John’s Gospel consists of twenty-one chapters, of which the first eleven cover about three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, while the last ten cover just the final week of His life. So John’s Gospel is heavily focused on what was the most significant aspect of Jesus’ life and ministry, that is, His sacrificial death. Even in chapter one we see that focus, as John recorded John the Baptist’s declaration that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He was looking towards the cross. Today’s reading continues with that same focus as John recounts the story of Jesus’ first miracle.
Note that when Mary informed Jesus that the wedding feast wine had run out, He replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come” (2:4). That phrase, “My hour has not yet come,” is repeatedly found in John’s Gospel. As we progress through it, it will become crystal clear that every time Jesus used that phrase, He was making a reference to His future crucifixion and death. The “wine” people truly needed would not be available until Jesus’ “hour,” the time when He would pour out His blood. When Mary informed Jesus of what appeared to her to be an urgent matter, in Jesus’ eyes it was trivial by comparison to everyone’s more significant spiritual need, the need to have His blood applied to their sins.
Nevertheless, Jesus met everyone’s temporal need for wine in a foreshadowing of what He would do for everyone’s spiritual needs on the cross. And may I add that the wine He created that day wasn’t made for just a select few, but for everyone who wanted to drink. If each of those six stone water pots held thirty gallons (2:6), Jesus provided enough wine for two-thousand,eight-hundred and eighty people to each enjoy an eight-ounce glass. There was plenty for everyone, praise God! The former wine was so good that the entire supply was quickly exhausted in spite of the certain planning for that not to occur. But the wine that Jesus made was even better according to the testimony of someone who was well-qualified to make that judgment (2:10).
Incidentally, the wine in Jesus’ day was often diluted with water and so low in alcoholic content that it wouldn’t even be considered an alcoholic beverage by modern standards. For a person to get drunk on wine, he had to consume a very large quantity. Scripture tells us that drunkenness is a sin, and one that can be damning (1 Cor. 6:9-10). A sure way to avoid ever becoming intoxicated is to avoid drinking any alcohol.
The Passover cleansing of the temple which we read about today was not the same incident recorded in the other three Gospels. This cleansing occurred at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, while the other occurred close to the end of His life.
Why didn’t anyone attempt to restrain Him? Possibly Jesus was anointed with a Samson-like strength and no one dared get in His way. Or possibly everyone knew in their consciences that what they had been doing was very wrong, which weakened their wills to resist. Three years later when Jesus cleansed the temple again, He accused the sellers of making God’s temple into a den of thieves. So we assume it was not just the money exchanging and selling of animals that bothered Him, but also the fact that people were being cheated in the process. They were taking advantage of sincere seekers of God in order to make a dishonest gain. TV prosperity preachers, take note!
Again we see John’s focus on Jesus’ journey to the cross, as he recorded Jesus’ reply to those who questioned His authority to cleanse the temple. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19). His statement foreshadowed His death (at the hands of the Jews) and His resurrection.
Jesus “was not entrusting Himself” to “many who believed in His name.” Why so? Because “He Himself knew what was in a man” (2:23-25). Jesus knows that, generally speaking, people are deceptive. He knows that many who claim to believe in Him are phony.