Chapter 4 - Water, Wine and Whip
Helen Dowd

Jesus' ministry was gaining momentum. In Galilee and the surrounding areas He preached the gospel, taught in synagogues, healed all kinds of sickness and diseases, including casting out of demons. Jesus' popularity spread quickly, not only around the area of Galilee, but throughout all of Syria. But His time had not yet fully come to show to the people His full power.

Note: KJV and NKJV are used in these stories. Passages in blue italics are direct quotes from the Scriptures.

Historical setting:
About 27 A.D.
Place: Cana and Jerusalem
Persons: Jesus, the Disciples, Mary, and people at the temple
Scripture: John 2

The Twelve Apostles:
Matthew 10:2-4 – "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew (Nathanael); Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him."

John 2:11 – "This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him."

A large family wedding was taking place in Cana, at which Jesus' mother, Mary, was an important member of the party. A wedding feast in the East often lasted a week. The host of the feast had an important job to make sure that there was enough food and wine, and also that enough water was provided for the washing ceremonies that always accompanied such occasions.

Jesus and His disciples had been invited to the wedding. A couple of days into the feast the host realized that the wine had run out. What an awkward situation! How embarrassed the groom would be, should he realize this! Mary was one of the organizers of the wedding party. She knew that there was no money to buy more wine. She wrung her hands, pondering. What should they to do?

But Mary did not wonder for long. Her Son, Jesus, was there. She had not seen Him perform any miracles yet. But she knew He could. After all, she was His mother. She had not forgotten the events before and around His birth. All those memories were stored in her heart. She thought back to just a month or so ago when she stood at the shores of the Jordan River and watched, as John had baptized Him. She witnessed the Dove from heaven landing on Him. She heard the voice from heaven declaring Him to be the Son of God. Oh yes! She knew what she would do. She would go to Jesus. He would help. What better time than now, for Him to reveal His Divinity, to show to the crowd that He was more than Mary's Son, that He was the Son of God?

Jesus and His disciples were mingling with the people, who were not aware that this Man was anyone special. He was just another of the guests of the wedding couple. Mary wormed her way towards her Son. Tugging on His sleeve, she said in a soft voice, "They have run out of wine."

Jesus looked at her. "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

The words might have sounded harsh to anyone who did not know what a special bond existed between mother and Son. "Woman" was a term of endearment, and Mary understood what Jesus meant when He said that His "hour has not yet come." Instead of taking offence, or telling Him that He must help, Mary went to the servants who had alerted her to the situation. She said to them, "Whatever He says to you, do it." Jesus had not told His mother that He would help. She just took it for granted that He WOULD.

Jesus went quietly up to the servants who were gathered around, wringing their hands, wondering what to do. Looking at the six, thirty-gallon stone waterpots that were standing empty, He commanded: "Fill the waterpots with water."

The servants didn't question His command. At this point their concern was that if they did not supply more wine to the guests there would be trouble. Their jobs were on the line for one thing, and their concern for the host and his plight, were another. Quickly they went to the well and filled all six of the pots with clean water. They went back to Jesus for further instructions.

He simply said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast."

No doubt wondering, but without question, the servants did as Jesus commanded. Mary had told them to do whatever her Son told them to do, and they obeyed. They carried the first pot of water to the master of the feast. He took the "testing" drink, as was his duty, before taking it to the bridegroom. His face, showing delighted surprise, was enough for the servants. "Where did this wine come from?" he asked. It was not the servants' place to answer. They knew where it had come from, but they did not say. They just bowed and went to deliver the other five waterpots to the master.

The master of the feast called the bridegroom. This was unusual. He had hosted many wedding feasts in his day, but never had this happened before. He spoke to the bridegroom. "Usually a man puts out his best wine first, for his guests, and when they have had several drinks of it and their taste buds are dulled, then he brings out his cheaper wine. How is it that you have left the best wine until now? This wine is incredible. I have never tasted any better."

The shocked look on the face of the bridegroom, when he had tasted the wine that the master had handed him, said it all. He just smiled at the servants and told them, "Bring on the wine! This will be a wedding feast that will long be remembered. This wine cannot be beaten anywhere in the land."

* * *

The Cleansing of the Temple

"Every male Jew was required to go to Jerusalem three times a year—for the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacle. (see Ex. 23:14-19; Lev. 23." NKJV notes)

Shortly after Jesus and His disciples left the wedding in Cana, they travelled to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of the Passover. Along the way Jesus talked to His disciples about His purpose on earth. They listened intently to His words, but understood little of the meaning. To them Jesus was a great Prophet. Oh yes, with their minds they understood that He was the promised Messiah. He had told them that, but the true meaning of His words had not yet penetrated their hearts. Jesus explained to them that He was the Lamb that would ultimately be sacrificed, fulfilling the reason of the Passover. He told them that the Temple where they would be entering soon was a symbol of the Temple of His body, soon to be destroyed and raised up again.

Soon their journey was over. They entered the Temple grounds and passed through the doors. Jesus stopped. He looked around Him. There was an auction going on. An auction! In the temple! Oxen, sheep, doves and other livestock were being auctioned off. Money was changing hands. Business for profit was being done, right in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem! Jesus was appalled and angered. This could not be happening! How could they defile God's Holy Temple in such a manner?

Jesus grabbed a handful of bamboo and twisted it into a whip. "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" He said.

As the tables were being turned over, livestock scattered, and money spilling all over the ground, the disciples looked on in awe. Gazing at each other, they whispered among themselves: "Now we understand what the scripture meant: 'Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.' (Psalm 69:9)"

But the religious leaders were not impressed by Jesus' actions. It angered them. "Who does He think He is, throwing His authority around like this? We have been doing these things for years. Why now, is this Man coming in and ruining a good thing?" They turned to Jesus and said, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?"

Jesus answer was simple: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

"What are you talking about?" responded the Jewish leaders. "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"

To this, Jesus did not answer. What was the point? These Jews would not believe Him anyway. But the disciples, although they did not ask further questions about it, stored away in their minds Jesus' words about the temple being raised in three days. They did not understand it, but they remembered it. And at a future time the meaning would be clear to them.

Jesus' ministry on earth had begun. From this point on, wherever Jesus went, crowds followed. People listened. Miracles happened: the sick were healed, the lame walked, the blind received their sight, and people were restored to life. And the religious leaders—the Pharisees and Sadducees—the lawyers, and the scoffers among the crowd, daily sought for excuses to criticize Him and accuse Him. They sought for a way to get rid of Him.


© Helen Dowd

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