This is the second time this year that I have gone through the book of John. The last time I saw something I had never seen before. Now as I read it again I just can’t get over how strange Jesus acts in this book! I’m SERIOUS! I think the way the book of John portrays Jesus is very strange, so strange, in fact, that It makes me feel like I’ve been missing something about him.
Today is day two of our Journey In John as a church. That lands us in John 2, which is a very curious chapter indeed. Let’s fly through it really fast together so that you can see what I’m talking about.
The chapter opens at a wedding that runs out of wine. Jesus’ mom asks Him to do something about it, and he basically says, “it’s not time for me to do fancy things.” She almost ignore his comment and tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says (I could write a whole post about the strange nature of that interaction). Jesus then proceeds to make water into wine and saves the day. YEAH!!! Then in passing John tells us, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him (John 2:11).” Really? Making wine was Jesus’ first miracle?
The next scene is Jesus walking into the temple and flipping over the money changers tables and whipping them with cords. Wow, that’s an interesting marketing strategy Jesus! When the people asking what he is doing, he starts saying some wacky things like, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:19).” The people get all confused because the temple took 46 years to build the first time and now Jesus was going to break it and rebuild it in three days Very strange indeed.
The most fascinating thing about this whole chapter is the last few verses.
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25, ESV)
If none of this strikes you as strange let me help you see the lens I was reading the text through. Jesus came to advance is kingdom/the gospel. He came to save the world from its sins through relationship with himself. If I were God, (I’m glad I am not) I would have had Jesus raise someone from the dead as his first miracle. If I were God, I would have had go to the temple and preach such a powerful sermon on money that the money changers fall on their faces and repent of their ways and stop taking advantage of people. Instead Jesus does these other things and Ironically at the end of it all Jesus plan works and “many” believe in Him.
So what can we learn from this passage? Is Jesus confused about proper marketing and organizational advancement techniques? No, we learn that Jesus is sovereign. His wisdom overrides ours. I learn that Jesus had very little interest in making sense to the religiously elite. Instead, he wanted to make sense to the common everyday person. Turning water into wine to was practical and kind to an everyday run of the mill wedding party. Tuning over the money changers was shocking to all but I can’t help that the poor who were being taken advantage of were thinking, “I might like this guy.” Jesus came for the common person not the religiously ‘put together.’