In these first verses Jesus has been invited along with His mother to a weeding. We are not told whose wedding it is, perhaps a relative or close friend. Weddings in that time the period of celebration would last for a week. During this wedding period the wine had run out and Jesus’ mother brought it to His attention. Jesus questions His mother as to what this had to do with Him, for His time had not yet come. Mary, knowing her son well instructed the servants to follow His instructions.
Jesus instructed the servants to fill the purification pots to the brim with water. After that they were to draw the water from them and take it to the headwaiter. The headwaiter was marveled that the bridegroom had saved the best wine for last when usually the weaker wine was served.
At first when we live through Jesus our life becomes more not less. Our life with Jesus is not so much what we have to stop doing or cut out of our lives but what we have now incorporated into our lives. Life with Jesus is what we now participate in, our engagement in sharing our joy with others in the abundant life and the inheritance of our eternal home. We drink of the purification water and are cleansed by the blood of Jesus and transformed by His Spirit living within us. We are alive through Jesus living in us as members of His body, the church, in a great fellowship of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Too many times we do not call on Jesus when our wine runs out. Often we call on Jesus when all other options have run out. When we find ourselves at the end of our rope and when the wine runs out, Jesus is faithful to save us and strong to provide. Would it not be better to call on Jesus before the wine runs out?
The Public Ministry
The temple in the time of Jesus was not the Temple that Solomon had built 959 years before Jesus’ birth. Solomon’s Temple had been destroyed by the enemies of Israel. The Jews rebuilt the Temple in 516 BC and in 28 BC Herod the Great started to add many rooms to the Temple. Jesus and His disciples had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast which occurred each year in the spring. Many Jewish people traveled at that time of the year to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices in the Temple at Passover.
Four courtyards surrounded the Temple and were called the Gentiles Courtyard. Gentiles who had come to worship God were not allowed into the Temple and had to worship God in the courtyards. It was in these outer courtyards that the merchants and money changers did their business.
The Merchants would sell animals for sacrifices. Animals for sacrifice had to be perfect without spot or blemish and the Temple hired officials to inspect the animals that people brought into the Temple. They were very unfair in their inspections and never found an animal perfect enough to be sacrificed to God. The merchants then would sell the people animals that were acceptable to the Temple Officials for sacrifice. The merchants charged a very inflated price for the animals and madr a large profit for themselves.
There was also a Temple tax which had to be paid by a special coin which was to cover the cost of the daily ceremonies at the Temple. When the people came to the Temple they had to see the money changers to exchange their money for the special coins to pat the Temple tax. The money changers also exchanged the money at a very inflated price.
The merchants and money changers did not care that the Temple was a Holy place to worship God. God’s presence is everywhere but was especially prevalent in His Holy Temple. The merchants and money changers were there to earn large profits from the people who came to worship God. They conducted their business in the Gentiles Courtyards which made it very difficult for the Gentiles to worship God. The merchants and money changers did not respect God’s House and did not respect the people who came to worship there.
When Jesus saw this He became very angry and drove the merchants and money changers out of the Temple courtyards. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke they recorded Jesus’ words as saying that the merchants and money changers had made His Father’s house a place for thieves to hide. Jesus was probably angry that the business of the merchants and money changers were a distraction to the Gentiles who had come to worship God. Mark noted in his gospel what the prophet Isaiah had said in Isaiah 56:7 “Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” God’s House was for all people to come and worship Him. The notation in verse seventeen, “Zeal for Your house will consume me”, comes from Psalm 69:9.
The Jews asked Jesus for a sign to show His authority to do these things in the Temple. Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” This reply marveled the Jews, as this third Temple had taken forty six years to build. Jesus was not speaking of the Temple in Jerusalem but that God had sent Him to live amongst the people. Jesus knew that the Jews would kill Him and He was speaking to the fact that God would raise Him up on the third day after His death. No one at this time realized what Jesus meant but after His resurrection His disciples fully understood what He had said.
Many of the people in Jerusalem believed in Jesus because He preformed many signs but their belief would not last. Their belief in Him was for the wrong reasons. They saw that He had power and they wanted to know how they could benefit from this power. In times of trouble they would not continue to believe in Him, as they were following Him because He was popular. When Jesus became unpopular they would not only leave Him but oppose Him as well. Jesus knows what is in everyone’s hearts. He knows if our faith is real and sincere. He knows if we really love him. It is not always easy to follow Jesus. Other people may hate us or even hurt us because of our faith in him. But when we know Jesus personally as our friend, our faith will always be real and sincere.
This was the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and it began in His holy city Jerusalem. It is also very fitting that it began in His Father’s house the Temple, the very center of life and worship. The right time for the beginning was a Passover, as it is a solemn period in the Jewish calendar. It also symbolizes when God passed over the Israelite nation in Egypt by the blood on the door post. In the day of the Lord the followers of Jesus will be passed over from the wrath of God because of the redeeming blood of Jesus shed on the cross of Calvary.
Isaiah 56:7, Psalm 69:9