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Lesson 3: Something Better *

Introduction: Last week we learned that God became a human and lived with us. ( John 1:14) This God, Jesus, is not only your Creator, but by recognizing and receiving Him into your life you can become a child of God. ( John 1:10-13). This week John begins to take us on a journey that will not only reveal who Jesus is, but help you to better understand your God. John's first two stories are about wine and violence. How does that lead us in the right direction? Let's dive into our study and find out!

  1. Wedding Wine


    1. Read John 2:1-2. What kind of event is a wedding? (A time of celebration.)


      1. John's first story about Jesus shows Him participating in a celebration, a party. Why?


      2. Notice that verse 2 tells us that Jesus and His disciples "had also been invited." What does that suggest to you? (This sounds so typical to me. The parents of the couple getting married are working over the invitation list for the wedding. They invite their friends, and figure they should also invite their friends' children. Jesus' mother, rather than Jesus, is most likely the reason He was invited.)


        1. How did Jesus' disciples get invited? (Well, add the friends of the children. The wedding guest list is getting worrisomely long.)


    2. Read John 2:3-4. I think John has left out a little dialog here. We have no recorded answer to Jesus' question in verse 4. What do you think is the answer to Jesus' question? (How about, "You twelve thirsty young men have been making a real dent in the wine supply?")


      1. Even if that were true - that the "additional guests" had been undercutting the advance planning - how could Jesus do anything about this? (This shows us without any doubt that Mary believed that Jesus had powers beyond the ordinary. She hardly thought He would go out and pick and squash some grapes.)


    3. Look at both the second half of John 2:4 and add verse 5. Pretend you are standing right next to Jesus and His mother, Mary. Has Jesus agreed to do anything to help? (This sure sounds like "no" to me.)


      1. Does Jesus respond, "What do you expect Me to be able to do?" (No. Jesus knows He can fix this problem. He can perform a miracle. The issue is simply one of timing.)


      1. How do you explain Mary's instructions in verse 5? (It does not sound like a meeting of the minds to me. Jesus says, "no," and Mary presses Him to do something anyway.)


    1. Read John 2:6-9a. Jesus says, "no," Mary says, "I want you to," and Jesus performs the miracle. Remember that this is John's first miracle story. What important lesson is John trying to teach us about Jesus? What is God trying to teach us about Himself? (God is flexible. God works with humans.)


      1. Is a moral principle involved here? (No. I am not convinced that God is flexible when it comes to obedience to His law. He expects us to obey. But everything else seems flexible, open to negotiation.)


      2. If I am right on this, why is this such an important point for John (and God)? (Have you ever asked God for guidance on where to live, what job to hold - and God did not seem to answer? Without a clear answer did you just drift without purpose? Where you live and what you do, in most instances, is not a moral issue. In matters like this, if you desire to do God's will, and you do not have a clear direction from Him, then do what you think best. If God will work with you when He thinks "no," is the best answer (as in the case of this wedding), He certainly will work with you when He reveals no opinion at all.)


      3. Consider John 1:10&14 when you contemplate the flexibility of God. What does this teach us about God's flexibility? (The Word created us perfect, gave us His law, and we failed miserably. The uncomplicated, inflexible, correct answer to this problem was destruction for humans. The answer of our flexible and loving God was: Come to earth, take human form as a peasant, live the perfect life humans should have lived, be tortured and put to death. God has shown the ultimate flexibility in His dealings with us. Notice that even in this, God was very careful to observe the requirements of His law. No wonder John starts out with this point about how God works with us!)


    2. Before we move on, notice in John 2:6 we are told that the jars used for the newly created wine were for "ceremonial washing." Why is that point noted in this story? Was this just happenstance? (This gives us another hue of color for our flexibility picture. The ceremonial washing was part of the Mosaic law - sin is taken away by a ceremony that results in the death of an animal. Wine, as Jesus points out at the Last Supper, represents the shedding of His blood. ( Matthew 26:27-29) Jesus' sacrifice fulfilled the symbolism of the ceremony of the Mosaic law. His blood spares us from eternal death - another reminder of God's flexibility.)


    3. Read John 2:9-10. What kind of wine did Jesus make for this wedding? ("Choice wine.")


      1. What does this teach you for your life?


    4. Revisit John 2:6 for a minute. How much wine did Jesus make for this wedding? (Between 120 and 180 gallons!)


      1. What does this teach you for your life? (No, the answer is not drink lots of wine. It shows that God is generous in His blessings to us.)


    5. Read John 2:11. What important role did this miracle play in the work of Jesus and His disciples? (The looked at this, and decided to put their faith in Jesus. It was both a practical blessing to Mary and the wedding couple and it was a spiritual blessing for the relationship between Jesus and His disciples.)


      1. How about you, friend? Does this miracle help strengthen your faith in Jesus? Does it make you feel more encouraged about the nature of the God you serve?


  1. Temple Cleaning


    1. Read John 2:13-16. What do you think about the second picture of Jesus given to us by John? Is Jesus kind and loving?


      1. What causes Jesus to be upset? (The text (v.16) tells us that Jesus was very unhappy that His "Fathers' house" had been turned into a marketplace.)


      2. Read Matthew 21:12-13. What does this account suggest has Jesus upset? (This continues the same concern about a place of prayer being turned into a marketplace. However, it adds the information that people are being robbed. William Barclay, in his commentary on John (p. 110), reveals that both those who changed the money and those who sold the animals were ripping off the poor traveling pilgrims coming to the Temple for Passover. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with changing money or selling animals. However, doing those things dishonestly and in God's House are serious problems. Performing a legitimate service is one thing, ripping off travelers is quite another.)


      3. In our churches and our towns we encourage people to call the police and not take matters of justice into their own hands. Why is Jesus taking this into His own hands? (Two reasons. First, "the authorities" were part of the problem. The annual profit to the Temple, according to Barclay, was so large that when the Temple fell under the Roman attack some years later, the Temple treasury contained millions of dollars. Second, Jesus was the legitimate authority. It was His Father's house that was being defiled.)


    2. If Jesus is standing up for the "little guy" traveler, how does that make you feel about Him?


      1. Is this like the Cana wedding miracle in any way?


    3. Let's turn to the reactions of those who were present. Read John 2:17-18. Compare the thoughts of the disciples with the thoughts of the Jewish officials? (For Jesus' disciples, it boosted their faith in His authority because they remembered the words of Psalms 69:9 - which is a Messianic prophecy. For the Jewish officials, they challenged what business, what authority, Jesus had to do this.)


      1. Does the Jewish officials' question seem odd to you? Imagine you asking this question of a police officer the next time you get pulled over for speeding. (They asked for a miracle because Jesus said the Temple was His "Father's house.)


    4. Read John 2:19-21. Is Jesus' answer responsive to the Jewish leaders' question? (Sort of. They said, "Show us a miracle so that we will know you have the authority to do this." Jesus responds that He can perform the miracle of raising the temple in three days.)


      1. Jesus and the Jews seem to be talking about two different things. Are they? (Yes and no. They are talking about stone and Jesus is talking about flesh. However, the entire sacrificial system, of which the Temple was the centerpiece, was all a symbol (a prophecy, an acted-out parable)of what Jesus would do to take away our sins. The Temple symbolized the coming crucifixion. Jesus was the embodiment of the Temple and He was going to fulfill all of the purposes of the Temple when He rose after three days.)


    5. Read John 2:22. What was the result of the disciples being present during this event? (It strengthened their faith in the Bible and Jesus' words.)


    6. Friend, does this second story strengthen your faith? Do you feel more attracted to Jesus who is an indignant defender of His Father and the poor?


  2. Next week: Grace Is All-Inclusive.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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