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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

From the New Testament Book of John

I urge you to open your Bible and read the scriptures for yourself.  Pray for guidance in His word and let the Holy Spirit lead you.  If you would like to share, add your thoughts on this passage of scripture in the comments.

John Chapter 2

John Chapter 2 is a shorter chapter in the book of John.  It accounts two events.

1) The miracle at Cana – the Wedding Feast.

2) Cleansing the temple – the First Time.

The Miracle at Cana

Verses 1-10 give account of the miracle of turning the water into wine for a wedding feast in Cana.  I would like to note something that needs to be applied every time we open our Bibles.  We must keep a few things in mind when reading all of God’s word: the time period and the culture.  There are other things to keep in mind that will come up eventually, but these two things are important for this chapter. If we do not consider those things, we will allow our own emotions and ideals to lead our perception of the scriptures.  Misperceptions can lead us to deny or misrepresent Jesus. I noticed a few things that might warrant mentioning from this text that are different from our modern language.

First, I have heard some people say that the way Jesus addressed his mother was disrespectful.  I have even heard some preachers, say that Jesus was allowed to disrespect his mother because of his deity.  I would never call, my mother “woman.” She would hurt me. No, seriously, she would hurt me! This is a prime example of why we must consider time and customs when reading God’s word.  During the time John is making this record, “woman” was indeed a show of respect.  It would be the equivalent of us saying, “Ma’am” or “Madam” or even “Mother.” Jesus was not disrespecting his mother, nor do I believe he would present himself as a disrespectful son. Jesus was without blame or sin.

Second, the word wine is used.  During this time, it was the custom to have “wine” at meals.  The water collected often came from wells or streams that were full of sand, bacteria, and all the little organisms that we see under microscopes.  Although they did not have a microscope to see what was in their drinking water, they did know that something had the potential to make them sick. So, to save their clean drinking water for later, they drank “wine.”  Why is wine surrounded by quotation marks?  The word wine is used here in this passage of scripture as translated into our language, but the actual origin of the word is simply translated “fruit of the vine.”  I’m not saying they did not drink fermented wine during the first century A.D. I am saying that we cannot just assume that they were drinking fermented wine especially since there is no drunkenness mentioned in this passage.

Going back to verse 4, Jesus says his hour is not yet come.  He was saying that he was not yet ready to reveal His ultimate reason for being and that this “concern” over a lack of a wedding beverage was small in comparison to His concerns, death on the cross.  Mary seems to understand what he is saying because she tells the servants to obey Jesus.  She doesn’t argue with him, she continues to move forward.  Also, looking down to verse 12, we see that Jesus’ brothers were present as well.  This wedding was likely for someone they all knew and since the servants appear to listen to her, Mary was likely in charge of some of the details, hence her concern for the lack of wine.

The water pots mentioned in verse 6 were not your ordinary vessels to collect water.  They were for “purifying” of the Jews. In other words, they were the pots of water collected for washing the dust off of everyone’s feet upon entering the house.  It wasn’t the clean drinking water. It was the water for everyday use.  I have had good drinking water and I have had some bad drinking water.  This was not the good drinking water that makes you say, “Oh that was a good cup of thirst-quenching water!”

Jesus tells the servants to fill the water pots with water and take some to the governor or master of the feast. He drinks and is surprisingly satisfied with what he receives.  While many people notice that Jesus is turning one substance into another substance, they miss the fact that the substance Jesus makes is better than any substance man can make.  Jesus takes ordinary water and makes it remarkable.  I think about this and consider how Jesus takes ordinary sinful mankind and uses us for the furtherance of His kingdom.  I in myself am not worthy nor able to carry out such a plan as Jesus has; but, when I trust in Him and put my faith in His plan, I can be used by Jesus.

Also, the Bible tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”  Nothing compares to the taste of the mercy of the Lord.  The salvation, the peace, the hope – nothing compares.  Jesus offers us the best!  There is nothing as good as the Living Water.  Nothing satisfies our souls like the living water that Jesus offers.  Jesus transforms our souls.

Verse 11 indicates that this is the first of many miracles and the manifestation of his glory that led his disciples to further believe He alone was the prophesied messiah.

The Cleansing of the Temple

               Verses 13-17 is the only account of Jesus cleansing the temple in his early ministry.  The other gospels give an account of the cleansing the week before Jesus’ death on the cross.  Jesus cleansed the temple twice.  I take that to mean the “temple” is important to Jesus.

This is another place that it helps to understand the time and customs.  Travelling to Jerusalem, people did not bring animals with them for sacrifice.  They did however have money on them.  It was customary to have a priest make a sacrifice during Passover. In order to do so, travelers would buy the sacrifice upon arrival in Jerusalem.  Instead of the money changers (currency exchange) and those selling animals sitting out in the marketplaces, they had taken up shop inside the temple.  In other words, the house of worship had become a retail shop with an ATM.

Justifiably so, Jesus removed these people from the temple.  They had perverted worship and forgotten the reason for going to the house of the Lord in the first place. The house of worship should be all about giving praise to the Lord, awe of the Lord, humble worship and prayer.  It is not a place for self-service or entertainment. If we enter the house of the Lord to make an appearance, to profit anything, to express your approval or disapproval of the sermon, the songs, the arrangement of the seating, or because you feel you’re doing a favor to the Lord, we may want to do some soul searching.  Jesus was passionate about the temple being used correctly.  He is no less passionate about it today, whether it be the church building or our bodies.

The disciples remembered David’s psalm where he said, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” David respected the house of the Lord and was disturbed by those who did not respect it as much as he did.  We too should have zeal for the house of the Lord and how it is used.


Verse 18:

The Jews asked Jesus on what authority he did these things. They neglected to ask themselves if this was something they should have done themselves.  They were more concerned with who had the authority than if it was justified.  They did not examine their own hearts.  We all need to examine our own hearts before we ask someone else to account for their deeds. Yes, we can make some judgements, but only with the right heart.

Jesus had already shown on what authority he cleared the temple through his zeal for the house of the Lord.  He did it on God’s authority.  Jesus’ response was the sign, but none would realize that until after his resurrection as John mentions in verse 22.  The temple Jesus spoke of in verse 19 was his own body.  The Jews would destroy his fleshly body and Jesus would raise up that some fleshly body in three days. The response of the Jews in verse 20 shows how they just didn’t get that they were standing before God.

Verses 23-25:

Many people believed and trusted in Jesus after seeing miracles.  Verse 24 says he did not commit himself to them. In other words, Jesus did not trust that his fate was safe with them because he knows the hearts of man.  He knew exactly who would betray him and he knew who would try to hinder him. He knew who would love him and he knew who would stand with him.  Jesus knows the hearts of all men.  We may be able to fool men with words, but not God. He knows our thoughts, good and bad.

Although Jesus is angry toward sin, he made the sacrifice that saves us.  His mercy and grace is free to any who will accept it. He transforms us as he did the water. He purifies us as he did the temple. He loves us and died for our sins on the cross and rose on the third day.