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John chapter 2

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King James Version

What does John chapter 2 mean?

The second chapter of John covers two events. The first is the miracle of turning water into wine. The second is Jesus' driving the money-lenders out of the temple complex. A common theme of the gospel of John is contrast, and the two stories in this chapter are very different. One is joyful and quiet. The other is scolding and public. The miracle at the wedding is the first of seven "signs" that John uses to prove that Jesus is God.

Wedding celebrations in that era were spread out over several days. Unlike today, when travel and communication are easy, it was difficult to predict when guests would show up. Traveling to the wedding site could take days. So, it was the host's responsibility to provide enough food and drink for all the guests who came. Jesus' act of turning water into wine, for the sake of the married couple, wasn't just a gift. It was a way to save them from extreme embarrassment. It was also done in a quiet, almost secretive way. So far as we know, no one except a few of the disciples, Jesus' mother Mary, and the servants even knew it happened. John's gospel is the only one that records this miracle.

The changing of water into wine was also a powerful symbol of Jesus' purpose. The six water jugs were used for purification from sin. Six is the biblical number of man, and of imperfection. Wine is symbolic of blood. The miracle's meaning was as much about Jesus replacing ritual purification with divine blood as anything else. His participation in a simple, joyful event also explains His compassion for people. This didn't stop His enemies from criticizing Him, however (Luke 15:1–2).

John's gospel is meant to approach Jesus' ministry from a different perspective than the other three gospels. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention Jesus clearing the temple late in His ministry, John places this event very early. The most likely reason for this is that Jesus actually cleared the temple twice. This would have made the second event even more offensive to the local religious leaders, and accelerated their hatred of Jesus.

Jesus' anger at the situation was not because of money, itself. Pilgrims could not easily travel with sacrificial animals. So, it made sense to provide sacrifices for them to buy near to the temple. What bothered Jesus was the way in which business was being done. Instead of providing a service to pilgrims, the merchants were gouging people to make a profit. The emphasis on making money, instead of serving others, was unacceptable. Though He is not described as being enraged, or out of control, it's easy to see how forceful Jesus was in this situation.

This is also one of Jesus' first opportunities to predict His own death and resurrection. Most who heard Him claim to be able to rebuild the temple in three days assumed He was speaking of the brick-and-stone temple. After His resurrection, the disciples will realize that Christ was speaking about His own body: destroyed and restored after three days.
What is the Gospel?
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