Notes on John 2:12-22

John 2:12‑22  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The hour of Jesus is not yet come. The marriage at Cana was but a shadow, not the very image. For the true bridals here below, as well as on high, we must yet wait. The mother of Jesus, of the true man-child, will be there when the feast arrives. What has been is but a testimony, a beginning of signs, to manifest His glory.
“After this he went down to Capernaum, he and his mother and his brethren and his disciples; and there they abode not many days.” (Ver. 12.) It may be noted that Joseph does not appear anywhere since the end of Luke 2 when the Lord was twelve years old. Doubtless he had fallen asleep meanwhile. Mary is again seen with Him. His absolute separation to the will and work of His Father in no way interferes with the earthly relations He had graciously taken. And so will it be with that which He represents.
But the marriage is only part of the display of His glory in the kingdom by-and-by; and of the judgment to be executed, He gives a token in the scene that follows, and this at the first passover noted since that of His childhood. Our evangelist is careful to mention them throughout our Lord's course (6:4; 11:55).
“And the passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple the sellers of oxen and sheep, and doves, and the moneychangers sitting; and having made a scourge of small cords he drove them all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and poured out the change of the money-changers, and overthrew their tables; and to the sellers of the doves he said, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it is written, The zeal of thine house will eat me up.” (Ver. 13-17.)
Not only is this clearing of the temple distinct from that which the synoptic Gospels relate on His last visit to Jerusalem, but it is instructive to remark that, as they only give the last, John gives only the first. It is a striking witness by a significant fact, as we have already seen doctrinally in his introduction, that he begins where they end, not in a barely literal way, but in all the depth of what Jesus says and does. The state of the temple, the selfishness which reigned there, the indifference to the true fear and honor and holiness of God while there was the utmost punctiliousness in a ritual show of their own invention, were characteristic of the ruin state of a people called to the highest earthly privilege by God's favor.
Solomon had acted at the beginning with a vigor which drove out the unworthy high priest in his day; when the kingdom was divided, Hezekiah and Josiah, sons of David, had each sought to vindicate the glory of Jehovah; Nehemiah, alas! under the protection of the Gentiles, had not been lacking, when the returned remnant so quickly manifested that the captivity on the one hand and God's mercy on the other had failed to lead them to repentance. Now the Son gives a sign as solemn for proud religious Jerusalem as the miracle of the water changed into wine was full of bright hope for despised Galilee.
He does act as the Lord with divine rights, yet as the lowly sent One and servant. Nevertheless He does not withhold the testimony to the glory of His person in the very command not to make His Father's house a house of merchandise. He was the Son of God, announced as such, even as Nathanael had already owned Him, judicially dealing not merely on moral grounds, such as might be open to any godly Israelite, but openly as the One who identified Himself with His Father's interests; and this was His house. So too the Spirit of prophecy spoke of the rejected Messiah, as the disciples remembered.
“The Jews therefore answered and said to him, What sign showest thou to us that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple (ναόν) and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews therefore said, In forty and six years was this temple built, and thou wilt raise it up in three days? But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from among [the] dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” (Ver. 18-22.)
The sign that He would give was His own resurrection-power, raising not others merely but His own body, the true temple in which alone God was (for the Word was God), that of which they boasted having but a name without God, soon to be formally pronounced their house (Matt. 23) and given up to destruction. (Matt. 24) It is resurrection that defines Him Son of God in power; and when He was raised, the disciples remembered His saying, and here yet more found the strongest confirmation of their faith in both scripture and His word. It is indeed the fundamental truth both of the gospel and of our distinctive place as Christians. No wonder that the Jews were jealous of it, and that Gentiles mock or evade it. May we ever remember it, and Him who thus gives scripture all its grace.