How Would Jesus
John chapter two actually records two events which, on the surface, don’t seem to connect. It starts with a wedding in Cana of Galilee and ends with Jesus causing a fracas in Jerusalem. Weddings do take place in churches today but in Bible times that wasn’t the case and the way Jesus responded in these two settings makes us wonder.
One place, Cana, was insignificant, the other was the centre of religious and political life for all Jews. If Jesus had not attended a wedding in Cana we probably would never have heard of it but Jerusalem was the spiritual hot spot of the world, then and now.
But the question is, “why a wedding”? We can easily understand Jesus being involved in major religious festivals (the Passover) but why a wedding in Cana? And, why was He so agreeable at the wedding and so reactive in Jerusalem?
As far as we know the wedding was the first event at which Jesus was accompanied by His disciples. There are many great observations we could make about this, not the least of which is, Jesus endorses marriage. But, that has been said a thousand times so we won’t dwell on it here.
The most interesting observations are made by comparing the manner of Jesus at these two events. His manner at the wedding was agreeable. You might even say compliant. When they needed wine, at His mother’s request, He miraculously produced some from water without making a scene. It was done quietly, almost on the sly. Other than His mother, the servants and his disciples (maybe a few others) not everyone at the wedding was aware.
Things were very different at Jerusalem. He shocked everyone by driving the animals and money changers out of the Temple and His manner was anything but conciliatory. He used a whip and He made accusations. Everyone knew it.
The question is, why the difference? Why did Jesus respond so aggressively in one situation and so passively in another, particularly when both events were religious in nature? A few observations should help clarify.
Jesus IS Concerned About Appearances
During the Passover many Jewish people and proselytes traveled to Jerusalem from many parts of the world to offer sacrifices and give offerings. For some, it would be the first and possibly only time they would visit this most holy city. Their impressions would be lasting and, if bad, would reflect poorly on God and the Bible when shared with others.
As a convenience to travelers the locals would offer proper animals for sacrifice and, of course, would exchange acceptable local coinage for the money they brought from home. But, what started out as a convenience quickly became a commercial venture.
Conveniently making sacrificial animals and money changing available wasn’t wrong but turning it into an opportunity to gouge unsuspecting travelers was in poor taste. I doubt there was an open market on this service. The animals, I’m sure, were highly inspected, the coins were minted locally and all was done at a price. It wasn’t right and everyone knew it.
When Jesus purged the Temple He made a good impression on those visiting from afar. The only people unhappy about this were the religious leaders who, no doubt, stood to benefit most from the services offered.
When they confronted Jesus they didn’t question what He did or why He did it. The answers would have condemned them. They only asked by what authority He acted, as if one needs special authority to obey God. Graciously, Jesus gave them what they asked for, signs, and He gave them in great numbers. They were probably sorry they asked.
This religion had always been associated with giving, God to us and us to God. The present scheme was tarnishing that image and Jesus corrected that.
Jesus Has No Tolerance For Religious Deviance
Jesus made an impact on both occasions but He was abrasive only at one, the religious festival, leading us to believe that He has no tolerance for religious manipulation and nonsense.
Jesus did nothing to disturb the wedding. Marriage was God’s first ordained institution and God is honored every time it is observed. There is very little instruction on what constitutes the marriage formula or how a ceremony should be conducted so it would be hard to deviate from that. There is actually more instruction on executing a divorce than conducting a wedding.
There is a lot of room for variance in the wedding ceremony and Jesus was obviously comfortable at the wedding in Cana. Nothing needed to be changed or challenged.
The Old Testament religion, however, was highly regulated and every detail carried significance. Changes could be made (David ate the showbread) but changing anything for selfish or monetary reasons was blatantly wrong.
I wonder how Jesus would respond to most churches today?
- Would He be happy with the depressive way the Lord’s Supper is often observed?
- Would He agree with the demands we make on candidates for baptism?
- Would He be happy that the largest number of people in most public services are Christian and the people who need the service most are least catered for?
Are we distorting the image and making the wrong impression?
Jesus Was Involved In The Same Things At Both Events: Evangelism And Discipleship
Evangelism can happen every where at all times. Disciples are developed where and as they live. Done properly discipleship changes the way you live all of life not just the special moments and when disciples change, when they grow, evangelism is the outcome.
When disciples grow they learn to worship in every waking moment not just on Sunday mornings. Sunday morning is a time to worship publicly. All other times are opportunities to worship in public.
The disciples were following Jesus and observing everything He did. Whatever Jesus did in relation to others had to impact them also. And others were being influenced toward believing at the same time. Its a spiritual cycle. Evangelism produces disciples and discipleship encourages evangelism.
Jesus’ Teaching Method Was Action Intense And Verbally Limited
It is very interesting that Jesus made no explanation as to what He was doing or why He did it at either event. He acted and expected everyone to figure it out. The truth is everyone knew it was questionable to buy and sell in the Temple, and they were probably relieved to see someone do something about it but no one, until Jesus, had the courage to act.
The only response Jesus gave when questioned was a cryptic remark about His death and resurrection, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” No one got it. The disciples only figured it out after He rose from the dead.
Church Buildings Do Not Validate Weddings
Marriage as an institution far exceeds the spiritual significance of a congregation or a church building. It was God’s first institution designed to meet basic human needs, connecting one person with another in the most intimate way, and in no way was intended as a remedy for sin.
A wedding is God’s worship service in the normal course of life. Of all the things one can do to relate to, honor and worship God, a wedding is at the top of the list. It needs no church building to make it better.
These thoughts only cover a few possible observations. Share your thoughts. Tell us what you THINK!AboutIt.