John's Gospel, a new look, 3
Jesus knows your heart
John 2:1-25 The first sign and the cleansing of the temple.
1. In the beginning of chapter 2 we are introduced to an interesting account of a wedding feast. This also is the first of the seven signs that make up an important part of the structure of the book. Each sign shows a particular characteristic of Jesus' power and personality Tenney describes each sign as revealing something else of Jesus' ability. In this sign/miracle, as Jesus changes water into good wine, Tenney sees that Jesus is master of quality. Jesus immediately changes water into wine that is excellent in quality. A process that a wine maker takes several months, if not years to complete. (Tenney M.C. pg 30/31)
As Jesus performs the next six signs Tenney believes that John indicates Jesus' mastery over distance and space in the healing of the noble man's son, the mastery of time in the healing of the diseased man, in quantity in the feeding of the five thousand, over natural laws in the walking on water, over misfortune in the man born blind, and finally over death in the raising of Lazarus. An interesting perspective.
2. The wedding feast is important in that it shows that Jesus' mother knew about his abilities and seemed to push him forward when he felt he was not quite ready to begin his public ministry.(John 2:4) It also indicates that he must indeed have done many other "miraculous signs that are not recorded in this book." (John 20:30 NIV translation). Out of necessity John had to choose which ones he would use so as to present a detailed, yet at the same time, succinct account.
3. In a world where followers of God had refrained from any contact with people outside their own group, Jesus, when accused of making contact with sinners explained that he had come to save exactly those people. The image of Jesus that John portrays here is one of attending and providing for a festival occasion without concern about the views of the ruling religious authorities who had removed themselves from society in general and so had little influence in it. In Matthew 9:9-13 the writer of the first Gospel records that Jesus was criticised for eating with tax collectors and sinners and he replies rather sarcastically, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." John clearly shows how Jesus went about breaking down the fiercely held human traditions of his time.
4. Following the wedding feast John moves straight to the cleaning of the temple. Jesus travels to Jerusalem to attend the Jewish Passover. Luke mentions an earlier visit to Jerusalem when Jesus is just a boy but John immediately show Jesus coming into conflict with the sad abuses that were taking place in the religious landscape of that time. The temple had become a place for selling and buying the various offerings that the law demanded and the Jewish Rabbinic teachers had added to and defined. Here we are introduced the powerful Jesus who is not afraid to contest wrong behaviour. "Get out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" (John 2:16) Strong words! Jesus in the fourth Gospel explains that Jesus is doing away with the concept of a temple in Jerusalem or anywhere else but that those who worship Him do so in spirit and in truth. The converted believer is now the Temple of God.(John 4:21, "Believe me woman, the time will come when people will not worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem", and compare 1 Corinthians 3:16, "Surely you know that you are God's temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you")
5. The chapter ends with a demand for signs as proof of Jesus' authority. As John later comes to the end of his Gospel he tells Thomas, you have believed because you have seen me but blessed will be those who do not have this opportunity and still believe. (John 20:29) But at this early stage the people in Jerusalem saw the miraculous signs that he was performing and so some believed in his name. (John 2:23) Some would only come to that realization after his resurrection and we can now do likewise because of the testimony of inspired writers like John. He was at this stage building a firm foundation on which the disciples would build their message about Jesus and the salvation from sin that he offers.
NIV translation of Bible
Good News Bible Translation
Barclay, W. The Gospel of John
Morris, L. The Gospel according to John
Tenney, M.C. John-the Gospel of Belief