Every Drop of Jesus - John 2: Grace and Truth
In the opening chapter of John, we are introduced to some powerful images and themes that will show themselves again and again. Light and Dark. Life and death. Grace and Truth. In John 1:17 he says, “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” It isn’t blatant. It isn’t explicit. But it becomes very obvious that Jesus came in grace and truth as one walks their way through John 2.
Grace: The Wedding at Cana
Grace is precisely what we see at the wedding at Cana. Now, with some disciples in tow, Jesus makes his way to a wedding to which they had all been invited. Wedding were often an extravagant affair as they often are in our day as well. These weddings lasted more than an afternoon and evenings. These weddings lasted much longer. At this particular wedding, they ran out of wine and Jesus with divine, miraculous intervention turned six jars of water into six jars of wine, approximately 120-180 gallons! And this wasn’t the cheap wine either. This was fine wine, better than had been served at this wedding previously.
The miracle itself is all grace. There is no reason that Jesus should have intervened. No one was going to live or die if Jesus didn’t intervene in this case. The wedding might have been ruined, but everyone would have survived. Yet, here comes Jesus to bring joy and gladness to a festive occasion. In pure grace and mercy, Jesus performed this miracle that made people happy. In grace he simply made people happy.
The evidence of his power is all grace. John concludes his recollection of this event with the statement: “He revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). There is grace here too. Jesus wanted his disciples to trust him more and more. So, in love for them, he intervened so that they (and we!) would know his divine power to intervene in these and many other ways.
John shows us that Jesus came in grace. And truth.
Truth: The Purification of the Temple
It’s interesting to me how John groups things together in his book. In the gospel of Mark there are often statements that directly connect one event to another. In the gospel of Luke, Luke leaves behind breadcrumbs of historical information so that we can more or less identify what happens when. But here there don’t seem to the same clues. John leaves us here. Jesus and his disciples hung out in Capernaum (v 12). Then, at some point in the future, Jesus and his disciples went up to Jerusalem for the Passover (v 13). There Jesus came in truth.
Things were a mess in the temple. People were selling stuff. People were exchanging stuff. Except that wasn’t the full problem. There was some need for animals to be sold and for money to be exchanged. The problem was that people forgot why they were there. They forgot what the temple was for and what was to happen in the temple. The temple was a place for prayer. The temple was a place for worship. The temple was a place for people to close to God. It was not a place to make money.
In truth, Jesus came with force and with zeal to clean out the temple. He turned over the tables and scattered the coins. He drove people out of the temple courts with whips. He came in truth to clear out the temple and to clear a space for people to worship God, to come to him in spirit and in truth.
In truth, Jesus came to call the people to repentance. At the end of the day, this moment in the temple wasn’t about cleaning up a place, it was about cleaning up a people. Jesus would long for the people of Jerusalem to repent of their sins and to come to him for peace and forgiveness. He longed for that with all his heart. But instead the people came at him with challenging questions, daring him to prove his authority to do this in the temple. All the while Jesus wanted to draw them close.
Grace and Truth: One Mission
What you see in all of this is that Jesus is on a mission. He is on a mission to restore all things, to turn back the curse, to bring joy where there is weeping, to bring life where there is death. If we go through this all too quickly we miss that grace in the miracle at Cana. The bare miracle was Jesus turning water to wine. We see Jesus’ power. But more than power, we see Jesus on a mission to turn back the curse. We see Jesus ushering in heaven, but not on earth. That will never be. We will never have heaven on earth, but in all eternity when we are with our God and the curse will not just be turned back, the curse will be destroyed.
And there will be wine! Isaiah says it like this: On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken (Isaiah 25:6-8).
Jesus is on a mission to fit heaven for us and to fit us for heaven. That’s why he bursts out in Jerusalem with such zeal. It’s not just about the place. This was a fit of zeal for a person – first, for his Father’s glory and honor. Then, it was a fit of zeal for the people there and ultimately for all people. Jesus is absolutely zealous and on fire for you. His heart burns to save you and will burst in where he needs. His heart burns to dole out grace in lavish measure.
This is your Savior, full of grace and truth!