I have the privilege of contributing to He Reads Truth, a website of whose purpose is “To help men become who we were made to be, by doing what we were made to do, by the power and provision that God has given us to do it, for the glory of Jesus Christ.” They do this by providing scripture reading plans accompanied by reflections that can be accessed for free online or purchased as print books. For those of you looking to engage scripture in a fresh way – either because you are dried up or have been away from it, these studies/plans will refresh your soul and engage your mind.
What follows is one of the pieces I wrote for the Gospel of John plan. You can find the full plan HERE.
I’m thankful for many things about my mother. One of those things is that, despite myriad opportunities, she has resisted the urge to put me on the spot in public and embarrass me. Jesus didn’t have such a luxury. Mary put Him in quite a spot—and at a wedding, no less.
Weddings in that culture were multiple-day celebrations with much feasting and drinking. For the wine to run out early was a real downer. It would shame the hosts and be terribly embarrassing, so when it happened at this wedding in Cana, Mary declared that her son could fix it. She knew something of His capabilities and that He was no mere man. Jesus gently reprimanded her because His time for this sort of thing had not yet come, the time in which He wanted to reveal His power and glory to people. But He helped nonetheless.
By turning water into wine, Jesus did more than save a host from embarrassment or add to the enjoyment of the guests. He revealed, ever so slightly, His power over the natural world. He wasn’t a magician. He was a creator. The Creator. The laws of nature did not apply to Him because He had written them.
The chapter takes an interesting turn here. It shifts from joy and celebration and partying and a miracle, to a more serious, intense, even angry tone. Jesus reveals another side of His glory and identity. At the wedding He revealed His generosity, His creative ability, His power over nature, and His desire for people’s joy and happiness. But in the temple He reveals His zeal for holiness and the perfect glory of His Father.
Upon arriving at the temple during the Passover, a time when Jerusalem was overflowing with pilgrims who had come to worship as the law required, Jesus saw that this holy day of remembrance had been turned into an opportunity for commerce. Merchants lined the temple courtyard, selling animals for sacrifice (likely at a huge markup, as you would find in any tourist trap) and changing currency at a profit. This place was meant to be devoted to God during this celebration of how the Lord rescued His people. But now it was a mercenary’s heaven.
Jesus would have none of it. He drove the sellers out. He declared the temple to be His Father’s house. And, when challenged as to His authority, He prophesied His own death and resurrection by metaphorically calling Himself the temple, the gateway to God’s presence. Jesus declared Himself to be the Son of God, the sacrifice, and the means by which any who believed could enter God’s glory.
With subtlety, generosity, and flare, Jesus showed Himself to be Creator of the universe. With passion, fierceness, and strong (though veiled) language, Jesus declared Himself the Son of God. In both cases people were intrigued, though most found an explanation other than the truth.
Yet those with eyes to see and ears to hear believed and followed.