John 2

Introduction

‘On the third day, a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so, they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.’ John 2:1-11

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

This is the first of eight signs, miracles. selected by John but all have a purpose. They actively support the claims Jesus made, and are intended to lead to faith, John 20:20-31. Each ‘sign’ is an object lesson to illustrate spiritual truth.

The new wine of the Gospel is contrasted with the water of the old faith. Jesus came to bring something really new. The result speaks for itself, the miracle had a profound effect on the followers of Jesus.

Cana

Cana of Galilee is mentioned only in John’s Gospel, John 4:46 / John 21:2. It is always qualified by the term Galilee. Today we can’t be sure of its precise location. An unknown family in an obscure village which isn’t mentioned in the Old Testament, yet the scene of Jesus’ first supernatural act. Nathaniel came from there, John 2:1-2.

The record of days is continued, this being the third day after Jesus left for Galilee. It is strange to see Jesus and the disciples called only a few days earlier to be invited together.

This causes us to speculate about the possibility of Jesus and the disciples being related even if only distantly, we know that Jesus and John the Baptist were related. It could be that Nathaniel had the initial invitation. An eye-witness account as frequently in the Gospel narrative reads like the remembrance of one who was there.

John doesn’t identify the bride, groom or families involved, only Jesus and Mary are named. There’s no mention of Joseph, the assumption that he was much older than Mary, and he had already died is unsupported by evidence, John 6:42.

Mary apparently is in some position of authority. Did Mary expect Jesus to work a miracle in the most public manner and reveal His identity?

This discourse may seem rather abrupt to the casual observer, but the word, ‘woman’, ‘gunai’, John 2:4, wasn’t an impolite or discourteous, term in those days, John 19:26. However the declaration of Jesus ‘why do you involve me?’, John 2:4, would have been quite normal under the social rules of the time.

The words, ‘My hour ‘hora’ has not yet come’ would be referring to the time of His ministry is launched. It wasn’t time for Him to act, the word, ‘hour’, ‘hora’ often denotes a crisis time, John 7:6 / John 8:20 / John 8:30. Jesus has a specific function to perform in training the disciples.

His hour had come in John 12:23 / John 13:1 / John 16:32 / John 17:1. Jesus’ ‘hour’ referred to his death and glorification, John 17:1. The time of His manifestation as the Messiah were decisions for Him and His heavenly Father. Jesus even told Judas whatever you do, do quickly, John 13:27, thus beginning the events leading to His crucifixion and beyond.

Mary did not perceive Jesus’ response as being negative. His body language may have told her he would act to save the host the impending embarrassment. He may have been in the process of getting up as He spoke to Mary. She knew one way or another, He would act.

The Wedding Feast

These feasts were very festive occasions, marriage was preceded by engagement. First, there was a feast, then an evening wedding ceremony, on the wedding night there would be a torchlight procession. The groom would go to the bride’s house and bring her to the reception.

The banquet and feast would go on for three days, and could even go on for a week. The people would feast and it was expected that a constant supply of good food and ample drink would be forthcoming. It would have been quite devastating to the host if something as fundamental as the wine were to run out.

The food and drink would have been lavishly spent on, as would gifts and all else associated with the feast. Meat, which was rarely eaten due to the cost factor, would have been available in abundance. The wedding and the associated feast were the high-light not only on the social calendar but also in the couple’s lives.

It was most important that all ran smoothly. There were servants present but note the commands given by Mary and Jesus. The servants did what they were told to do, and did it to the very best of their ability, John 2:5.

Jars

The jars were used for washing, probably being kept at or near the entrance to the house, John 2:6-7. People would use this water to wash their feet from the journey and before entering the house properly. Also the servants would pour water over the hands of the guests as part of the rites of purification. And they were also used for washing before meals. This is still practised in some parts of Israel today.

Why six jars?

Who knows! The jars were made of stone to assist in keeping water cool and the jars were filled to the brim, indicating between 100 and 120 gallons of wine available, John 2:6-7. Note that it was the bridegroom who received the praise for the quality of the wine, John 2:9-10.

The wine was taken to the master of the banquet, John 2:8-10, who played a role similar to that played by the present-day master of ceremonies, and he would also play a role similar to the best man.

The wine made by Jesus was notable superior to that originally supplied, John 2:9. This doesn’t indicate an inferior wine was originally used, but that Jesus made the best, as He now provides the best. The best wine was generally served first so that the people could indulge, and not be able to tell that the wine had deteriorated.

We can see the result of a miracle in John 2:11. The miracle manifested His glory, showing Jesus power over Natural laws, showing His credentials as the Word. Not just to save embarrassment at the wedding, but to bring about greater faith as the disciple did. This was the purpose of His miracles throughout His ministry. John 20:30-31.

The Wine

This event alone can’t be used to justify or condemn drinking, the text doesn’t tells us if it was alcoholic wine or not, this isn’t in the context of the verses. The passage is to demonstrate His miraculous power and its result. Don’t miss the trees because you can see the forest.

This miracle was a very fundamental one, Jesus changed the structure of the water, He made it something it wasn’t before. The miracle demonstrated His Deity, it met a real need and it illustrated spiritual truth. John doesn’t say what truth He intends to illustrate, but the obvious idea is change or transformation.

Is Drinking Alcohol Sinful?

Drinking alcohol isn’t a sin in and of itself. For example, in the Bible we see that wine is a covenant blessing, Genesis 27:28 / Deuteronomy 7:13 / Deuteronomy 11:14 / Deuteronomy 33:28. Wine was also a blessed and acceptable offering to God, Numbers 15:5-10.

God approved and encouraged the use of wine, Deuteronomy 14:26. And arguably in large doses under certain conditions, Proverbs 31:6-7.

Wine is to be enjoyed inappropriate ways, inappropriate settings, including its use to make ‘life merry’, Ecclesiastes 10:19 / John 2:1-10.

Drunkenness

Look at the mess Noah and his family got themselves into after Noah got drunk, Genesis 9:20-25. What the bible does condemn is getting drunk, Ecclesiastes 10:17 / Romans 13:13 / Ephesians 5:18 / Galatians 5:19-21 / Romans 13:13 / 1 Peter 4:3.

The heart of these commandments is that we avoid any drunkenness and loose living, whether caused by alcohol or any other substance. In short, there are ways to drink alcohol that aren’t sinful, as well as ways to drink alcohol that are sinful.

But be careful, prevention is better than cure, having permission to drink, doesn’t give us permission to get drunk, Galatians 5:1 / Jude 1:4.

Jesus Clears The Temple Courts

‘After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts, he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So, he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.’ John 2:12-25

Capernaum seems to be the centre point from where Jesus conducted His ministry and perhaps Jesus’ own city, Matthew 9:1. Here we find the last reference to Mary as His mother before His death and resurrection.

Jesus clearing the temple is also mentioned in Matthew 21:12 / Mark 11:15-17 / Luke 19:45, but here, John places this at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, while the other Gospels place the cleansing of the Temple at the end. There are differences in the accounts, which means Jesus cleansed the Temple more than once.

This incident indicates the dishonesty, hypocrisy, and prejudice at the heart of Israel’s religious life and it helps us to understand that a head-on clash between Jesus and the religious authorities is inevitable.

Jesus made time to be with His family and friends, like the people of Nazareth but the people in Jesus’ adopted town don’t accept Him as the Messiah. They rejected His signs and Him as the Messiah and they rejected His signs and Him as a person, Matthew 11:23-26.

The term ‘brothers’ used here together with the term ‘disciples’, John 4:12, proves that Jesus had physical brothers, Matthew 13:55, not only spiritual brothers which tells us that Mary wasn’t a virgin throughout her life.

Passover Feast

The Passover, Exodus 12, was a feast implemented to commemorate God ‘passing-over’ the marked houses just before the Exodus was held on the 14th of the first month, the month of Nisan, or Abib, April, Numbers 28:16-31. It was held in the early spring of every year.

The idea of going ‘up to Jerusalem’ was said as Jerusalem was a capital city. All Jewish men were required to celebrate this feast in Jerusalem, Deuteronomy 16:16, and it has been estimated that up to 250,000 lambs may have been slaughtered at this time.

At the time of the Passover, people came from long distant countries to celebrate the feast. As a result, they didn’t bring animals for the sacrifice as they were commanded with them, Exodus 12:3 / Exodus 12:6, and so the locals would then set up shops at this time of the year to fill this need.

The Problem

The problem was that these shops got out of hand and had slowly been erected closer and closer to the temple until they were erected inside.

They started selling outside and then moved into the court of the Gentiles, where the Gentile went to pray, then it became simply a money-making exercise. They would sell second rate lambs and other animals at first-rate prices.

The Money Changers

The money changers, John 2:14, would take the foreign money and exchange it for the local money at high-interest rates, to pay the necessary temple tax. It was this trading that ripped off the sincere worshipper that Christ objected to. You can also imagine the mess that the thousands of animals would make in the Temple courtyards, John 2:15.

The Whip

The whip, John 2:15, was made up of several cords braided together. The fact that Jesus took time to make this whip shows that His anger was not out of control, He was composed and knew what He was doing. It was a formidable weapon to those about to get a whipping from it, but it’s unlikely that Jesus hit anybody.

Jesus made quite a scene at this time, upsetting the tables and chasing the animals, John 2:16, and it must have been disruptive to those at worship at that time. The phrase ‘My Father’s house’, John 2:16, must have turned some heads, as it refers to Jesus claiming Deity.

At this point it is mentioned that Jesus’ followers remembered this passage of scripture ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’, John 2:17 / Psalms 69:9. They may have thought of this at the time, or at a later date after the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, this gives the Psalms a messianic ring.

Jesus speaks in almost a riddle fashion in John 2:18-22. The people demand an explanation of His authority but He didn’t need any authority to remove those who were defiling the Temple, John 2:18.

They didn’t realise that Jesus spoke of His body but thought of the Temple. The body of Christ was rebuilt in the three days before His resurrection, John 2:19-11. When He arose, the temple became a useless artefact, and His body became the church in which all Christians now reside.

This was remembered by the apostles, after His resurrection, and was the cause of even greater faith, John 2:22. They must also have realised the full meaning behind this declaration of Jesus in that He is talking about His time in the tomb.

The Temple

The Temple had taken 46 years to build, John 2:20, it was started around 20 BC, the main work was finished in 10 BC, which gives us the date of this statement at AD 26. The Temple was still being worked on when it was destroyed in 70 AD. Some of the blocks used in building the temple were 15 feet square by 4 feet high.

The original temple was built on ground purchased by David and built by Solomon, 2 Samuel 24:18-25 / 2 Chronicles 3:1. It was by a long shot, the grandest and rich of the temples, and once it was destroyed its grandeur was never recaptured. It was destroyed in 586 B.C. by the rampant Babylonians.

A new temple, Zerubbabel’s temple, was built in 520 B.C. after its foundations were laid in 536 B.C. Zechariah 4:9. This was rebuilt by Herod in 20 B.C. and the work was paid for before a start was made, and the sanctuary took just 18 months to complete, however, was still going on in Jesus’ time about 46 years later?

It is thought that work wasn’t yet complete in the outer areas when this last temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by Romans. The site is now being used by Muslims who have built a Mosque, the Dome of the Rock.

Much is currently being said in Israel about rebuilding a temple. However political considerations regarding the current Mosque on the site prevent this.

The internal area was 33 ½ acres. Some wall blocks were 15 by 4 feet. Built with cream-coloured stone, with spikes on the roof. It was topped off with gold. There was also a plaque on the wall which read, ‘a no enter sign’ warning of death to all non-Jews who enter in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Arabic.

The Temple was divided into two parts, the Holy Place, with the altar of incense, golden candlestick and table of shewbread. The second part is the Holy of Holies, the heart of the temple, entered into only once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. The different courts emphasised the strata of religious society, the more important you are, the closer you get to the Holy of Holies.

The two parts were separated by a veil, made of thick cloth. This is the veil that separated man and God and it was torn in two at the point of Christ’s death.

The Inner court or priests court was reserved only for priests, and the sacrifice was burnt on the alter located there. The Antonia Fortress was a Roman fortress, that they used to keep an eye on the happenings on the Temple grounds.

There is a general statement regarding happenings at the Passover feast and the emphasis is on the close connection between signs and faith, John 2:23. John’s purpose stated in John 20:30-31, furnishes the key. The signs recorded are in order that the readers might come to faith in Jesus as the Christ and son of God.

But here there is an unexpected consideration, Jesus’ hesitation to trust them, John 2:24. Although some faith had been exercised, Jesus knew it draws attention to supernatural knowledge of human motives.

The faith was in the miracle and not in the miracle worker it points to, Jesus. Jesus didn’t need advice from others, because His knowledge was already perfect.

In John 2:25 we are told that Jesus ‘knew what was in man.’ Jesus knows our hearts. Hebrews 4:13 tells us that ‘all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.’ In Luke 16:15 we learn that God knows what is in the heart of every man.

Acts 1:24 tells us that God knows our hearts. Proverbs 15:3 tells us that the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the good and the evil. Ecclesiastes 12:14 tells us that God even knows secret things. God knows if we are sincere, or if we are hypocrites.

If we are not living the way we ought to, we are not fooling anybody. We may think we have the people around us fooled. We may think that we have our wife and our kids fooled. We may think that we have people at the church fooled.

But no one is really fooled. God is not mocked, Galatians 6:7-8. He will not be laughed at or made fun of. We will not trick God. God knows what is in our heart. He knows who we really are.

On the Day of Judgment, if we have not done what we should have done, and if we have not been sincere, but have had ulterior motives, we will not be right with God, Matthew 7:21-23.

God knows what is within our hearts. ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he’, Proverbs 23:7. God knows what we think in our hearts.

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