Read John 2.  As you read these two events, watch Jesus.  See what you learn about Him. 

First event:  Turning water to wine at the marriage in Cana

Cana was a town very near to Nazareth.  Obviously, Mary was close to the family – either close friends or perhaps even a family member.  Weddings in Jewish culture at this time were a week long celebration.  Guests would return each evening and the celebration would continue … with the groom and his bride as the “stars” of the week!  The groom’s family was responsible for providing the food for the guests and it was not one dinner or a reception following a ceremony as is our custom.  This particular wedding was about to become the one that would be talked about for years to come – the one where the host family ran out of supplies!  They ran out of wine.  We had two weddings in my family in 2010.  Guests were invited.  I would have been mortified if any of our guests had not been served at dinner because we had not planned well enough for every guest to have food and drink at the celebration.  This is what was happening at the wedding in Cana. 

When I think about Jesus at this event, two things come to mind.  First, He was at the party!  Jesus was not an austere, withdrawn, unsocial person.  The picture of Christians being severe, anti-social, long-faced individuals is NOT like our Lord!  Check your countenance …

Secondly, I am touched by the Lord’s compassion for this family.  As He said, His “time” was not yet here.  He well knew that as soon as the “signs”, the miracles that would testify to His identity and power, began – then He was on the road to the cross.  And yet, I think He knew the humiliation that was facing this family in Cana and His compassion moved Him to action.  He could take care of the situation … and so He did.  How is your “compassion quotient”?  When you have the ability to alleviate a difficult situation, are you willing to act? 

The writer, John, uses the word “signs” to describe the miracles of Jesus because he uses them as windows into spiritual truths.  Consider the spiritual significance of this event.  The water pots stood at the entrance of a Jewish household and were used for foot washing and for ceremonial hand washings.  Each would have held between 20 – 30 gallons of water.  So we are looking at up to 180 gallons of wine!  No wedding party could drink that much wine!  Drunkenness was shameful then (still is!).  And I see it … there is no need on this earth that exhausts the grace of God.  When the grace of God comes, there is abundance, more than enough, all – sufficiency.  Jesus gave the first sign of His glory … in a humble home … in a small town … for a family.  Jesus brought God home.  Emmanuel … God with us.  If you belong to Him … He is at your table as well. 

Second Event:  Cleansing the Temple

It was Passover.  Remember, that was one of the 3 feasts that Jewish males were required to attend if they lived within a certain radius of Jerusalem.  But it also was the dream of every Jew throughout the known world at the time to experience at least one Passover in his lifetime in Jerusalem.  Estimates are that there could be as many as 2 1/4 million people in Jerusalem for Passover.  Every Jewish male over 19 was required to pay a Temple tax.  And it had to be paid in Jewish coin … foreign currency was ‘unclean’.  Well, of course foreign coin had to be changed … so money changers were needed.  The Talmud allowed for them to make a profit from the exchange … but it did not allow for extortion.  And extortion was being done.  Also, the animals brought for sacrifice had to be “without blemish”.  So there were “inspectors” in the Temple to certify to the perfection of any animal.  Animals brought in were seldom good enough.  Therefore, you had to buy another one inside the Temple walls.  One example I read was that a pair of dove would sell outside the Temple walls for 4p and that was about one day’s wage for a working man.  Inside the Temple, the price was 75p!  It was open extortion … the pilgrims coming the Jerusalem for this most holy feast were being fleeced … all in the name of religion and religious law.  Our Jesus was incensed when He witnessed the shame.  Hence, His behavior. 

What do we learn about our Lord?  He had no patience with man-made religious form that kept people from God … from prayer … from worship.  He had authority over the Temple, authority over the “house of prayer” – and so He used that authority to clean house! 

The spiritual truth revealed is not hard to see – it’s just hard to see in ourselves! 

Listen to Williams Barclay from his commentary on John:

Is there anything in our church life – a snobbishness, an exclusiveness, a coldness, a lack of welcome, a tendency to make the congregation into a closed club, an arrogance, a fastidiousness – which keeps the seeking stranger out?  Let us remember the wrath of Jesus against those who made it difficult and even impossible for the seeking stranger to make contact with God.

I also remember the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:16

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

Are you allowing your Lord to cleanse your temple – daily?  The things you think about, the things you do.  Your appetites and desires.  Your gifts and talents and skills.  Your play and your work.  Your relationships.  Even your secrets and your hang-ups.  Let the Lord cleanse it … and I think it is better for us to allow that BEFORE it requires a whip! 

Lord, cleanse me.  Wash me.  Every room in my heart and every thought in my mind.  “Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23 – 24)