Summary: We all have expectations of who Jesus is and what He is about. Are yours correct? Jesus’ family, friends, and even His enemies had misconceptions about His real purpose.
What is Jesus to you? It’s an honest question. A recent online poll found that 37% said Jesus may or may not have even existed and that there is no way to know for sure, 23% said that the gospels are a bunch of fictional tales, 16% say that he may have existed but so many myths have grown up around him that we can’t know what he was really like. Only 18% say he came just like in the gospel accounts.
For some people, Jesus was a good man who had some good advice and would have had a talk show and written lots of books and done very well in the seminar circuit with his good advice. For some he is a talisman against bad things happening. Others think he is the secret to success, like a fuel injector for life here on earth-a genie in a Jesus bottle. For others he is like a good buddy to have along when you need him, but to be ignored when you are good to go. The list goes on and on.
When Jesus came to the earth people had expectations for him-his family did, his friends did, even his enemies had ideas about what he was and was not supposed to be like and what he was and wasn’t supposed to do. Well, Jesus set about to crush all those expectations-and most of ours as well. Just what did Jesus come to do? We get a glimpse from three episodes found in John 2.
1 - 5
Jesus may have known the bride and/or groom. In those days the entire town was invited to a wedding. Jesus was from that region-Cana is only a few miles from Nazareth. Mary may have been the hostess and she would have been the first to know the wine had run out.
So what’s the deal with His words to His mom? One - it might have been improper for Jesus to call his mother by a more familiar term in public so he calls her "woman" - a term of respect. Another way to translate this phrase is: "Madam, that concerns you, not me. My hour has not yet come." Some have suggested that Mary was asking Jesus to reveal himself as the Messiah and perform the miracle.
We really don’t know if she was just asking for help, or if she was expecting a miracle, but we do see that she has reached a difficult place and so places her trust in Jesus. Would we have such full and simple faith! Jesus also makes it clear that His timetable is more important than hers. He is on the way to the cross and will not be sidetracked by anything. But no matter what was going on between them I love Mary’s response: "Do whatever he tells you."
6 - 10
The water jars normally held twenty to thirty gallons. The Jews would use them to pour water over their hands to ritually cleanse themselves from touching everyday objects prior to eating. They were not cleaning germs off-they had no concept of that. But it is interesting that Jesus chose this symbol of Jewish ceremonial cleansing to show that how much more He can do to cleanse a life when He touches it. Jesus fulfills the Jewish Law. In Him all the filth of the world clinging to us is washed away forever.
Also of course, it symbolizes that the life in Jesus Christ is so much better than life trying to please God through the Law.
Turning water into wine was the first of 35 miracles recorded in this gospel. It was a private miracle-not designed to alleviate a need but avert social embarrassment. But it shows the character of Jesus: he really does care about us and our individual situation. It also strengthened the faith of a group who had really just met this Man.
13 - 17
What happens at the Temple is very significant. All Jewish males were to come to Jerusalem to present a sacrifice at Passover, the Jewish celebration of freedom from Egypt. It was to be a time of cleansing-they were to remove all leaven from their homes. Jesus would later use leaven (yeast) as a symbol for sin and false doctrine (Matthew 16:16).
They were to remember that though they deserved death, God spared them when they appropriated the blood of a spotless lamb over their homes: a time of introspection and celebration.
But it had been turned into an opportunity for exploitation by the religious establishment. Transporting an animal over long distances was hard, so the Pharisees and Priests offered a service of providing animals for sale near the Temple, at a fair markup, of course. Taxes to the Temple had to be paid (could be referenced in Exodus 30:12-16). They tax had to be paid in Temple Shekels and since people came from many countries, the religious leaders set up a money exchange service and charged a fee for the service. These two things grew and grew and moved closer and closer to the Temple until they actually filled the Court of the Gentiles, a large court that surrounded the Temple itself.