This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
– John 2:11
15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”
– John 2:15-16
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
– John 3:3-5
John Introduces Jesus
There’s something quite interesting about the way the Apostle John begins his account of Jesus. After an eloquent introduction in chapter 1 where Jesus, the Word, is revealed as the second person in the Trinity and baptized (in water and the Holy Spirit) in order to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies, John immediately shows Jesus, as the Messiah, bringing in the Kingdom of God.
It’s easy to read past these introductory chapters and miss the significance of the all too familiar stories of Jesus changing the water to wine, overturning the tables, and instructing Nicodemus on how to enter His revealed Kingdom.
But, taken together, these 3 moments in history reveal that Jesus was intensely serious about revealing the Kingdom of God to the chosen people of God, Israel.
The New Sign
Is there a significance in the fact that Jesus turned the water into wine? Possibly, but I won’t pretend to understand that.
What I do think is important, however, is that this act was a miracle. In fact, John says it was Jesus’ first miracle and that it’s affect was quite apparent: his disciples believe in Him. His disciples now had a glimpse into the Kingdom that Jesus was proclaiming.
The New Temple
After Jesus overturned the tables and drove out the merchants, the disgruntled Jews and religious leaders (who no doubt lost some serious coin due to Jesus’ uncustomary action) demanded to know what this was supposed to mean. They are fixed on the natural, the beautiful temple that exists to glorify God.
Jesus, however, is longing to divert their attention to the spiritual.
19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
– John 2:19-21
The temple building was merely meant to point to a future glory, the glory of God’s plan to redeem mankind through His Son! Jesus, being fully God and fully man, knew the plan of God and the inevitable willing sacrifice He would make.
With remarkable love and clarity, Jesus gives the people the sign in advance, though they are unable to grasp it as they are still transfixed on the building.
The New Life
At the beginning of the next chapter, John gives us a glimpse into a conversation between Jesus and a religious leader who isn’t entirely blinded to the spiritual truth that Jesus has spoken and performed up to this point. In fact, Nicodemus admits that his fellow Pharisees acknowledge that Jesus is a teacher from God. But, before he can ask a question, Jesus gets to the heart of Nicodemus’ thought. He recognizes Jesus’ authority but doesn’t understand why the religious leaders are blind to Jesus’ source.
Jesus makes it quite clear: their focus on the natural is blinding them to the spiritual. The Kingdom of God is being shown by supernatural signs, awaiting supernatural expansion through the destruction and resurrection of the new temple, and experienced through supernatural rebirth into the new life!
Also published on Medium.