09 September 15, 2013, John 2;1-12 Jesus' First Miracle
JESUS’ FIRST MIRACLE
September 15, 2013
First Baptist Church
SEPTEMBER SCRIPTURE MEMORY VERSE
1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a
living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be
conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you
may discern what is good, pleasing and perfect will of God.
WEDNESDAY WORSHIP SERIES (UNTIL OCT 30)
EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY
AT 6:00 P. M. IN FSHE
John 2:1 KJV
1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus
John 2:1 KJV
The time is given here as the third day.
It is thought that this was probably late February or early March in the year A.D. 27.
“The third day” is a clear reference to the resurrection which God had already been
making known through the Old Testament prophecies.
Genesis 22:4 KJV
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
Genesis 22:4 KJV
the LORD will provide.
Pro – before
Video – to see
The LORD sees what we need ahead of time and has the provision ready.
Jonah 1:17 KJV
17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the
belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah 1:17 KJV
Matthew 12:40 KJV
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son
of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matthew 12:40 KJV
John had carefully chosen Jesus’ first miracle of changing the water into wine in 2:1-
11 and the account of Jesus’ cleansing the Temple in 2:12-25 to tell of His resurrection.
Cana of Galilee is probably to be identified with modern Khirbet Qana, an
uninhabited ruin about nine miles north of Nazareth.
This wedding is a picture of another wedding that is coming.
Christ began His ministry on this earth at a wedding.
He will conclude it, as far as the church is concerned, with a wedding between the
Lamb and His bride, the church.
Revelation 19:7 KJV
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is
come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Revelation 19:7 KJV
This is the first miracle which Jesus performed.
Moses' first miracle was turning water into blood.
Christ's first miracle was turning water into wine.
The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
What a contrast!
Unlike Western weddings, which are paid for by the bride's family, in Eastern
weddings, the groom was responsible for the expenses of the celebration.
In Western weddings, the bridegroom comes in first, and, very candidly, not many are
interested in him.
The only one who may smile at him is his mother.
Then the bride, the prominent one, enters (“Here comes the bride!”)!
But in Eastern weddings it is the bridegroom who is the prominent one.
We see no mention of the bride in John’s account of the wedding at Cana because
the church, the bride of Christ, was not yet in the picture.
In Jewish life, the wedding marked the culmination of the betrothal period.
During that period, which often lasted for several months, the couple was considered
legally man and wife and only a divorce could terminate the betrothal.
They did not, however, live together or consummate the marriage during that period.
On the night of the ceremony (usually a Wednesday), the groom and his friends
would go to the bride's house.
They would then escort the bride and her attendants to the groom's house, where the
ceremony and banquet would be held.
The whole celebration, which could last up to a week, ended with the actual
John 2:2-3 KJV
2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
John 2:2-3 KJV
They have no wine.
The mother of Jesus was at this particular wedding.
That both she and Jesus attended suggests the wedding involved relatives or friends
of the family (Jesus’ brother?).
That would explain why Mary seems to have been more than just a guest, but
apparently had some responsibility for helping with the celebration.
For example, she was aware of the situation regarding the lack of wine, and took the
initiative to solve the serious problem.
A major crisis loomed at the wedding celebration when the wine ran out because
the supply was insufficient for whatever reason.
Such an embarrassing faux pas could have stigmatized the couple and their families
for the rest of their lives for failing to meet their responsibilities.
Thus Jesus' turning the water into wine was not just a sensational miracle, designed
only to amaze His audience with His power.
All of His miracles met specific needs, such as opening blind eyes or deaf ears,
delivering those oppressed by demons, feeding hungry people, or calming a storm.
This miracle met the genuine need of the family and their guests, who otherwise
faced a social catastrophe.
Mary informed Jesus of the situation and had high expectations for Him to help.
She remembered what Gabriel had told her before she conceived.
She had heard about John the Baptist baptizing Him and the dove coming down on
Him and God’s voice saying, “This is My Son in Whom I AM well pleased.”
What is it that God was so pleased with?
Jesus hadn’t done any miracles, He had not yet begun His public ministry.
Jesus spent 30 of His 33 years getting to know God and giving God His whole heart,
soul and mind (Matthew 22:37).
Along with the other Jews, Mary expected the Messiah.
2,000 years from Adam to Abraham
2,000 years from Abraham to Jesus
It had been 400 years since the last prophet when John the Baptist came on the
scene so there was an expectancy among the people, including Mary.
John 2:4 KJV
4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet
John 2:4 KJV
Jesus' abrupt and startling reply, “Woman, what does that have to do with us?”
signaled a major change in their relationship.
Woman was a polite, but not intimate, form of address, much like the English
It was a common title of respect which Jesus used at other times.
John 19:26 KJV
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he
loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
John 19:26 KJV
Jesus' reply, “what have I to do with thee?” (lit., “What to Me and to you?”) is an
idiomatic expression which asks rhetorically what the two parties in question have in
common, and has the effect of distancing them.
It was the Hebrew way of saying, “You don’t understand”.
The statement, coupled with Jesus' addressing Mary as “Woman” instead of
“Mother,” politely but firmly informed her that what they had in common in their
relationship was no longer to be what it had been while He was growing up in
His public ministry had begun, and earthly relationships would not determine His
Mary was to relate to Him no longer as her son, but as her Messiah, the Son of God,
and her Savior (Matt 12:47-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 11:27-28).
Jesus did not say “No” to her.
He was telling her that what she was asking would not accomplish what she was
This will not persuade the nation of Israel that I am the Messiah.
The phrase “My hour has not yet come” refers to Jesus' death and glorification
(7:6,8,30; 8:20; 12:23,27; 13:1; 16:32; 17:1; Matt 26:18,45; Mark 14:35,41). Six hours!
Jesus made it clear that He would act according to God's timetable, decreed before
the foundation of the world, not hers or any man's (John 7:2-8).
It was not the appointed time for Jesus' full messianic glory to be revealed; yet the
miracle He would perform would make His divine power unmistakable, and preview
His glory to come.
The dark hour of the cross would precede the full revelation in His glorious messianic
kingdom where wine, emblematic of joy and gladness, will abound.
John 2:5 KJV
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
John 2:5 KJV
Undeterred by the mild rebuke (Matt 15:22-28), and aware that He was not saying no
to the request, Mary said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
That’s the best words of advice anyone could ever hear!
“Whatever He says to you, do it!”
John 2:6 KJV
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 (20-30 gal.).
John 2:6 KJV
Six signifies work and wine signifies blood.
The stone waterpots represent Christ’ body.
Without the shedding of blood, there is no cleansing (purifying).
6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the Rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite
the Rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink ...
The Old Testament Concealed, is the New Testament Revealed!
2 It is the Glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of Kings is to search out a
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
I Corinthians 10:4
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that
followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
I Corinthians 10:4
Christ is the true Rock that the water of salvation comes from, and the Rock in Horeb
merely was a shadow, casting a spiritual picture of it.
And that is why these waterpots in John chapter 2 from where wine would come, are
meticulously pointed out as being of stone.
True purification is from Christ.
Six Stone waterpots signifying that it is by the "work" of Christ's blood that the people
will have this purification.
We drink the wine of communion to illustrate our communion with Christ in His saving
work on the cross.
In the smiting of Christ, and His work shedding His blood, our impurities are taken
away, that we might enter into the Sabbath of Rest.
4 Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we esteem Him
stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of
blood is no remission.
The blood is the true wine of which Christ spoke, which was not yet ready for
the Woman (the Church).
It was not yet Christ's hour to go to the cross.
It was not yet time for the true wine to come forth.
Mary was asking for literal wine for the people of the marriage supper, but Jesus was
talking about the wine which was His shed blood, for the marriage of the Lamb.
The Jews used stone waterpots to hold the water used for ritual purification because
they believed that, unlike earthenware pots (Lev 11:33), they did not become
These were large pots, containing 20 or 30 gallons each.
Such a large amount of water was needed not only to accommodate the
guests, but also because the cooking and eating utensils had to be washed (Mark
John 2:7 KJV
7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the
John 2:7 KJV
Mary's faith and confidence in her Son were not misplaced.
As she had foreseen, He responded by commanding the servants, “Fill the waterpots
Jesus often began with whatever was at hand.
In response, they filled them up to the brim.
This seemingly insignificant detail, that the water was up to the very top, shows that
nothing was added to the water, and that what followed was indeed a
By ordering the jars to be completely filled before He transformed the water in them
into wine, Jesus also displayed His magnanimous grace.
Such a large amount of wine (120 to 180 gallons) was more than enough to last for
the rest of the celebration.
Jesus not only rescued the bride and groom from an embarrassing situation, but the
leftover wine also provided them with a generous wedding present.
My cup runneth over!
John 2:8 KJV
8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And
they bare it.
John 2:8 KJV
Jesus took empty water pots and He had them filled with water.
Then as they ladled out the water, the miracle took place!
When they took the water and served it to the guests, it became wine.
This holds a great spiritual lesson for you and me.
We are the body of Christ.
Jesus uses us as vessels (water pots) today.
We're just beaten and battered common water pots.
We're not attractive nor fancy vessels but He wants to use us.
He wants to fill us with water.
What is the water?
J. Vernon Magee says that the water is the Word of God.
Jesus wants to fill you and me with the water of the Word of God.
Then, after He fills us with the water of the Word of God, He wants us to ladle it out.
When we ladle it out, when the water leaves the water pots and gets to those for
whom it is destined, it becomes wine.
It becomes the wine of joy through the working of the Holy Spirit.
We are told, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the
The Holy Spirit takes that water and performs a miracle in the life of an individual.
People are saved by just hearing the Word of God.
John 2:9 KJV
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,
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 2:9-10 KJV
Surely it was the sweetest, freshest wine ever tasted.
This wine did not come from the normal speed of the process of fermentation.
Water is being changed into wine every day in every vineyard on earth but it is a
long, slow process.
Every miracle of Jesus is a short circuit of a natural process.
C. S. Lewis wrote:
“Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or
will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed, across the whole canvas of
Nature." C. S. Lewis
Miracles in books of fiction are an invasion into nature from an alien power but
Christian miracles are by the invasion of a Power which is not alien.
Christian miracles are when God’s power enters the picture, not a king but the King of
nature and its processes.
Jesus transformed a non-living, inorganic compound (water) into a living, organic
compound (wine) and it is a picture of His resurrection and of ours.
This first miracle teaches us that salvation is through the Word of God.
Note the four symbols here.
A. A thirsty crowd.
Isn't this a picture of the lost world today?
They are tasting the world's pleasures but finding no personal satisfaction, and
what fulfillment they have eventually runs out.
The Bible invites thirsty sinners to come to Christ for salvation and satisfaction.
B. Empty waterpots.
Representing the human heart, which is hard and empty.
The Word of God compares the human being to a vessel (2 Cor 4:7; 2 Tim 2:20-
The sinner's life may look lovely on the outside, but God sees it is empty and
useless unless He is able to work a divine miracle.
C. Filled with water.
Water for washing is, in the Bible, an image of the Word of God. (See Ephesians
5:26; John 15:3.)
All that the servants had to do was fill the empty waterpots with water, which is
like the servant of God filling the heart of the unbeliever with the Word.
It is not our job to save souls, but it is our job to give people the Word and let
Christ perform the miracle of salvation.
D. Water to wine.
When the sinner's heart has been filled with the Word, then Christ can perform
the miracle and bring joy.
In Acts 8:26-40, Philip filled the Ethiopian with the Word, and when the man believed,
the miracle of salvation took place.
The Ethiopian went his way rejoicing.
Note John 1:17 - "The law came through Moses"; in the OT, water was changed to
blood (Ex 7:19), which indicates judgment.
But Christ turned water into wine, which speaks of grace and joy.
Wine symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
John 2:11 KJV
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his
glory; and his disciples believed on him.
John 2:11 KJV
Salvation is the beginning of miracles, for after a person is saved, God performs one
miracle after another for him; and the miracles we experience bring glory to Christ.
This beginning of miracles is a sign, it tells you something that you would not otherwise
know because it was hidden.
It reveals or manifests His hidden glory.
The sign pictures the combination of human and divine activity.
Men fill water pots but only God can turn it into wine.
Men do the ordinary, the commonplace, the normal activity but God touches it and
brings it to life and gives it flavor and fragrance and joy!
That’s the meaning of the sign (miracle) and it was an indication of what the ministry
of Jesus was going to be like.
Whenever He touches a human life – not only while He was on earth but also down
through all the centuries to come, and even today!
Bring God into your situation and all the humdrum, common activities are touched
with a new power that makes them fragrant, flavorful, enjoyable, and delightful.
John 2:11b KJV
11b His disciples believed on Him
John 2:11b KJV
Here is One Who took simple water and made it a source of joy!
The world tells us that youth is the time when you taste the wine and enjoy life and
find excitement and adventure.
But how do you feel when you have all of your family together in one place and
everyone is laughing and enjoying each other and loving each other?
You want to thank God and tell Him, “But You have saved the best for last!”
Everything works out in the end, if it hasn’t worked out, it means that it is not the end
There is no record that any of the servants who witnessed Jesus' turning the water into
wine followed Him, only His disciples (John 2:12).
Amazingly, Jesus seems to have left Cana with only the disciples who came there
with Him, despite having performed a miracle, the likes of which had not happened
since God created flour and oil in the days of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:8-16; 2
The obvious deduction that He was the Messiah escaped them; they saw the sign,
but missed what it pointed to.
As he does with all unbelievers, Satan “blinded their minds . . . so that they might not
see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God” 2 Cor 4.
Israel was ignorant of its own Messiah.
"There stands One among you Whom you do not know," said John the Baptist in John
This wedding feast is a picture of the nation: the wine had run out, the people's supply
was emptied, yet their Messiah stood there to help them.
The six waterpots were used for ceremonial cleansing (see Mark 7:3), but the Jewish
ceremonies could not help the spiritually bankrupt nation.
It was without joy (wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible - see Ps 104:15 and Judg 9:13)
and without hope.
The people had external ceremonies, but they had nothing to satisfy them within.
Christ will one day bring joy again to Israel, when it receives Him as its King.
Israel will be wedded again to its God (see Isa 54 and Hos 2), and the wine of its joy
will run freely and Christ's glory will be revealed (John 2:11).
Until that day comes, Christ must say to Israel, "What have I to do with thee?" (John
The nation has rejected Him, and it will not receive Him until that day when He returns
in glory and power.
The Practical Lesson
How to serve Christ.
Mary's words should be heeded by all who would serve Christ:
"Whatever He says to you, do it" (John 2:5).
It must have seemed foolish for the servants to fill those waterpots, but God uses the
foolish things to confound the mighty (1 Cor 1:27).
If we would see men saved, then we must obey Christ and give men the Word of
It is not entertainment or recreation that saves souls, but the preaching and teaching
of the Word.
If we do our part, Christ will do the rest.
The servants knew where the wine came from, but the "important people" at
the feast did not.
When a person serves Christ, he or she learns His secrets. (Amos 3:7)
We are Christ's servants and His friends (3:29; 15:15), and He tells us what He is doing.
It is better to be a humble servant of Christ and share in His miracles than to sit at the
head table at the greatest feast.
We should use every opportunity to serve Christ, "in season and out of season."
Jesus brought glory to God at a wedding feast.
Jesus Displays His Deity
John 2:12-25 KJV
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.
Collectively, they underscore the inscrutable reality of His divine nature.
Cleansing the Temple
John 2:12-14 NASB
12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and
His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He
found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the
money changers seated at their tables.
John 2:12-14 NASB
Upon His arrival, Jesus would have found Jerusalem teeming with Jewish pilgrims from
all around the Roman world, there to celebrate this foremost of Jewish feasts.
Because of the multitudes who came, Passover meant big business for Jerusalem-
In the temple complex, where they had set up shop (probably in the court of the
Gentiles), vendors were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers
seated at their tables.
Since it was impractical for those traveling from distant lands to bring their own animals,
the merchants sold them the animals required for the sacrifices—at greatly inflated prices.
The money changers also provided a necessary service.
Every Jewish male twenty years of age or older had to pay the annual temple tax (Ex
30:13-14; Matt 17:24-27).
But it could be paid only using Jewish or Tyrian coins (because of the purity of their
silver content), so foreigners had to exchange their money for acceptable coinage.
Because they had a monopoly on the market, the money changers charged an
exorbitant fee for their services (as high as 12.5 percent [F. F. Bruce, Eerdmans, 1983].
What had begun as a service to the worshipers had, under the corrupt rule of the
chief priests, degenerated into exploitation and usury.
Religion had become external, crass, and materialistic; the temple of God had
become a “robbers' den” (Matt 21:13).
As He surveyed the sacred temple grounds now turned into a bazaar, Jesus was
appalled and outraged.
The worshipful atmosphere that befitted the temple, as the symbol of God's presence,
was completely absent.
What should have been a place of sacred reverence and adoration had become a
place of abusive commerce and excessive overpricing.
The sound of heartfelt praise and fervent prayers had been drowned out by the
bawling of oxen, the bleating of sheep, the cooing of doves, and the loud haggling
of vendors and their customers.
John 2:15-17 NASB
15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the
sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and
overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take
these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” 17 His
disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.”
John 2:15-17 NASB
Realizing that the purity of temple worship was a matter of honor to God, Jesus took
swift and decisive action.
Making a scourge of cords (probably from those used to tie the animals), He drove all
the merchants out of the temple, along with their sheep and oxen.
In addition, He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their
tables, an amazing feat for one man in the light of the resistance that must have
Jesus' display of force would have immediately created pandemonium in the temple
court: the animal sellers frantically chasing their beasts, which were running aimlessly
in all directions; the startled moneychangers (and, no doubt, some of the bystanders)
scrambling desperately on the ground to pick up their coins; those who were selling
the doves hastily removing their crates as Jesus had commanded them; the temple
authorities rushing to see what all the commotion was about.
Yet Jesus was neither cruel to the animals (those who object to His mild use of force
on them have never herded animals), nor overly harsh with the men.
Apparently the uproar He created was contained enough not to alert the Roman
garrison stationed in Fort Antonia, which overlooked the temple grounds.
Watching Romans may have found some satisfaction in this assault on the temple
system and its leaders, who gave them so much grief.
At the same time, the intensity of His righteous indignation was unmistakable.
Christ would not tolerate any mockery of the spirit of true worship.
His indignant words to those who were selling the doves, “Take these things away;
stop making My Father's house a place of business,” applied to all who were polluting
the temple and corrupting its intended purpose.
Jesus' reference to God as His Father was a reminder both of His deity and His
messiahship; He was the loyal Son purging His Father's house of its impure worship (an
action that prefigures what He will again do at His second coming [Mal 3:1-3; cf. Zech
Several years later, at the end of His ministry, Christ would again cleanse the temple
(Matt 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-46).
The cleansing recorded in the Synoptic Gospels took place during Passion Week; the
one recorded by John came at the outset of Jesus' public ministry (cf. John 2:11-13).
The details of the two accounts also differ significantly.
In the Synoptics, Jesus quotes the Old Testament as His authority (Matt 21:13; Mark
11:17; Luke 19:46); in John He uses His own words (2:16).
Moreover, John does not mention Jesus' prohibition against using the temple as a
shortcut (Mark 11:16) nor Jesus' significant judicial statement: “Behold, your house is
being left to you desolate!” (Matt 23:38).
And the Synoptics do not mention Jesus' remarkable challenge, “Destroy this temple,
and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19)—although they do refer to it in the
accounts of His trial before the Sanhedrin (Matt 26:61; Mark 14:58; cf. Matt 27:39-40;
Watching in amazement as their Master dispersed the temple merchants, His disciples
remembered that it was written in Ps 69:9, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.”
Jesus' resolute passion and unwavering fervor was clear to all who saw Him.
His righteous indignation, stemming from an absolute commitment to God's holiness,
revealed His true nature as the Judge of all the earth (cf. Gen 18:25; Heb 9:27).
Like David, who penned the messianic Ps 69, Jesus' zeal for pure worship found
expression in His concern for God's house.
And also like David, Jesus suffered as a result, personally feeling the pain when His
Father was dishonored.
The second half of Ps 69:9 reads, “The reproaches of those who reproach You have
fallen on me.”
The Jewish leaders never forgot Jesus' assault on the heart of their religious enterprise
and on the very seat of their power.
In fact, Christ's two physical cleansings of the temple, along with His constant verbal
assaults on their hypocrisy, were more than enough motivation to cause them to
pursue His crucifixion so vehemently.
Not surprisingly, His followers were also later accused of threatening the temple (Acts
6:13-14; 21:28; 24:6).
JESUS' POWER OF RESURRECTION
John 2:18-22 NASB
18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing
these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will
raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will
You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this;
and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
John 2:18-22 NASB
The Jews who confronted Jesus were probably members of the temple police force,
representatives from the Sanhedrin, or both.
Arriving to investigate the commotion in the temple court, they demanded of Him,
“What sign do You show us as Your authority for doing these things?”
Their question was not a request for information, but a challenge to His authority.
Jesus had taken it upon Himself to disregard their dominion and regulate the temple
activities, and they wanted a miraculous sign as proof of His authority for doing so.
Interestingly, although they challenged His right to do what He did, the Jewish
authorities did not arrest Jesus.
Taken aback by His bold display of authority, they may have wondered if He were a
prophet, like John the Baptist.
Their demand for a sign, however, was foolish; the messianic act of single-handedly
cleansing the temple was itself a clear sign that God had a message for them.
In their hard-hearted unbelief, the Jewish leaders repeatedly asked for such signs, yet
they never accepted the ones they were given.
As John later wrote, “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet
they were not believing in Him” (John 12:37).
The fact that the temple authorities demanded a sign also exposed the wickedness
of their hearts.
They knew that their greedy, corrupt commercialization of temple worship was
wrong, even though they obstinately refused to admit it.
Jesus' enigmatic reply, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” baffled the
Jewish authorities (and, for the time being, His own disciples as well, v. 22).
Like His parables, this veiled statement judicially concealed the truth from hostile
unbelievers, whose spiritual blindness resulted from their own unbelief and rebellion
Unbelievers' failure to understand Jesus' message is a theme that runs throughout
The authorities were astonished by Jesus' reply.
Their response betrays a mixture of shock and indignation: “It took forty-six years to
build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
The temple of Jesus' day was not Solomon's temple, which the Babylonians had
destroyed (Ezra 5:12).
Rather, it was the postexilic temple, rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity was over,
under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Haggai, and Zechariah (Ezra 1-6).
Many centuries later, around 20 B.C., Herod the Great began an extensive
reconstruction and expansion of the postexilic temple.
Ironically, those reconstruction efforts were not completed until shortly before A.D. 70
—when the postexilic temple itself was destroyed by the Romans.
The Jews were incredulous; how could Jesus possibly accomplish in three days' work
what had already taken forty-six years and was still not finished?
As the account of His trial a few years later before the Sanhedrin indicates (Matt
26:61; Mark 14:58), the Jewish authorities completely missed the point of Jesus'
statement, incorrectly applying it to the Herodian temple.
But as John points out, Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body.
The sign He would give them would be far greater than simply reconstructing a
destroyed building: An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no
sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three
days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three
days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt 12:39-40; cf. 16:4)
The sign He would give was His own resurrection, which even His disciples did not
immediately understand (cf. 12:16).
It was not until He was raised from the dead that His disciples remembered that He
said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
His death as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb would render the Jerusalem temple
obsolete (cf. 4:21; Matt 27:51); and His resurrection as the triumphant Lord would lay
the foundation for a new, spiritual temple in its place—namely, the church (1 Cor
3:16-17; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:19-22).
Throughout his gospel, John generally uses the singular Scripture to refer to a specific
passage (cf. 7:38,42; 10:35; 13:18; 19:24,28,36-37); if that is the case here, he is
probably referring to Ps 16:8-11 (cf. Acts 2:25-28; 13:35).
He may, however, be making a general reference (cf. 20:9) to the Old Testament
prophecies regarding Christ's death and resurrection (cf. Luke 24:27,44-47).
In any case, it was not until after the resurrection that the disciples understood
Only then did they make sense of this prophecy and recognize Jesus' resurrection
power as a clear indication of His deity.
JESUS' PERCEPTION OF REALITY
John 2:23-25 NASB
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed
in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not
entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need
anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
John 2:23-25 NASB
These three verses serve as a bridge between the account of the cleansing of the
temple and the story of Nicodemus, which immediately follows.
Though brief, this section has profound implications concerning the nature of saving
Jesus remained in Jerusalem for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread that
During that time, He performed a number of miracles that are not specifically
recorded in Scripture (cf. 20:30; 21:25).
As a result, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.
They thought He might be a prophet (cf. Matt 21:11; Luke 7:16), or even the
conquering Messiah they were expecting (cf. John 6:14-15,26).
But such faith was shallow, superficial, and disingenuous.
It was not true saving faith, as John's play on words indicates.
Believed in verse 23 and entrusting in verse 24 both come from the same Greek verb,
Though they believed in Jesus, Jesus did not believe in them; He had no faith in
Jesus “regarded all belief in Him as superficial which does not have as its most
essential elements the consciousness of the need for forgiveness and the
conviction that He alone is the Mediator of that forgiveness”.
Although many claimed to believe, Jesus knew that mere intellectual assent proves
nothing; even the demons have such faith (James 2:19).
James 2:19 KJV
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and
James 2:19 KJV
Like the seed that fell on rocky and thorny ground, those who possess such faith hear
the Word, and initially receive it with joy (Matt 13:20).
But because their hearts are never truly changed, they fall away when affliction
comes (v. 21), or when worldly riches beckon (v. 22).
Without question, the difference between spurious faith and saving faith is crucial.
It is the difference between living faith and dead faith (James 2:17); between the
wicked, who “go away into eternal punishment” and “the righteous who enter into
eternal life” (Matt 25:46); between those who will hear, “Well done, good and faithful
J. Vernon McGee's Thru The Bible
After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his
disciples: and they continued there not many days [John 2:12].
So he moved His headquarters to Capernaum, and, as far as I can tell, that
continued to be His headquarters during His ministry of three years.
Notice that John labels this feast the "Jews' passover."
It is no longer the "… Lord's passover ..." (Exod. 12:27).
It is the Jews' passover -- merely a religious feast, quite meaningless, just a ritual to go
The One of Whom the Passover speaks has now come.
"… For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (1Cor. 5:7).
Now we find that He cleanses the temple.
He did this twice.
One cleansing was at the beginning of His ministry and one again at the end of His
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the
changers of money sitting [John 2:14].
Why did they have such a system?
Why did they do this?
Because they were making religion easy.
They would take the Roman coinage, which had an effigy of Caesar and the imprint
of paganism on it, and they would exchange that for Jewish coinage which could be
used in the temple.
So they were there for the convenience of the worshipers.
Also, they changed large coins into smaller ones.
Not only did they make religion easy, but they also made religion cheap.
I recognize that we ought not to overemphasize money in the church and should not
beg, but I'll tell you something that is more intolerable than that.
I tell you, the Lord was rough.
There is no question about that.
I don't like the pictures we have of an anemic-looking Christ.
The artists don't seem to realize who He was.
The disciples remembered the verse from Psalm 69:9.
This psalm is quoted seventeen times in the New Testament and is one of the six most
quoted psalms in the New Testament.
It is quoted again in John 15:25 and John 19:28-29. The other psalms which are
frequently quoted are Psalms 2, 22, 89, 110, and Psalm 118.
The word that He used for destroy is luo which means "to untie."
He is, of course, referring to His own human body.
Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it
up in three days?
The temple at that time was Herod's temple.
It was still in the process of being built, and it had already been under construction for
There is a specific use of words in the Greek here that I want you to see.
In verses 14 and 15, when it tells of Jesus cleansing the temple, the word used for
temple is hieron which refers to the temple as a whole.
Specifically, it was the outer court of the temple which Jesus cleansed.
The word Jesus uses in verse 19 and the Jews repeat in verse 20 is naos which refers to
the inner sanctuary of the temple.
This word can also be used in reference to the body as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 6:19
when he says that the holy place today is not a temple made with hands but that our
body is the temple (naos) of the Holy Spirit.
The Jews were asking the Lord whether He really meant that He would destroy this
temple, but, of course, our Lord meant the temple of His body.
But he spake of the temple of his body [John 2:21].
Jesus said that if they destroyed this temple, He would "raise it up."
The word He used was egeiro, which John uses five times in his Gospel. Its actual
meaning is "to wake up" and, each time the word is used, it refers to awaking from
Paul used the same word in his sermon in Antioch of Pisidia where he used it four
It refers to the resurrection of Christ, and it refers to the resurrection of believers also.
It is used in reference to the restoration to life of Lazarus.
It was a "waking up."
That is the picture which we have in this word egeiro.
That is precisely what He meant when He spoke of the temple of His body.
But His disciples didn't understand that, and it was not until after His resurrection that
they recalled it and referred to it.
Jesus Interviews Nicodemus In Jerusalem (second Word)
Now we are coming to something that is intensely interesting.
Actually, we should read from verse 23 right on into chapter 3 where we have the
story of Nicodemus.
All of this took place in Jerusalem during the time of the Passover.
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.
A great many folk read that and say, "My, isn't it wonderful that people were
believing on Him."
But it wasn't wonderful, friend, because theirs was not saving faith at all.
They merely nodded in assent when they saw the miracles that He did.
So notice what follows.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
The language that is used here is saying that He did not believe in them.
You see, they believed in Him, but He didn't believe in them.
In other words, to put it very frankly, their faith was not a saving faith, which He
realized, of course.
He knew what was in their hearts.
This is always a grave danger today for those who say they believe in Jesus.
What do you mean when you say you believe in Jesus?
Do you mean that you believe in the facts of the gospel?
The important question is: Do you trust Him as your Savior who died for your
Was He raised for your justification?
Is He your only hope of heaven?
This crowd was interested, and when they saw Him perform miracles, they believed.
They had to -- they saw the miracles.
But Jesus didn't believe in them.
He knew their belief was not genuine "because he knew all men."
He knew what was in the human heart.
He didn't need anyone to testify to Him of man because He knew what was in man.
In other words, the Lord Jesus didn't commit Himself unto the mob there.
The great company believed on Him, but He didn't entrust Himself to them.
When Nicodemus came to Him at night, our Lord did commit Himself unto him
because this man's faith was genuine.
It is unfortunate that the movement here is broken by a chapter break.
—J. Vernon McGee's Thru The Bible