John 2

Chapter two records the first of several miracles found only in John. Contrary to pseudepigraphical books 1 like the Gospel of Thomas, which claim that Jesus did miracles even throughout his childhood, John stated that this wedding in Cana was “the first of his miraculous signs” and how “he revealed his glory” (John 2:11). Not enough detail is given about the event to figure out everything, but for some reason, Mary got involved when the groom ran out of wine, assuming that Jesus should do something about it (John 2:1-11). Because he had not done miracles before, it seems that she was probably not expecting one. In fact, Jesus’ response was essentially, “That’s none of our business!” However, he did get involved, turning about 150 gallons of water into wine. 2 It is important to note that only the servants who had drawn the water and Jesus’ disciples were aware of what had happened. Jesus did not make it into a public show. This level of personal interaction is characteristic of John’s gospel.

Whereas the Synoptics all record the Temple cleansing during Passion Week (Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:45), only John recorded this one at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2:12-22). Some say that it was the same event as the Passion Week cleansing rather than a separate event, because John did not include the second one, and they think it unlikely that he would have done it twice. However, there are two reasons to see this as a separate incident. First, John 2:12-13 is dated in such a way that this had to happen shortly after the wedding in Cana, which itself was said to have taken place “on the third day” after Jesus’ conversation with Nathanael (John 2:1). To push this incident to the end of Jesus’ ministry requires moving the previous passages as well, which could not be if Cana was his first miracle. Second, John 2:23 shows Jesus doing more miracles and people believing in him after this cleansing, exactly the opposite of what happened during Passion Week. At that time, he did no miracles and people were turned against him. It is best to understand that Jesus cleansed the Temple twice, as bookends of his public ministry.

Notes:

  1. Pseudepigraphical means “false writings”; they often contain heresy.
  2. Much has been written about what type of wine he made, especially in regard to its alcohol content. Suffice it to say here that the sommelier thought it was “very good.”

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