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Bible Commentaries
John 2

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Verse 1

A Wedding on the Third Day

John, the author of this Gospel, here speaks of “the third day”. By this he can mean the third day after the Lord’s coming to Galilee or also the third day after the Lord’s conversation with Nathanael at the end of the previous chapter. Earlier he spoke several times about “the next day” (John 1:29; John 1:35John 1:44). The fact that John speaks about this each time not only has a historical meaning, but above all a prophetic meaning. In these days that follow one another, we can see an order of successive periods, each with a special characteristic. In each of these periods the Lord Jesus is central, but each time He is seen in a different relationship and glory.

The first time there is talk of “the next day” (John 1:29) this day is preceded by a day. That day can be called the first day. That day is dominated by the preaching of John (John 1:19-Hosea :). Also, something precedes that first day and that is what is written in the first part of John 1 (John 1:1-Job :). That part is a general introduction to the whole Gospel. It is about the Word that is eternal and has become flesh and thus entered the world, connecting eternity with time and life on earth. As soon as that is the case, the testimony of John the baptist sounds. John the baptist is bound to the Old Testament, but his coming closes that period (Matthew 11:13). It is about Him Who comes after him.

He points to Him “the next day” (John 1:29) as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and testifies of Him that He is the Son of God (John 1:29-Nahum :). That is a stand-alone testimony about the Person and work of Christ, the results of which extend to all eternity.

The following day, “the next day” (John 1:35), Christ becomes the point of attraction for believers (John 1:35-Luke :). We can relate this to the time in which we live and in which the Lord Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, forms the church and connects her to Himself. This may be experienced when believers gather around Him (Matthew 18:20).

On yet another ‘next day’ (John 1:43) we hear the testimony of Nathanael. In this testimony, Nathanael confesses that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel. Thus Nathanael, as a God-fearing Israelite, got to know Him from Psalm 2 (Psalms 2:6-Judges :). Nathanael is a picture of the believing remnant of Israel that will acknowledge Him as Son of God and King of Israel. This will happen when He returns to His people Israel after the period of church to fulfill the long-promised blessing for that people.

Then and finally, John 2 speaks of “the third day” (John 2:1). The third day in scripture often speaks of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and thus the introduction of a new order of affairs. Here we see Christ in the realm of peace, where He brings blessing and joy to His people and through them to the whole earth. That is why John, in connection with the ‘third day’, speaks of a wedding. It is an illustration of the ‘greater things’ which the Lord has spoken of in the last verse of the previous chapter (John 1:51).

The fact that it is a blessing in which the people of Israel will also participate can be seen from the mention that “the mother of Jesus” was also there. For Christ was born of Israel (Romans 9:4-Deuteronomy :). Besides the general blessing for the whole earth there is also a special blessing for Israel. That blessing can only come when this people, i.e. a believing remnant, will have converted to Him. In connection with that conversion there is also talk of a ‘third day’ (Hosea 6:1-Exodus :).

Verses 2-5

No Wine

As we see in the other Gospels, the Lord Jesus is regularly invited somewhere and often accepts the invitation. Here He is invited to the wedding together with the disciples He gathered around Himself in the previous chapter. Here we find a nice clue for all weddings of believers. A wedding is a matter set by God (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-Deuteronomy :; Ephesians 5:30-Jonah :) which only then comes to its full value and unfolding when it is celebrated in the presence of the Lord Jesus and the believers. It is an acknowledgment of His institution of marriage and a call for His blessing on it.

By the way, it seems that the Lord has been invited here, but that He has not been particularly noticed. He is One of the other guests and that is a place that does not suit Him. Where He is, He should be given first place.

At some point there is a lack of wine. This is a disaster for a wedding because it means the end of the joy of which the wine is a picture (Judges 9:13; Psalms 104:15). The mother of the Lord Jesus notices this and reports it to her Son. She knows that He can provide for that need.

The Lord reprimands His mother with an answer that shows that she wants Him to act prematurely. Possibly her mother’s feelings also play a role, which argues that this is a good opportunity for her Son to make Himself known. He does not, however, allow Himself to be guided by natural inclinations, which, incidentally, are good and appropriate. He is God Who knows perfectly well the right time to act in all matters.

He reprimands His mother In an appropriate manner. She must wait for the hour or the moment He determines. In this way He indicates that the hour of His glorification has not come yet. First will come the hour in which He will surrender Himself to suffer and die (John 7:30; John 8:20John 12:27). Only after this the hour of His glorification will come (John 12:23; John 13:1John 17:1).

We see in His reprimand of Mary a clear proof of how misplaced the veneration of Mary is. She too was a fallible person, no matter how privileged she was to be the mother of the Lord Jesus. She needed the redemption He brought about on the cross just like any other human being.

Mary did not resist the reprimand of her Son. She understood it and accepted it as justified. This can be seen from her words to the servants. Her confidence in Him remained unshaken. She knows that He will give outcome, but in His time. That is why she instructs the servants to do everything He says.

These are the last words we have of Mary in the Bible. Every word of the sentence “whatever He says to you, do it” can be emphasized.
1. ‘Whatever’ means: whatever it may be.
2. ‘He’ is the Lord Jesus, the Commander, Who speaks.
3. ‘Says’ refers to the words He speaks.
4. ‘To you’ is everyone who is addressed personally.
5. ‘Do’ is to execute what He says.
6. ‘It’ or ‘that’ should be done and not anything else; not acting as one sees fit.

Verses 6-10

The Lord Turns Water Into Wine

There are six stone waterpots. They have been placed there so that the guests can comply with the Jewish rules for purification. The contents of the waterpots vary from two to three gallons, or two or three times thirty-nine liters. The Lord gives the order to fill the waterpots with water. It seems that they are empty.

This symbolically shows that according to the Jewish practice of purification no purity is to be expected before God. The Lord in other Gospels strongly condemns the outer purity pursued by the Jewish purification practices (Matthew 15:1-1 Samuel :; Mark 7:1-Nehemiah :). People who adhere to an outward ritual make themselves important. They lack true joy because there is no fellowship with Christ. Only He can change those hollow, dead rituals by the water He gives and which He turns into wine.

The Lord’s command is obeyed and the waterpots are filled to the brim with water. It is good to respond to the Lord’s command with the utmost obedience. Then the blessing is also greatest. We can also see that He always gives commands that people can fulfill, and that He then does what people cannot. In the same way He commands people to take away the stone before the tomb of Lazarus, after which He calls Lazarus to life (John 11:39; John 11:43).

After the waterpots have been filled with water, He says to draw out of the waterpots and bring it to the headwaiter. This man is responsible for the progress of the feast. He is therefore in a pickle about the situation and is most interested in a solution. They bring what they have drawn out from the waterpots to the headwaiter. Then it turns out that the Lord has turned the water into wine. He has done so without any special word or action.

It is a beautiful picture of how joy enters a person’s life. First, a man must be purified by the Word of God – of which the water is a picture (John 13:5-1 Kings :; John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26). This happens when he sees himself as a sinner in the light of God’s Word, confesses his sins, and believes in the Savior Jesus Christ. The result is joy. This will also happen with the recreation of heaven and earth for the realm of peace. When purified by judgment, general joy can come to earth.

The headwaiter tastes the water that the servants bring him. He does not taste water, but wine. When the servants draw out the water from the waterpots, it is still water, but when the headwaiter tastes it, he tastes wine. Christ, by His power, has created a wonder that no one has seen happening, but the results of which are enjoyed by those who taste it.

After His Divine omniscience with Nathanael (John 1:49), the Lord here shows His Divine omnipotence. Anyone can ‘taste’ His omnipotence, but only those who ‘do whatever He says you to do’ can see Who is behind these acts of omnipotence. The headwaiter does not know where the wine comes from. He only enjoys the result. The servants however do know where the wine comes from. After all, they filled the waterpots with water and then draw out. But they don’t know how the water turned into wine.

The headwaiter does not ask the servants how they got this good wine, but calls the bridegroom. He concludes without further investigation that the bridegroom is responsible for this state of affairs. He does not think of a wonder and certainly not of the Lord Jesus, but has his own natural explanation. This is how unbelieving people react to everything they go through. They see creation, but the Son of God is denied as the origin.

The Lord’s actions are not like those of humans. People first want the good, and when they have exhausted their possibilities for the good, they go to a lesser quality. With Him it is the other way around. He keeps the good for later. For faith that is a great encouragement. The believer may know that there is abundance of joy in the Lord (Psalms 16:11). Christ Himself went a way of suffering, seeing the joy He would enjoy at the end of that way (Hebrews 12:2). It is also a great encouragement for people in deep misery. The Lord brings every person who calls to Him from the depths to the greatest height.

Verse 11

The Beginning of the Signs

In this first sign the glory of the Lord Jesus is revealed in grace. In Him the glory of God who had to withdraw from Israel, from His temple, because of the sins of His people (Ezekiel 11:23), returns. That glory had returned to heaven. Now God’s glory has returned to earth in the Person of the Son.

This first sign contains an important lesson about the revelation of His glory that we must learn in order to truly see and enjoy His glory. Indeed, in this first of His signs it becomes clear that there can only be lasting joy (wine) if this joy is based on purification (water).

Through this sign the disciples are confirmed in their growing faith. Mary expected the Lord to do a wonder. And what He did was a wonder, yet John does not call it that. He does not want to emphasize the performance of wonders, but the meaning of this special event. John is inspired by the Spirit to present the special acts as signs that make clear the purpose of the coming of the Lord Jesus. That goal is to bring people into the joy of His kingdom and even higher, into the joy of fellowship with the Father and with Himself (John 15:11; John 17:13; 1 John 1:4).

After this first sign of turning water into wine, John included more signs of the Lord in his Gospel: three healings (John 4:53-1 Timothy :; John 5:9John 9:6-Judges :), a resurrection from the dead (John 11:42-:), a feeding (John 6:1-Ezra :), and a fish catch (John 21:6). The Lord has done more than John mentions, but the signs John mentions serve the special purpose that the reader of his Gospel will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that whoever believes has life in His Name (John 20:30-Obadiah :).

Verses 12-17

The Cleaning of the Temple

After the Lord has revealed His glory in Cana, He goes down to Capernaum. He takes the initiative, He leads the way, while His mother, His brothers and His disciples go with Him. Joseph is missing. The last time he is mentioned is when the Lord Jesus is twelve years old (Luke 2:48). No doubt he died before the Lord’s public appearance. The brothers of the Lord do not yet believe in Him at this time (John 7:5). Later they have come to faith (Acts 1:14).

The Lord goes up to Jerusalem on the occasion of the Passover. This is the first Passover that is mentioned during His life on earth (John 6:4; John 11:55). It is significant that John speaks of “the Passover of the Jews”. This means that God’s Spirit does not see it here as a “Passover for the LORD” as it was originally intended (Exodus 12:11; Leviticus 23:5). The Jews have made it a feast of their own (cf. John 5:1; John 7:2). They take no account of God’s righteous and holy demands and His intention with this feast. The true Passover, Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7), is present and they reject Him. How, then, can they celebrate a feast that is pleasing to God?

On the occasion of the feast many Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the land. Those who came from far away did not bring sacrificial animals. God has arranged it so that such Israelites can take money and buy sacrificial animals in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 14:24-Ezekiel :). It is not about such a situation when the Lord finds the vendors of sacrificial animals and the money changers in the temple. The people who sit there to sell are people who are out to make as much profit as possible. They do not count with God, they only think of themselves. This evokes indignation on the part of the Lord, which leads Him to wipe the temple clean with a hand-made scourge made of cords.

This cleaning of the temple takes place before the Lord begins His public performance. In the other Gospels, another cleaning of the temple takes place at the end of His life on earth (Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:45). The fact that John mentions the cleaning of the temple as early as the beginning of His performance is proof that He begins where the other evangelists end. The other Gospels work toward the rejection of the Lord by the people and vice versa also toward the rejection of Israel by the Lord. In this Gospel, Christ is rejected from the beginning and the people are also rejected by Him (John 1:11).

We see in this action of the Lord a foreshadowing of Yahweh – that is the Lord Jesus – Who suddenly comes to His temple to judge (Malachi 3:1). Bringing blessing and joy through repentance, as we see in previous history, is preceded by a purification in judgment. We see this in the cleaning of the temple. In this center of religious life it becomes clear how necessary cleaning is.

The same we find for example in the roman relics. They can be bought by ‘the believers’. Also in Protestantism that trade exists. More and more people work with candles and pictures. Reproductions of nails with which the Lord Jesus would have been crucified are also a popular article. Roman catholicism is not only a religious power but also an economic power. The Lord Jesus will judge both powers (Revelation 17:16; Revelation 18:1-Leviticus :).

Yet the Lord still calls the temple “the house of My Father”. Not that God still lives there. His glory has left the temple (Ezekiel 10:18; Ezekiel 11:23) and neither is the ark in it. This temple was built by Herod, without a commission from God. Yet, when the Son of God enters the temple and as long as He is there, God’s glory is there and the temple is His Father’s house.

He commands all those who have made His Father’s house a place of business to pick up their belongings and take them away. He acts as the Lord with Divine rights. Through His action the disciples are reminded of a quotation from Psalm 69 (Psalms 69:9). Him Who openly identifies Himself with the interests of His Father and His house has been spoken of by the Spirit of prophecy. That comes to mind for the disciples. How good it is to know God’s Word so that the Spirit may remind us of it in certain circumstances to our encouragement.

Verses 18-22

Question of the Sign of His Authority

The Jews react very differently from the disciples to whom the Spirit can remind the Word. He cannot do this with the Jews because they reject the Son. They ask Him to show them a sign as proof that He has authority for this action. Jews are always looking for signs (1 Corinthians 1:22-Isaiah :). In the Gospels they always ask for it (Matthew 12:39-:; Matthew 16:4). But he who is blind to the greatest sign, that is He Himself, cannot be convinced by any other sign.

Yet He gives a sign. The sign He points out to them has to do with His body. He indicates to the Jews that they will break off His body, kill it. However, that is not His end. The Lord says He will rise again after three days. He speaks here of the power He has to rise from the dead Himself (John 10:17).

The Jews do not understand what He is talking about. They think that He is talking about the temple of Herod, which took forty-six years to build. As unbelievers, they cannot understand that either (1 Corinthians 2:14).

John explains to us as his readers that the Lord Jesus spoke of His body as a temple (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19). Even the disciples did not understand the full meaning of His words until after His resurrection. Then they also give powerful testimony of His resurrection (Acts 2:24-Jonah :). His resurrection proves that He is God’s Son in power (Romans 1:4).

Verses 23-25

Jesus Himself Knows What Is in Man

Here we come to a new part of the Gospel, which deals with man and the condition he is in. In the first part of this chapter (John 2:1-2 Kings :) the joy of the kingdom is presented in the change from water to wine. In the second part of the chapter (John 2:13-Esther :) the power of the kingdom is represented in the cleansing of the temple, after which the right of the Lord to the kingdom is established in John 2:18-Song of Solomon :.

Now it has yet to be determined who can enter the kingdom with Him. The Jews take it for granted that they will enter the kingdom. But the Lord Himself does not entrust Himself to them. Therefore in John 3 follows what is necessary to enter.

During the Passover, the Lord Jesus, Yahweh and Messiah, is in the city that God has chosen. The Passover is the feast that shows most God’s mercy towards His people. The many lambs slaughtered on that day should have reminded the Jews that God is a righteous Judge Who must judge the sinner unless he hides behind the blood of the Passover Lamb. Now the Lamb of God stands before them, but they do not acknowledge Him. What they do see, however, is that He does many signs. That leads many to believe in His Name.

As far as external circumstances are concerned, everything seems to be ready for Christ to be accepted by His people. After all, there are many who believe in His Name. Faith here, however, is not the inner conviction of the truth of God that leads to submission to God. These people’s faith is their judgment of what gives them satisfaction, of what they experience as pleasant. Their faith is based on what they see. They conclude that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah, but they do not submit to God and do not accept His testimony. Man sits on the throne and judges. Their judgment stems from their affections.

What makes us feel happy, we easily believe. But we resist and reject what makes us nothing and condemns us. As long as Jesus can be seen as the improver of mankind and the circumstances in which man lives, there is the quickest and warmest welcome. He then complements a deficiency in and of man. Man has a lot of good things, but is still missing something for optimal happiness. If Jesus wants to provide this, man can maintain himself and even shine. But how will he receive what makes him nothing, what condemns him spiritually, what gives him the serious warning of eternal judgment and the lake of fire? He hates that, and also the Person of Whom God is concerned.

Christ entrusts Himself only to those who are heartbroken (Psalms 51:17) and bow in the dust before God under confession of sins. Then there is repentance that has been worked by the grace of God. It is sobering to read that the Lord does not entrust Himself to people who do believe in Him. The cause is that we are dealing with Someone who has become flesh, but Who is also the omniscient God and the Judge of the living and the dead. He knows all men perfectly. No one can pretend anything to Him. He is not led by outward things.

He knows the value of their faith and that there is no sense of sin before God or recognition of the need for remorse and repentance. No one needs to tell Him anything about man’s condition. He knows perfectly what is present in man, what drives man. The reason He does not entrust Himself to them lies in man’s incorrigible wickedness and his failure to see it. In this Gospel, the Son of God establishes man’s incorrigible depravity from the very beginning, for God is not in his thoughts, but his own self is central.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op John 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/john-2.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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