Jesus Changes Water to Wine (2:1-11)
1-2 Three days after the meeting between Jesus and Nathanael (John 1:47-51), Jesus and His new disciples22 arrived in Galilee. There they received an invitation to a wedding in a small town called Cana, which was the home of Nathanael (John 21:2).
3 In the middle of the wedding feast the wine ran out. This was a great embarrassment to the bridegroom, who was responsible for the feast. Jesus’ mother Mary knew that her son was the Messiah, the Son of God (Luke 1:30-32). Therefore, she supposed that He could perform a miracle and produce some more wine.
4 But Jesus told His mother that it was not suitable for her to make such requests of Him. He now must follow His heavenly Father’s instructions, not His mother’s. He had left His home, and now there was a new relationship between Himself and her.
Furthermore, Jesus’ time had not yet come. That means that it was not yet time for Jesus to reveal Himselfas the Messiah publicly. He knew that if He did so, the people would try to make Him a king, and God’s plan for Him to suffer and die would be thwarted (see Mark 6:45 and comment). Also Jesus didn’t want to be known just as a traveling miracle worker. He wanted people to concentrate on His teaching (see Mark 5:43 and comment).
5 However, Mary was sure that Jesus would do something to help the bridegroom. Therefore, she told the servants: “If Jesus gives you any instructions, just carry them out.”
6-8 Jesus then told the servants to fill six big jars with water. Each jar could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Such jars were used by the Jews to store water for cleansing their hands before eating and for washing various cups and pitchers (Mark 7:1-4).
9-10 When the servants drew of f the water, they found it had turned to wine.23 The master of the banquet—that is, the chief steward—was amazed. He didn’t know that a miracle had taken place. He was amazed because the bridegroom had saved the best wine for last! When Jesus turned the water into wine, He turned it into the best wine!
Notice in the story how man’s need becomes an opportunity for God’s power to work. When we are in despair, with no human solution in sight, that is when God delights to do His greatest works.
11 This was the first miracle Jesus performed. John calls it a sign. Jesus’ miracles were signs that He was indeed the Son of God. These signs revealed Jesus’ glory. John describes such miracles so that we might believe that Jesus is truly the Christ (see John 20:31).
After this miracle at the wedding in Cana, his disciples put their faith in him. That is, the disciples began to have real faith in Jesus. Before, only Nathanael had believed (John 1:49). Now the others believed also.
John does not say that anyone else believed, such as the servants, who knew that Jesus had turned the water to wine (verse 9). Even miracles will not produce faith in those whose minds are closed. Jesus’ glory was manifest to some, but not to others. If we are to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, we must come to Him with humble and open minds.
Jesus Clears the Temple (2:12-25)
12 From Cana, Jesus went to Capernaum, on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, where Peter and Andrew had a house (Mark 1:21,29). Jesus’ mother and brothers were with Him. Many Bible scholars believe that these brothers were sons of Joseph and Mary. One of these brothers was James, who later became the leader of the Jerusalem church and wrote the New Testament letter called “James” (see Mark 3:31-32; 6:3; John 7:3-5 and comments).
13 Each year most devout Jews went to Jerusalem to celebrate the PASSOVER festival (see Luke 2:41). In this first year after His baptism, Jesus also, with His disciples, went to Jerusalem for the Passover.
14-16 When Jesus arrived in the temple in Jerusalem, He saw merchants in the temple courtyard selling animals to be sacrificed. Those who had come to worship were exchanging their money with the money changers in order to obtain the special currency used in the temple. (Everyone had to pay the temple tax with special temple coins.) Jesus was upset that merchants should be doing business and making prof its within the temple court, and so He drove them out.
Two years later, on His final trip to Jerusalem, Jesus cleansed the temple a second time (see Mark 11:15-17 and comment).
Jesus called the temple my Father’s house (verse 16). God was Jesus’ Father in a special way. We believers become God’s children by ADOPTION (Ephesians 1:5). But Jesus was God’s child by birth (Matthew 1:18).
17 For Jesus’ disciples, the cleansing of the temple was another sign that Jesus was truly the Messiah. Only the Messiah would dare to drive out all the merchants and their animals. This was a fulfillment of prophecy, for in Psalm 69:9 the Messiah says, “… zeal for your house consumes me.” The Psalmist is saying that the Messiah will be anxious and eager to protect the honor of God’s temple. Jesus was concerned for God’s honor. To turn God’s temple into a marketplace was to dishonor God. God’s house was for worship and prayer, not for making money (Mark 11:17).
18 The Jews also understood that by cleansing the temple, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah. Therefore, they asked Him to show them a sign, a miracle, to prove that He had the authority to do such a thing. The Jews were always seeking signs. Without a miraculous sign, they would not believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah (see Mark 8:11-13; 1 Corinthians 1:22 and comments). Without a sign, they would consider Him to be only a troublemaker and lawbreaker!
19 Jesus said, “All right, I’ll give you a sign. Let this temple be destroyed, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 of course, the Jews did not understand Jesus’ meaning. Already it had taken forty-six years to build the temple, and the temple was still not completed. (The temple was finally completed in 64 A.D.) How could Jesus build such a great temple in just three days, when hundreds of workmen hadn’t been able to finish it in forty-six years?
Later the Jews used this statement of Jesus to accuse Him of opposing the law of Moses and the Jewish religion (Mark 14:57-59). The Jews claimed that Jesus said He would destroy the temple; but, in fact, it was they themselves who in the end destroyed the “temple”—that is, Jesus’ body—by causing Him to be put to death. They had asked for a sign of His authority, and the “sign” He gave them was to raise from the dead the body they had destroyed.
21 Here John gives Jesus’ meaning. Jesus was not talking about the Jewish temple in Jerusalem; He was talking about His own body. When He said, “I will raise it again in three days,” He meant: “Three days after my death, my body will be resurrected.”
The only sign that Jesus agreed to give to the Jews was the sign of His resurrection (seeMatthew12:39-40 and comment). His resurrection would be the final proof that He was the Messiah, the Son of God.
John says here that the temple was Jesus’ body. God dwelled in the Jewish temple; God also dwelled in Jesus’ body (Colossians 2:9). But now the church is also Jesus’ body (see Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18 and comments). John is saying that the old Jewish temple with its sacrifices would disappear, and that a new spiritual temple, or body—that is, the church—would be raised up. God does not live only in temples built by human hands (see Acts 7:48-49; 17:24 and comments); He lives also in the heart of every believer.
22 Even Jesus’ own disciples did not understand His saying at the time. Only after the resurrection did they remember what He had said about rebuilding the temple in three days. They remembered that He had also taught them that He would be killed and be raised after three days (Mark 8:31; 9:31). Only after they saw Him risen from the dead did they fully understand and believe what the Scriptures had said about Jesus and what Jesus had said about Himself (John 12:16). Jesus told His disciples, “… the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). For the disciples, this promise was fulfilled; and it continues to be fulfilled today in the life of every true believer.
23-24 Many people believed in Jesus because of His miracles (see John 6:2). But their faith was not deep. They regarded Him as a wonderworker, a great leader—even, perhaps, a king. But they had no spiritual understanding that He was, in fact, the Son of God.
These people “believed” Christ one day, but the next day they were ready to condemn Him to death. Their faith was not true faith. Their faith was only in miracles. Such people believe one day and forget the next.
Therefore, when Jesus saw the crowds praising Him and following Him, He did not entrust himself to them (verse 24). That is, He did not rely on their support. He did not seek to be their leader. He did not seek their approval and praise. He knew that they praised Him mainly with their lips. He knew that their faith was shallow.
Today, also, many people follow after Jesus who have no real faith. They may prof ess faith in hope of receiving some benefit or assistance—a scholarship, a job, some food, money. Some come to Christ because they have been healed, but their faith is of ten weak. They look mainly for what they can get from Christ, not for what they can give to Him. Such people quickly turn away when the benefits they are seeking come to an end.
It is true that everyone who comes to Christ comes, at first, for some selfish reason—that is, because of some need. But after meeting Christ and believing in Him, we must then renounce selfishness and follow Him, not for our own sakes, but for His sake.
25 Jesus did not need man’s testimony about man. That is, He did not need anyone to tell Him what the human heart was like. Because of His supernatural knowledge, He knew every man’s heart. … for you alone know the hearts of all men (1 Kings 8:39). Therefore, because Christ knows everything about us, He is perfectly suited to be the doctor of our souls (John 4:29). He is also—for the same reason—perfectly suited to be our judge! (John 5:22).