Insights into the Gospel of John: Chapter 2

By Lloyd Ellefson

"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding." (vv.1-2) It's quite understandable that He would be invited to a wedding in Cana, because that was His home and He knew the people of that vicinity. Working in the carpenter's shop would bring Him into contact with many people.

"When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, `They have no wine.'" (v.3) Jesus was invited to the wedding as a guest, not as one who was in charge of a maintenance staff to provide or replenish food supplies. But His mother came to Him for assistance because they had run out of wine. Why would she do that, since Jesus had not yet performed any miracles? Mary would certainly have remembered the unusual and miraculous circumstances surrounding His birth. She must have known that a new era had begun in the life of Jesus. He no longer worked in the carpenter's shop; He now had followers - disciples! Maybe He could help out in some way or other.

During her years with Jesus, Mary had learned that she could have complete confidence in her son! But now she had to learn that a change had taken place in the mother-son relationship. In her confidence in Jesus, Mary's request certainly was not without some maternal pride. She spoke as His mother, and her maternal relationship was evident in this request. It was needful for this earthly view and relationship to cease now! This realization must have come slowly, and must have been a painful process. Yet it was a lesson of absolute truth.

"And Jesus said to her, `Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.'" (v.4) In calling His mother, WOMAN, He was breaking that relationship. No longer was He walking in the law; no longer was He under her rule! He was now being led by the Spirit! He was under the rule of His Father, and could only do the things His Father showed Him to do. With His new calling, the earthly relationship, however tender, had no connection. Henceforth, even as in the first manifestation of His glory in the temple at the age of 12, the finger could not point to an earthly parent!

There was nothing harsh or derogatory in His language, but it was in line with His further teaching in Matthew 12:47-50. When Jesus was informed that "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and seeking to speak to You," Jesus replied, "Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?" He didn't say, "Who is My father?" for He would reveal the Father. "And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, `Behold, My mother and My brothers! For whoever shall do the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.'" There was a two-fold relationship in His life, and no one but Jesus could preserve it in harmony!

His hour to serve in the Spirit, would come after His death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be the new wine that we all need to stimulate our spiritual life and growth.

The new covenant and the new Jerusalem are the same. In Galatians 4 we read that the new Jerusalem is a covenant, and she is the mother of us all. This means that we are now birthed out of this new covenant that God made, so it's our mother. The mother of the old law covenant produces children who are in bondage. This is pictured by Abraham having a son by Hagar, his Egyptian slave woman. Although Abraham was the father of faith, this union produced an Ishmael, a son of bondage. So the mother and self-effort make a big difference!

Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, was the son of promise. We, like Isaac, are children of promise born of the Spirit. Children of promise are persecuted by those who are born of the flesh - those who have been birthed by the mother of legalism and are still under the law.

Jesus was the firstborn of many brethren, and He is not ashamed to call them brethren because He knows they have the same Father and the same covenant (mother) He has. So in a sense, when Jesus spoke to His mother, calling her "woman", He was saying that His real mother was the spiritual promise God had made, and this promise is fulfilled in the Spirit. Those who are born of the Spirit are really and truly His brothers and sisters! The reality of family comes when He can share Himself in the Spirit with these people. His natural family ties did not evoke a special relationship with His earthly brothers and sisters. He was only a sign or testimony to them.

When Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His disciples He said, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God...For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:15-16;18) The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, and it comes to us in the Holy Spirit! "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17) The new wine (the Passover wine) which we drink, is the blood - that is, the soul, or awareness, or the consciousness of Jesus together with His body. Feeding on Him is feeding on truth; truth has become our bread. His spiritual word comes to us and feeds us. This is where we get our life!

Christians are to live from every word that comes from the mouth of God. Everything that does not come from His mouth, comes from the death realm. There is no life in testimonies that originate in the carnal mind. The spiritual content is not in written or printed words - it is in the words spoken by the Spirit. So when we read the letter, the Holy Spirit has to resurrect them and bring them back into the life they had when they were first spoken by the Spirit.

"His mother said to the servants, `Whatever He says to you, do it. Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each." (vv.5-6) The waterpots were placed in the gallery which opened up to the various rooms - in this case before the festively decorated reception room. This water was used for the washing of hands before and after eating (Yadayim), and for the purification of vessels (Kelim). This was so important to the Jews, that the better part of six books into which the Mishnah is divided, is devoted to this subject. No wonder Christ denounced the gross hypocrisy of this elaborateness of ordinances!

Of course we know there is no purification outside of the cleansing blood of Jesus. Due to a mistranslation, it is often taught that life is in the blood. But life is in the spirit, not in the blood. A true translation says that the soul is in the blood. It is the soul of Christ - His understanding and awareness - which cleanses us from our wrong and evil thoughts! This cleansing takes place as the mind of Christ replaces our mind, and His thoughts replace our thoughts!

The wine represents the blood of Christ. The blood from the outer court was taken to the first holy place (the first part of the tabernacle), and through it to the second holy place. Only the blood which had passed through the first holy place could continue into the holiest place.

Since the blood represents the soul, the blood of Christ represents His consciousness or awareness. It comes to us in the Spirit and changes our awareness, so that we can begin to function in the mind of Christ. His mind understands that God is our Father, that we are sons of God, and that we truly are spiritual beings! This does not usurp His glory, nor lessen it! Instead, it brings magnitude to the greatness of His salvation! In Christ we become spiritual beings, and are therefore not of this earth. We are freed from our guilt consciousness! Christ is giving us this understanding in the Spirit.

The carnal mind dismisses all these good things. It is satisfied with forgiveness and does not desire a change of being. God is so gracious and forgives us when we sin, but salvation is much more than that! He does a much greater work by making us a new creation - thus eradicating our old nature, our old thinking, and our old image of God! I praise God for that because forgiveness is not enough. We still need justification and a new humanity!

Justification is a very marvelous thing! It is just as though we had never sinned! The reality of guilt and condemnation are taken away! It is not just a pardon in which we remain unchanged in the old man, but a total justification in which God takes responsibility for all our sins and justifies us so completely, that it is just as if we had never sinned!

We need to be conscious of this in order to feel comfortable in the presence of God. As we receive what has been given us in Christ, we receive an ongoing revelation through the Spirit of God. In Christ we have died to the old humanity, and we have been raised into the new humanity which is in Him. This enables us to begin to operate in resurrection, because we have passed from death into life; we have passed from the first man Adam, to the second man from heaven which is Christ. Therefore we are in the process of ascending, for Christ is raising us up into the consciousness which He has!

From our point of view this looks like a very difficult task. We would be satisfied with a pacifier - with healing, health and happiness, honor and respect from people, material prosperity, and later a nice home in heaven. But that is not God's plan!

"Jesus said to them, `Fill the waterpots with water.' So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, `Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.' So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, `Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.'" (vv.7-10) The poor wine was usually served when the guests were a little drunk, and could not distinguish the difference. But in Christ everything is reversed; everything from Christ is good and pure!

"This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him." (v.11) They believed in Him because of the signs - because of what they saw. This belief comes from the carnal mind. Its conception of Christ depends upon what it sees, and is therefore not of faith. This was proven at the crucifixion of Jesus, for He trod the winepress of the wrath of God alone. Everyone left Him. Everyone! There was no man that stood with Him when He was on the cross. The natural mind could not perceive the Christ in Jesus when He died on the cross. This is true for everyone! This showed that mankind is unable to keep God's commandments, to conceive who God is, to protect God's people, and to run His government!

Every Jewish male had to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem in the temple (or in the temple area) three times a year. Jesus also attended these feasts. "After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother, and His brothers, and His disciples; and there they stayed a few days. And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables." (vv.12-15)

The sacrifices took place in the outer court. For the sake of convenience, many left their animals at home and simply bought animals or birds at the temple market. Jesus objected to the selling of sheep, doves, oxen, etc., in the temple area. Also, these animals were not of the best quality - they were sickly, blind, lame, old and worn out. So He drove out animals and the moneychangers. The prophet Malachi asked if their governor would be pleased with a sick lamb as a gift. He knew that the people would never dream of doing that! Yet this is what they were offering to God! (Mal. 1:7-9)

Since the people could not see God, they thought they could get by with offering an inferior product. This is happening today as well. People think they can get by with giving God the dregs of their lives - the things they don't need and which won't cost them anything; things they won't miss. They proclaim a message of distorted truth that will not convict anyone, neither cause a disturbance, nor cause people to dislike them. God is not pleased with such offerings!

So Jesus drove them out. "He said, `Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise.' His disciples remembered that it was written, `Zeal for Thy house will consume Me.' The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, `What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?' Jesus answered and said to them, `Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'" (vv.16-19) Of course the Jews did not understand this, nor like it.

Only the priests were allowed into the temple. As far as Israel was concerned, Jesus could not enter the temple proper (the holy or the holiest place), since He did not have the necessary qualification of having been born of the Aaronic Levitical order. He was born of the tribe of Judah and therefore was considered a commoner. The ordinary priests were restricted to the first holy place, and only the high priest was permitted to enter the holiest place once a year.

Jesus was the minister of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, NOT man. (Hebrews 8:2) If Jesus were on earth He would NOT be a priest at all. (v.4) His priesthood is of a higher order! It has nothing to do with the Levitical priesthood and its sacrifices as prescribed by the law of Moses. These offerings were brought to a natural temple, and were only a SHADOW of things to come, and had their fulfillment in Christ. Since shadows are not the reality, we cannot expect Christ to come again and enter into the natural, fleshly things which are but a shadow.

Christ does not come to straighten out this world; He comes to cleanse us and to straighten things out in our temple! He wants us to want Him - not just His works! When He comes to us, He will also cast out our merchandising of spiritual things - the things that belong to God! Evangelism is not to be used for profit.

Jesus only cleanses the temple of those who want a union and close fellowship with God. He cannot be comfortable within those who want to keep their own carnal mind, their pride, and their own honor. It would be useless to cleanse their temple, for they enjoy their carnality! The cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem was only a sign, because He knew that temple would eventually be destroyed and was not to be rebuilt.

He also knew the temple of His body would be destroyed, but in three days it would be raised up! Three days after His crucifixion, He was raised up! This was beyond the people's natural conception! When He was raised up, His natural body was gone! His natural tabernacle had disappeared just as all natural tabernacles will disappear. Therefore, natural tabernacles are not to be worshiped.

"When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken." (v.22) After Jesus had risen from the dead, the disciples understood the meaning of Jesus' words, and this understanding produced faith in them. Before Jesus Christ's death, Peter cursed and denied Jesus, and the disciples fled because they were still in their natural understanding. Superficial ideas satisfy and puff up the natural mind, but they do not edify. They actually crucify the Christ, because the word (the letter) received by the carnal mind, crucifies that which is spiritual! The natural mind always strives against the Spirit!

The natural man cannot understand the spiritual, so he cannot be under the law of the Spirit; and the law of the Spirit of God is the law of Spirit and life. Since the carnal mind cannot be subject to that law, it cannot be in life - it cannot operate in life! When biblical knowledge is received by the carnal mind, it does not bring edification. It remains in the carnal mind, and the carnal mind becomes lord over this understanding!

This lordship usurps the Lordship of Christ and causes Christ to be crucified again. We can crucify Him today, just as well as the people did then. Since His real nature is spiritual, a carnal nature will oppose and crucify the spiritual. Obviously we should have more understanding today, because the Holy Spirit has been given us. Greater opportunity to know Him brings greater judgment for rejecting the Spirit of Christ!

"Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing." (v.23) They believed in Him because of the miracles which He did. Miracles are signs; when we are looking at a sign, we are not looking at reality. The purpose of the sign is to lead us to reality; the purpose of the many miracles Jesus performed, was to lead people to the Father! Jesus was the exact representation of the invisible God, so they could only know the Father through Him!

After Christ had risen, He sent forth His Holy Spirit and gave gifts and ministries to men. In 1 Cor. 12 Paul taught about gifts of understanding, healing, etc. A gift is a demonstration of love or of high regard. If you love someone you may give a gift, such as a watch, a ring, a beautiful necklace, etc., to show your love. We enjoy gifts; they are external and bring honor and joy to people! We like the gifts of tongues and prophecy; many even worship knowledge and understanding! However, all of these are temporal, and will therefore cease.

Gifts are not the reality of love; they are only signs of love. The scriptures speak of them as works and signs, but they are still a testimony to the reality of love! They are to cause us to come into a new dimension of reality, of being, and of understanding! Our true satisfaction does not come from the gifts, but from a union with the Giver! Christ wants to take us beyond the signs, to a place where He expresses His love to us personally by giving us Himself!

The way of love is the more excellent way! This way is described in 1 Corinthians 13. This love is received in our union with the Spirit of Christ, and it is much greater than gifts! This union with Christ is in the invisible realm, and requires the submission of our will to His will! That is why many shy away from it! The want to hold on to their own will, regardless of the cost! But love is greater; it is not temporal; it is the very essence of God and abides forever!

No wonder Jesus said, "The way to life is narrow, and few there are that find it." The way to religion, forgiveness, and gifts is broad. But life itself cannot be compared to them; it is much greater! It brings us into a consciousness that God is our life! We get to realize that nothing good dwells in our flesh! There is no essence of life, no source of life, and no understanding of life in ourselves! Without God, we live in the death realm.

Darkness hides whatever is in its domain; light exposes things. "But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light..." (Ephesians 5:13) The light of Jesus Christ exposes everything - both the good and the bad, because it is in the very nature of light to expose things. Light eliminates the darkness. We cannot get rid of death until life is brought in; this life causes death to pass away. We cannot do away with the darkness that resides in our carnal mind; it has to be the Lord who does that.

The Lord is the Alpha and the Omega; His work in us brings an end to what is not of God in us. When His light begins to shine in us, it ends the darkness in us. When He begins to give us spiritual understanding, it ends the carnal understanding. It is impossible for us to eliminate our darkness and to get spiritual understanding of these realities on our own. We need the light and life of Jesus Christ to bring this about! So let's not waste our time and effort in damning the darkness. Instead, let's open ourselves to the light of Jesus Christ and let Him expel our darkness! God bless you. Amen.

Return to "Insights into the Gospel of John" by Lloyd Ellefson

Archived Writings by Lloyd Ellefson