Friday, October 17, 2008

John 2 - Wine & Whip

John 2 contains the story of Jesus attending the wedding in Cana and whipping the money changers in the temple. These stories show such a contrast in the attitude and demeanor of Jesus.

John 2:1-12 | As I read the water-into-wine story again, there was a nagging question in the back of my mind. Why was this story included in the book of John? He only recorded seven miracles in his entire book -- why was this one of them?

I don't have a firm, authoritative answer, but I enjoyed the discussion at Bible study. Here were some of the lessons we found in this story.
  • It shows the authority of Jesus as Lord over nature
  • It revealed the confidence of his mother
  • It demonstrated Jesus involvement and care in "earthly" things
  • It uses the strong symbolic elements of WATER (baptism , living water) and WINE (last supper, blood of Christ, wedding banquet)
  • It shows an abundance of wine, just as we have received an abundance of grace (John 1:16)
  • The miracle manifested the glory of Jesus, and his disciples believed in him.

John 2:13-25 | The second half of this chapter tells the story of Jesus cleaning out the temple. I have often puzzled over this story and how it relates to church-life today.

At first read, this story is about the zeal of Jesus and his authority. And about his disciples' future understanding of Jesus' words and Scripture. But does it also warn us about God's attitude to commercialism in his house?

The money-changers and sellers were providing a vital role for the worshipers who were arriving in Jerusalem. Many people had traveled quite far to worship at the temple for Passover. They needed to exchange their currency for the local currency. They also needed to purchase their sacrifices at the temple instead of having to carry them on their journey.

So, what was the source of Jesus' anger? Why did he take this action? Was it because they were doing this on the temple grounds, instead of outside somewhere? Was it because these money-changes and sellers were taking advantage of the people and charging exorbitant fees?

I often ponder these questions when I encounter a church with a bookstore on the premise. It is a good function of the church to provide its people with resources for discipleship and the Christian life, but ... ?

Or what about the church that holds a "garage" sale in their building to raise money for a mission trip? It provides the community with access to inexpensive goods and earns money for missions, but ... ?

What do you think? I have no real answer. But what I do know is that Jesus demonstrates the zeal God has for his house, his church. We are called to live with that same zeal -- not just for some building, but for his people, the church.
Check out the previous post in this series:
John 1 - The Word became Flesh

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