John 2

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John 2:1 there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee

"There is no way of knowing from the text whose wedding was being celebrated (there are numerous reasons why it could not have been Jesus' own wedding, as some have suggested), but it was apparently a grand affair lasting for many days. (C. Wilfred Griggs, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels, ed. by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 126.)

"Weddings were held at the home of the bride and were as elaborate as the budget of the house would allow, running from one day to a whole week. The hosts felt a strong obligation to provide lavish hospitality, and failing to do so would embarrass the family and mortify the newly wedded couple. Mary may have been aware of this as she told her son that the wine had run out. We don't know Mary's function at the wedding, but the fact that she was concerned about the wine and was able to command the servants suggests that a close relative was being married." (Richard D. Draper, "Home Life at the Time of Christ," Ensign, Sept. 1987, 58)

See also: Was Jesus Married?

John 2:4 Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come

This expression from the Savior has prompted some discussion. In English, it sounds like a harsh reproof. Accordingly, the Joseph Smith translation softens the phrase, but it also changes the meaning. To me, the expression is more meaningful as it stands-with the understanding that Jesus was not being rude to his mother, "for the word translated [for] mother is technically woman, but is more polite than the English word suggests." (Jackson and Millet, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels, 126)

All sons know that feeling: mom wants you to do something that you don't want to do. Think of the reasons why Jesus did not want to perform a miracle at this time. He probably felt it was inappropriate to use his divine powers to make up for the wedding planner's oversight. He probably felt it inappropriate to use his divine powers for convenience or social approval. He did not want to be ostentatious or draw attention to himself. Besides, he was not to begin his ministry of miracles until the appointed time. And so he says, in effect, "Mother, what am I going to do with you? You know I don't want to do this-the time has not come for me to use my powers."

Mary knew he had great power, and she wanted him to use it. "We cannot avoid the conclusion that between Jesus' twelfth and thirtieth years there were many marvelous and miraculous things of which Mary knew." (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 1: 451) What happens next says more about filial obedience than almost any other instance in the Savior's recorded life. Mary tells the servants to do whatever her Son says because she already knows he will grant her request. She doesn't need to plead with him; she doesn't need to argue. She knows that the God of Israel will do what she wants because she is his mother-if for no other reason. And he does!

"Christ's mission to glorify his Heavenly Father and extend salvation to each of us did not prevent him from showing his profound love and respect for his mother. Indeed, the scriptures make it clear that even during the agony of his crucifixion at Calvary, his mother's welfare was not far from his thoughts. John records that 'there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother.' (John 19:25.) When Jesus saw his mother, standing by his disciple John, he said, 'Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.' (John 19:26-27.)" (Susan Easton Black, "Mary, His Mother," Ensign, Jan. 1991, 12)

John 2:5 whatsoever he saith unto you, do it

Sterling W. Sill

"One of the most inspiring lines in all of the scripture was spoken by the mother of Jesus at the marriage feast at Cana. She said to the servants, 'Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.' (John 2:5.) What an inspiring motto that would make for our individual lives!" (Conference Report, October 1959, Third Day-Morning Meeting 105.)

John 2:6 six water pots of stone...containing two or three firkins apiece

Bruce R. McConkie

"[One firkin equals] about nine gallons. Thus each of the six waterpots contained between twelve and eighteen gallons of water, with the result that Jesus then created some one hundred and fifty gallons of wine-a miracle showing the wedding celebration was one of no small size." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 136.)

John 2:9 the water...was made wine

Bruce R. McConkie

"Every hour of every day somewhere on earth the Lord turns water into wine. By his power, pursuant to the laws he has ordained, men prepare the soil and plant the vine; from the good earth, from the rains that fall, and from the light of the sun, the vine takes nutrient, grows, and bears fruit; men dung it and dig about it and prune it, and the fruit matures and ripens: they harvest the crop and process it in the wine vat; and it comes out as wine on the lees well refined. It is a miracle...the Lord Jesus, turned water into wine, in an instant, suddenly as it were, by laws known to him but unknown to us. It was a miracle, the first of his public miracles." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 1: 450.)

John 2:13 the Jews' Passover was at hand

" appears that Christ began his public ministry on the celebration day of the Passover feast. If would have also been on his birthday. But which birthday? It would have been near his thirtieth because he was 'beginning to be about thirty' at his baptism shortly before (Luke 3:23). Let us also consider law of Moses symbolism to help answer this question.

"...The Savior cleansed the temple just before Passover both at the beginning of his ministry (see John 2:13-16) and at the end (see Matt. 21:12-3). In terms of our having a fuller understanding of Passover, note that the cleansing of the temple also fits the pattern of Passover. That is, part of the prescribed actions at Passover include searching the house for any leaven and putting it entirely outside the house. (See Ex. 12:15.) It would seem that leaven could symbolize false teachings (see Matt. 16:12), hypocrisy (see Luke 12:1), or wickedness (see 1 Cor. 5:7-8), which the Savior put out of his Father's house, the temple, by 'cleansing' it of those who defiled it." (John P. Pratt, "Passover-Was It Symbolic of His Coming?" Ensign, Jan. 1994, 42)

John 2:13-14 Jesus...found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep

"After leaving Capernaum, Jesus traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, present himself to his Father, and pay homage in his holy temple. Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, he apparently hurried directly to the temple to present himself and observe the religious customs of his people. Elder James E. Talmage pointed out that Jesus probably had attended other Passovers during the interval between his recorded visit to the temple at the age of twelve (Luke 2:42-50) and this visit. However, 'he, not being thirty years old, could not have assumed the right or privilege of a teacher without contravening established customs.' Elder Talmage explained further that to teach in the synagogue, a man had to be thirty years old.

"What Jesus found at the temple was noise and dirt and confusion, a cacophony of sounds from birds, animals, people of diverse languages, merchants of sacrificial emblems, and money-changers-all polluting the sanctity of this great edifice. That place, which should have been the scene of utmost reverence and spiritual uplift where he could refresh himself spiritually for the demanding days ahead, was instead a scene of chaos and confusion.

"In righteous indignation, Jesus set about the task of driving out wickedness and restoring his Father's house to the religious purpose, order, and faith that should reign there. (See D&C 88:119.) What is most surprising, perhaps, about this event is that there appeared to be little, if any, protest made or resistance raised against his actions. Even when he had finished, there was no condemnation of what had transpired, only a query as to the authority he claimed that justified his having acted in such a way: 'What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?' (John 2:18.) Why this seeming acquiescence, by those most directly affected, to violent action on the part of this young stranger from Galilee? Frederic Farrar has offered this explanation: 'Because Vice cannot stand for one moment before Virtue's uplifted arm. Base and grovelling as they were, these money-mongering Jews felt, in all the remnant of their souls which was not yet eaten away by infidelity and avarice, that the Son of Man was right.'" (Kay Edwards, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels, ed. by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 190-191.)

John 2:15 he made a scourge of small cords

"Growing up I had a horrible temper. I had no control over it. I often struck out physically at those who upset me. My mother counseled me to follow the Savior's example. I then used Christ's example of cleansing the temple to justify my anger as 'righteous indignation.'

"During my sophomore year in seminary we studied the New Testament. As we studied the cleansing of the temple, my teacher and the Spirit taught me a lesson that was the answer to my prayers.

"The seminary teacher told us that Christ had made a scourge, or whip, and that took time. Time that the Savior could use to think about what was happening. He acted to change something, not reacted. The teacher showed that Christ was in control. The Savior drove the larger beasts out of the temple, yet he had the doves taken out. The doves could have been hurt or killed in the commotion. If Jesus had reacted as I did, He would not have showed such compassion." (Living by the Scriptures, LDS Church News, 1997, 08/23/97)

John 2:15 he drove them all out of the temple

James E. Talmage

"The incident of Christ's forcible clearing of the temple is a contradiction of the traditional conception of Him as of One so gentle and unassertive in demeanor as to appear unmanly. Gentle He was, and patient under affliction, merciful and long-suffering in dealing with contrite sinners, yet stern and inflexible in the presence of hypocrisy, and unsparing in His denunciation of persistent evil-doers. His mood was adapted to the conditions to which He addressed Himself; tender words of encouragement or burning expletives of righteous indignation issued with equal fluency from His lips. His nature was no poetic conception of cherubic sweetness ever present, but that of a Man, with the emotions and passions essential to manhood and manliness. He, who often wept with compassion, at other times evinced in word and action the righteous anger of a God. But of all His passions, however gently they rippled or strongly surged, He was ever master." (Jesus the Christ, 148)

John 2:16 my Father's house

Howard W. Hunter

"In the process of moral decline, reverence is one of the first virtues to disappear, and there should be serious concern about that loss in our times. Love of money had warped the hearts of many of Jesus' countrymen. They cared more for gain than they did for God. Caring nothing for God, why should they care for his temple? They converted the temple courts into a marketplace and drowned out the prayers and psalms of the faithful with their greedy exchange of money and the bleating of innocent sheep. Never did Jesus show a greater tempest of emotion than in the cleansing of the temple. Instantly he became avenging fury, and before the miscreants knew what was happening, their coins were rolling over the temple floor and their flocks and herds were in the street.

"The reason for the tempest lies in just three words: 'My Father's house.' It was not an ordinary house; it was the house of God. It was erected for God's worship. It was a home for the reverent heart. It was intended to be a place of solace for men's woes and troubles, the very gate of heaven. 'Take these things hence' he said, 'make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.' (John 2:16.) His devotion to the Most High kindled a fire in his soul and gave his words the force that pierced the offenders like a dagger." ("Hallowed Be Thy Name," Ensign, Nov. 1977, 52-53)

Russell M. Nelson

"The first sacred temple of Jerusalem was constructed on Mount Moriah. At that site, Jesus attended the remodeled second temple. Initially He called it 'my Father's house.' There He accomplished the first cleansing of the temple by driving out the money-changers.

"At the time of the second cleansing, He called it 'my house.' And He said unto them, 'It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.' (Matt 21:13)

"Finally and sadly, He called it 'your house' when He said in desperation, 'Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,' (Matt. 23:38) and predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, of which one stone would not be left upon the other." (Perfection Pending, and Other Favorite Discourses [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 179.)

John 2:21 he spake of the temple of his body

Obviously, the Savior is making his first public prophecy regarding his death and resurrection. But his reference to his body as a temple reminds us that our own bodies are also temples-temples which occasionally require a violent spring-cleaning. How often our personal temples are like Herod's Temple! They were designed for the Father's glory. They were designed to be a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, yet they are filled with all sorts of contradiction and impurity. In our own temples, the Spirit is grieved and driven away by the bleating of our own noisy sheep. When thoughts of money-how it can be earned, spent, or manipulated-consume our thoughts, we have let the money-changers of our own greed choke the Spirit from our lives. Reverence is replaced with confusion because the Spirit can't commune with us when our day-to-day concerns have overcome our peace and tranquility.

So how do we go about cleansing our own temples? Here again, the analogy holds true. Our ability to cleanse the inner vessel pales in comparison to that of the Master. While we might be able to loosen a few cumbering doves, the Master is able to make quick and decisive work of the whole project. But alas, it will not be painless. When the Savior performs spiritual surgery, the cuts often go deep in order to cleanse the wounds and ensure complete healing. But the Great Physician doesn't make house-calls without a special invitation. He declares, 'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in' (Rev. 3:20). Yet, few have the courage to open the door when their house is really a mess!