JOHN 2: Wine, Whips, and Waste

By Stephen W. HiemstraWeddingRings

When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do (Genesis 41:55 ESV).

How does God reveal himself to you?

In John’s Gospel, Jesus first reveals himself to a couple of newlyweds in danger of being stigmatized for their poverty (not enough wine).  More generally, God reveals himself through super-abundance of wine (2:1-11), bread (6:5-14), and fish (21:3-13).

Chapter one ends with Jesus encountering Nathanael and offering a prophecy paraphrasing Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:12):  Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man (John 1:51).  Nathanael came from Cana (John 21:2).  In chapter 2, this prophecy is fulfilled in a wedding at Cana.

The miracle of water being turned into wine is rich in messianic imagery.  The prophet Isaiah, for example, writes of the messianic banquet:  the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined…He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces… (Isaiah 25:6-8).  When Moses sends spies into the promised land, they come back with a huge cluster of grapes (Numbers 13:23).  Building on the vineyard theme, many of Jesus’ parables tie vineyards to God’s judgment (e.g. Matthew 21:33-40).

In case we missed the significance of Jesus’ first miracle, John writes:  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).  John’s use of the word, glory, to refer to Jesus associates him with God’s Shekinah cloud revealed at Sinai (Exodus 24:16-17) and associated with the tabernacle (Numbers 14:10) and, later, with the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:10-11).  John makes this temple association explicit in verses 19-21.

When Jesus cleanses the temple with a whip, he prophetically acts out divine judgment as a prelude to temple abandonment (Psalm 69:9; Isaiah 56:4-7; Jeremiah 7:9-11).  When Jesus died on the cross, the temple sacrificial system became redundant because the atonement for sin had been made for all time (Hebrews 10:12).  Jesus’ resurrection completed the symbolism (John 2:18-21; Acts 17:30-31). God abandoned the temple and it was destroyed by a Roman army in AD 70.

Which of Jesus’ miracles do you remember best?


How was your week?  Do you have anything about your week that you would like to share? Do you have any thoughts about last week’s lesson?

  1. When did the events in chapter 2 take place? (v 1) Where?  (Who comes from there?  Hint John 21:2) Why are these details important?  Why is Jesus’ mother mentioned?
  2. Who was also invited? (v 2)
  3. What is the significance of the wine running out?(v 3)  Who gets called?
  4. What is Jesus’ response? (v 4)
  5. How does Jesus’ mother react? Why?  (v 5) What does this remind you of?  (Hint: Genesis 41:55)
  6. What does Jesus do? (vv 6-8)
  7. What is the role of the master of the feast? (vv 8-9)
  8. How does the master of the feast react to the wine given him? (vv 9-10).
  9. How do we know that he is not being sarcastic?(vv 10-11)
  10. 10.Where did Jesus and the disciples go after that?  Who else was there?  Why? (v 12)
  11. 11.When did all this happen?  Where did Jesus go next? (v 13)

JOHN 2: Wine, Whips, and Waste

Also see:

JOHN 3: Humility and Love 

Vanhoozer: How Do We Understand the Bible? Part 1 

Roadmap of Simple Faith

Bothersome Gaps: Life in Tension

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

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