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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
John 2

 

 

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Verses 1-12

CHAPTER 8

THE MARRIAGE AT CANA 0F GALILEE

John 2:1-12. “On the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.” This marriage was the third day after His departure from Bethany, the scene of John’s baptism, that He may return to Nazareth, His home, accompanied by these four disciples — i.e., John, Andrew, Peter, and Philip. Cana is about five miles east of Nazareth. At present it is said to contain one thousand inhabitants. A Latin monastery occupies the site of the house of the groom, and a convent that of the bride, who were united in matrimony on the occasion here mentioned. We visited the spring from which they say the water was carried which Jesus turned into wine. This is more than likely, as it is the only one in the city, all depending on it for water.

“Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus says to Him, They have no wine. Jesus says to her, What is that to Me and to thee, O woman? for My hour has not yet come.” Here we see that Jesus does not on this occasion recognize the motherhood of Mary; but He uses a word which, in the East, denotes great respect.

The truth of the matter is, Jesus is the common Savior of the whole world, and the time had come when that fact was to be recognized, His family relation no longer separating Him from the human race in its universal integrity. Hence He was no longer to be regarded as the Son of Joseph and Mary, but as the “Son of man” — i.e., the Son of the whole human race, and the common Savior of the whole world. “And His mother says to the servants, Whatsoever He may say to you, this do,” thus illustrating the fact that she had a Divine inkling that something wonderful was coming.

“And there were six stone waterpots sitting by, according to the purification of the Jews, containing about two or three firkins.” We constantly see the women walking to and from the fountain, carrying on their heads these great earthen vessels, filled with water, wine, or some other fluid. They exhibit great dexterity, walking about with them sitting on their heads unsupported by hand. These six vessels would contain an enormous quantity of water, which was a guarantee against counterfeit; i.e., if the quantity had been very small, legerdemain might have been brought to bear in playing off a delusion. But with so great a quantity, it was impossible for a stratagem to have been manipulated. “Jesus says to them, Fill the vessels with water. And they filled them unto the brim; and He says to them, Now draw out, and carry it to the master of ceremonies; and they brought it to him. And when the master of ceremonies tasted the water which had been made wine, and did not know whence it is, but the servants who had drawn the water knew, the master of ceremonies calls the groom, and says to him, Every man first sets forth the good wine, and when they may have drunken it, then the inferior; but you have reserved the good wine until now.” There was no possible room for any fraud in this miracle, as the whole crowd saw the water brought; and the same waiters who carried it from the fountain, immediately drew out the very same water and found it to be wine, the wedding boss witnessing to the fact. In this great and indubitable miracle, we have a magnificent illustration of regeneration and sanctification: the water uniformly symbolizing life, and the wine the Holy Ghost. When chemistry was unknown and alcohol accidentally discovered, they thought the change was due to spiritual influence, and consequently designated the alcoholized beverages as spirits. In the regenerated experience, we receive the water of life, and in sanctification, the new wine of the kingdom. In this illustrative miracle the Savior really teaches us how to get sanctified. Let regenerated people make the complete consecration, and then turn over their experiences to the Omnipotent Sanctifier, implicitly trusting Him to give them their sanctified experience. Then follows testimony, in which the seeker dares, with his eye of faith on the infallible promises, to testify to the experience, the leader of the meeting — symbolized by the chief ruler in this wedding festival — being the judge as to the genuineness of the experience. This problem is very beautiful, and if you will test it, will furnish its own solution in your happy experience of entire sanctification. All that these servants knew about it was the simple fact that they had put the water in the vessels. Now when wine is called for, they draw it out, and bring it to the master of ceremonies, having nothing to do with the wonderful change from water to wine, Jesus having effected the paradoxical transition. So you can not cleanse your own heart; but trusting the Omnipotent Jesus to do it, perfecting your faith by your testimony, you can rise and witness to the fact, the Omnipotent Sanctifier, pursuant to His own infallible promises, simultaneously, and in a manner to you indissolubly mysterious, can and will change the water of regeneration into the wine of sanctification. Glory to His name for His unspeakable grace!

“Jesus did this beginning of the miracles in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed on Him.” Already He had called four disciples, whom afterward, with eight others, He commissioned as apostles. “After this, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples went down to Capernaum, and He abode there not many days.” The brothers of Jesus were Simon, Judas (i.e., Jude), James, and Joses, of course younger than Himself, as He was the first-born. The Roman Catholics claim that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were children of Joseph by a former marriage. Mere guess work, as we have no assurance that Joseph had ever been married before. We see here that they abode at Capernaum but a short time, because the Passover was nigh, and Jesus must hasten away to Jerusalem, in order to enter upon His official Messiahship.


Verses 13-25

PURIFICATION 0F THE TEMPLE

John 2:13-25. “And the Passover of the Jews was nigh, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” The Passover began April 14th, through all the ages of Israel, celebrating the exodus out of Egypt, when the destroying angel slew the first-born in every Egyptian home, and passed over the houses of Israel because he saw the blood of the slain lamb — which vividly typified the blood of Christ shed on Calvary — sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of their houses. As this great Passover festival, to which the myriads of Israel gathered annually and spent eight days, typified the atonement Christ came into the world to make, it plays a most conspicuous part in our Lord’s ministry, marking the inauguration and the conclusion; as our Savior’s ministry occupied three years, beginning at a Passover, and winding up at another, and including two in the interim. You will find the division of our Lord’s ministry by these four Passovers a great convenience in studying the Gospels. The prophets had predicted that Christ would come at once to the temple, and purify it at the very beginning of His ministry (Malachi 3:2-3); as you remember, He told His mother at Cana that His time to preach and work miracles had not yet come, contemplating entering upon His ministry at the Passover, which speedily followed.

14. “And He found in the temple those selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers sitting.” Many and magnificent buildings at that time stood on the great and beautiful Temple Campus, containing thirty-five acres, in order to accommodate the thousands of Israel assembling at their great periodical feasts. These pollutions were not in the temple proper, but in those other buildings which stood on the whole ground, and were consequently included in the dedication to God. The end in view was to keep on hand a supply of sacrificial animals, ready to sell to the pilgrims, who came from afar to worship the God of Israel, the more wealthy purchasing an ox; the middling class, a sheep; and the poor, a dove. As all these foreign pilgrims brought Greek and Roman money, or that of some other nation, they had to exchange it for the Jewish half-shekel, the temple offering prescribed in the law, foreign money being rejected.

“Having made a whip of rushes, He cast them all out of the temple, both sheep and oxen, and poured out the money of the exchangers, and overturned their tables, and said to those selling the doves, Take these away; do not make the house of My Father a house of merchandise.” The conclusion that He used the whip on the people is not sustained by the original. The long, nimble rushes were lying in quantities on the floor for the animals to lie down on. Taking some of these, He plaited them into a whip, and drove all the animals out, pouring out the money of the exchangers and turning over their tables. We see here a very obvious manifestation of His Divinity, as no other man in the world, ranking simply as a private volunteer, would have been permitted thus to interfere with all of those people in their business transactions. A Divine awe settling down on them held them, in a semi-paralytic suspense; astounded and lost in wonder, they are incompetent to interfere and prevent the expurgation which they see so strangely going on around them, through the intervention of this total stranger, their own acquiescence and non- intervention turning out to them even a greater surprise than the astounding invasion of the uninitiated Young Man, who is thus paradoxically exercising so much authority.

“His disciples remembered that it has been written, The zeal of Thine house doth eat me up.” (Psalms 64:9.)

Oikos here means, not simply house, but family. Jesus is our Paragon. He was literally carried away and consumed with zeal for the promotion of God’s family in the earth. Lord, help us to walk in Thy footprints, sacrificing everything, “spending and being spent,” in the interest of God’s family and for the upbuilding of His kingdom in every nation!

“Then the Jews responded and said to Him, What sign do you show us, that You do these things? Jesus responded and said to them, Destroy this temple, and I will build it in three days.” The authority by which He was purifying the temple was simply the fact of His Christhood, as that temple did not belong to man, but to God alone. Therefore His Messiahship, identifying Him with very and eternal God, actually gave Him personal charge of God’s house. Now, in view of the fact that His Christhood was confirmed and demonstrated by His death and resurrection, He points them to these great salient facts of His ministry as a demonstrative proof of His right to control the temple. “Then the Jews said, Forty and six years was this temple being built, and dost Thou rear it up in three days? But He spoke concerning the temple of His body. Then when He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus said.” The Jews had even a superstitious veneration for the temple, running into idolatry in that way. Consequently they held this declaration against Him, clamoring over it ever and anon, and even founding on it a charge of blasphemy, for which, having hounded Him the three years of His ministry, on the day of His death they hideously howled for His blood; yet all this time having stupidly misapprehended His words, applying them to the temple edifice, while He meant the temple of His body, thus beautifully affirming His resurrection as the indubitable confirmation of His Messiahship. At that time, forty-six years had rolled away while building the beautiful and magnificent temple, under the patronage of King Herod, who ascended the throne sixty-eight years previously to that date, amid great political perturbations and much opposition, which, under Roman support, he, in a few years, exterminated in blood, thus centralizing and consolidating his kingdom, he devotes the balance of his thirty-eight years on the throne to rebuilding the temple in greater magnificence than any of his predecessors since Solomon. At the time of this record the temple was not yet entirely finished. So they continued the work, reaching its final completion A.D. 64. In A.D. 66, Gallus Cestius, the Roman general, laid siege to Jerusalem at the head of a great army, followed, in 68, by the Emperor Vespasian, who continued it two years, being succeeded by his son, the Emperor Titus, who consummated the destruction of the temple, the city, and the desolation of the land, in A.D. 73. As Jesus predicted that one stone would not be left on another, the Roman soldiers utterly demolished it, taking up the very foundation, hunting for the hidden treasures.

“And when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed on His name, seeing His miracles which He was doing. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knows all people, and He has no need that any one would witness concerning man; for He knew what was in man.” He is our only Exemplar. From His verdict and procedure here, we should learn a most important lesson; i.e., never to put confidence in a human being. They are all fallible, mutatious, and unreliable. More human woe, wreck, disappointment, and ruin come in that way than any other. We should have no faith in man, but all in God, who never disappoints. Here our Savior inculcates a glorious lesson on entire sanctification, which throws a total eclipse over all the world, so we wear it like a loose garment, ready to drop it off at a moment’s warning; meanwhile, the true and genuine experience of full salvation sinks us away into God.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on John 2:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/john-2.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, September 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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