THIS CHAPTER BEGINS, “And the third day.” If we work back we find the second day was that on which Philip was found, and the first that on which Andrew and his companion found their Centre in Jesus. Viewing these things in a typical or allegorical sense, we may say that the first day is that in which the church is gathered to Christ; the second that in which He is recognised as Son of God and King of Israel by the godly remnant in Israel; the third that of millennial blessedness and joy as the fruit of the Son of Man being set over all things.
On the occasion of the marriage at Cana no external glory marked the presence of Jesus. His disciples were there and His mother also, but He soon showed, by the answer He gave His mother, that the initiative was His and not hers; and also that His hour was not yet come—neither the hour of His suffering, nor the hour of His glory, when “all things” will be at His disposal. However, He quickly manifested His glory by showing that water was at His disposal, and that He could make of it that which He pleased. He turned the water of purification into the wine of rejoicing. This was the beginning of His miracles or signs, and as a sign it looked on to the ultimate result of His work. There can be no gladness of an abiding sort save on the basis of a purification which He brings to pass, and the gladness which will spring forth when at last the marriage day comes for a cleansed Israel, will be the best of all. The “good wine” is kept until that day. This sign, demonstrating His glory, confirmed the faith of His disciples, and may well confirm ours.
After a short period still in Galilee, He went up for the Passover to Jerusalem. All these things transpired before John was cast into prison, and therefore before His more public entrance upon ministry, as recorded by the other Evangelists. The scene in the Temple, recorded here, took place therefore right at the beginning of His ministry. He was at the heart of things when He arrived at the Temple, and here at the very heart the need for a work of purification was most strongly manifest. The house of God, His Father, had been turned into a house of merchandise—a place of trading and worldly profit.
This illustrates how the kindly provisions of the law could be and were corrupted to serve man’s covetous ends. There was instruction on this point in Deuteronomy 14:22-26, and they might plead that they were only doing what the law allowed. The law told them to bring their money and purchase what they needed, but did not countenance the covetous practices they had introduced, turning the house of God into a money-making centre. The same thing in principle can be seen in our day; such as Romish shrines with shops attached where the devotees buy candles and other paraphernalia at high prices!
The Lord did not yet disown the Temple. He treated it as God’s house, and He was filled with zeal for it. No one could resist Him and His scourge of small cords, and the evil-doers had for the moment to go. The Jews, however, challenged what He did and demanded a sign, as though the irresistible authority of His action was not sign enough. In reply He gave them the great sign of His own death and resurrection, only couched in symbolic language. The fact was that the Temple, as God’s dwelling-place, was about to be superseded by Himself. His body was a far more wonderful “Temple” than that which had stood on Mount Moriah. The Word dwelt among us in flesh, and hence “God was in Christ” in a far deeper and more intimate way. The fulness of the Godhead was dwelling in Him. The Temple had served a certain capacity in Israel, but He was now filling that capacity in an altogether new way.
From the outset of this Gospel He is viewed as rejected. So here Jesus takes their deadly animosity for granted. His words were a prediction that they would set their hands to His death; destroying, as far as in them lay, the temple of His body. They would destroy, and in three days He would raise it up. Mark how He says that He would do it. It is equally true, of course, that God raised Him from the dead, but in John 10:1-42 He again speaks of His resurrection as His own act. This is in keeping with the Gospel which presents Him as the Word who was God and became flesh. Of all the signs He showed, His own resurrection was the greatest.
At the moment no one, not even His disciples, understood Him. This is another characteristic feature of John’s Gospel. He is continuously misunderstood, by friends as well as by foes. It was only after His resurrection and the consequent gift of the Spirit that the real meaning of these things dawned upon the disciples. But this again is not surprising. If the Word becomes flesh, He will speak to us in human accents it is true: but He will also speak of the lofty things which He knows as in the bosom of the Father. Hence His utterances are bound to have in them a depth utterly beyond any plumb-line which man possesses—depths which only the Holy Ghost can reveal.
When the Lord spoke figuratively of His resurrection His words were not understood by any, yet the works of power that He did had their effect on many minds. The verses which close the second chapter show that miracles may produce a “belief” of a certain kind. Many in Jerusalem at that time would have subscribed to the dictum that “Seeing is believing;” yet the belief that springs from the sight of facts, which cannot be denied, is not the God-given faith which saves. It is merely intellectual conviction which, when tested, easily collapses, as we see in the sixty-sixth verse of chapter 6.
For the moment things in Jerusalem must have appeared quite promising, but Jesus saw beneath the surface and the Evangelist seizes the opportunity to tell us so. He makes the twofold statement that Jesus “knew all men “ and that He “knew what was in man.” He makes again a very similar statement in John 6:64; but this in our chapter is the first of a series of similar remarks which disclose to us the omniscience of our Lord, and are very much in keeping with the character of this Gospel. Knowing these men Jesus did not commit Himself to them. The word translated commit is the same as that translated believed in the previous verse, which helps us to see that true faith is not a mere mental conviction, but the committal of oneself in simple trust to the One in whom one believes.
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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on John 2". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany