[4]     Signs and Discourses 1: Marriage at Cana (2:1-25)

Section C. Signs and Public Discourses of the Christ (2:1-12:50)

o        This section describes the public ministry of Jesus. The emphasis is on His ministry in Judeo, particularly the 3 to 4 Passovers Jesus attended in Jerusalem. The highlights were the 7 signs (showing that Jesus is Christ) and the 7 public discourses or sermons.


[C1]    2:1-11............. FIRST Sign - water into wine

2:1       The lack of any mention of Joseph may infer that he had died before this time.

The bridegroom and his friends made their way in procession to the bride’s home. This was often done at night, when there could be a spectacular torchlight procession. Then the new couple would go in procession to the groom’s house where the wedding banquet was held.

2:3       The running out of wine meant more than the disruption of the festivities or social embarassment. The bridegroom and his family may well be liable to a lawsuit as they were legally required to provide a feast of a certain standard. The bridegroom’s family might be liable to loose one half the value of the presents they received. It is likely that the master of the family was poor and had prepared for the minimum provision.

Mary knew that Jesus was the Messiah and she trusted that Jesus could solve the difficulty.

2:4       “Woman” is not as cold in the Greek and is a term of respect or affection. However, it is unusual to find it used by a son to his mother. Such a term may indicate that there was a new relationship between Jesus and Mary as He entered His public ministry.

“It was not yet time” for Jesus to act as it was early in His ministry (see Mk 3:12; 7:36).

2:5       Mary was persistent as she knew that Jesus understood the present difficulty.

2:6       Stone waterpots were used to carry water for ceremonial purification (Mk 7:1-4); the servants would have poured water over the hands of every guest before eating.

2:8       “The master of the banquet” was likely one of the guests charged with the duty of being the chairman who presided over the gathering (like a toast master). He was clearly not a servant, for he could summon the bridegroom.

2:10     The phrase “have had too much to drink” means “are drunken”.

2:11     The miracles are called “signs” in this Gospel. It is not so much that they arouse wonder and are hard to explain, but rather that they point us to something beyond themselves. They show us God at work. They “revealed Jesus’ glory” and showed that He is the Christ.


[C2]    2:12-25........... Jesus in Jerusalem

There is another incident of Temple cleansing recorded in Mt 21:13-13; Mk 11:15-17; Lk 19:45-46 which occurred in the week before the last Passover; however, this one occurred early in Jesus’ ministry. This was probably the one event that sparked off the opposition of the high priests and later led to Jesus’ arrest.

2:12     Capernaum (by the sea of Galilee) was Jesus’ centre throughout most of His ministry, and it might even be called His own town (Mt 9:1). The description of “went down” from Cana which was on the uplands show the accuracy of John’s record.

2:13     John refers to 3 or 4 Passovers (2:23; 6:4; 11:55; possibly also 5:1) which are central to his Gospel, reflecting the messianic significance of Jesus.

2:14     The selling took place in the outer courtyard called the Court of the Gentiles. It is to provide a convenience for people who came to worship and sacrifice from far away. They would then have a nearby supply for sacrifices. Some people were “exchanging money” for getting the approved currency to make money offerings.

2:16     Jesus’ objection of the practice as shown in Mark was the dishonesty of the traders. Here, however, the objection appears to be simply for their presence. For Gentiles, they could only stay in the outer courtyard to pray or meditate. The noise of such activities would disrupt them. The activities could have been located outside the Temple.

2:17     Ps 69:9. It is one of John’s great themes that every critical moment sees the fulfilment of Scripture.

2:18     The Jews recognized Jesus’ action was a messianic action. They therefore demanded that Jesus authenticate his implied claims by producing a “sign”. Interestingly, they did not dispute the rightness of his action.

2:19     Jesus’ saying became one the charges against Him later.Jesus usually refused to give a sign when asked for one. But in the Synoptic Gospels, he regularly pointed to His resurrection as the only sign that would be given to these people.

“Destroy” is literally “loose”, referring to the loosening of the component parts from one another, like breaking up of part of a ship (Ac 27:41). It can be used of the dissolution of life, or killing.

The word “temple” denotes a shrine, the sanctuary, the very dwelling place of God, different from the word in v.14. Jesus probably implies that God dwelt in Him in a very special way as God’s presence is more manifest in Jesus than in the Temple.

2:20     Josephus says the work of rebuilding the Temple (by Herod, partly to satisfy his lust for building and partly to attempt to satisfy his Jewish subjects) was begun in the 18th year of Herod’s reign (20-19 BC). The Temple was not completed until AD 63. The incident would have to happen about AD 27-28, 46 years after the beginning of construction.

The pattern in this Gospel is that a saying of Jesus was completely misunderstood.

2:21     John’s comment clarifies the meaning of Jesus that it was referred to His resurrection.

2:22     “The Scripture” refers to a single passage in the Bible, but not clearly identified, perhaps Ps 16:10 or Is 53:12.

2:23     Many believed after seeing the “signs”; it was not a deep faith but a first attraction to the Lord.

2:24     Jesus had unusual knowledge of men (also 4:17; 5:42; 6:61, 64; 13:1, 11; 18:4) and He put His trust in none of them. The imperfect tense denotes His habitual attitude.

2:25     Jesus’ divinity is implied here as the OT says that God alone knows “the hearts of all men” (1Ki 8:39).


§         God can do miracles in our lives if we show perfect obedience to follow God’s will (2:5).

§         Jesus was obviously angry at the Temple. Yet there is a difference between uncontrolled rage and righteous indignation (though both are called anger). It is right to be angry about injustice and sin; it is wrong to be angry over trivial personal offenses.


Hymns of Life no.273 “Be still, my soul” (a comforting hymn)

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In ev’ry change He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake

To guide the future as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know

His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.