What does John 2 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
John chapter 1 introduced Jesus as "the Word" and "the Light," truly and fully God (John 1:1–5). That passage also recorded conversations between John the Baptist and religious skeptics. Near the end of the chapter, Jesus begins to call His earliest disciples.

The second chapter of John covers two events. The first is the miracle of turning water into wine. The second is Jesus' driving the moneylenders out of the temple complex. Contrast is a common theme used in the gospel of John. The two stories in this chapter are vastly different. One is joyful and quiet. The other is scolding and very 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. In what would have been a humiliating mistake, the wedding which Jesus attends has run out of wine. Jesus' mother, Mary, approaches Him with this problem, but doesn't give Jesus any instructions (John 2:1–3).

Jesus responds with a question much like saying, "why are you involving me in this?" Mary, for her part, simply tells the nearby servants to follow Jesus' instructions. When they do so, six large stone jars of water have been transformed into wine. And not just any wine: the master of ceremonies indicates that it's better than what they had before (John 2:4–11).

Turning water into wine wasn't just a gift from Jesus to the married couple. It was to save them from extreme embarrassment. It was also done in a quiet, almost secretive way. As 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 which records this miracle.

Changing water into wine is 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 early. The most likely reason for this is that Jesus cleared the temple on two separate occasions. 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 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 (John 2:12–17).

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 (John 2:18–22).
Verse Context:
John 2:1–12 describes Jesus' first miracle, which is turning water into wine at a wedding. This miracle was discreet and known only to a few people. Changing water meant for purification into wine, symbolic of blood, is a reference to Jesus' role as Messiah. Instead of rituals, we are purified by the miraculous blood of Christ. John specifically uses the Greek word sēmeion, or "sign," for these miracles, since they are meant to prove that Jesus is God. This is the first of seven such signs in the gospel of John.
John 2:13–23 describes Jesus driving corrupt businessmen from the temple. His wrath is not because of selling sacrifices, itself, but rather the greedy focus on money with no regard to serving God. Jesus is never depicted as out of control, but His anger is clear. It's likely that this is an early temple cleansing, and the other gospels record a second, separate incident. Jesus' right to act this way is challenged by the authorities. In typical Hebrew style, they demand a miraculous sign. Jesus instead predicts His own death and resurrection. This passage contrasts with the quiet, joyous miracle at the wedding.
John 2:24—3:15 describes a meeting between Jesus and a Pharisee. The last two verses of chapter two highlight the fact that Jesus knew men better than they knew themselves. Nicodemus was the ancient equivalent of a politician, cleric, and professor all rolled into one. Jesus proves that this man doesn't understand religion as well as he'd like to think. In contrast to the loud, public spectacle of clearing the temple, this encounter is a private, nighttime meeting. Their actual conversation was probably longer than the summary recorded here.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus attends a wedding where He performs His first miracle: turning water into wine. This symbolizes a transformation of human rituals into divine sacrifice. Few people are even aware that a miracle has occurred. Jesus then drives crooked businessmen out of the temple, scolding them for turning a sacred area into a crass marketplace.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 2 begins to show Jesus' "signs," or miracles, which will prove that He is the Savior. The miracles will become more spectacular over time, but they start quietly. Contrast is an important part of the gospel of John. The quiet, joyful miracle at the wedding is starkly different from the loud public spectacle of clearing the temple. Jesus' first miracle symbolizes His mission. During the temple clearing, He also predicts His death and resurrection. This sets the stage for Jesus' private discussion with Nicodemus, a respected and influential man.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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