John 2 Drinks, Drives

Standard
Questions: Who invited Jesus to the wedding? Why does he get involved? Who is he to enforce God’s laws? On what authority? Dare we be so bold?

“Read More” to pursue answers in the Gospel of John.

Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love
Draw me into your holy Presence, that I might know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ in this world, and the world to come. Amen.

John 2:1-25

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

Y’know, I had never noticed that Jesus’ mom, Mary, was (apparently) already there when Jesus was invited:

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

From what I know of Indian weddings — and my mother! — I suspect Mary was either a distant relative or close friend of the bride’s parents, and had been there for some days helping with the preparations. Thus, her request to Jesus:

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

(actually, just a statement) may have flowed out of her sense of responsibility (however unofficial) as part of the host family. Jesus, however, seems dubious about her (or his) getting involved:

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

This is my brother’s favorite verse, as our mother is notorious for taking responsibility in these kinds of situations — and roping us in to help when she sees something lacking! She is the sort of woman people turn to in a crisis, much like Mary:

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do [it].

Alas, Jesus isn’t any more successful at resisting his mother’s good-hearted manipulation than we were:

Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare [it].

Sure enough, it becomes — not just wine — great wine!

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, 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.

It is rather mind-boggling that Jesus is more-or-less dragged into his first miracle by his mother. I wonder if a perfect Son would (or even could) be embarrassed that it proved so effective?

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

Certainly, it seems to have drawn his biological and spiritual families close to each other:

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

Though, as we shift from the domestic to the public square, I suspect his mother wouldn’t approve of what happens next:

And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

After all, it is one thing to help out a friend, quite another to start whipping respectable business people!

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

I’ve heard various explanations regarding Jesus “reasoning” for behaving this way, but the real answer appears to be simply that he was thoroughly ticked off:

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

That is, this wasn’t some sort of cold, calculated political maneuver. Something had awakened in him, perhaps when he was baptized by John; and though he’d surely seen the same scene many times before, this time he was simply “as mad as heaven, and not gonna take it anymore.”

That said, there presumably was something of “ritual” rather than “rashness” in the way he went about it, at least judging by the unusual inquisition he generates:

Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

They must’ve noticed something unusual about Jesus to have asked such a question (rather than, say, stoning him on the spot :-). Though nothing that could’ve prepared them for his bizarre response:

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

Say what?

Again, this doesn’t feel (at least to me) like some sort of cold calculation on Jesus’ part. Rather, he’s standing outside the temple with his hands on his knees, exhausted by his exertions, panting in the heat, perhaps bruised and scraped from the recently completed fight. A bunch of pompous old windbags come up to him; after seeing the look in his eyes — and perhaps counting the number of burly fisherman supporting him — they swallow their planned tongue-lashing and instead seek to engage him in theological discourse.

Jesus looks up through sweaty brows, and realizes that their anger is not driven by confusion over what happened, much less compassion for those thrown out, but rather the fact that he challenged their hypocrisy and self-serving spirituality by doing something they (deep down) know they should’ve done long ago. So, he lets loose a zinger that both answers their question (in a way they cannot comprehend) and strikes at the heart of their superficial religiosity.

No wonder they’re flabbergasted:

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

Though of course Jesus is really thinking ahead to their final confrontation with him:

But he spake of the temple of his body.

Which even his disciples didn’t understand until much later:

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.

Though, understanding not, they yet believed:

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.

Ironically, though many trusted in him, he did not entrust himself to them:

But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all [men], And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

That’s an odd turn of phrase. Let’s see how Eugene Petersen renders it:

But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them.
A very lonely picture. If anything, it makes it painfully clear that Jesus isn’t seeking validation from the crowds of fervent believers. Rather, his eyes are continually lifted up to the Father, and looking down to see His handiwork manifested in people. That is why he is able to trust his heart, and follow his gut in making dangerous decisions — yet still be humble enough to bend his schedule to accommodate his mother.

Wow.

Prayer

God, I confess that my heart — and my mind — are clouded with sin, confusion, and doubt. I rarely know the right thing to do, and rarer still do it. Father, teach me to have the heart and mind of Christ. Teach me to seek you with all my heart and mind, soul and strength. Grant me both the strength and the humility to submit to what is right, and fight what is evil — no matter the cost to my timetable or convenience. Father, make me like Jesus, for I know that only that can make radically happy; the only kind of happiness that endures. I ask all this for the sake of Jesus, Amen.

Advertisements