In John 2 the interaction and dialog between Jesus and his mother is at two levels. The first level is the pragmatic one. The host for this wedding celebration and is out of wine. A crisis for any host with guests. Jesus gives a strange answer, “My hour has not come.” For a 21st century reader with a historical context of Jesus death on a cross and resurrection it is easy to see in his answer Jesus is thinking about something else and doesn’t want to be bothered.
Jesus mother doesn’t seem to blink an eye on Jesus response. She directs the servants to follow Jesus instructions. Jesus’s matter-of-fact directions to the servants involves using the materials available to him. The jars, the water source, the servants to do the work. It’s notable that Jesus instructs them to fill it to the brim with water. The bridegroom is struck by the quality of what now has become exceptional wine.
The writer John tells us this is “…the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” This supernatural event, water that is turned into wine happens in wedding celebration. Jesus willingness to help in this moment, the generosity in the amount of wine created and the extremely high quality show us what he is able to give.
The setting shifts after some traveling time to Jerusalem. At the Jewish Passover celebration another side of Jesus character is displayed. Many Jew’s from the surrounding towns, cities and nations would trek to Jerusalem to remember their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt under Moses as a celebration. Jews would gather at the temple court to purchase what they needed for the celebration. Jesus was appalled by what he saw as a misuse of the sacred space of the court temple for commerce. Jesus anger translated into overturning of tables and scattering the people, animals and money. It must have been wild with a lot of shouting! The the physical activity matches up with a parallel spiritual track. Jesus actions fulfilled an attribute from the ancient Hebrew texts. “His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
The Jews present want an explanation. They ask in an indirect manner. Where does your authority come from to behave this way? A strange answer. “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” A spiritual answer about Jesus own purpose for being here.
The Jews continue to discuss the physical temple and are incredulous at Jesus statement. John the writer explains the gap of understanding. “But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said.”
These two dramatic stories, moments in history associated with Jesus, caused people who were watching or following to believe in Him. One story is birthed from hospitality, generosity and kindness and the other from anger about the misuse of God’s sacred space.