In John Chapter 2 we are continuing to read about the first miracle that Jesus performed: changing the water into wine at the marriage ceremony in Cana. John 2:5-10 says, "His mother said unto the servants, Whatsoever he says unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus said unto them Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he said unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not from where it came: (but the servants who drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And said unto him, Every man at the beginning sets forth good wine, and when men have drank it, then the wine which is worse is brought: but you have kept the good wine until now."
There are several things in this incident that have a symbolic and spiritual meaning. Mary said to the servants about Jesus, "Whatsoever He says unto you, do it;" the Holy Spirit says the same thing to the heart of those who believe in Jesus. No one can truly believe in Jesus unless they intend to also obey His commands and follow His teachings. Rom. 10:9 says, "That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." When it says to confess the Lord Jesus, it means Jesus as Lord, and that means a willingness to obey Him.
In this incident there were some very precise instructions given by Jesus to the men. He told them which water pots to use. He told the men how full to fill the pots with water. And he told them when to take to the governor to drink. Itís very important for believers to be submissive to and sensitive to the leading of the Lord. You must serve the Lord on His terms. The question should always be: ďWhat does the Lord want me to do?; and not, What do I want to doĒ?
In this first miracle that Jesus performed, He took ordinary water and changed it into the finest wine. When you give your life to God, He will take you as an ordinary human being and make you a child of God; and more than that, He will make you a prince or a princess to God because you are a child of the King, and you are a joint-heir of the glories of heaven. When Jacob believed, God said to him, "You shall be called Israel," which means a prince with God.
John 2:11 says, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him." The primary reason that Jesus changed the water into wine was the same as the primary reason for all the other miracles that He performed: to prove that He was the Son of God. There were always other reasons for the miracles that he did, and lessons to be learned from each of them; but the primary reason was to prove His divinity. After Jesus did His miracles, some believed and some did not believe. The same thing still happens. Godís Word is proclaimed and some believe and others do not believe. Anyone who does not believe the Word of God, would not believe even if they saw Jesus perform a miracle. But the disciples believed when they saw Jesus perform the miracles. We do not have the privilege of seeing Jesus do such things, but we have the next best thing: we can read about the miracles from the eyewitnesses, as we are doing now here in the Gospel according to John.
John 2:12 says, "After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brothers, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days." Capernaum was a city bigger than Nazareth that was near the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus left Nazareth at the age of thirty, He dwelt in the city of Capernaum. He had His own house in Capernaum, and many of the incidents recorded in the gospels took place in that house. Mark 2:15 says, "And it came to pass that as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus..." We do not know how Jesus obtained the house. Perhaps it was given to Him, and perhaps He bought it with money He saved all those years that He was a carpenter. Jesus and His disciples were often on the road visiting other towns, but they always came back to Capernaum: both because many of the disciples were from Capernaum and because Jesus had a house there. We commonly call the Lord, Jesus of Nazareth because He lived there for many years, but we could also call Him Jesus of Capernaum because that was His place of residence during the three years of His public work.
John 2:13 says, "And the Jewsí Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." The Passover was a yearly Jewish celebration that was done in remembrance of the last plague that came upon Egypt when Moses was the leader of the people of Israel. God told the children of Israel that they would be protected from the plague; which was the death of the firstborn, by putting the blood of the innocent animal over the doorposts. God said, "When I see the blood I will pass over you." Hence the Passover. The message was this: the only way to have the judgment of God to pass over you was to have an innocent one to suffer in your place. The message is also that God is a merciful God who will provide a means to protect those who believe in Him.
Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover because He was a Jew, and He went there in order to present Himself as the Messiah. He could not stay in Jerusalem very long because the religious leaders wanted to have Him put to death as soon as they realized that His teachings were a threat to their own power and position. They will eventually kill Him, but not until He allows it: not until the time would come for Him to die for the sins of the world. Jesus went to the Jewish Passover celebration, but we no longer celebrate the Passover because Jesus is our Passover. He is the innocent one who suffered in our place. When God sees us, His judgment passes over us, because He sees the blood of Jesus that was shed for our sins. Jesus is the Passover lamb that God has provided. Remember when John the Baptist saw Jesus, John said, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
The Passover presents for us an interesting piece of information concerning details about the timeline of the public work of Jesus. Jesus began His public work in Judea at the baptism of John the Baptist. Then Jesus went with some of the disciples back to Galilee, attended the marriage in the town of Cana, returned to Capernaum, and eventually came to Jerusalem for a short time for the celebration of the Passover. The Passover that is mentioned in John Chapter 2 is the first of three Passovers mentioned in the Gospel of John. The second one is mentioned in John Chapter 6:4. In other words one year elapsed between John Chapter 2 and John Chapter 6. A third Passover is mentioned in John 11:55. We have three Passovers and therefore, three years for the duration of the public work of Jesus.
One of the things to look for in the study of the Bible is the things that are emphasized and the things that are made the most clear. God has given to us the Bible in order that we might know the things that He wants us to know about spiritual realities. Some things are more important than others; even Jesus said that two of the commandments were greater than all the other commandments. The things that are the most important in the Bible, God has emphasized the most. Some people strain at a gnat, but swallow a camel. They get things out of sync and out of order: they emphasize things that they ought not to emphasize. Some things we cannot compromise about, because they are too important, but other things are less important and we should be willing to compromise on the things that are less important. If you know what God emphasizes, then you will know what you should emphasize in what you believe.
In the Gospel of John we know what is emphasized just by looking at the time-line. The first eleven chapters involve a period of several years in the life of Jesus, and the last ten chapters involve a period of about one-week. The last week in the life of Jesus, the event detailing His death and resurrection are given the greatest emphasis in the gospel of John. We are told very little about the first thirty years of the life of Jesus, probably because Jesus came into the world to die for the sins of the world. Itís how Jesus died and why He died that has the greatest significance. If you understand what was really happening in the last week of the life of Jesus, then you will understand the most important thing in the gospel of John.
As we go through the book of John verse by verse, we are following Jesus to His death. Many of the things that Jesus taught during the three years were for the purpose of preparing His disciples for His death, and many of the incidents that happened in the life of Jesus were for the purpose of proving that He was the Messiah. He was the chosen one, and He was worthy to die for the sins of the world. In this first trip to Jerusalem at the Passover, Jesus was revealing Himself as the Messiah to the people of Jerusalem. The first place that Jesus went in Jerusalem was the temple. The temple was the center of the religious life of the community. The first temple was built by King Solomon almost 1,000 years before Christ, so we are talking about a very long tradition of having the temple as the central place of worship. This first incident about Jesus and the temple is very revealing. The life of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus were revelations of greater truth than had ever been revealed before. Jesus emphasized the spiritual worship of the one, true God in a way that had never been emphasized before. "the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Jesus would say things about the temple that had never been said before, and He would reveal things about the temple that had never been revealed before. Jesus fulfilled the law, and then in many ways He set aside things that were taught in the law, because Jesus taught a higher law: the law of mercy and of grace. We will find that because of the teachings and the actions of Jesus, the temple worship was done away with, the priesthood was done away with, and the animal sacrifices and all of the ceremonies surrounding them were also done away with. The innermost sanctuary of the temple was considered to be the holiest place of all because it represented the presence of God. The entrance to the holiest place was covered by a curtain that was called the veil of the temple. No one was allowed to enter except the priest, and he was only allowed once a year. But when Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was miraculously torn in two. This symbolized the fact that the temple and what it stood for was done away with. No longer is there a restriction on entering the holy presence of God. Every believer is now invited to come boldly into the presence of God, because of Jesus. There need be no fear and no restriction, and there need be no priesthood that has a greater privilege than any other believer.
John 2:14-17 says, "And Jesus found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when He had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changerís money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things from here; make not my Fatherís house a house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of your house has eaten me up."
What Jesus found in the temple were not people who were interested in serving God, but people who were interested in using religion for their own economic advantage. What had happened to the religion of the Jews is what usually happens to organized religion: it became corrupted over time. The same thing has happened to many Christian churches. When the religious organization is first started, itís small and carried along only by the faith and dedication of its members. But as it grows, money becomes more and more the moving force behind its existence. A religious organization over time will build buildings and buy land, and its net worth will increase vastly as it grows. The number of people on the staff will also increase as well as the size of their salaries. What you end up with is a situation where there is a lot of money to be gained or to be lost by many people who now have their personal finances and their personal livelihood tied up in the religion. Thatís a circumstance that can be easily corrupted. It certainly corrupted the temple worship during the time of Jesus. God established the temple worship, but there came a time when it was corrupted: and the same one who established it, did away with it.
When Jesus came into the temple, He was so disgusted with those who were using the temple for financial gain, that He ran them and their animals out of the temple, and He turned over their tables and poured out their money onto the ground. Jesus said that His Fatherís house was not a house that was made for the buying and selling of merchandise. If you are involved in a religious organization, if you are not careful, the love of money will over-shadow the love of God.
The disciples recognized that what Jesus did was the fulfillment of a Messianic prophesy, and they quoted from Psalm Chapter 69. The Jewish leaders also knew that the authority that Jesus manifested in the cleansing of the temple was the kind of action that only someone like the Messiah would do. John 2:18 says, "Then answered the Jews and said unto him, what sign will you show us, seeing you will do these things?" But Jesus did not give them a sign. He did not perform miracles as part of a debate with the unbelieving religious hypocrites: He only performed miracles for the benefit of His disciples and for the benefit of the poor and the sinful and the downtrodden: in order to strengthen their faith. Those who do not want to believe will find every reason to continue in unbelief, and on the other hand, those who do want to believe will find every reason to believe. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: "Seek and you shall find." God does not prove Himself to those who have already decided not to believe.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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