You are on page 1of 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

T HE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND T HE PURGING O F T HE T EMPLE (John 2)

IS THERE SOMETHING IN THE BIBLE THAT PUZZLES YOU? If so please EMail us wit h your quest ion and we will do our best t o give you a sat isf act ory answer.EMailus. (But pref erably not f rom aol.com, f or some reason t hey do not deliver our messages). FREE Scholarly verse by verse comment aries on t he Bible. THE PENTATEUCH --- GENESIS ---EXODUS--- LEVITICUS --- NUMBERS --DEUTERONOMY --- THE BOOK OF JOSHUA --- THE BOOK OF JUDGES --- SAMUEL --KINGS --- PSALMS 1-50--- ECCLESIASTES--- SONG OF SOLOMON --- ISAIAH --JEREMIAH --- EZEKIEL --- DANIEL --- --- HOSEA --- --- JOEL ------ AMOS --- --- OBADIAH -- --- JONAH --- --- MICAH --- --- NAHUM --- --- HABAKKUK--- --- ZEPHANIAH --- --HAGGAI --- ZECHARIAH --- --- MALACHI --- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW ---THE GOSPEL OF MARK--- THE GOSPEL OF LUKE --- THE GOSPEL OF JOHN --- THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES --- READINGS IN ROMANS --- 1 CORINTHIANS --- 2 CORINTHIANS -Clo s e Ad -GALATIANS --- EPHESIANS--- PHILIPPIANS --- COLOSSIANS --- 1 THESSALONIANS --2 THESSALONIANS --- 1 TIMOTHY --- 2 TIMOTHY --- TITUS --- HEBREWS --- JAMES --- 1 & 2 PETER --- JOHN'S LETTERS --- JUDE --- REVELATION --- THE GOSPELS & ACTS

COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN


By Dr Pet er Pet t BA BD (Hons-London) DD

Helping at a Wedding and Cleansing the Temple - John 2


The Wedding at Cana (2.1-12). The incident at t he wedding in Cana of Galilee is said by t he writ er t o be t he f irst of Jesus signs. This brings out how import ant what happened here was seen t o be. It was t o be seen as a specif ic sign of Who He was. It is t o be seen, t heref ore, as more t han just a nat ure miracle. And t hat should cause us t o look at it caref ully. John is in f act t he only one who describes Jesus miraculous act s as signs. But we must be caref ul how we int erpret t he word sign. For t he word is not used in t he sense in which some would use it t oday as signif ying proof s (t his is clearly emphasised in 2.2325). Rat her t hey were signs because t hey revealed somet hing of His person, His glory and His purpose. In ot her words t hey are signs because t hey demonst rat e somet hing of Who and What He is. We should not e in t his regard t hat John st resses t hat t hese signs act ually occurred and were wit nessed by t he disciples and by ot hers. Many ot her signs did Jesus in the presence of His disciples --- but t hese are writ t en t hat you may believe t hat Jesus is t he Christ , t he Son of God, and believing might f ind lif e t hrough His Name (20.30-31). There are seven such signs described in Johns Gospel: The The The The The The The t urning of wat er int o wine (2.1-12). healing at a dist ance of t he son of t he high of f icial at Herods court (4.46-54). healing of t he lame man on t he Sabbat h (5.1-16). f eeding of t he f ive t housand (6.1-15). walking on t he wat er of t he Sea of Galilee (6.16-26). healing of t he man blind f rom birt h (9.1-41). raising of Lazarus (11.1-46).

It will be not ed t hat each of t he signs point s eit her t o His Messiahship or His divinit y. The f irst has in mind t he promise of f ull f lowing wine in Isaiah 25.6 which is t o t ake place when God t akes away t he veil t hat is over mens eyes and when deat h is swallowed up, and consolat ion and joy is given t o all who are His (Isaiah 25.7-8). It also indicat es t hat t he old rit ual is passing away t o be replaced by t he new wine of t he Spirit . The second reveals Jesus cont rol over nat ure f rom a dist ance by a word, and t he healing of a dying man, and provides an example of what f ait h can accomplish. The t hird has in mind t hat in t he coming age t he lame would be healed (Isaiah 35.6; compare Mat t hew 11.5), and demonst rat es t hat Jesus is Lord over t he Sabbat h. But not e how t here is no alt erat ion t o t he st ory so as t o have t he lame man leaping so as t o f ulf il Script ure (t he writ er could easily have added t his t ouch had he been t hus minded, but he st uck wit h t he f act s. The lame man in Act s 3 does leap when he is healed). So John is t rue t o t he f act s. The f ourt h is t he f ulf ilment of t he common expect ancy of t he Messianic f east as He gives t hem bread f rom heaven t o eat . It also gives evidence of Jesus abilit y t o f eed mens
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 1 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

heart s (6.35). The f if t h demonst rat es His power t o cont rol nat ure and His abilit y t o walk on t he seas as described of God in t he Psalms (see Psalm 77.19). The sixt h is a f urt her f ulf ilment of t he promises in Isaiah 35.4-5 indicat ing t hat t he last days have come, and t hat t he t ime has come f or t he opening of mens eyes. The sevent h reveals His power over deat h and t he cert aint y of t he f ut ure resurrect ion at His command (25.28-29; Isaiah 25.8). In t his f irst ext raordinary sign we are f aced up wit h t he creat ive power of God t hrough Jesus. (All t hings were made by Him, and wit hout Him was not anyt hing made t hat was made - 1.3). By creat ing wine Jesus reveals Himself t heref ore as t he One Who has come t o bring joy t o t he world t hrough His creat ive power. It revealed t hat He could do it by a word, or even a t hought . For He made no movement t owards t he jars of wat er. He simply det ermined t hat t hey should hold wine, and t hey did. He would lat er do t he same in t he second sign when He healed t he kings of f icers son at a dist ance (4.46-54). Here was t he power of t he Word, or even of t he t hought . A f urt her st ress indicat ed by t he account is on t he f act of a change f rom t he old rit ual t rut hs t o new t rut hs which will bring lif e, joy and sat isf act ion. The wat er of t he old rit uals (in vessels set aside f or purif icat ory rit es) is t urned int o t he wine of t he new message t hat Jesus has brought . And behind t he new wine lies t he t hought of t he new age, f or such an abundance of wine was a symbol of t he coming age in Isaiah 25.6; Amos 9.14; Hosea 14.6-7; and Jeremiah 31.5, 12, and it was an abundance t hat was t o be wit hout money and wit hout price (Isaiah 55.1). This was t heref ore an import ant symbolic act depict ing t he int roduct ion of a new era. And it will t hen signif icant ly be f ollowed by t he change t hat He will demand in t he Temple whereby it was t o cease t o be a market place and was t o become t ruly His Fat hers house, a house f or all nat ions. The old was t o be t urned int o somet hing bet t er. It also symbolises t he change t hat He will require in Nicodemus as a t eacher of Israel, indicat ing his need t o be born f rom above (3.1-7), and t he change t hat He will speak of t o t he Samarit an woman in t he way t hat God is t o be worshipped (4.3-24), and t he change f rom looking t o t he old bread f rom Heaven given by Moses, t o looking t o t he new bread f rom Heaven, which is Himself (6.15-51). From now on all is t o be change. The old wat er is t o t urn int o wine. 2.1-2 And t he t hird day t here was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and t he mot her of Jesus was t here, and Jesus also was bidden, and his disciples, t o t he marriage. Not e once again t he t ime element , on t he t hird day (v.1), presumably t he t hird day af t er leaving t he place where Nat haniel received his call. Or it may be t he t hird day af t er arriving in Galilee. This series of event s f rom 1.19 onwards was imbedded in t he writ ers mind as a vivid memory of a f ew, glorious, never t o be f orgot t en days. On t he t hird day does not necessarily indicat e t hat t hree days have passed. It may simply ref er t o a day and a half (complet ing one day, t hen a second, and t he commencement of a t hird), or perhaps a lit t le longer t han t hree days. It indicat ed a short period. Had t he writ er int ended t o point t o t he sevent h day he would surely have ment ioned it . There was a marriage at Cana in Galilee. A marriage was a t ime when t he whole t own would join t oget her. Af t er t he ceremony t here would be f east ing last ing seven days, and anyone known t o t he couple would f eel f ree t o come (and even some who werent ). Jesus and His mot her were clearly known t o t he organisers, as were possibly t he accompanying disciples, f or t hey t oo were locals. Thus t hey were all invit ed. (Alt hough it may be t hat as Nat haniel act ually came f rom Cana, t he combined invit at ion t o t he disciples was due t o his inf luence - 21.20). However, such wedding were of t en very much open af f airs. There is no need t o t hink t hat all t he t welve were t here. They had not yet been appoint ed. They would be appoint ed lat er. His disciples simply ref ers t o t hose who were f ollowing Him at t he t ime, and may have been only t wo or t hree. Apart f rom Philip and Nat haniel we know neit her t heir number or t heir names. The sit e of Cana is not yet cert ain, alt hough it was presumably not f ar f rom Nazaret h. If Pet er and Mat t hew were not present at t he wedding, as seems quit e likely, it explains why t hey knew lit t le or not hing about it . Such weddings would be occasions of celebrat ion and f east ing which helped t o make what was seen as t he daily grind t olerable during t he rest of t he t ime. It was t heref ore a mat t er of honour t o ensure t hat t hey went well. The marriage f east it self would usually t ake place in t he evening, and af t er t he marriage covenant had been signed t he couple would be escort ed t o a specially prepared room, t he chuppa. The f east ing would t hen cont inue f or a number of days, wit h much music and hilarit y. It would be a welcome break f rom t oil and labour. It was a point of honour t o ensure t hat t he guest s were provided f or. To f ail t o do so adequat ely would be a mat t er of great shame. His disciples. This phrase suggest s an early dat e f or t he narrat ive bef ore His disciples (as in Mark) cryst allised int o t he disciples (Mat t hew and Luke). It indicat es t hat t he writ er st ill recognised t he need t o dist inguish His disciples f rom t he disciples of t he Rabbis and t he disciples of John. 2.3 And when t he wine f ailed, t he mot her of Jesus says t o him, They have no wine. We do not know at what point t he wine f ailed, whet her at t he marriage f east or in t he
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 2 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

lat er f est ivit ies, but eit her way it was a shamef ul t hing f or t he f amilies concerned. They could have suf f ered reproach f or many years t o come. So, when t he wine began t o run out it would be seen as a cat ast rophe. It would signif y t hat t he povert y st ricken f amilies had been unable t o live up t o requirement s. Thus when Jesus mot her learned what had happened, she would realise immediat ely what it would mean f or t he f amilies and her t hought s t hus t urned immediat ely t o her eldest son Jesus, and she went t o Him and indicat ed t o Him t hat t hey have no wine. The f act t hat t he wine did run out would suggest t hat t he f amily concerned were very poor and had not been able t o f und t he wedding f ully (t he servant s may well have been volunt eers), but it would make t heir shame clear t o all. If t heir means were very limit ed t his could easily happen as t he f east ing during a wedding was not rest rict ed t o close relat ives, and t here would be many f riends and acquaint ances t here, not t o ment ion st rangers t aking advant age of what was on of f er. Out wardly t his is just Mary consult ing Jesus about whet her anyt hing can be done. But t o John, and possibly t o Jesus at t he t ime, t he words are more poignant . John sees it as a pict ure of t he world. The world indeed has religious ceremony galore, but it lacks t hat which f loods t he heart wit h joy, it lacks t he wine t hat sat isf ies (Isaiah 55.1). The world t oo has no wine. The lack of ment ion of Joseph, who would normally have at t ended such an af f air, and t he f act t hat Mary t urned t o Jesus as t he head of t he f amily, suggest s t hat Joseph was dead. 2.4 And Jesus says t o her, Woman, what is t here t o you and t o me, my hour is not yet come. That Marys words are not just a quiet remark t o her son comes out in t he reply He made. It makes clear t hat He knew t hat she hoped t hat He would be able t o do somet hing remarkable, revealing some of t he powers she now suspect ed t hat He had. On t he ot her hand she knows t hat she cannot t ell Him what t o do. She can only draw His at t ent ion t o t he sit uat ion. Then t he decision will lie wit h Him. It is probable t hat Joseph was already dead and t hat she had become used t o leaning on her eldest son. But t he coming of t he Messiah was of t en described in connect ion wit h a Messianic Feast (compare Isaiah 25.6) and it is quit e possible she saw t his as an opport unit y f or Him t o reveal Himself . Like most of t he ot hers she saw t he Messiah as someone who would bring peace and plent y and as His mot her she could not wait f or Him t o be a success. Perhaps, she possibly t hought , now was t he t ime f or Him t o begin His great er minist ry (compare 7.3-4). She would have heard of what He had already done in Judea. Jesus reply is f airly st ern, but not as st ern as it might appear. Woman is dif f icult t o put int o English because we do not have a word t hat means t he equivalent . In Yorkshire it could be t ranslat ed lass, (in Scot land lassie), which can be an af f ect ionat e t erm in t he same way as t his. It probably cont ains t he sense of gent le chiding, but no more. It was, however, unusual f or a Jew t o address his mot her in t his way. We must t heref ore see in it a slight dist ancing of Himself , indicat ing t hat His minist ry must not be int erf ered wit h. What He says lit erally is, What is t here t o you and t o me?. The phrase can be used (1) When one person is unjust ly bot hering anot her. The injured part y may t hen say "What t o me and t o you?" meaning, "What have I done t o you t hat you should do t his t o me?" (See Judges 11.12; 2 Chronicles 35.21; 1 Kings 17.18). Alt ernat ely, (2) it may be used when someone is asked t o get involved in a mat t er he f eels is no business of his, he may say t o t he one asking him, "What t o me and t o you?" meaning, "That is your business, how am I involved?" (See 2 Kings 3.13; Hosea 14.8). Here t hen t his probably means, we have dif f erent concerns, lass, rat her t han t he harsher what have we in common? or why do you do t his t o me? It was not yet t he t ime when He wished t o reveal Himself , as He makes cryst al clear when He says my hour has not yet come. Even Jesus must await t he hour God has appoint ed f or Him, t he hour which will f inally result in His deat h and glorif icat ion (John 7.30; 8.20; 12.23; 12.27; 13.1; 17.1). Would Mary have been so precipit at e if she had known what was involved? It is hardly likely. How much more import ant is it f or us t hen, not t o rush int o t hings bef ore God and we are ready. Jesus words are signif icant . As we have already seen, in Johns Gospel His hour is regularly linked wit h His deat h. So Jesus may well already be f eeling aware of what His hour will bring (compare Mark 2.20) and not be desirous of bringing it about t oo quickly. It was not an easy pat h He would be called on t o t read, and He was f ully aware of t he consequences. Furt hermore it indicat es t hat even t he preparat ion f or t hat pat h was det ermined by His Fat her. He must not begin His revelat ion of Himself wit hout His Fat hers agreement . That f act having been made clear He apparent ly accept ed t hat t hat part icular hour had now come, t he hour f or showing His f irst sign of Who He Was. 2.5 His mot her says t o t he servant s, What ever he says t o you, do it . Mary clearly did not f eel His words as a rebuke, but just as a reminder t hat she must not
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 3 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

hurry Him int o His work. But she knows Him well enough t o know t hat He will do somet hing, somet hing which is apparent t o her f rom His at t it ude. So she t urns round and t ells t he wait ing servers, (possibly unpaid volunt eers), Do what ever He t ells you. The words may indicat e t hat she is expect ing Him t o do somet hing unusual which may t ake t he servers by surprise, or may simply indicat e her conf idence in His abilit y t o get t he people out of t he mess t hat t hey had got t hemselves int o. This incident illust rat es t he f act t hat , alt hough like t he disciples she accept s He is chosen f or a special t ask, Mary is not f ully in t une wit h her sons purposes. Jesus will lat er re-emphasise t his when He will not allow her t o int erf ere wit h His minist ry in ot her circumst ances (Mark 3.31-35), put t ing her on a par, f rom t hat point of view, wit h all who do t he will of God. Even His mot her cannot be allowed t o int erf ere in His dest iny. She now has no special inf luence over Him. 2.6 Now t here were six wat er pot s of st one set t here in accordance wit h t he Jewish cust om of purif ying, each cont aining t wo or t hree met ret es. Nearby Jesus sees six very large jars which were t here f or t he purpose of Jewish cleansing rit uals (compare Mark 7.3). The writ er remembers clearly t he number of t he jars. Perhaps he sees it as indicat ing int ensif ied t hree (t wice t hree) signif ying t ot al complet eness. Int erest ingly f ive disciples have been ment ioned and wit h Jesus Himself t his would make six, which would t ie in wit h t he number of wat er pot s, but t hat is t o assume t hat t hey were all st ill wit h Him which may well not have been so. Pet er and Andrew f or example may have ret urned home and back t o t heir f ishing. On t he ot her hand John, looking back, may have seen some signif icance in t he number. From t hem and f rom Himself Jesus would produce new wine and t hey would t ake Gods wine t o t he world. Much of t he wat er would have been used already as t he wedding f east was well under way, so He t ells t he servers t o ref ill t he jars. All t his det ail indicat es an eyewit ness. It is signif icant t hat John ment ions t he use of t he wat er pot s and describes t heir signif icance. He want s t o draw t he at t ent ion of his readers t o t he source of t he wat er, t hat it is connect ed wit h t he old religious rit es. Once again we recognise a genuine Jewish background. Met ret es is a measure cont aining about t hirt y nine and a half lit res. Thus each jar cont ains on average about a hundred lit res, (about 26 US gallons), making 600 lit res in all, illust rat ing t he f act t hat Jesus gives good measure and running over. It may, however, only have been t he wat er t hat was drawn out t hat became wine. 2.7 Jesus says t o t hem Fill t he wat er pot s wit h wat er. And t hey f illed t hem t o t he brim. On t he basis of Jesus inst ruct ion t o f ill t he wat er pot s wit h wat er t he servers ent husiast ically f ill t hem t o t he brim. They are probably curious as t o what He will do and perhaps a lit t le jocular. There may well have been a f ew humorous remarks such as let s make sure t here is plent y of wat er t here, just in case we have t o drink t hat . Again, however, John int ends us t o get t he idea of overabundance. 2.8-10 And he says t o t hem, Draw out now and carry it t o t he ruler of t he f east . And t hey carried it . And when t he ruler of t he f east t ast ed t he wat er now become wine, and did not know where it came f rom, (but t he servant s who had drawn t he wat er knew), t he ruler of t he f east called t he bridegroom and says t o him, Everyone serves t he good wine f irst , and when men have drunk f reely, t hen t hat which is worse. You have kept t he good wine unt il now. Jesus t hen t ells t hem t o draw out some wat er and carry it t o t he governor of t he f east . The poor man was probably in quit e a st at e. He might well have f elt t hat t he sit uat ion ref lect ed on him. Draw out now. Ant lesat e. The verb was used of drawing wat er out of a well or t he baling out of a ship, but could be used more generally t o signif y drawing out by means of some vessel, (t hus t he noun f or bucket (ant lema) is et ymologically similar). It should be not ed t hat t he wat er was not t here f or drinking. It was f or washing in order t o remove rit ual uncleanness. But now it would appear t o t hem t hat Jesus was t elling t hem t hat t he wat er was t o be drunk inst ead of wine. They probably did not at f irst realise t hat t hat was because it had become wine. They may well have t hought t hat Jesus was saying, here is your solut ion. But Jesus purpose was t o bring out t hat t he emphasis was no longer t o be on such t hings as out ward rit ual washing but was t o be on inward sust enance and blessing. The whole symbolism of t he wat er has been alt ered. When t he wat er was drawn and t aken t o t he mast er of ceremonies, t he mast er of ceremonies, who is not aware of what was happening, drinks it and is impressed. Indeed he calls t he bridegroom and says, Most people serve t he best wine f irst , and t hen when people are a lit t le merry give t hem cheaper wine. But you have saved t he best t ill last . There is not only overabundance but exquisit eness of t ast e. Jesus is bringing t he very best . It is a t rue Messianic f east . Abundance of wine is a symbol of t he coming age in Isaiah 25.6; Amos 9.14; Hosea 14.6-7; Jeremiah 31.5, 12, and it will be wit hout money and wit hout price (Isaiah 55.1). The best wine emphasises change f or t he bet t er, a new beginning.
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 4 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

The point is being made t hat in t he coming of Jesus t he world will be of f ered new and bet t er wine, replacing t he old religious ideas. This will short ly be illust rat ed in t he cleansing of t he Temple, His words t o Nicodemus and His words t o t he woman of Samaria. Compare how elsewhere new wine symbolises Jesus t eaching (Mark 2.22). There may also be in mind a previous t ime when wat er had been changed int o somet hing else, when Moses had t urned wat er int o blood (Exodus 7.14-24). It may indicat e t hat while Moses worked miracles of dest ruct ion, t he new great er t han Moses works miracles of joy and blessing (compare 1.17), bot h at t he hand of God. Indeed t he idea of red wine as symbolising blood would cert ainly have been in Johns mind when he wrot e 2.11 This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed openly his glory, and his disciples believed on him. The whole account illust rat es t o John t hat here is One Who will t ake t he old ceremonies (t he jars of purif icat ion) and replace t hem wit h a new and vibrant realit y, t he wine of t he Kingly Rule of God. The wat er of t he old religion will become t he wine of t he new, which will int roduce a new and wonderf ul f ut ure, a t ime of joy and f ruit f ulness, a Messianic Feast of overf lowing plent y. God has saved t he best unt il last . The Messiah is seen as here at last t o sat isf y mens deepest needs, and by His act ions He reveals His glory as t he provider of Gods richest blessing. This is why John can call it a sign, indeed t he f irst sign, of t he purpose Jesus has come t o f ulf il. The incident st rengt hens and conf irms t he f ait h of t he disciples (v.11). It indicat es t hat in one sense His hour has begun. This sense of t he import ance of t he t iming of all t hat He does comes out again in 7.6. But we must not just st op at t he symbolism. It was also a remarkable miracle indicat ing Jesus power over nat ure. It was a reminder t hat all t hings were made by Him (1.3). It t hus also indicat ed t hat He was t he Son of God, Gods powerf ul Word. The miracle happened as a result of His words (what ever He says t o you do it ). 2.12 Af t er t his he went down t o Capernaum, he and his mot her and his brot hers and his disciples, and t hey remained t here not many days. The writ er now remembers vividly how, af t er t his incident , t hey went t o Capernaum f or a f ew days, along wit h Jesus mot her and brot hers, where t hey all st ayed t oget her, anot her evidence of an eyewit ness. Not e t hat John never ment ions Mary by name. She is Jesus mot her, not someone import ant in her own right . So while respect ed she is made t o f it int o t he scheme of t hings. It will be not ed t hat t his comment has no signif icance f or t he st ory, and t hat elsewhere John has no dif f icult y in moving abrupt ly f rom one incident t o anot her. Why t hen does he include it here? The only sensible reason is t hat he remembers clearly what t hey did af t er t hey had been at t he wedding and so included it . There are some who express surprise t hat Jesus should perf orm such a miracle when it seemed t o have lit t le purpose, but t he f act is t hat it was an act t ypical of Jesus. When He want ed t o impress on His disciples t he bankrupt cy and coming devast at ion of Jerusalem he cursed t he f ig t ree, so t hat f rom it t he disciples might learn a vivid message and recognise His power (Mark 11.12-25), and when He want ed t o show t hem t hat t heir eyes were st ill only half open He healed t he blind man in t wo st ages (Mark 8.2225). So here He t urns wat er int o wine in order t o demonst rat e t hat t he days of spirit ual prosperit y and plent y are now here. In 4.46 He will come again t o Cana. In bet ween He will reveal: The t rue condit ion of t he Temple and of t hose who seek af t er signs (2.14-22), who are like t he old wat er of rit ualism wit h not hing t o warm mens heart s. The t rue condit ion of t he heart s of men who seek af t er signs (2.23-25) as exemplif ied in a t eacher of Israel, who was sat isf ied wit h t he old wat ers of Judaism and was missing t he wat er of t he Spirit (3.1-21). A discussion about t he old wat ers of purif ying, in cont rast wit h t he new wat ers of Johns bapt ism which point ed t o t he Spirit (3.25), which will be f ollowed by t he of f er of living wat er t o t he Samarit ans in place of t he old wat er of Jacob (4.4-43 especially verse 13). Then He ret urns t o Cana t o perf orm His second sign and f ind a genuine f ait h t hat does not seek af t er signs (4.46-54). The miracle of t he wat er t urned int o wine is t o be seen in it s f ull perspect ive. The Cleansing of t he Temple (2.13-25). It is dif f icult t o avoid t he f eeling t hat t his narrat ive is given here on close proximit y t o what has gone bef ore because it illust rat es t he f ulf ilment of t he t urning of wat er int o wine. Now Jesus will act t o t urn t he Jerusalem worship int o genuine worship f or all by seeking t o have banned f rom t he court of t he Gent iles t he t rading t hat was going on and dist urbing t he worship. That is not t o suggest t hat it is out of place chronologically. Only
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 5 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

t hat it s connect ion wit h t he previous passage is deliberat e. The suggest ion t hat t his is t he same incident as t hat in Mark 11 and parallels really does not hold up t o caref ul examinat ion. The det ail is dif f erent at every point . And what is described here t ies in wit h t he newness of Jesus minist ry and wit h a t ime when He was not aware of t he corrupt ion in t he Temple. It has rat her, unlike t he incident in t he ot her Gospels, t he f lavour of someone concerned f or t rue worship in Gods Temple, and f or t he purit y of t hat Temple. It reads like t he impulsive act of a new prophet rat her t han like t he t hought t hrough policy of Mark 11. 2.13 And t he Passover of t he Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up t o Jerusalem. John const ant ly t ells us t hat Jesus went up t o Jerusalem f or t he dif f erent Feast s of t he Jews, and especially f or t he Passover (1.13; 5.1; 7.10; 10.22; 11.55 wit h 12.12). But even if we had not been t old we would have assumed it . One point t hat is being made is t hat Jesus did not ignore t he t radit ions of Israel. It is probable also t hat t he writ er saw t hese f east s as point ing f orwards t owards what t he Christ had come t o do as t he Lamb of God Who would t ake away t he sins of t he world (1.29). This is apparent ly Jesus f irst Passover af t er t aking up His calling. Perhaps John t heref ore int ends us t o link it wit h t he f inal Passover, and t o bring t o us an awareness of t he shadow t hat lies already over t he minist ry of Jesus, somet hing t hat will come out in t he course of t he narrat ive. These verses emphasise t hat Jesus minist ry cont inued over some years. All t hese emphases underline t he Jewishness of t he writ er. However, t he incident he will now describe is paralleled at t he end of Jesus lif e by what at a superf icial f irst glance looks t o be a similar incident bef ore His f inal denunciat ion (Mark 11.12-19 and parallels), and t his must raise t he quest ion as t o whet her t here were t wo such incident s or one. It is of course always possible t hat John deliberat ely put s t he incident here in order t o reinf orce t he message t hat t he old is passing way and t he new has come (chronology was not a major f act or t o t he Gospel writ ers). He does, however, put it in such a cont ext t hat it suggest s t hat it did occur early rat her t han lat e in t he minist ry, and on examinat ion t he incident s are in f act so dissimilar on most count s t hat it seems f ar more likely t hat t his is a dif f erent incident alt oget her. Given t he f act t hat t he t rading in t he Temple must always have angered Jesus t his is not surprising, especially in view of Malachi 3.1-4. What is rat her surprising is t hat He did not do somet hing like t his every t ime He went t o Jerusalem, alt hough we must recognise t hat , at least f or a period af t er t his incident , t hey would be on t heir guard, and He would perhaps realise t hat such repeat ed act ions could precipit at e a collision which would premat urely end His minist ry. He knew, af t er all, t hat it could only be a t oken gest ure. Having made His point He possibly f elt t hat He had done what was necessary. But by t he t ime of t he lat er incident t he passage of years would have convinced t he guards t hat He was no longer a danger. They would have considered t hat t he young hot head had mat ured and have relaxed t heir guard. Af t er all t he Temple was open t o all an it would have caused great const ernat ion among Galileans if Jesus had been excluded. Thus we might consider t hat t wo incident s, t aking place years apart , might really be expect ed by us, t he f irst occurring when in His new zeal He f aces men up t o t he mat t er of t he need f or purit y of worship in t he Temple f or t he f irst t ime, t he second occurring as a t hought out policy in order t o expose corrupt ion bef ore He is f inally put t o deat h. The f irst He get s away wit h as being t he act of a zealous young man who may well hold promise f or t he f ut ure, t he second is t o be a seal on His deat h warrant . The reason f or His act here is described very dif f erent ly f rom t hat in Mark 11 and parallels, and f it s bet t er int o t he beginnings of His minist ry when He was probably not quit e as aware, as He was lat er on, of t he dishonest y t hat was going on in t he Temple. The reason described is exact ly t he kind of reason t hat might well f ire up a younger man wit hout cont aining t he t hought out at t it ude revealed in t he lat er incident . He ent ers quit e innocent ly int o t he t emple. But becoming aware of t he commot ion caused by incessant t rading in t he court of t he Gent iles, He f eels in His new awareness of His Messiahship t hat He has t o do somet hing, f or t hey are t reat ing Gods house like a market and making a mockery of t he opport unit y f or Gent iles t o t ruly worship! He may well have had in mind t he words of Zechariah, In t hat day t here will be no more a merchant in t he house of t he Lord of Host s (Zechariah 14.21), and t he words of Malachi, The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come t o his t emple, even t he messenger of t he covenant whom you delight in --- f or he is like a ref iners f ire or a launderers soap -- (Malachi 3.1-3), and zeal f or your house will eat me up (Psalm 69.9). His concent rat ion here was on empt ying t he t emple of t he cat t le, sheep and doves, alt hough t he only way He could demonst rat e His displeasure wit h t he money-changers was by t urning over t he t ables. We should not e t hat in t he ot her incident in Mark 11 He ent ers t he Temple wit h a deliberat e aim (He had looked around earlier). Then His concent rat ion will be on t he misbehaviour of t he people, and He ignores t he cat t le and t he sheep. He also st ops t hose who are t aking a short cut t hrough t he Temple, whilst His words are about t he t ot al dishonest y of all involved. They have t urned t he house of prayer int o a den of t hieves. Given t hat t hey t ook place in t he same Temple (t here was no ot her) t he t wo incident s could not be more dif f erent .
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 6 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

It is not t oo surprising t hat it is not ment ioned in t he ot her Gospels, f or t he ot her Gospels t ell us lit t le about His early minist ry in Jerusalem, especially in it s earlier st ages, concent rat ing rat her on His it inerant minist ry, t hus t hey t ended t o disregard t he happenings at t he t rips t o Jerusalem, possibly because t hey were not present (in John His disciples is a vague t erm not necessarily always meaning t he t welve), or possibly because t hey saw Galilee rat her t han Judea as t he t rue ref lect ion of Jesus minist ry. Galilee welcomed Him. Judea put Him t o deat h. But John, who records a number of t rips t o Jerusalem, perhaps did not wish t o jar t he account of t he f inal visit by describing a violent visit t o t he Temple, and perhaps wished t o f inish his Gospel on a spirit ual not e wit h his concent rat ion on t he cross. He does af t er all leave out t he physical det ails of t he last Supper, and of Jesus prayers in Get hsemane, and he ignores Jesus act ual bapt ism and t he t ransf igurat ion, while hint ing at bot h. His lat er concent rat ion is on t he new coming of t he Spirit . And he might well have seen t he repet it ion of such an event as superf luous t o what he want ed t o say, or even as t aking at t ent ion away f rom what he saw as import ant . But he does remember t his early incident and describes it because it f it s in well wit h his purpose, t o indicat e t hat t he new has come. He is well aware t hat t he lat er cleansing is already well known in t he Christ ian church, whilst an act ion like t his helps t o explain why in t he ot her Gospels t he leaders are so ant agonist ic t o Jesus at an early st age (e.g. Mark 3.22). And t his one provides an opport unit y f or him t o hint at t he coming deat h and resurrect ion of Jesus (Dest roy t his Temple and I will raise it again in t hree days). 2.14 And he f ound in t he Temple t hose who sold oxen, and sheep and doves, and t he moneychangers sit t ing t here. Ent ering t he Temple He f ound in t he court of t he Gent iles, set apart f or Gent ile worship, men who were selling cat t le, sheep and doves, and ot hers who were at t ables exchanging currencies. This money exchanging was necessary because t he Temple t ax, which was required of every Jew, had t o be paid in Tyrian coinage which had no idolat rous images on it , and many had come f rom af ar bringing t aint ed money. Jesus was not at t acking t he service provided, but t he whereabout s of it s t aking place which was basically an insult t o t he Gent iles who worshipped t here Prior t o Passover Jews were expect ed t o ensure t hat t hey were rit ually clean. Great ef f ort s were made t o prevent t he possibilit y of uncleanness. Graves would be paint ed whit e in order t o ensure t hat Jews did not come int o cont act wit h deat h just prior t o t he Passover, f or if t hey were unclean Jews could not part icipat e in t he Passover. So t here was a great emphasis on rit ual purit y. Thus Jesus may well have had t his in mind when He saw what He considered t o be a degrading of t he Temple, especially when He saw t aint ed money being brought int o t he Temple cont aining it s idolat rous images, and t he noise of cat t le dist urbing t he peace, while t heir droppings also pollut ed t he Temple. The hypocrisy of it seemingly came home t o Him. Conscious of His new minist ry He was t hus angered at t his use of His Fat hers house, which He saw as a place f or prayer and worship even f or Gent iles. 2.15-16 And he made a scourge of cords and cast t hem all out of t he Temple, bot h t he sheep and t he oxen, and he empt ied out t he changers money and overt hrew t heir t ables, and t o t hose who sold doves he said, Take t hese t hings out of here. Do not make my Fat hers house a house of business. Not e t hat His emphasis here is on removing t he of f ending animals f rom t he Temple area. His whole emphasis is t hat of t urning t he court int o a place of prayer. So He makes a small scourge (no weapon or st ick was allowed in t he Temple) and drives out t he animals, t ips over t he t ables of t he moneychangers, and t hen says t o t hose who were selling doves (f or sacrif icial purposes) Get t hese out of here. Do not make my Fat hers house a market place. Not e t hat even in His prophet ic anger His compassion and self -cont rol are shown f or He does not act in a way t hat will harm t he doves, and He does not at t ack t he men. His int ent is t o empt y t he Temple of t he commot ion result ing f rom t he t rading. The whole pict ure is one of spont aneous act ion as a result of t he impact t hat t he scene has made on Him, quit e unlike His st udied purpose in Mark, where He f irst goes in and surveys t he Temple (Mark 11.11) and t hen lat er carries out His planned act ion, concent rat ing solely on t hose involved and ignoring t he cat t le and sheep, and being concerned especially about t he dishonest pract ises t aking place. (It is one t hing t o accuse people of making a noise in church, it is anot her t o accuse t hem of st ealing t he collect ion). Theoret ically t he act ivit ies of t he t raders might have been seen as just if ied, as t hey made it convenient f or worshippers, but t o Jesus it meant t hat concent rat ion was divert ed f rom t he main purpose of t he Temple, t hat of meet ing wit h God, and it showed disregard f or t he Gent iles who came t o worship, and indeed f or t he Temple it self . It raises f or us a quest ion t hat we should ask ourselves. Do some of our church act ivit ies come under t he same heading? 2.17 His disciples remembered t hat it was writ t en, Zeal f or your House will eat int o me.
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 7 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

The words cit ed here by John come f rom Psalm 69.9 and t here it is also in a cont ext where insult s are being of f ered t o God, just as t hey were here. We are not t old when t he disciples remembered t he words, probably it was at t he t ime, but it conf irms t o t hem and t he readers t hat here is One Who f ulf ils t he Script ures and t akes worship seriously, and is willing t o be unpopular in order t o purif y it . John possibly also sees in t he incident a pict ure of reject ion of t he sacrif icial syst em which Jesus has come t o replace, but t hat is not apparent f rom Jesus words, alt hough hint ed at in what f ollows. But cert ainly it was a sign t hat t he old wat ers of Judaism needed t ransf orming and changing int o somet hing bet t er. 2.18 The Judaisers t heref ore answered and said t o him, What sign do you show us t hat you do t hese t hings? Cert ain f ervent Judaisers (men of religious dedicat ion among t he Jews) who had observed all t his now came t o Him, and t hey sought a sign f rom Him t o just if y what He had done. Let Him just if y His prophet ic act by giving a sign f rom God. This response in it self f avours an early dat e at a t ime when t hey were st ill unsure about Jesus. As a react ion of some of t he Jewish aut horit ies it is int erest ing and signif icant . Those who were not direct ly af f ect ed by t he act because it did not eat int o t heir prof it s may well have t hought like t his, and have grudgingly admired what Jesus had done, because t hey also were not t oo happy about what was happening in t he Temple. And we must remember t hat among t he Jews it was a t ime of expect at ion. So t hey do not immediat ely react in host ile against what Jesus has done. As t hey had wit h John t hey rat her quest ion Him about Who He is. (This could not have happened at t he end of His minist ry when t hey were simply out t o get Him). Af t er all, like ot hers t hey eagerly await ed a unique f igure who would aid t heir cause, f or t hey t oo were sure t hat one day God would act as He had promised t hrough such a unique f igure, and t he incident has done lit t le harm. Indeed it is clear t hat t hey recognised t hat what He had done might well be a direct claim t o having some kind of aut horit y f rom God, and being aware t hat He already had some popularit y, and was associat ed wit h miraculous event s, t hey may well have been prepared at t his st age t o give Him a hearing. Thus rat her t han seeking His arrest t hey come t o quest ion Him. There was no love lost bet ween t he Pharisees and t he Chief Priest s. So if Jesus was amenable He could be usef ul. What sign can you show us t hat demonst rat es your right t o do t his? They are not sure how t o view Him. 2.19 Jesus answered and said t o t hem, Dest roy t he Temple and in t hree days I will raise it up. Jesus reply is st raight and simple, Dest roy t his Temple and in t hree days I will raise it up. This enigmat ic reply brings t hem up short . They had not expect ed Him t o t ell t hem t o dest roy t he Temple in order t hat He might give t hem a sign. They were not , of course, aware t hat wit hin f ort y years t he Temple would act ually be dest royed as a result of t heir act ivit ies. Nor were t hey aware t hat f or mult it udes t he crucif ied and risen Jesus would by t hen have replaced t he Temple and it s sacrif ices. That t he st at ement was generally remembered comes out in t he f act t hat Jesus would lat er be charged wit h having said such t hings as, I am able t o dest roy t he Temple of God and rebuild it in t hree days (Mat t hew 26.61) and I will dest roy t his Temple t hat is made wit h hands and in t hree days I will build anot her made wit hout hands (Mark 14.58), bot h of which appear t o be dist ort ed repet it ions of t hese words. Here is one example where t he Synopt ics assume mat erial cont ained in Johns Gospel. We may also see in t his an indicat ion of Jesus sense of humour. We can almost see Him saying it , wit h t ongue in cheek. They had asked f or a sign so He would of f er t hem one. Let t hem but dest roy t he Temple and He would rebuild it wit hin t hree days. And t hen wait ing t o observe what t heir react ion would be. If t hey t ook Him lit erally t hey would t hen have t o dest roy t heir Temple in order t o prove whet her He was genuine or not . If t hey did not He could point t o t heir unwillingness t o cooperat e wit h Him as removing f rom Him any obligat ion t o provide a sign. But it did mean t hat t hey could not accuse Him of ref using t hem a sign. On t he ot her hand it also had a deeper meaning, and He knew exact ly what He meant . He was ref erring t o His own coming deat h and resurrect ion. 2.20 The Jews t hen said, It has t aken f ort y six years t o build t his Temple, and will you raise it up in t hree days? The Judaisers were nat urally t aken aback. Did He really mean t hat if t hey dest royed t he Temple He would be able t o rebuild it in t hree days? The building of Herods Temple had commenced around 20 BC and was st ill in process of being complet ed. Such complet ion would not occur unt il many years af t er, in 63 AD, just in t ime f or it s dest ruct ion. In view of t he f act , t heref ore, t hat it had been in process of building most of t heir lives it is not surprising t hat t hey f ound His st at ement about it s dest ruct ion dif f icult t o comprehend. And especially His claim t o be able t o rebuild it in t hree days. They were st unned. This t ime not e is especially int erest ing because it would not have been known t o anyone at a much lat er t ime how many years t here were bet ween t he commencement of t he
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 8 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

building of t he Temple and t he commencement of Jesus minist ry. And yet it is st rict ly accurat e. Once more we have evidence t hat t he writ er is someone who was t here, and who heard and remembered correct ly. 2.21 But he spoke of t he t emple of his body. Here Jesus meaning is explained t o t he readers. He was aware already t hat at some st age t hey would be ready t o dest roy Him, as t hey had t he prophet s bef ore Him. But His f urt her point here is t hat by dest roying Him t hey will in ef f ect dest roy t he Temple, even t hough t he act ual dest ruct ion may be delayed, but t hat t hen wit hin t hree days of t heir dest roying Him He will rise again, replacing t he Temple and it s sacrif ices. This reply demonst rat es t hat He is already aware t hat His accept ance among t hese bigot ed men will not be posit ive. Here we have anot her of Johns double meanings. On t he one hand Jesus of f ered t hem a sign, a great sign. If t hey want ed one He would give t hem one. Only let t hem dest roy t he Temple, t his Temple t hat was so corrupt , t hus by t heir act revealing t heir agreement wit h His verdict on it , and He would rebuild it f or t hem wit hin t hree days. Let t hem show by t heir act ions t hat t hey were ready t o f ollow Him in every respect , and t hen t hey would have t heir sign. It was a subt le reply f or t hey could now no longer claim t hat He had ref used a sign, nor was t here any likelihood t hat t hey would t ake Him up on it . It prevent ed t hem f rom const ant ly pest ering Him f or signs, f or t hey knew t hat if t hey did t hey would receive t he same reply. But it held t he deeper signif icance t hat when He was raised f rom t he dead His disciples would realise what Temple He had meant . And it also cont ained wit hin it t he inf erence t hat t he physical Temple it self was doomed once He had been crucif ied. 2.22. When t heref ore he was raised f rom t he dead his disciple remembered t hat he had spoken like t his, and t hey believed t he Script ure and t he word which Jesus had said. Alt hough t he disciples did not underst and t he meaning at t he t ime, once Jesus had risen f rom t he dead t hey remembered what He had said and underst ood, and it conf irmed t heir f ait h in bot h Him and t he Script ures. And t hey believed t he Script ure and t he word which Jesus had spoken. Not e t hat Jesus words are put on a level wit h The Script ure. The one especially in mind may well be Psalm 16.10, you will not abandon me t o t he grave, nor will you allow your holy one t o see decay, alt hough John may have had a number of Script ures in mind including, among ot hers, Isaiah 53.10, 12, where resurrect ion is implied. 2.23-25 Now when he was in Jerusalem at t he Passover, during t he f east many believed on his name when t hey saw t he signs which he did, but Jesus did not t rust himself t o t hem because he knew all men, and because he did not need t hat anyone should t est if y t o him concerning man, f or he himself knew what was in man. Two int erpret at ions are possible f or t hese verses. The f irst sees t his as t he complet est rebut t al of t hose who t hink people will believe because of miracles t hat we could have. That is what t hese people did, runs t his view, t hey believed in Him because t hey saw miracles. But Jesus knew how unreliable such f ait h was, and t hat t he only f ait h wort h having is t hat which is based on an inner cert aint y of Who Jesus is and a f ull response t o Him based on t hat cert aint y. That is what t he signs ment ioned by John are meant t o accomplish, t he giving of underst anding (20.31). These people did not underst and. Jesus did not t rust himself t o t hem. This would t hen mean t hat He would not encourage t hem t o become disciples unt il He had more evidence of t heir genuineness. He was never concerned about numbers and popularit y, and was quit e happy t o limit t heir number (compare 6.66). The second possibilit y is t hat t heir f ait h was genuine, but t hat t here was a danger of t hem seeking, in t heir ent husiasm, t o press Him int o Messianic act ivit y out side His purposes. Compare how lat er He wit hdraws f rom t he crowd who would make Him a king (6.15). Thus He does not t ake t hem under His wing, and does not wish t o be t oo closely involved wit h t hem. But t he f act t hat t his comes bef ore t he incident of Nicodemus whose f ait h also was lacking must be seen as support ing t he f irst suggest ion, f or Nicodemus at t his st age illust rat es one whose underst anding is lacking. He t oo came because he had seen signs (3.2), but did not underst and t heir signif icance. It is int erest ing t hat John does not ment ion any specif ic miracles here. He just assumes t hem. They were an import ant evidence of Jesus compassion, and of His st at us, but t hey were not seen by John as relevant t o his purpose. He is not cit ing t hem as evidence. He is making clear t hat Jesus knew men and women t hrough and t hrough. He knew what was in man. For Jesus does not want t hose who merely respond t o miracles. He want s only t hose who are genuine in seeking Him wit h all t heir heart s.
http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html 9 / 10

THE WEDDING AT CANA IN GALILEE AND THE PURGING OF THE TEMPLE (John 2)

01/07/13

Ret urn t o Home Page f or f urt her int erest ing art icles Click back but t on t o ret urn t o previous page Back t o John 1.19-51 Forward t o John 3.1-21 IS THERE SOMETHING IN THE BIBLE THAT PUZZLES YOU? If so please EMail us wit h your quest ion and we will do our best t o give you a sat isf act ory answer.EMailus. (But pref erably not f rom aol.com, f or some reason t hey do not deliver our messages). FREE Scholarly verse by verse comment aries on t he Bible. THE PENTATEUCH --- GENESIS ---EXODUS--- LEVITICUS --- NUMBERS --DEUTERONOMY --- THE BOOK OF JOSHUA --- THE BOOK OF JUDGES --- SAMUEL --KINGS --- PSALMS 1-50--- ECCLESIASTES--- SONG OF SOLOMON --- ISAIAH --JEREMIAH --- EZEKIEL --- DANIEL --- --- HOSEA --- --- JOEL ------ AMOS --- --- OBADIAH -- --- JONAH --- --- MICAH --- --- NAHUM --- --- HABAKKUK--- --- ZEPHANIAH --- --HAGGAI --- ZECHARIAH --- --- MALACHI --- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW ---THE GOSPEL OF MARK--- THE GOSPEL OF LUKE --- THE GOSPEL OF JOHN --- THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES --- READINGS IN ROMANS --- 1 CORINTHIANS --- 2 CORINTHIANS --GALATIANS --- EPHESIANS--- PHILIPPIANS --- COLOSSIANS --- 1 THESSALONIANS --2 THESSALONIANS --- 1 TIMOTHY --- 2 TIMOTHY --- TITUS --- HEBREWS --- JAMES --- 1 & 2 PETER --- JOHN'S LETTERS --- JUDE --- REVELATION --- THE GOSPELS & ACTS

Spo nso red by

http://www.angelre.com/planet/lifetruth/john2.html

10 / 10