to assume that the groom lived in Cana. Mary comes to her son begging for help so the families do not receive shame for being bad hosts.
“I never have any difficulty believing in miracles, since I experienced the miracle of a change in my own heart.”
— St Augustine
Once he decides to act, he sees the waterpots that are used for purification rituals. These purification rituals are likely the same one referred to in Matthew 15:1-2, “For they do not wash their hands when they eat” (Matthew 15:2b, ESV). He says to the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water” (John 2:7, NASB). When they take the water to be tasted is when the miracle occurs. Not only is the water now wine, but it is better than anything else they have had at the wedding. “[The headwaiter] said to [the bridegroom], ‘Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10, NASB).
“When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it”
— Luke 19:41, NASB
The narrative then shifts to Jerusalem. Jesus travels with his disciples in order for them to celebrate the Passover. When they arrive at the Temple, Jesus is greeted with an image that caused him to get angry. “And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables” (John 2:14, NASB). His response is to make a whip and drive them all from the Temple saying, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business” (John 2:16, NASB). The Temple leadership’s response was to ask what authority he had to remove the vendors from the Temple. Jesus’ response was to point to his future resurrection as proof of who he was. Yet, the way that he responded to them sets up how Jesus constantly replied to the religious elite, by confusing them.
“O my people, listen to my instruction.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
For I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past —
Stories we have heard and known,
Stories our ancestors handed down to us.”
— Psalm 78:1-3, NLT
Jesus said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Jesus is using a play on words in order to confuse the Jews. The word (ἐγείρω), translated “raise”, means to raise from sleep, from death to life, from a seat, or to build. The Jews heard Jesus say “Destroy this building that took /you/ 46 years to build, and I will build it back in 3 days.” Yet his response is really that the proof of his authority comes because they [the Jews] will kill his body, and he will raise it in three days.
“The truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be so much wishful thinking, taking its place alongside all other human philosophy and religious speculation.”
— John MacArthur
There’s a lot in this chapter, but what does it mean for us? Jesus turned water into wine and kicked some corrupt people out of the Temple. These aren’t exactly stories that yell at us the direction to being people after God’s own heart. I think that both of these stories show us each a simple truth. First, is that Christ offers us the good life. This is not meant to sound cheap or lame, but think about the way the story is structured. The servants had been handing out [probably] some very good wine, because no body seemed to be complaining about the quality. Once they came to Jesus, the wine they had was miles and above what they were already providing. This shows me that it does not matter what we are doing (including serving others), unless we first come to Jesus. It is He that gives us something worth sharing. Second, we will need to be vigilant and expel things from our lives that do not match with our purpose. I feel like there are countless messages on this topic, so I am not going to add more to the conversation, except this one point: I find that this also links well with 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Maybe being healthy, and taking care of our bodies is just as important as removing sinful behaviors from our lives.
Next Thursday we will be looking at John 3 where we will see a returning person and a new person interact with Christ. If you have not yet met with Christ, talk to a local pastor, send me a question, or check out some of these books I have read to get you started.