John Chapter 2: Wedding at Cana, Throwing Out the Money Changers

Feb 5th, 2010 | By | Category: John, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

John Chapter 2: Wedding at Cana, Throwing Out the Money Changers

John 2:1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

On the “third day,” Jesus left the northern part of Galilee and traveled to Cana, a little town about halfway between Capernaum and Nazareth that was within a day’s journey from Bethsaida. And Bethsaida and Capernaum were next to each other at the north end of the Sea of Galilee, where the Jordan River enters.

In his various excursions, Jesus probably followed the route on the back side of the Horns of Hittim. This shortcut required a little climbing, but it saved a couple of hours.

Q: If we trace Jesus’ itinerary, John 1:29 mentions “the next day” when John first saw Jesus after the latter’s return from 40 days in the wilderness, John 1:35 says “again the next day,” John 1:43 says “the day following,” and John 2:1 reads “the third day.” Were four days involved here? Was the term “the third day” used in John 2:1 because of the antitype, with the tie-in between the First and Second Advents?

A: Calling it “the third day” could very well be because of the antitype. The three days began to count with John 1:35 because that is when Jesus started his activity. The day before he merely arrived on the scene. In other words, John 1:35 is day 1, John 1:43 is day 2, and John 2:1 is day 3.

Day 1: John Zebedee, Andrew, and Peter associated with Jesus. (John 1:35)

Day 2: Jesus found Philip, who found Nathanael. Both followed Jesus. (John 1:43)

Day 3: Wedding in Cana. (John 2:1)

The “third day” can also be reckoned from the following standpoint. The first 1,000-year day started with Adam, and there are seven 1,000-year days in all. Jesus’ First Advent occurred in the fifth 1,000-year day.

Number of years that Jesus was born after Adam: 4,128 years

Jesus’ age at this time: +30 years

Total years: 4,158 years

In the seventh 1,000-year day, which began with the Harvest period, the Church will be complete. Therefore, if we consider the fifth day as the first day regarding Jesus and the Church, then the seventh day would be the third day.

1,000 years = 1st day

2,000 years = 2nd day

3,000 years = 3rd day

4,000 years = 4th day

5,000 years = 5th day or 1st day

6,000 years = 6th day or 2nd day

7,000 years = 7th day or 3rd day (when marriage of The Christ takes place)

John 2:2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

John 2:3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

Jesus was among the guests at the wedding when the limited supply of wine ran out. His mother Mary said to him, “They have no wine,” expecting him to do something about the situation. Her expectation was based on her experience with Jesus prior to his beginning his ministry. Evidently, Joseph had died, and she looked to her son for her livelihood and support. She was probably about 55 years old now.

John 2:4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

Notice how Jesus addressed Mary: “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” This text puts the relationship in perspective. Mary is not the mother of God, and Jesus did not reverence her as a superior. Hence this verse should curb the worship of Mary (the doctrine of Mariolatry).

Roman Catholics look to Mary more than to Jesus, thinking that if they pray to her as a tender woman, she will be more amenable to a sinner approaching God. She has even been called the Mediatrix, but the man Christ Jesus is the ONLY Mediator between God and man.

Jesus similarly addressed Mary in what might seem to be a curt manner when he was on the Cross. He said to John, “Behold thy mother!” and to Mary, “Woman, behold thy son!” (John 19:26,27).

Why did Jesus say, “Mine hour is not yet come”? He was not prepared to start his miracles yet, and when the time came, it would be his Father’s bidding, not his mother’s. Perhaps, too, he wanted more of the disciples with him before beginning his miracles. Thus far there were only five, and Jesus had not yet started his public ministry.

Jesus could also have had in mind that he would not drink wine with his disciples at a marriage until the Church was complete and beyond the veil. Then the greatest “marriage” of all eternity would take place. It was Jesus’ custom to drink wine during his ministry but not necessarily at a marriage.

Nevertheless, Jesus did go ahead and perform the miracle, thus providing wine. Apparently, he reflected on the matter and then considered the circumstances providential. At first, he did not respond, but then he changed his mind.

The Diaglott has “O woman,” which is a little softer. “Woman,” a common form of address back there, was not disrespectful, but neither was it as familiar as “Mother,” the natural form of address. Jesus was not rude in using the common courteous address.

Although Jesus did not use this address at age 12 when his mother found him three days later in the Temple asking advanced questions, even there he did not address her as “Mother.” His reply, “I must be about my Father’s business,” was a tender rebuke (Luke 2:49). Normally, a mother would have been quite within her rights to seek her child and reprimand him for disappearing for so long and having the audacity to talk with the priests in the Temple, but Jesus did not apologize and say he was sorry. This, too, put Mary in her proper place in the relationship and helps to offset the worship of Mary. Just recently the Roman Catholic Church made the doctrine of Mary’s bodily ascension to heaven a cardinal tenet.

Of course Mary had no idea that Jesus would or could perform the miracle of turning water into wine, but she obviously had confidence in him as being an unusually capable and sensible person. He was the best one to ask to solve this problem.

John 2:5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Mary did not let the matter drop but gave another little push.

In regard to other occasions—and it would also apply here—that Jesus was accustomed to reflecting on circumstances that arose from day to day as possibly being something the Father was initiating. In other words, he did not look on anything as just happenstance. First, he calmed his mother down, as it were, but then he thought, “This is an unusual circumstance. Maybe God wants me to supply the wine.” Then Jesus saw the water pots, each about three feet high.

John 2:6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

John 2:7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

John 2:8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

John 2:9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

John 2:10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

John 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

While the governor, or ruler, of the feast acted as the host, the responsibility for the marriage feast seemed to lie on the bridegroom’s side. (See footnote in the Diaglott, page 317.) Evidently, the ruler was not the bridegroom’s father, although his identity is not given. One translation calls the ruler the “steward” of the feast. At any rate, he was appointed to that task, just as we might appoint a master of ceremonies today.

At the feast, the tables and/or couches were arranged in a crescent or U-shape so that the servants could walk up the middle of the U with the food. In this practical way, when the guests lay on one elbow with their feet extending outward, the servants had no trouble serving around the feet of the guests. They merely entered the U and served.

Apparently, the water pots were not empty but were in various states of fullness. Jesus commanded that they be filled up not just to the neck but to the brim. Then liquid was drawn out and borne to the governor/ruler/steward.

Bro. Henry Sontag gave a beautiful application to the six water pots in suggesting that they represent the six Volumes. His reasoning was based upon three points: (1) the third day (the Harvest period), (2) the proximity to the marriage (of The Christ), and (3) the fact that water represents truth and wine pictures the joys of the truth. Bread and water have been supplied to the Church all down the age, even though they were scarce at times, but in the Harvest period, that which was truth became exhilarating truth. The present

Harvest message is not just truth, but truth with a ring, sound, and melody it has not had since the First Advent. When Jesus said, “I will drink the wine anew with you in the Kingdom,” he was referring not to the wine of suffering, death, and blood but to the wine of JOY. A marriage is a time of joy. The “wine” goes beyond the Memorial to the Kingdom.

Thus the changing of water into wine was the “beginning of [Jesus’] miracles” at the First Advent. And when truth came at the Second Advent with regard to Jesus’ invisible presence, that very truth (plus many other truths) evidenced the Second Advent. “That servant” and the abundance of truths served are proofs of the Second Advent (Matt. 24:46). A blessedness and a joy await those who come to the end of the 1,335 days of Daniel 12:12.

A confirmation of the six water pots being the six Volumes is the seven-plague picture in the Book of Revelation. Just as the six water pots were vessels containing wine, so the seven vials contain seven plagues and the Volumes contain exhilarating truths.

The original purpose of the water was for the guests, upon arrival, to wash the dust of the way off their feet and hands. And so the Word of God is sometimes pictured as a laver in which one cleanses himself by imbibing the truth. That cleansing and refreshing are along one line, but the wine has a different effect—it brings exhilaration, joy, and enthusiasm. Thus the water of purifying becomes the wine of joy. The same element is converted, having a new effect.

The usual strategy was to serve the best wine first and the lesser wine later when taste buds were dulled. It is interesting not only that Jesus created the miracle but also that the quality of the wine was vastly superior to the wine served earlier. Since this was not the normal procedure, here is another clue that there is an antitype. An additional clue for an antitype is the fact that the miracle was called the “beginning of miracles.” And it is significant that such specific details were recorded.

Smith’s Bible Dictionary has some interesting comments about Cana. John 21:2 states that Nathanael came from Cana, and this could well be the connection as to how the disciples received invitations to the wedding there. Also, the name Cana means “place of reeds.” We think of reeds as writing instruments or the ingredient for making papyrus paper. This would be significant in light of the six water pots representing the six Volumes. The Pastor was the man with the writer’s inkhorn, and Cana was the place of reeds, or writings. Also, “cane” is a dried reed—something like a bamboo shoot (soft or hollow inside and light in weight).

The five disciples (John, Peter, Andrew, Nathanael, and Philip) already believed on Jesus, so this miracle was a confirmation, establishing more faith. However, of the five at this time, Nathanael’s faith seemed to be the greatest, for he called Jesus the “Son of God” and the “King of Israel” (John 1:49). Seeing this miracle at the wedding was very reassuring to the disciples, and Jesus bore a lot of watching thereafter.

Another application of the water being changed into wine could pertain to the Kingdom. After the marriage of The Christ, the Old Law Covenant (the “water”) will be exchanged for the New Law Covenant (the “wine”). The stone water pots picture the stone tablets of the Law. Jesus “manifested forth his [future] glory” in this miracle. This phrase suggests that the incident is typical, that there is a lesson in regard to Jesus’ future glory.

John 2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

Cana, which was near Nazareth, was on an elevation; thus Jesus went “down” to Capernaum. “Not many days” is a colloquial expression meaning “not a long time.” Jesus probably dwelled in the Galilee area about three months and then went to Jerusalem. His “brethren” were his fleshly brothers and sisters.

John 2:13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,

John 2:14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

John 2:15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

John 2:16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

John 2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Jesus was in Capernaum not too long, and then he went to Jerusalem for the Passover; that is, verse 13 occurred approximately six months after Jesus’ baptism. In the meantime, he had been in the wilderness for 40 days, seen John where he was baptizing at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, and stayed a short while in Capernaum.

There were two cleansings of the Temple, one at the beginning and one at the end of Jesus’ ministry. This cleansing was the earlier one. Both cleansings have antitypes.

Only John’s Gospel shows that Jesus’ ministry was 3 1/2 years long, and the mention of this first cleansing of the Temple helps to establish that length of time or chronology. John inserted many facts, events, and details that the other writers omitted, and every insertion is significant. For example, John’s mention of four Passovers proves that Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 1/2 years.

John 2:13 – 6 months after Jesus’ ministry began

John 5:1 – 1 1/2 years after Jesus’ ministry began

John 6:4 – 2 1/2 years after Jesus’ ministry began

John 11:55 – 3 1/2 years after Jesus’ ministry began

Luke was very careful in other ways—mathematically, chronologically, etc.—but he omitted proofs along this line. Hence all of the Gospels are needed. Luke pinpointed events according to the year of a particular Caesar’s reign, and he mentioned the officials in a way that is important, whereas John was very observant on other points.

This earlier cleansing of the Temple was tied in with John’s statement that the “Jews’ Passover was at hand” (verse 13). Of the four Passovers during Jesus’ ministry, this one was the first.

Incidentally, John called three of them “passover,” and one he called the “feast.”

Jesus used a “scourge of small cords” to drive out the sheep, the oxen, and the money changers. Imagine Jesus’ overturning the tables with the money still on them! His righteous indignation here reminds us of Moses’ reaction when he saw the golden calf.

The word “sitting” in verse 14 implies habitual, established practices. Reprint article No. 4122 states that what Jesus did to the money changers any Jew could have done because under the Law, these abuses should not have been permitted. But no one did the right thing until Jesus came on the scene. Leviticus 19:30 reads, “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.” Jesus was angry at the lack of reverence for the sanctuary.

The money-changing tables would have been in the Court of the Gentiles, the outer court near the Sheep Gate. This “business” could have been set up right outside, and then it would not have been in the Temple precincts.

The same Reprint article said that the shekel of the sanctuary had to be used. Hence the money changers exchanged Roman money or coinage for the shekel. The shekel was made more than a century earlier and thus was scarce at this time. As a result, the money changers charged a high exchange rate.

Roman money had wings on it, and Roman coins had imprints of the Caesars. Since the Israelites were looking for Messiah to deliver them from the yoke of Roman bondage, they forbid the use of Roman money in the Temple. Although the Old Testament “shekel” was of a certain value, size, and weight, coins other than the shekel could be used in the Temple under other circumstances. In other words, it was because the Israelites were subjected to Roman (foreign) rule that the shekel was required at this time.

It is claimed that the imprint of coins placed on the eyes of Jesus’ crucified body authenticates the shroud of Tourin. The coins are even narrowed down to the era of Pontius Pilate, but how preposterous to think that coins with symbols of Roman authority were placed on his eyes! If coins had been used, they would have been the shekel of the sanctuary.

The doves of the money changers were not released from their cages because recovering the birds would have been difficult if not impossible. Hence Jesus was not indiscriminate in his actions. On the other hand, looking for the scattered coins would have kept the money changers busy. The account is stated briefly—it is not overdramatized—so there are many additional details if the account is considered in depth. John was not appealing to the masses per se. Rather, the condensed account is for the humble, the truth-seeker.

“The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” is a quote from Psalm 69:9. The disciples associated this Scripture with Messiah’s having a consuming zeal. Psalm 119:139 is similar in regard to Jesus and the Church: “My zeal hath consumed me [cut me off—King James margin], because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.” Our zeal should lead to our being faithful unto death.

John 2:18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

John 2:20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

John 2:21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

John 2:22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

The “Jews” here would be the bystanders who witnessed Jesus’ overturning the tables, not the ones looking for the scattered coins on their hands and knees. The bystanders could have included some of the scribes and Pharisees, but mostly they were the common people.

Even today among the Orthodox, Jews tend to look for “signs.” Jesus’ boldness was apparent; that is, he felt compelled to overturn the tables of the money changers. The sign Jesus gave was his statement, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Some of the signs will take a long time to prove, and this sign is yet future in fulfillment. The “body” is the mystical body, the Church. One clue that Jesus was not referring to his own literal body is that he said, “I will raise it up,” and God, not Jesus, raised the Son from death. (We are reminded of the sign Jesus gave in regard to his crucifixion: Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days.)

It took Herod 46 years just to make the additions (such as Solomon’s Porch) to Zerubbabel’s Temple. Therefore, Jesus’ statement about “three days” was not understood because he was speaking of thousand-year days. There are 7,000 years in the Seventh Day of the Creative Week. As already explained, the last three thousand-year periods are the fifth, sixth, and seventh (or the first, second, and third) “days.” From the creation of Adam until Jesus’ birth was 4,128 years. Adding the 30 years Jesus lived before his baptism makes 4,158 years. Being over 4,000 years, the time setting was the fifth day. The year 1872 marked the end of 6,000 years from the creation of Adam, and since that time, we have been in the third day.

Verse 22 shows that the disciples applied Jesus’ statement about raising up the body the third day to him (the Head) literally. They did not realize the breadth of the statement.

John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

Jesus did many miracles at this time. John 4:54 is not a contradiction: “This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.” Little is written about the time Jesus spent in Judea. He did many miracles in the Jerusalem area and in Judea. However, the bulk of his ministry was up in Galilee, and the fourth chapter of John relates the second of these miracles in that vicinity.

John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,

John 2:25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

Some liked the miracles Jesus performed. In addition to his disciples, pious Jews observed them. Some would think, “Thank God, the miracles are being done. Jesus must be a prophet or even possibly the Messiah.” But it was too early for Jesus to reveal his Messiahship, for he had not even started his ministry in force yet or gotten all 12 apostles. Thus he quieted the people down. In short, the timing was premature for him to be introduced as the Messiah. Also, people are very fickle. For example, one could be a famous matador for years, but as he got older and made a couple of mistakes in the ring, the crowd would boo him. Being emotional, the masses are neither dependable nor principled. When things do not proceed as they wish, they readily vent their disapproval.

Thus Jesus knew that the timing here was abortive and that it would fizzle. His time was not yet. He had even said earlier, “Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4). He had a purposed ministry, and his apostles had to be selected. As a Jew, he had to go to Jerusalem for the Passover, and he began his ministry in force right after that.

Verses 23-25 were observations of John, who realized that Jesus had savvy. Paul also used savvy on occasion—for example, in discussing the mind of the carnal man versus the mind of the spiritual man. An experienced spiritual man perceives that which is natural as well as the spiritual. But the natural man—no matter how outstanding—cannot understand the things of the spirit. Stated another way, the spiritual man has the advantage of two viewpoints: the former and the present. That is somewhat the point here. Jesus knew how to properly balance the two, and how they would affect his ministry.

(1986–1987 Study)

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