(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
This portion of the second chapter of John is actually two stories that are related in their overall theological meaning. In the first story, verses 1-11, John tells of Jesus attending a wedding and subsequently performing one of His first miracles. On the surface one could look at this story in one of two ways: His mother had such faith in Him she asked Him to handle something that could have been tremendously dishonoring for the family hosting the wedding OR it could be viewed as a testimony to the fact that Jesus IS concerned with the minutia within our lives, the small things so to speak, and not just the big things.
Looking at this story from the thirty-thousand foot perspective does it injustice. First, the jars being used were stone. Stone was less porous than clay so there was less possibility for the contents to become contaminated. That is why stone jars were used for the purification rituals in the temple. Jesus has the servants fill the jars with water which He subsequently turns into wine. John makes a big deal about the quality of the wine as well; the quality of the wine can be looked at as the increased joy that is attained through a relationship with Jesus. Additionally, the wine is a symbol of replacement and fulfillment; something He will accomplish during His time on Earth.
It is quite interesting that John follows this first story of using the purification vessels with a story of Jesus purifying the temple. Even the locations of the two stories can be symbolic with the wedding story being in Cana in Galilee, a mountain village, and the second story being in Capernaum, a seaside village; the symbolism of Christ coming down to purify the temple cannot be overlooked.
In verses 12-22, John tells of the story of Jesus’ righteous anger at the people who have turned the house of the Lord into a marketplace. John ties the story to the Old Testament in verse 17 when he references, “Zeal for your house will consume me!” Psalm 69:9 and Psalm 119:139 both reference zeal for God’s house; something John’s audience would have known all too well. This not only ties Jesus’ actions to the Old Testament but it also ties Jesus’ actions to His relationship with the Father. This portion of chapter 2 is also the place where Jesus refers to the destruction of the temple and the rebuilding of it in three days. This is a very direct prophetic reference to His crucifixion and resurrection.
It is important to note the symbolic nature of these miraclesbeing performed, both on Jewish symbols of purification: the jars (purification vessels) and the temple (a symbol of sacrificial purification for sins) which Jesus purified by throwing out the dealers. In both instances Jesus empties the old leaving room for it to be replaced and fulfilled by Him.
Underlying this whole portion of Chapter 2 is the reality we all need to grasp: God desires to be worshipped and it is themanmade religious institutions and legalisms that perpetually get in the way.
My prayer for you today and for the Church in general is that we all focus on Christ. Focus on His substitutionary atonement for you and me. Focus on His willingness to stand in intersession for each and every one of us. Focus on the fact that God has provided us with a relatively complete guidebook for our lives and He even provided us with a model of what those lives should look like in Jesus. Focus on the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice WAS enough and WAS complete. When we lose sight of these simple things the manmade and legalistic additions begin to look like truth and can lead many to a life that is not truly in Christ.