Two of my favorite Bible stories from the New Testament are found in this chapter of John. . . Jesus partying at a wedding and Jesus chasing people with a whip in the temple. Did I mention that I LOVE Jesus?
These certainly are amusing stories to ponder. There are many details not included in the narrative that I would LOVE to know. I can think of a list of questions a mile long that relate to these two events that can’t be directly answered within the stories themselves. But here I will focus on some things that ARE clear in these chapters.
As we read through John, we will come across some controversial verses and statements. Some of my favorite Bible teachers don’t even agree with each other as to the interpretation or application of some verses. My encouragement to you as you study the Word of God is to read the Bible and pray for divine insight into how those verses should be interpreted and applied. It is always a great idea to refer to other Scriptures and reliable Bible teachers before you solidify in your own mind how the verses should be applied to your life.
With that said, let me share with you some of the things that stood out to me in the second chapter of the Gospel of John.
Jesus at the Wedding……
One of the reasons I love the story of Jesus at the wedding is because it gives us insight into who Jesus was as a human. Jesus was not a recluse (as John the Baptist was) and seems to have been well-liked outside of religious circles. He went to social events and sinners seem to have been attracted to him. Luke 15:1-2 (New Living Translation) says,
1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.
2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
As a believer, I have often found myself sheltered from the world around me. Especially when my husband was on church staff, I often had little contact with unchurched people. Unless it was the cashier at the grocery store, or the teller at the bank, my life’s path did not seem to cross with people in total darkness from the light of Jesus.
In my life I have tried to make it a point to intentionally put myself in situations that will allow me to come into contact with those who are in need of the love and light of Jesus. Unfortunately, just like the religious leaders of Jesus’s day, many Christians today get caught up in their ‘church life’ and fail to build meaningful relationships with those outside the church walls.
I do think it wise for me to discuss an issue that ALWAYS arises when we read the story of Jesus turning water into wine…was it REALLY wine? fermented wine? I personally believe that it is crazy to think it was not fermented wine. That’s what they drank in Jesus’s day. It was safer to drink than the water of that day. However, it was much weaker than the wine of today :)!
I cringe when I hear people try to make alcohol the issue in this story. People use this story to justify their own use of alcohol. Other people try to explain the alcohol out of this story to justify their own reasons for not drinking alcohol.
I do not believe this is the passage that you should turn to when making your own decisions about whether you will partake of alcoholic beverages or not. I have dear Christian friends who disagree in this area…so I understand I am treading on a controversial issue.
However, there is no argument when it comes to drunkenness…the Bible clearly condemns drunkenness. (Romans 13:13 & Galatians 5:21 & scores of others!) The reality is….many people drink simply to get drunk. That is clearly sin. However, I must be honest. There is no passage that says, ‘thou shalt not partake of a beverage that contains alcohol.’
Many people use alcohol as a coping mechanism in life. It is their way of dulling the pain of this life. The problem is that the pain returns once the alcohol wears off. My own family has suffered from the consequences of someone who chose to turn to alcohol instead of turning to Jesus. I am so grateful that my parents set the example for me to steer away from alcohol and run into the arms of Jesus!
Let me just leave this issue by saying this….Before you form your opinion on the issue of alcohol, search the Word of God. Remember it should be our light into every decision we make.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “ So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Jesus turned the water to wine to bring glory to His Father. This miracle was performed in order to prove His deity (oneness with God) to His mother and His disciples. (it was not performed to justify drinking!)
Jesus at the temple….
There are so many things in this story that I love. The whip. The people running out of the temple. I love Jesus ‘showing up’ the religious hot shots with his claim to ‘rebuild the temple in 3 days.’
But do you know what stands out to me the most in this story…verse 21 & 22
John 2:21-22 (NLT)
21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body.
22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.
If you are circling the word ‘believe’ in your Bible in the book of John (and you should because that word is one of the major themes), you noticed in verse 11 of John chapter 2 that the disciples ‘believed’ in Jesus after He revealed His glory by changing the water into wine. They believed but they obviously did not fully understand.
Read verse 22 again, they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.
By spending time with Jesus and relating it to what they knew the Scriptures said, the disciples began to believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. While the crowds around Jesus seem to have been drawn to Him because of the fascinating things He did, in this passage we see the disciples beginning to believe in Him because of who He claimed to be…
So many times I find myself coming to Jesus because of what He can do for me instead of because of who I believe He is. That is my natural tendency. I believe that is the kind of belief that verses 23-25 of chapter 2 refers to…and Jesus didn’t seem to have much time for people who weren’t interested in learning about Him as the Son of God. I should come to Jesus because of Who He is, not because of what He can do.
Questions to consider in your journal:
1. Think of five people (besides your family) that you spend significant amounts of time with on a regular basis. Would any of the people on your list be classified by religious leaders of Jesus day as ‘sinners?’ What are some ways that you intentionally build bridges with those who need the love of Jesus?
2. On page 13 of our lesson the author states, “If Jesus can transform 120 gallons of water into wine, he can certainly transform you.” Is there an area in your life that You would like to see Jesus transform?
3. The Bible teaches that Jesus now resides in the hearts of those who believe in him. As believers, our bodies are His temple. Based on this knowledge , the story of the Jesus in the temple has a significant application to the believer today. What are some applications you can make to your own life based on this story?
4. Page 15 of our lesson states, “Most people don’t know Christ they just know about Him.” Do you agree with that statement? What is the difference in someone who knows Jesus and someone who knows ‘about’ Jesus?
I’ll post these questions on our Facebook site so we can discuss them further. Let’s spend the next week thinking about the significance of these two stories…Jesus at the wedding and Jesus in the temple!