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Recap of lesson 5 (Water to Wine)

  • Time out for a wedding: Shows us how Jesus related to others, valued them, connected with them
  • Timing ("My time has not yet come."): Jesus was acutely aware that the clock was ticking.
    • He dared not squander the Father's time.
    • He fell into neither (opposite) error, moving along too slowly or rushing about frenetically.
  • Signs were not arbitrary. He did not perform them to impress people or dazzle them (although they would surely be impressed by (God). This also explains why Jesus didn’t go berserk using his miraculous powers, as you are I probably would if we were in his position.
  • Each podcast in the series aims to turn up some important emphases in John, whether a major motif (time), a minor motif (water), a patterned sequence (…“Come and see”…), or one of the three heptads (7 signs, 7 confessions, 7 I Am sayings).

COMMENT

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 

  • Note: The ministry of Jesus in the gospel of John is constructed around three or four Passovers: 2:13,23; 6:4; 11:55; etc. In contrast, the three Synoptic gospels paint the picture of a one-year ministry with a single Passover.
  • The "holiday season" has arrived.
    • There's a buzz in the air, and a bustle in the marketplace.
    • Deeply rooted traditions and customs run their annual course.
    • Into this busy scene Jesus explodes in a paroxysm of premeditated action.

14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 

  • Jesus cleanses the Temple (v.13ff), which through the unspiritual influence of the priestly leadership had become a center of commerce and greed.
  • Jesus intended to throw down a challenge to the powers that be. (Had he wished to interrupt all commerce, he would likely have had to kick over more than a few tables!)  The message he sent was clear: "I oppose you, Annas and Caiaphas. You are not legitimate, and we are on a collision course!”
  • Did Jesus do wrong? Some allege that Jesus lost his temper.
    • The text does not say Jesus whipped the vendors, only the animals.
    • After all, Jesus forbade violence (Matthew 5).
    • See also Mark 11:11. Jesus came into Jerusalem (the Triumphal Entry), looked around, and returned the following day. His action was planned, not impromptu.
  • When Jesus cleanses the Temple, he accuses the religious leaders of crass commercialism (v.16).
  • In the Synoptic Gospels he charges them with having made a "den of robbers" (Jeremiah 7:11) out of a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7). His ire was justly aroused.
  • See the last chapter of Zechariah, and especially the last sentence: "And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day."

17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

  • The scripture the zealous outburst reminded the disciples of was Psalm 69.
  • His disciples felt his zeal.
    • The word zealous is related to the word jealous, and suggests passionate concern with the honor and glory of God. (See 2 Cor 11:2 – here Paul is jealous [zēlô] with a godly zeal [zēlō].)
    • Zeal is not a synonym for "energetic," or even "heartfelt." Zeal entails passion, to be sure, but an intense spiritual ardor that is much more than mere heat.
    • For more on zeal, be sure to listen to the OT Character podcast on Phinehas. (You must be logged in as a website member to listen to this podcast.)

18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

  • Not surprisingly, the challenge was not well received.
    • Asked to produce a sign (v.18), Jesus promises that the true temple of the Spirit (his own body) will be resurrected!
    • As is common in John, his words are completely misunderstood (v.20). It’s as though Jesus is speaking on “channel 1” (the heavenly, spiritual channel), while his followers are usually tuned in to “channel 2” (the earthly, physical channel).
      • John’s gospel is replete with both double entêndres and misunderstandings.
      • Watching others misunderstand can help us better to understand the important spiritual truths found in this gospel.

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

  • The Temple had been under construction for 46 years by 27 AD, when the Jews made their comment in verse 20.
    • Construction actually began in 20 BC.
    • Since there is no year 0, "46 years" brings us to 27 AD.
    • Ancient historians tell us that the improvements were still ongoing when the First Jewish War (with the Romans) broke out in 66 AD.

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

  • The following Jewish saying illuminates verse 25: "Seven things are hidden from man: the day of death, the day of consolation, the depths of judgment, one's reward, the time of restoration of the kingdom of David, the time when the guilty kingdom [Rome] will be destroyed, and what is within another" (Talmud: Exod. 15:32 (59b). This is yet another implicit claim to divinity, or at least of divine powers.
  • Jesus’ miraculous signs led many to believe in him (v.23).
  • And yet he knew the fickleness of the crowd. His knowledge of human nature (v.24f) prevented him from trusting humans the way he trusted his Father.

Technical point: When did the cleansing take place, near the beginning of his ministry (John), at the end (the Synoptics), or both?

  • It seems John recounted the cleansing early in the gospel for a theological reason: to show that the "new wine" the Messiah was offering would not be readily accepted by the corrupt religious establishment. He was on a collision course with the Temple and its powerful priestly hierarchy.
  • For ancient writers, at times theology trumps chronology. This is not a mistake, but a deliberate repositioning of the account of the cleansing in order to make a statement.

CONCLUSION

  • If Jesus visited the church where I attend, how well would he be received? Would there be any overturned tables or traditions?
  • Have I defined "zeal" biblically? Is it possible I, or others I know, have confused energy with conviction?