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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
John 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-11

Water made into wine

John 2:1-11

Arthur Pink expounds this passage from a three-fold viewpoint:

Its typical significance.

Its prophetic application.

Its practical teaching.

1. Its typical significance.

The chapter opens with the word ‘and,’ which indicates that its contents are closely connected with what has gone before. One of the things prominent in Chapter 1 is the failure of Judaism and the turning away from it to Christ. The Priests and Levites came to John to inquire who he was. He said, ‘There standeth one among you whom ye know not’ (John 1:19-26). They didn't know the forerunner nor the Christ (John 1:11). ‘The law and the prophets were until John’ (Luke 16:16). John wound up the Old Testament system!

The wine had given out. Wine in scripture is the emblem of joy (Psalms 104:15). Judaism still existed as a religious system, but the joy was gone; it ministered no comfort to the heart. It had degenerated into a cold, mechanical routine utterly destitute of joy in God.

They set six water pots. Six is the number of man, for it was on the sixth day man was created. Six is the number of the superman (Revelation 13:18). Six water pots, not seven, the perfect number. All that was left of Judaism was the flesh. The feasts of the Lord had become the feasts of the Jews (John 2:13).

The water pots were of stone, not silver, which speaks of redemption, nor gold which tells of divine glory. And they were empty! No wonder they were empty of wine. Religion without Christ is empty of joy or comfort!

The mother of Jesus was perhaps representative of the nation Israel in attempting to dictate to the Lord as to what he should do. ‘Display your power and glory in material fashion! Show yourself to the world!’ This his brethren attempted to do in John 7:2-5. This may account for his rebuke of her. Israel had no heart nor thought of a suffering Messiah. What they desired was one who would immediately set up his kingdom here on earth. It is evident that, in typical fashion, the setting aside of Israel after the flesh is shown in these verses.

2. Its prophetical application.

Quite a bit of speculation comes forth from Pink here, but the third day is the day of resurrection. It was on the third day in creation that the earth came forth from its watery grave (Genesis 1:9; Genesis 1:11). Our Lord arose on the third day. It may be that Hosea 6:2 and John 2:1 should be placed side by side, in that, for two thousand years (2 days with God according to 2 Peter 3:8) Israel has been without a king, a priest, or a home. The ‘second day’ is almost ended, and their renaissance will come near the beginning of the third day–the year 2000. There will be a wedding, and the Lord will be married to the new Israel (Isaiah 54:1-8).

3. Its practical teaching.

John 2:1-2. Our Lord sanctifies the marriage relationship. Marriage was ordained by God in Eden; and in these verses the Saviour, for all time, set his approval upon it. By gracing this festive gathering, our Lord distinguishes and glorifies this sacred institution.

John 2:3. Mary's words seem to indicate two things. She ignored his Deity. He knew they had no wine. It appears she was still seeking to exert parental authority.

John 2:4. He replied (literally), ‘What to me and thee?’ or ‘What is there common to me and thee?’ It was not that he resented her inviting his aid, but he must act in his own way. His season (as a son) of subjection to Mary and Joseph is over. The term ‘woman,’ in that day, was not harsh but commonly used for addressing females of all classes. On the cross the Lord addressed Mary as ‘woman’ (John 19:26). To have addressed her as ‘mother’ (on either occasion) would have called attention to human relationships. ‘Woman’ shows that God was speaking to her. Christ teaches that Mary was only a woman–’Blessed among women’ (Luke 1:28), but not ‘Blessed above women’ (Matthew 12:46-50).

‘Mine hour is not yet come.’ This is the hour of his suffering, the hour of his humiliation, the hour when he would be subject to man's wicked will; for he would be delivered into the hands of sinners. But until then, he was not to be ordered by man. He was about his Father's business. Seven references are made in this book to that ‘hour’ (John 2:4; John 7:30; John 8:20; John 12:23; John 12:27; John 16:32; John 17:1).

John 2:5. Mary accepted the Lord's rebuke, recognized the Lord's right to act as he pleased, and left the matter entirely in his hands. What a lesson for us!

John 2:6-11. Pink mentions several things to consider about this miracle.

The occasion of it. This was his first miracle. Hitherto he had lived in quiet seclusion in Nazareth. From this point on, he would become a public and a marked man.

The manner of it. Christ was the one who performed the miracle; yet the servants secured the pots, filled them with water, drew off the wine, and carried it to the governor of the feast. The means used were human; the power was divine. It may have seemed foolish to fill the pots with water, but water is a symbol of the written word (Ephesians 5:26); and the way to bring joy and comfort to the human heart today is to fill it with the preached word. God will make it effectual (Romans 10:17).

The teaching of it. We have a picture of the regeneration of a sinner.

1. The sinner is empty like the waterpots.

2. The sinner receives the water of the written word at the command of Christ.

3. The water produced the best wine by the power of Christ.

4. The change was a miracle, as is the new birth.

5. The miracle manifested forth his glory (John 2:11).

6. The governor proclaimed it to be the best wine, as truly his grace and redemption is far better than the best the world can give.


Verses 12-25

Christ cleanses the temple

John 2:12-25

John 2:12. This verse seems to come in as a parenthesis between the miracle at Cana and the cleansing of the temple. Mr. Pink suggests that the key word is ‘Capernaum’ which stands for two things–divine favor and divine Judgment (Matthew 11:23). The mother of Jesus may represent the nation of Israel (honored among women), his brethren may represent the nation of Israel in general unbelief (John 7:5), and his disciples may represent the small remnant in Israel who did believe in him. With these the Lord went down to Capernaum but continued there not many days. Not for long was Israel to enjoy these special favors of God.

John 2:13. Here is one key to that which follows. The ‘Lord's Passover’ had degenerated into the ‘Passover of the Jews.’ It was only a matter of form and ritual. The true worship of God and the pattern of redemption by Christ was forgotten in the Passover Feast (Isaiah 1:11-18).

John 2:14. Animals were used in sacrifices: and these men who sold oxen, sheep, and doves to worshippers from remote areas excused their covetousness and greed by the fact that they made it convenient for these people to purchase the required animals for sacrifices. They had set up their booths and stalls all about the sacred premises. The money-changers were there to exchange foreign currency. These cattle dealers and money-changers were notorious for making bargains that profited themselves–enough to justify our calling them ‘thieves.’

John 2:15-16. We see many things in these verses. Read Matthew 21:12-13.

1. The deity of Christ. He calls the temple ‘my Father's house.’ None had ever nor could ever refer to the temple in this way. Christ alone can say this.

2. The power and authority of Christ. One man, single-handed, takes a whip, and the whole multitude flees in fear before him. This was no mere man; the terror of God had fallen upon them!

3. The wrath and righteousness of the Lamb. We think of our Lord as gentle and kind, and such he is, but this is not all that he is! Our Lord is inflexibly righteous as well as infinitely gracious. We do well to remind ourselves that ‘it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’

4. Can we not see today the commercialization of those places, which are supposed to be the house of God? The materialism, socials, and forms of entertainment that are part of church programs are an unholy mixture of the world and so-called worship.

Pink points out the prudence and gentleness of Christ in that though he drove out the sheep and the oxen and dumped the money on the floor, he said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these out.’ He did not release them to fly away. All of the other property could be retrieved, but not the doves if he had set them free.

John 2:17. His disciples thought of the scripture in Psalms 69:9.

John 2:18-21. These Jews demanded of him a ‘sign’ or proof of his authority to cleanse the temple and to do the things he had done. They were utterly void of any understanding of the true Messiah and his mission and could neither comprehend his words nor deeds (Matthew 13:13). Yet in reality our Lord's words to them were much to the point! In raising himself from the dead he would furnish the greatest and final proof that he was God manifest in flesh, and as God, had a right to cleanse the defiled temple which bore his name.

John 2:22. Did the disciples at this time understand or believe in the promise of his resurrection? No, they did not (Mark 16:11). It was only later, after his resurrection, that they recalled this incident and believed (John 14:26).

John 2:23-25. When the people saw the miracles of Christ, many claimed to believe on him and joined themselves to him: but they were only dazzled and impressed by the miracles. Their profession was not from the heart, and he knew it (1 Kings 8:39). These men were ‘stony ground’ hearers. They were only intellectually convinced, and our Lord clearly discerned this. He would not commit himself to them, because he knew them all. ‘Man's affections may be stirred, man's intelligence may be informed, man's conscience may be convicted,’ but God must give him a new heart and new life. Only a new creation avails before God. Men must be born again (John 3:3-7).

We might learn a lesson here. The discreet man will be kind to all, but intimate with few. We do well to remember that all that glitters is not gold, and all who profess Christ do not know Christ. Learn not to place yourself rashly in the power of unproved professors.

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on John 2:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/john-2.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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