Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 30 2020 - John 2:1-25 – Transformation and renewal

This extraordinary chapter of John’s Gospel contains two very different stories, yet in both we see that Jesus has come to transform and renew the life of his people.

The chapter begins with John’s account of Jesus’ first sign which he performed at Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples had joined in the celebration of a wedding. For whatever reason (whether because Jesus and his disciples had swelled the number of guests or whether due to poor planning or simple poverty), the celebrations had run out of wine. Jesus turned the water used for ceremonial purification into wine – the very best of wine and a vast quantity of it – to the delight, no doubt, of all of those at the feast. This was a sign of the kingdom; indeed, it was more than a sign, it was a taste of the kingdom.

The last of Jesus’ signs, the end of all his transforming work, will also be a wedding feast – the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, an occasion when tears are transformed to laughter, pain transformed into delight and death is swallowed up in life. What an intoxicating day that will be.

By this first sign, Jesus demonstrates that the kingdom in all its celebration and rejoicing is not something to be enjoyed solely at his return. It has burst into the middle of history with Jesus’ coming. The bridegroom has arrived and the bride will rejoice in his presence.

This wonderful sign is followed by an account of a visit by Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem. There he found that the outer court had been turned into a marketplace full of cattle, sheep, doves and moneychangers. Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove the sheep and cattle from the temple courts and overturned the tables of the moneychangers sending their money flying. He was determined to drive out all that was designed for mere human profit rather than for God’s glory. When asked by what authority he had performed these things he replied, ‘Destroy this temple and I will raise it up again in three days.’

The temple was a sign that pointed to him: he is the true place where God meets with us; he is Emmanuel. He is the one in whom the presence and glory of God is seen in all its fullness and the one in whom the human will is entirely devoted to doing the will of God. He is the one in whom the old is put to death so that the resurrection life may appear.

We who belong to him are also called the temple of God, both individually and corporately, for his Spirit lives in us. We need the Lord to come to his temple again and again to drive out all that does not glorify God, all that should have no house-room in the temple of God. We always need him to fill us afresh with resurrection life.

In these two stories of Jesus we see that he has come to transform and renew. His transforming presence changes the water of the ordinary into the wine of the kingdom. He brings joy and celebration. But his presence is not always a comfortable presence for he comes to cleanse and refine and that may require painful action as he drives out of our lives all that cannot share a home with him.

Lord Jesus, you have come to me and made your home within me. Continue that work you have begun within me of transforming me into your likeness. Overturn all my schemes for living for myself rather than you. Drive out all those things which bring dishonour to your name and make me a fit dwelling place for your glory. Fill me with your presence that I may become the place where others meet with you the living God.

Peter Misselbrook