A Voice in the
"And when He had made a whip out of rope, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, Take these things away from here! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandize! And His disciples remembered that it was written, Zeal for Your house has consumed Me." (Jn2:15-17, Ps69:9)
Question: Is it ever right for Christians to get angry? Is it proper for a Believer to stir up a 'hornet's nest'? What about being impolite, especially to parents? After all, we are supposed to "honor" our parents. (Ex20:12, Eph6:2) What about skepticism: isn't love supposed to "believe all things"? (1Cor13:7)
Well, while the common people noticed Jesus' "gracious words" (Lk4:22), and all sick people who came to Jesus were healed (Mt4:24, Lk4:40), when it came to certain others, we see a different side to Jesus.
Notice this chapter starts out with Jesus "talking back to" His mother. When Jesus was yet a lad, he replies to their concerns with "Did you not know that I need to be in the things of My Father?" (Lk2:49) But then, returns home with them and "was subject to them". (vs51) And notice that Mary "kept all these words in her heart". (vs51b)
It seems as though Mary may have been a typical (busy-body) mom. Jesus, of course, had grown up as a 'perfect' son. Always obedient. Judging from her words, I expect she might have already known that Jesus could do miracles. At the wedding they run out of wine. Since she was from Nazareth, and the wedding was in Cana, why was she even concerning herself with the particulars of this wedding? Was it for family friends? Was it relatives? Or was she just being the 'helpful' busy-body, like Martha; "troubled about many things"? (Lk10:41)
Mary certainly got herself involved in trying to "talk sense" into Jesus when the family attempts to do an "intervention" and rescue Jesus from His delusions of grandeur that He is a "prophet" or something, going off to begin this cult, when they have concluded "He is beside Himself" (Mk3:21). He's out of His mind! So "His brothers and His mother" (vs31) come, looking for Him to take Him back home. And Jesus dismisses "faaaamly (values)" by replying, "Who is my mother, or my brothers?" (vs33) He knows why they are there. So, we can see obviously that Mary is not of a perfect mind regarding God's plans. [Editor: And yet, all these people pray to her!]
Here in Cana, they run out of wine, and Mary comes to Jesus, "They have no wine". (2:3) What a crisis! Jesus, they've run out. It's going to spoil the celebrations. Dooooo something!!!
"WOMAN" Not... "mother" or "mom". But, "Woman"! Years ago I used to have some friends. He was of Jewish lineage. Last time I saw them I noticed an interesting thing in their interactions with each other. If she had done something he thought was 'stupid', or less-than admirable, he would retort with, "WOMAN!" Said with a certain flair of 'disgust' in his tone. Whatever her fault of what she had done or said was because she was a "Woman!" Everytime he said it, I got the distinct impression that it was a put-down of her. Not "giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel.." (1Pt3:7) As though he was making sure she knew just how "weaker" she was... but the "honor" seemed to be distinctly lacking. And indeed, in the traditional Jewish male mind, one of their prayers includes the words of thankfulness for not having been "born a woman".
Notice that Jesus uses this same expression towards His mother. [Editor: please notice that I'm not suggesting Jesus had the same critical tone to His voice, of the above-mentioned former friend. But He uses the same expression.] What was His purpose in responding this way? First of all, He is demonstrating in His own life, what He is going to teach later. After all, how can a teacher teach something, if he doesn't live according to his own teachings? Jesus is now a 'man', not a boy. And if a person is to follow God, they cannot be tied to the family apron strings. It is often necessary to cut ties to "father and mother, and wife [this I learned the hard way!] and [family], yes, and his own life also.." (Lk14:26)
Now, I didn't get this from my family. But when I was married, the in-laws were of the "faaaamly values" mentality. If the desire was to live for the Lord, but God's standards were in conflict with those family 'values', the almost-immediate retort was of the nature, "You don't love us! You hate us! You are doing/saying these things to hurt us!" You see... the part of what Jesus said, that I didn't quote above was, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate..." (Lk14:26) You see... you might love them; but what they perceive, and what they broadcast to all their friends and relatives far-and-wide, is, "He HATES us!" But, if you are claiming to follow Christ, are you willing to have this [false] label attached to yourself?
So, after affirming His 'separation' from His mother, He also speaks truth. 2:4 He might have said in today's vernacular, "What business is it of ours, that they have run out of wine?" In other words, "Stop being such a worry-wart and busy-body."
But even moreso, and this may be the most important matter here; "My hour has not yet come." In other words, "Woman, you are not the manager of My ministry. I answer to My Father...whose things I must be about." Since we don't read of Joseph anymore at this point, many assume he likely died sometime prior to this. Thus, Jesus, being the first-born, was "the man" of the house. But Mary, being His mother, would have certainly likely been the "boss". Jesus is now stepping out into the ministry the Father brought Him to, and so He is putting His foot down, letting her know that she is no longer His boss.
I've shared this a few years ago, but it fits here again; a related personal experience. A year, or so, after being married, I was still "seeking" the Lord's will for my life. I had the burden for ministry, but the doors had not yet opened. Looking back now, it is obvious I was not yet ready. It was not yet 'time'. My "hour [had] not yet come". But father-in-law, being a successful businessman, being savvy in worldly ways, knowing my desires for ministry, on one occasion during a lengthy visit, suggested that I should just sit down, plot out a course, and "go for it". While I spent years pushing on this door, and then that; I tried to explain to him the concept of "waiting on the Lord", which is what I was trying to do (and continued to do, even after that conversation). There are many with the label "christian" who try to do the Lord's work the world's way; seemingly not aware that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God.." (2Cor10:4) The world says, map out a strategy, and "go for it". God's Word says, "..those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.." (Is40:31) "Wait, I say, on Jehovah" (Ps27:14) At the "command of Jehovah" Israel would encamp, and at the "command of Jehovah" they would move. (Numch9) Each day, day-at-a-time. Even Jesus, God's Son, had His proper "hour" to obey His Father. This miracle Jesus would perform would become the "beginning of signs" (2:11) Woman, stop meddling in matters that are not your concern! This is not your ministry, you are not in charge.
On the aforementioned occasion when His 'family' comes to get Him, He not only snubs them, but looks around at those to whom He is ministering and says, "Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother." (Mk3:34-35) You see, at this point, His family did not yet believe in Him. (Jn7:5) He could not maintain "family values" and serve His Father at the same time. He had to be separate from them. And yes, to their perspective... 'Rude'.
And then, we come to His 'temple-tantrum'. Not only has He 'spit' on family values, now He is on a rampage against religious tradition. What He did in chasing the merchants out with the whip was every bit as if today He were to walk into one of today's churches and dump all the book-sale books on the floor, drive a fork-lift into the foyer and ram the forks into the middle of the vending machines and toss them outside, get the backhoe bucket and rip out the sandwich/espresso concession stands, and chase everybody out. Perhaps He would also walk into the local "christian" bookstores and work them over with a baseball bat..??
The disciples remember the O.T. quote about the "zeal" of God's house. While God's Law gave provisions for people living great distances to take money, and buy what they needed for sacrifice (Deut14:26) once they got to Jerusalem, apparently that whole process had become corrupted. We won't try to discover here all the theories that have been put forth by the scholars. But apparently the merchants were making excessive profit, as Jesus is also quoted as saying, "you have made it a den of thieves". (Mt21:13) That pretty much explains it! And notice the forceful nature of Jesus' response to it, as He cleans them out of there! Again...so RUDE!
Is there anything Believers should have "zeal" for? Some have zeal for "kjv-only". Others have zeal for their particular "church". Uh... that's Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, Mormon, etc. Jesus' zeal was for the authenticity of what/whom the temple represented. Remember that "grace and truth" came through Jesus. (1:17) The Jews were into their traditions. As we will see as we progress further, Jesus was into Truth. The Jews worshipped their perceptions. Jesus proclaimed reality.
Some have complained at VW's stance on English translations of the Scriptures. While the kjv-onlyists complain that we pick at some of kjv's faults (because they think it has none), my 'zeal' is for "What did God -REALLY- SAY?" In working on both Green's LITV, and now the VW-Edition, some proofreaders continually express personal 'druthers' for some linguistic idiosyncrasies that they 'prefer'. But I stick with certain things that I know to be 'right', because that's what the texts say. And to the level of what I know, I stick with it, and will not budge... zealously!
I expect if Jesus were going from church-to-church today, He would go up and down the pews and rip out the perversions and toss them into the dumpster, put a little lighter fluid over them and strike a match. I would never have the 'nerve' to do such a thing within someone else's turf. But then, I am not the Son of God. I have not been called to do as some of the O.T. prophets were called; like killing hundreds of Baal's prophets after praying fire down on the water-drenched sacrifice. But I have been sent to "say to them, Thus says the Lord Jehovah". (Ezek2:4b) Thus, to the best of my ability, I also zealously guard the Scriptures in my little corner of the world. As the psalmist said, "My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your Words." (Ps119:139)
Is it right to be angry at things? As I work at the VW-Edition, and see what has been done in places in some translations, I become angry. I see what the scholars have presented in their documentation that God's Word says, and then I see what they did into English, and I become angry. How 'DARE' they change God's Word like that! Do they not realize that they are heaping judgment upon themselves? When they change God's Word, it is the same as to "take [His] name in vain. Do I not hate them, O Jehovah, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies." (Ps139:20-22) When they change what God said, they manifest their own hatred of God. In their hearts, God is not important enough to relay exactly, accurately and precisely -WHAT- God said.
Notice as some were hard-of-heart against Jesus, because He did not cow tow to their traditions, but manifested truth, it says, "And when He had looked around at them WITH ANGER, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, Stretch out your hand. And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other." (Mk3:5) You see, the "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mt12:8) was doing 'good' on the Sabbath; not observing their man-made traditions.
Yes, Believers can "be angry, but do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath." (Eph4:26)
One reason I would not drive a fork-lift into a foyer, or rip perversions out of pews, is because I have not been commissioned to do such things. God has not authorized me to do such. If I were to do such a thing... drive up to some "church" and walk in, wreaking havoc; the first thing that would likely happen is that I would get wrestled to the floor, hauled out and arrested by the police. The next thing that would happen would be interrogation. "Who gave you this authority to do this? What right do you have to do this? Just who do you think you are?"
In that day, in that culture, when some man started whirling about, creating such a spectacle, in Israel it was usually either a prophet or a king. When a good king replaced a bad one, one of their first acts was to go on a rampage to destroy idolatry. When prophets did it, such deeds were also usually accompanied by some sort of spectacular sign from Heaven. When Elijah killed the prophets of Baal, they had just seen fire come down from Heaven and consume the offering, wood, stones and the water by which it had all been pre-doused. So, the Jewish leaders ask, OK now, since You are doing this, where's Your sign from Heaven? (2:18) C'mon! Perform for us!
Jesus did as we will see repeatedly. He did not 'perform' to titillate their flesh. But gave them truth; only... couched in a riddle. Since He knew their hearts, He gave them truth, but purposely veiled from their understanding. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (2:19) Wow! Reeeeally?? It took 46 years to build the temple, and He's going to rebuild it in three days?
Truth: as to His purpose in coming. At the very beginning of His ministry, telling them His purpose, in the context of that 'present' feast of Passover (2:13) they were then celebrating. He was there to be the Passover Lamb of God, "without blemish and without spot". (1Pt1:19)
As an aside here: while His words are explained as being about His crucifixion and resurrection, and the "temple" being the "temple of His body" (vs21), one wonders but what He was also speaking of future fulfilled O.T. prophecy: "Come, and let us return to Jehovah. For He has torn, and He will heal us. He has stricken, and He will bind us up. After two days He will restore us to life. In the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His presence." (Hos6:1-2) Knowing that prophetically a "day" and "thousand years" are the same; "..with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2Pt3:8) And that, "Behold! The Man whose name is THE BRANCH! And He shall spring up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of Jehovah." (Zech6:12) We are presently at the gates, entering into this 'third' prophetic day when the BRANCH (Christ) will be building the temple. Something to think about...
But notice... while Jesus does not 'perform-on-demand' for the religious leaders, He is, nonetheless, performing signs before the people. From reading the other gospels, we know that His ministry included the healing of many sick people, and raising the dead. As a result of the signs, it says, "..many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did." (2:23)
Well now, isn't this wonderful! Praise the Lord! How many people do you suppose these were who "made decisions for Christ"? See what an effective ministry Jesus is having! Praise God! He's got the right combination of things going on. If we read in other places (which we won't look up now), we would see that "multitudes" followed Him. And they are "believing" in Him. They are having "faith".
But notice: "But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew everyone, and had no need that anyone should bear witness of man, for He knew what was in man." (2:24-25)
Awe! Party-pooper!! Jesus, aren't You being rather judgmental, there? They are making "claims for Christ", and You are reacting as though You are calling them "unsaved". They are making claims to "faith", but You are saying they are "not Christians"?? Is that what we are hearing You say???
Indeed it is!! It is these same people who within three years will celebrate, "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Mt21:9), and before that week is scarcely half over, will yell, "Crucify Him!!" (Mt27)
Skepticism? "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone forth into the world." (1Jn4:1) "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know, yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you; unless indeed you are unacceptable?" (2Cor13:5)
There are many today who glibbly say, "I'm a Christian, too" and before the sentence is even finished, in the same breath, continue on expounding their "doctrines of demons" (1Tm4:1) Them -CLAIMING- to be "Christian" is supposed to be reason enough for you to listen to their false doctrines.
To those who were in need, and knew they were in need, Jesus showed mercy, compassion and salvation. But to the self-righteous, impostors and pretenders, Jesus "did not commit Himself to them", and neither should we.