John Lesson 3: “Authenticity Acknowledged”
Motivation: Jesus’ earthly ministry was characterized by visible miracles. He used the wedding at Cana to perform His first recorded miracle; at the temple cleansing He was asked for a miracle. In verse 23, many followed Him because of miracles. We should recognize and appreciate the miracles Jesus does for us.
I. Obey Jesus (1-5)
A. Transition From Private To Public “On the third day, a wedding took place in Cana. . .” (1) (Hos. 5:15-6:3; Rev. 19:7-10) For thirty years, Jesus had been preparing. His baptism and temptation were the final stages of this preparation. Since wine symbolizes joy and Jesus’ teaching and life would introduce the “new wine” of the gospel, John uses this as a “coming out” party introducing Jesus’ public ministry.
1. The Purpose: “John wrote that Jesus did many miracles (John 20:30) but only gave a detailed description of seven. He consistently referred to these seven as ‘signs.’ A ‘sign’ points beyond itself and serves to direct an observer’s attention to something important. In this sense a sign only works properly if the observer accepts the assistance or the insight that the sign can provide. In other words talking about Jesus’ miracles as ‘signs’ means becoming thoroughly familiar with their descriptions in Scripture, asking what God intended humanity to learn about His work through Jesus, and hearing the call to faith expressed through the sign.” (Explore the Bible Commentary, Fall, 2002, p. 31)
2. The Place: “Cana of Galilee” (1) Cana was a village about nine miles north of Nazareth and perhaps the same distance west of the Sea of Galilee. As a setting for Jesus’ first miracle, it was unremarkable. Perhaps Jesus wants us to understand that he can change the ordinary into something extraordinary. The fact that the event occurred during a wedding reminds us of the joy that Jesus brings to people.
3. The People: “Jesus’ Mother” (3) In sharp contrast to the “priest and Levites” (1:19) and “Pharisees” (1:24) who were around John the Baptist, Jesus chose to demonstrate His first miracle before very ordinary people. Because of Mary’s role in the wedding, a strong tradition is passed down that she had relatives in the wedding party; one extra-biblical source says that the bridegroom was John and his mother, Salome, was Mary’s sister (Monarchian Prefaces cited in The Gospel of John, vol. 1, William Barclay, p. 96).
B. Transition From Son to Lord “What has this concern of yours to do with Me, woman?” (2)
1. Mother Mary is only mentioned twice in John’s gospel, here and in the passion account of 19:25, 26. In both instances, Jesus addresses her not as “mother” but as “woman.” The word reminds us that Mary was not a super-saint to be worshipped; however, “woman” was an affectionate term not nearly as harsh as it sounds. (Matt. 13:55)
2. Moment “My hour has not yet come” (4b) Jesus speaks of “His hour” in 7:6-8, 17:1 and 12:23 (also in Matt. 26:18, 45 and Mark 14:41). In each case it had to do with His emergence as the Messiah or His crucifixion. While Jesus performed many miracles that accomplished great good, His purpose went beyond His miracles. (Gal. 4:4)
3. Mandate “Do whatever He tells you” (5) Mary certainly didn’t understand Jesus’ divinity; but, she had a mother’s trust in His ability and willingness to help with a potentially humiliating problem. HCSB, p. 1805: 2:4 “Jesus’ use of woman to address His mother established a polite but firm distance between them, as did His question, What has this concern of yours to do with Me? On Jesus’ hour has not yet come, cp. 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20. Because of misconceptions about the coming Messiah, Jesus chose not to reveal Himself openly to Israel (though He did perform numerous messianic ‘signs.’) John portrayed Jesus as the ‘elusive Christ’ via Jesus’ pattern of occasional withdrawal (7:6-9; 10:40-41; 11:56-57), His realism about people’s true motives (2:23-25), and His ability to elude His opponents when charged with blasphemy (7:44; 8:59; 10:39). Jesus remained elusive until His time finally arrived (12:23, 27; 13:1; 16:32; 17:1).”
II. Grow in Faith (6-11)
“Jesus performed this first sign in Cana of Galilee. He displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” (11)
A. The Vessels “Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained 20 or 30 gallons.” (6) The number six would be significant to the Jews as the number of men, the number of imperfection (falling short of the number 7). The purpose of the water pots was to keep ceremonial Jewish law (Mark 7:3-4). Jesus took vessels dedicated to the law and turned them into a joyous provision (what wedding party could possibly consume between 120-180 gallons of wine!) Eph. 3:20. Moses’ first miracle was to turn water into blood; Jesus, instead, turned water to wine. What a contrast of law and grace!
B. The Wine “When the chief servant tasted the water (after it became wine)” (9) Christian proponents for the consumption of alcoholic beverages usually point to two New Testament passages in support: John 2:1-11 and I Timothy 5:23. Our church position of total abstinence has been adopted for several reasons:
1. Historically, First Century Jews had few sources of clean drinking water. The common beverage was a mixture of three parts water to two parts wine. Such watered-down wine with a low content of alcohol is not served in our culture.
2. Practically, the Bible condemns drunkenness (Prov. 20:1; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; I Tim. 3:3; I Pet. 4:3). Drunkenness among students is a national epidemic. Drunk drivers are the leading cause of automotive fatalities. Christian teens have a difficult time abstaining from alcohol when they see Christian parents regularly consuming it. (Rom. 14:21)
3. Theologically, God will not tempt us to sin (James 1:13-14). Since yeast (fermentation) is often used symbolically for sin, many believe that the wine Jesus created to symbolize grace was non-alcoholic. The Bible clearly teaches that Christians are to be "holy,” set apart. Totally abstaining from alcoholic beverages sets one apart (Nu. 6:1-4), provides a special fellowship with God (Deut. 29:6), and serves as a witness to others (Rom. 14:17-21). Proverbs 23:29-35 lists twelve negative consequences of consuming alcohol.
C. The Vehicle “displayed His glory” (11) HCSB, p. 1806: 2:11 “The fact that Jesus’ turning of water into wine at the wedding is called the first sign in Cana of Galilee leads the reader to expect more signs to follow. The corresponding reference in 4:54 is to Jesus’ healing of the royal official’s son again while at Cana, “the second sign Jesus performed after He came from Judea to Galilee.” Beyond this, Jesus signs include the non-miraculous but prophetic temple clearing (2:13-22; one of Jesus’ Judean signs; cp. V. 23; 3:2); His healing of a lame man (5:1-15); the feeding of the crowds (6:1-15); the healing of the man born blind (chap. 9); and the raising of Lazarus (chap. 11).
In each case, the emphasis is on the way the “sign” revealed Jesus’ messianic nature (12:37-40; 20:30-31) and on the striking nature of the feat. These signs pointed unmistakably to Jesus as Messiah – whether it be the large quantity and high quality of wine (2:6, 10); the short span required by Jesus to “rebuild” the temple (vv. 19-20); the long-distance healing of the royal official’s son (4:47, 49-50); the lame man’s 38 years as an invalid (5:5); the abundance of food Jesus produced (6:13); the man’s congenital blindness (9:1-2); or Lazarus’s four days in the tomb (11:17,39). The phrases He displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him hark back to 1:14.
III. Make Worship Genuine (12-17)
A. Ethics “In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there.” (14) The Sadducees basically controlled the commerce in the Temple area. Their thievery took two forms:
1. The Temple tax had to be paid in a certain currency. The moneychangers performed a service for out-of-town pilgrims. Dishonesty crept in with exorbitant surcharges and incorrect rates of exchange.
2. The Temple sacrifices had to be certified “without spot or blemish” by temple inspectors. Since all revenue of animals sold on Temple grounds went into the account of the High Priest’s family; one could assume that few animals purchased outside of the Temple were so certified. Operating a virtual monopoly, the Temple sellers inflated prices as much as twenty-fold! (Barclay, Matthew, vol. 2, p. 247) Jesus condemned the dishonesty rather than the service itself.
B. Emotion “After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers coins and overturned the tables…Zeal for Your house will consume Me” (15, 17b) (Ps. 69:9) This is no “gentle Jesus meek and mild!” Too often, Christians who stand up for what’s right, are condemned for being “confrontational,” “harsh,” or “overzealous.” When we ask “What Would Jesus Do?” we need to remember that He stood against wrongdoing, spoke out against evil and “made a scene in public” to make His point. (Isa. 56:7; Matt. 21:13; Rev. 11:1-3)
IV. Recognize Jesus’ Authority (18-25)
A. His Personality “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days” (19) (cf. 21) In driving out the moneychangers and sellers, Jesus provides a glimpse of His personality. He was angry (cf. Mark 3:5). (Eph. 4:26) He took direct action (rather than forming a committee.) Jesus used His muscles hardened by years as a carpenter and routed both man and beast. He was a “man’s man.” Jesus was willing to receive scorn and hatred because what He did was right; His purpose was to establish His authority and to rectify errors. He was not there to destroy the Temple; but it would be a major symbol of what He came to earth to do. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
B. His Knowledge of the People (23-25)
The adversarial position of the Jewish leaders to Jesus is indicated by their reaction to the word “temple.” (19) They made no attempt to understand His meaning; rather, they used it as a charge against Him since Jesus was acting like a Messiah and His disciples were quoting Messianic Psalms. The people responded enthusiastically (23). However, Jesus did not want followers who were attracted to the signs only. Genuine faith must be coupled with repentance. (Ps. 16:11; Ps. 118:8Luke 13:3; Heb. 11:25) Jesus places a high priority on motives, not just deeds.
1. Christ wants to be Lord of every area of my life, from weddings to worship.
2. We should have high principles that allow us to immediately recognize wrong and denounce it as such.
3. God’s miracles in our own lives should be recognized and appreciated.
Leader Pack Item 5: Worksheet: Lesson Outline;
Biblical Illustrator: p. 15; “The Replacement Motif in John’s Gospel”
**You may access David’s Lesson Preview in MP3 format at: www.hfbcbiblestudy.org
Dates: 9/13-14 – Empowered to Connect Conf.; 9/13-15 – SPF Camp; 9/15 – MIYC Orientation; 9/22 – LBS Leadership Lunch; 9/23 – KHCB Together Our Daily Bread; 9/27-28 – Men’s Retreat; 9/28 – Health, Fitness & Spirit Expo 8-4:00; 10/6 – Lord’s Supper; 10/18 – Big Night Out; 10/19- Celebration Tickets on Sale; 10/20 - Parent Commitment; 10/21 - FBA Open House; 10/29 – FBA Fall Athletic Banquet; 10/31 – First Fest; 11/2 – Men: Pray; 11/10 – MIYC Orientation; 11/11 – FBA Veteran’s Chapel; 11/16 – Men: Serve; 11/17 – Christmas Store Collection Day; 11/18 – Staff Wives Fellowship; 11/19 – Staff Christmas Party; 11/22 – FBA Grandparents & Special Friends Day; 11/28-29 – Thanksgiving Holiday, offices closed; 12/1 – NO LBS; 12/5 – Women’s Christmas Banquet; 12/6 – Recreate: Date Night; 12/7 – Deacon Christmas Party; 12/7 - Christmas Store; 12/9 – FBA Primary/Lower school musical; 12/21 – Candy Cane Lane; 12/24-25 – Christmas Holidays, offices closed; 12/29 – NO LBS.