The Agora
Bible Commentary

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John 2

Joh 2:1

THE THIRD DAY: The seventh day of the narrative: cp Joh 1:19-28,29,35,43. Typ a great wedding on the "seventh day": Rev 19:7-9n; 20:4.

CANA: Home of Nathanael (Joh 21:2). Sig "place of reeds", from rt "to stand up". Poss typ resurrection?

Joh 2:2

Both the "bridegroom" and the "bride" were invited to this wedding.

Joh 2:3

WINE: Sig gladness (Jdg 9:13; Psa 104:15), teaching of God (Isa 25:6; 55:1), prosperity (Isa 36:17; Joel 2:19), love (Song 1:2,4; 4:10; 5:1), sacrifice (Mat 26:28), and life (Lev 17:11). The nation of Israel lacked this "wine" (Isa 1:22; Mar 7:8-13). Christ's teachings brought new life (Mar 2:22), but esp his sacrifice.

Joh 2:4

"There certainly seems to be some incident beneath this narrative which is not told us. For not only is Mary not repelled by the answer just given, but she is convinced the miracle will be wrought, and she is not without anticipation of the method of working it: for how should he require the aid of the servants, except the miracle were to take place according to the form here related?" (Alford, WGos 83)

Jesus had lost a mother, and Mary had lost a son. Although he remedies the situation, Jesus is yet making clear that his actions will henceforth be of his own choosing -- to the glory of his Father.

The first miracle is done in secret, recognized only by the disciples.

DEAR WOMAN: Formal, but respectful: ct Joh 19:26; 20:13,15. The sw used by Christ on the cross (Joh 19:26). But also -- perhaps -- a repudiation of fleshly ties: Mat 12:48; Luk 11:27.

WHY DO YOU INVOLVE ME?: 'How does this concern both of us?' A protest against a mother's pride, but not a refusal (as v 5 shows). Christ knew, sadly, the wrong motives and actions his miracles would generate in others. Cp similar phrases: 2Sa 16:10; 19:22; 1Ki 17:18; 2Ki 3:13; Mat 8:29; Mar 1:24; Luk 4:34.

MY TIME: That is, the hour of his death and resurrection.

Joh 2:5

DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU: The essence of obedience: cp Pharaoh of Joseph (Gen 41:55). These are the last recorded words of Mary.

Joh 2:6

SIX: The number of man: Rev 13:18.

STONE: Tables of stone, sig legalism, insufficiency of Law.

CEREMONIAL WASHING: Cp Mar 7:3,4; Luk 11:39. The Law could not truly purify. Ct with Moses' first miracle: water (of Nile) to blood (death): Exo 7:17. Here, Jesus converts water to wine (life)! Cp Joh 1:17n. Christ, by his sacrifice, within the framework of the law (stone pots), changes the ineffectual Jewish laws of purification into the powerful law of life!

TWENTY TO THIRTY GALLONS: "Two or three metretes". Two or three witnesses for judgment (Deu 19:15; Mat 18:16). Two or three disciples gathered together (Mat 18:20).

Joh 2:7

FILLED... TO THE BRIM: Cp Luk 6:38: sym God's overflowing blessings.

Joh 2:8

DRAW SOME OUT: Drawing water out of wells of salvation (Isa 12:3). Context: Great is the Holy One in your midst! See Isa 55:1: water, then wine!

Joh 2:9

THOUGH THE SERVANTS... KNEW: See Joh 7:17: those who choose to do God's will (Joh 2:5) will know!

Joh 2:10

CHOICE... FIRST AND THEN THE CHEAPER: The normal practice of men. So it is with whole history of mankind, until this downward trend is reversed by Jesus.

"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' " (John 2:9,10).

Natural life is usually what is pictured by the Preacher in Ecclesiastes: "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them' " (Ecc 12:1). "The days of trouble" describes life lived on a material level... which can be more and more of a struggle as the years go by, and physical and mental ailments and weaknesses and afflictions take their toll. And we discover, sadly, that -- physically speaking -- the "choice wine" came first, and we hardly realized or appreciated it until it had all been drunk.

But when we go to the wedding feast with Jesus, we discover that the "best wine" of our lives will be the last served! And, together with Christ, we will BE that "wine"! The grapes of life, harvested and crushed, the juices extracted... and through the fermentation process bringing forth a new life -- more glorious and rewarding -- in him.

As the old song goes: "Come with me; the best is yet to be. The last of life for which the first was made!" Except, in this case, "the last of life" will never end. The "best wine" with Jesus goes on and on... and on and on....

Joh 2:11

MIRACULOUS SIGNS: "Semeion": sig signs, marks to indicate, directional markers: cp Mat 12:38; 26:48; Luk 11:29; Rom 4:11; 1Co 14:22. The "signs" of John's gospel (Joh 2:11; 4:46-50; 5:1-47; 6:1-14; 6:15-21; 9:1-41; 11:1-57; 21:1-14) all prove that Jesus is the Messiah (Joh 3:2; Act 2:22; Joh 10:37,38). Other miraculous "signs" besides: Joh 2:23.

JESUS PERFORMED: Or, as Act 2:22, "which God did by him".

AND HIS DISCIPLES PUT THEIR FAITH IN HIM: But, as always, others did not!

Joh 2:12

DOWN TO CAPERNAUM: A descent of 600 feet (LB 404).

CAPERNAUM: Which was much closer to Jerusalem than Nazareth. Possibly he went here, because time was short.

Joh 2:13

John lists all four Passovers in Jesus' ministry: Joh 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 13:1. Proof of 3 1/2 year ministry.

JESUS WENT UP TO JERUSALEM: Christ went in the spirit of Levitical priest: to examine the house (of God) for leprosy (Lev 19:40-45n). He removed the most affected stones, but when he returned 3 years later, the condition of the house had worsened -- so again he took action (Mat 21:12,13; cp Mat 23:38). The purging of the leaven: preparation for the Passover.

Joh 2:14

The tables of moneychangers, overturned by Jesus, while the coins fall on the floor (Mat 21:12; Mar 11:15; Luk 19:45; Joh 2:14). Cp this with Judas throwing the 30 pieces of silver into the temple (Mat 27:5). Imagine the coins clattering and clanking along the floor, while the priests scurried here and there to gather up and hide the evidence. In both cases, this was money paid for "sacrifices"!

Joh 2:15

AND DROVE ALL FROM THE TEMPLE AREA: "I will drive them out of my house": Hos 9:15. "No longer the Canaanite in the house of God": Zec 14:21. "His fan in his hand" (Luk 3:17), Jesus began to purge the "threshing floor"! Why did no one resist? As in Joh 8:1-12, they were self-convicted of their sins. "The action of the Lord in cleansing the temple is often quoted as an example of righteous indignation. Yet in all the four records (Mat 21, Mar 11, Luk 19, Joh 2) it is nowhere stated that the Lord was angry. Certainly it was not righteous indignation which drove back those soldiers, ordered to arrest him (Joh 7:46); nor was it righteous indignation which made armed men retreat and fall to the ground in Gethsemane (Joh 18:6). Was not the same power at work in the temple incident? But even if we concede that the Lord might have been expressing righteous indignation, what right have we unrighteous ones to claim that we can also show righteous indignation? It is more likely that we are confusing righteous indignation with wrathful feelings of revenge, personal provocation, and wounded pride. Certainly the Lord never lost his temper. Every word and action was under complete control" (Bilton, Xd 114:218).

Joh 2:16

Jesus was silent when others would be angry (ie at personal affronts), but angry when others would be silent (ie to uphold the majesty of his Father).

THOSE WHO SOLD DOVES: Perhaps the worst offenders, because they preyed on the poor!

Joh 2:17

See VL, Disciples, slow comprehension.

ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME: From Psa 69:9: an allusion to the burnt offering consumed by the fire of the altar.

The "for" at the beginning of Psa 69:9 -- linking it with v 8 ("I am a stranger to my brothers") -- suggests that this consuming passion for the things of God was the reason for Jesus' early alienation from his family (Mark 3:21,31-35; Mat 10:36; cp also Psa 27:10).

"Seek the great and essential gift of total devotion that marks off the few, rare, eternal children of God from all the shapes and sorts and sizes of passing creatures of the flesh: total dedication, total singleness of mind and love and purpose. Pray fervently and constantly for it. Nothing is accomplished without it. With it, mountains are moved... This is not some strange, far-off uniqueness for Christ alone. This is the only way of life, which he has gloriously exemplified for us. God will give it to all who constantly and earnestly seek it: not just in passive prayer, but in study, and service, and deep meditation -- and repeatedly wrenching the mind back from present distractions to eternal realities; constantly wrenching the mind and hands back from childish fleshly playing to mature spiritual working. The prize is eternity. It is only for those who value it enough to give it their whole lives, and cast everything aside to get it. Anything less mocks God" (GVG).

Joh 2:18

THE JEWS: Joh 1:19n.

YOUR AUTHORITY TO DO ALL THIS: Notice that no one seems to protest that they were driven out, but only that Jesus was the man with the authority to do it.

Joh 2:19

DESTROY: "Luo" (translated "destroy" in various versions) means quite simply "to unloose". So instead of "Destroy" this temple, it should rather be "take down" the Tabernacle (Num 10:33-36). Jesus refers to the "tabernacle" of his body (v 21)! This may really be stretching a point, but if a building is destroyed, then all the stones, whatever, are in different places, and need to be reassembled... whereas, if a tent is taken down, it is still intact, in one piece, merely waiting to be staked out and lifted up again.

THREE DAYS: Cp type of tabernacle in wilderness: going ahead three days journey (Num 10:33,34). Three years later the leaders remember this statement, and attempt to use it against Jesus: Mat 26:61; 27:40. (Yet even some of the leaders understand what he means: Mat 27:63.) This charge was remembered even 7 or 8 years later (Act 6:14n).

Do some trinitarians take from this verse that Jesus could literally "raise himself up again", and thus that he was literally "God the Son", who could not die?

To this idea (ie, that Jesus literally raised himself from the dead), John Carter replies: "If it be said that it was the Father's work, for a dead man cannot restore himself to life, this must be admitted; but in his case his obedient life had given him a title to resurrection, and it was not possible that he should be holden of death; hence he could speak of his resurrection being his own act" (CJo).

Also, against this idea can be set the various passages which plainly teach that God, the Father, was the power by which His Son was raised from the dead: Acts 2:30,32,36; 3:15,26; 4:10; etc.

I think the key point is this: although some persisted in taking Christ too literally, they were quite obviously deliberately ignoring the plain intent of his figurative language: even some of the leaders understood what he meant, for they said so later: " 'Sir,' they said, 'we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again' " (Mat 27:63).

Looking at the misuse of John 2:19 by some trinitarians, apparently, I have to say what the blind man who was healed said to the Pharisees: "Herein is a marvellous thing!" or "How remarkable!" (John 9:30). In other words, the significance is so obvious, but you choose not to understand!

So in John 2:19, it is perfectly plain that Jesus' tabernacle analogy has to do with his death and resurrection. But the Jewish leaders deliberately twisted a figurative allusion into a literal statement, because it suited them to do so. They weren't interested in truth; they were interested in scoring debating points, and finding (trumped-up) charges to lay at his feet. And this hypocrisy was perfectly obvious for all to see, if they were not blinded by hate or prejudice.

So even now, we have trinitarians (it seems) who know full well what Jesus meant by this figure of speech, but deliberately take a part of his "parable" as literal in order to "win" a debate. They would prefer, presumably, to believe that when Jesus spoke of dying, he knew he wouldn't REALLY die... than to believe that -- being dead -- he would have to rely on his Father to raise him from the dead.

That's a pretty sad, but revealing, commentary on how some people are willing to "wrest Scripture". (See Lesson, John's figurative language.)

Joh 2:20

FORTY-SIX YEARS TO BUILD: The Temple was begun by Herod the Great c 20 BC. Additions continued right up to the time of its destruction in 70 AD. Description: SB 8:108.

Joh 2:22

See VL, Disciples, slow comprehension.

HIS DISCIPLES RECALLED: Being taught by the Comforter: Joh 14:26; 16:13.

Joh 2:23

MANY... BELIEVED: As Nicodemus (Joh 3:2).

Joh 2:25

Cp Jer 17:9; Gen 6:5.

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