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Greetings!
 

Here’s a summary of the Bible study on January 15.

 

Coming of the New (John 2)

When Jesus came into this world, he brought “light” (1:5), exposing darkness and revealing the way of truth and life. And he brought “the new,” replacing old patterns and forms with new realities. We see this in the first two events of Jesus’ public ministry recorded by John. The first event was at a wedding celebration in Galilee. The second was at the temple in Jerusalem.

 

Wedding Works (2:1-12)

Jesus and his disciples were invited to a wedding celebration in Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother (Mary) was also there. Perhaps the wedding involved a relative or close family friend. The wine was running out, which would be shameful for the host. Mary said to Jesus, “They have no more wine” (2:3). She was likely not expecting a miracle but was relying on Jesus’ resourcefulness. Jesus responded, “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come” (2:4).

 

Jesus’ response was direct and corrective, but not inappropriate. Jesus wanted Mary to understand that his first priority was the will of his heavenly Father, not his earthly mother. Jesus came to accomplish a mission, and he would reveal himself and his mission gradually according to God’s schedule. He would eventually be arrested and killed. As that time drew near, he would say “the hour” has arrived (John 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1).

 

Anyway, Jesus did act in response to Mary’s request. Mary trusted that Jesus would solve the problem, so she told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (2:5). The servants followed Jesus’ instructions. They filled six stone water jars with water. Then Jesus turned the water into wine. Jesus not only supplied more wine, he supplied the highest quality wine! (2:10) Why did Jesus do this?

 

By turning water into wine, Jesus met a practical need. However, he had a greater purpose. His action was a “sign” (2:11). In this context, a “sign” is a “significant display of power that points to a deeper reality.” Jesus did many miracles, and people were impressed. But he didn’t do miracles for the purpose of entertainment! His miracles were meant to point to deeper realities – about himself and his mission.

 

The “sign” of turning water into wine showed that Jesus was certainly not an ordinary man. He was “from God” (3:2). In fact, he is God in human flesh (1:1, 14, 18). This sign (and many others) “revealed his glory” (2:11) – “the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14).

 

The stone jars – “the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing” (2:6) – could symbolize the old order of Jewish religion. If so, Jesus’ act of turning the water into wine could symbolize the new creation that he was bringing. He came to replace the old patterns and forms with new realities that were much greater! He came to bring the new.

 

How may this story apply to us? While Jesus’ sign of changing water into wine “revealed his glory” (2:11), many people didn’t see it, and many people don’t see it today. So we may ask, “What can we learn about appropriate human attitudes toward Jesus?”

 

Jesus’ disciples saw the sign and believed in him (2:11). Mary demonstrated belief in Jesus, even prior to the sign. She trusted he could take care of the problem at hand. But she needed to realize that Jesus’ first priority was the will of his heavenly Father. Likewise, we should have faith in Jesus to work in our lives and situations, but we must always submit our desires and expectations to the will of God, allowing Him to do things in his time and his way.

 

Temple Turnover (2:13-25)

As the Jewish Passover celebration approached, Jesus went to Jerusalem (2:13). “In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money” (2:14).

 

The Passover celebration in Jerusalem attracted Jews from all over. Since they came from great distances, they would buy animals for sacrifice after arriving at the temple, and they would exchange money for the type of currency accepted for the temple tax. So other people took advantage of this situation by setting up markets in the temple (hieron) – that is, the temple complex, including the Court of the Gentiles.  

 

Jesus was angered by all this commercial activity. The temple was supposed to be a place of worship and prayer. As people entered the temple courts, they were supposed to experience an atmosphere of awe and reverence, not commercial activity.

 

Also, the Court of the Gentiles was the only part of the temple available to Gentiles, so using it for market activity took away their place of prayer. As Jesus proclaimed in the temple clearing recorded in Mark’s Gospel, “Is it not written: ‘My house [that is, God’s temple] will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it ‘a den of robbers’” (Mark 11:17).

 

So Jesus said, “Get these [animals] out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16). With a whip in hand, Jesus drove out all the animals from the temple courts, and overturned the tables of the money changers (2:15). We often think of Jesus as being calm and gentle, but this was a display of his righteous anger, which was appropriate in this situation.

 

Jesus’ anger was felt by the sellers and buyers, but the people responsible were the Jewish religious leaders who established, or at least allowed, this activity. Jesus’ action to set things straight was a challenge to their authority. And they didn’t like having their authority challenged! So the Jews asked him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” (2:18)

 

Jesus responded, ‘[So you want a sign?] Destroy this temple (naon), and I will raise it again in three days” (2:19). The Jews couldn’t believe what Jesus said, and they replied, “It has taken us 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” (2:20)

 

However, the Jews didn’t understand the deeper meaning of Jesus’ response. When he said “this temple” he was really talking about his body (2:21). Three years later, they would “destroy Jesus’ body” by turning him over to be killed. But Jesus would be raised from the dead in three days. Now that’s a sign!

 

But that’s not all. Jesus’ response revealed the deep connection between the temple and his body. The temple was “God’s house” (2:16). It was where people went to meet with God and worship him. But Jesus is “the Word” who makes God known (1,1, 14, 18). He is the new “meeting place” with God (4:19-24; 14:6). Jesus came to replace the temple, for he is the fulfillment of the temple (Revelation 21:22). In these new times, true worship of God is “in Jesus.”

 

How may this story apply to us? What does it teach us about worship? First, we need to rightly acknowledge the One who is worthy of our worship. “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3). God wants us to be rightly motivated in our worship. He wants our hearts. He wants our focus.

 

In our times of “worship,” we can easily just go through the motions. We can “honor” God with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him (Matthew 15:7-9). We can easily get distracted by different things and fail to give our whole-hearted attention to God. This can happen when we gather for corporate worship, and it can happen in our personal lives.

 

Of course, we don’t “go to the temple” as God’s people did in Old Testament times. With the “coming of the new,” we “go to Jesus,” in whom we “worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). This doesn’t mean we don’t gather at certain places to worship God. The Bible instructs believers to gather for worship and encouragement. But true worship is not confined to Sunday mornings. We should worship God with our lives (Romans 12:1-2).

 

Wherever we worship, God wants our hearts. He wants our worship to be centered in Jesus Christ – the fulfillment of God’s covenants and promises, and the King of God’s everlasting kingdom. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

 

The Light & You

What do you believe about Jesus? Do you believe what the Bible teaches? Continue to seek answers to the question “Who is Jesus?” If you have “believed in Jesus,” what is the basis and content of your belief? Are your beliefs consistent with the Bible’s teaching? Have your beliefs resulted in a changed life?

 

Brothers & sisters, is your worship sincere, focused, and Christ-centered? Read Hebrews 10:1-22 and “draw near to God with a sincere heart” (Hebrews 10:22).

 

Your Servant,

Jay

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