I am trying something a little different here. I am working on a new book that will focus on Bible Study and how to study the Bible using a few different methods. Here is an example of one of the chapters in that book. I’d appreciate any feed back, comments, and suggestions. This is your chance to add a little input to a book that just may make a difference in the lives of people who sit down to read it.

Chapter 12 Introductions and Summaries John Chapter 2

A book on Bible Study and lessons on introductions and summations would not be complete without a look at one of the unique chapters in John’s Gospel. John recorded a rather unique series of events not found in any other book in the Bible. There was a good reason John recorded a series of events other authors omitted. Every series of events in the Bible is unique in its own way. It may be difficult to explain to a new believer, but those stories and the order they are recorded are designed to make a direct connection with us on an individual level. Of course the Spirit has to be involved before you can hope to see the spiritual side of any story.

I often see people struggling with events and timing in the Bible. They think they have to get the timing down in scripture before they can understand anything in the Bible. That is backwards thinking. God’s timing is not the same timing we are used to here on earth. We could almost say, God has no timing. God is eternal, and time means little to God. But God understands the limited view this world has on time, and how this world uses time to apply a type of spiritual chains on our understanding. John’s Gospel shows us one example.

Many theologians have tried to combine the four Gospels into a single time line. Of course they run into issues like we will look at in John Chapter 2. So what do those theologians do? They either eliminate that story, or apply it to a different time in Jesus’ ministry. In other words, they think the original author made a mistake and they are coming to the rescue by clearing up a misconception. In essence they are robbing people of the spiritual lesson God placed in that particular series of events.

One of the most effective forms of communication God uses is a series of events in our personal lives. Jesus’ disciples were not robots. Each had a distinct set of feelings. Each disciple had a different back ground, childhood, education, family life, and view of Jesus. When we read the Bible we are reading a part of the author’s personal perceptions combined with lessons God wants us to see and understand. A single event may teach us a little about what we need to learn about that issue. But a series of events will teach us ten times more about our own reactions, the reactions and influences of people around us, and how timing establishes its own set of lessons. Some people may have to fail a dozen times before they understand how God tried to warn them. We will never see or understand the warnings God sends us until we look back to see how we missed those warnings. Then we have to learn how to hone our listening skills. Or we can continue to receive an education from earthly sources who have absolutely no chance of ever warning us of any coming event.

John 2:1-25 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesusmother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (12) After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

If nothing else, John’s style of writing as well as his book is unique. John included stories such as these found in chapter 2, as well as others not found in other gospels. Why, I don’t know why, but Bible writers have a way of introducing a subject then adding details later. Is this what John is doing on a spiritual level when we look at the gospels as a whole? The only way to know is to compare what John gives us and follow the law of context that tells us to look back to see how the author led into the subject.

Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:

  • Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.

John 2:1-11 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesusmother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Because John didn’t record anything about Jesus leaving for forty days to face Satan’s temptations, it’s difficult to determine timing between those stories in John’s book. John began this story by pointing out, it was the next day. The original Greek tells us it was the third day. We can assume this may be the third day after His baptism. But we’re not here to examine the exact timing of every event in John’s book but to look at his story as a whole. The first step is to look back at the link between the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2.

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:43-51 NLTse).

I think the last verse is the one to concentrate on here. Jesus promised Nathanael he would see Heaven open up and angles going between Heaven and earth. John followed that story with Jesus at a wedding with His mother and some of the disciples. This is where Jesus performed His first miracle. Is that the spiritual view of the stairway Jesus promised Nathanael would see? Jesus called Nathanael, “a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” Was Jesus referring to Nathanael’s ability to see the spiritual side of issues and events?

We also have to compare this introduction to the summary in the chapter. This will help us to understand the theme as well as the style John used to write this chapter.

  • Examine chapters by first comparing the introduction to the summation. This will give you clues by telling you want to look for within that chapter. If they are contrasts, the chapter will have contrasting stories and characters teaching the same lesson. If the introduction contains contrasts, the summation will most likely contain a contract. When you see this, stories within the chapter will also contain contrasts. The literal form of the introduction and summation will show what types of details to pay special attention to.

But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

We see a number of details in this summation. Jesus talked about destroying the temple. John explained, Jesus was referring to His body, which of course points to His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection. We see Jesus’ first miracle performed in the introduction and an explanation of His greatest miracle.

John pointed out how those miracles made a difference after Jesus rose from that tomb. This makes us ask what impression they made on the disciples while they saw Jesus performing those miracles. What went through their minds when they saw Jesus turn clay pots filled with water to wine? Does that water point to a spiritual lesson? The water was used for ceremonial cleaning. Water was also used for baptism, a sort of New Testament ceremonial cleaning, in addition to the symbol of a new individual beginning.

We also see the word servant repeated in this story. Servents prepared the water for Jesus and carried the wine to the person in charge of the wedding. This showed how Jesus needed people to assist Him throughout His ministry. This is another detail to watch for as we progress through John’s book.

John 2:12-25 NLTse After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

This is a rather short chapter containing only two stories. The question is, what is the connecting factor? One point stands out above all. At the wedding John tells us, “But you have kept the best until now!” The story about the temple closed with Jesus telling about His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection.

John is the only author who tells us about the first time Jesus cleared out the temple court. John’s story reflects the same effects and reasoning as the other author’s accounts. Those other stories are clearly dated at the time frame when Jesus cleared the temple court so He could return to the temple court the next day to teach a number of parables and answer a number of questions asked by different groups of religious leaders. John also added a detail telling us what Jesus did before He went into the courtyard. “Jesus made a whip from some ropes.”

This is another time you want to sit and think about this scene, putting yourself into it. Imagine Jesus sitting outside the courtyard gate weaving a whip out of ropes. I’ve heard dozens of sermons claiming this story proves Jesus got angry. Some sermons try to call it a sort of controlled anger. But look at the details and ask yourself, how long did it take Jesus to weave a whip out of ropes, and what was He thinking about while He was weaving a series of ropes?

Jesus wasn’t displaying any type of pent up anger. Jesus thought about what He was about to do and prayed while He sat outside that gate. He knew what He was doing and the lesson He was about to teach. Nothing was a spur of the moment outburst in any part of Jesus’ ministry. What was the lesson Jesus taught here?

We get our first clue by looking at the key words. Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to details. Words like merchants and dealers combined with exchanging foreign money, and marketplace tell us why Jesus formed that whip. How many people lost their money during the time Jesus formed that whip, and how many people wasted their money thinking it was buying them forgiveness for their sins? Jesus had to show them it was time for a change.

  • Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.

It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.

Cattle, sheep, and doves are also repeated. Neither one of those do a thing to forgive sins. In the Old Testament they were referred to as an atonement, which is a reminder. The book of Hebrews goes into detail to explain that change.

Once again we see Jesus quoting scripture. Let’s look at the entire verse. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. (Psalms 69:9 NLTse). This is usually all most people will look at. But if we examine a few verses around that verse, we see one of the messages Jesus pointed to.

Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me. When I dress in burlap to show sorrow, they make fun of me. I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me. But I keep praying to you, LORD, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. (Psalms 69:8-13 NLTse).

Once we look at a few other verses, we see why Jesus quoted this scripture. He pointed them to a prophecy about Himself. We see how much Jesus cared about those priests when we see the prophecy refereed to them as Jesus’ brothers. We also see they thought of Jesus as a stranger, or a little strange. What would they think of Jesus when He walked into their courtyard and put them out of business during the busiest time of the year, Passover? Would that scripture have been enough for them to overcome their financial losses and attitude toward Christ? Look at the detail we see in the introduction to Psalms 69.

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal. (Psalms 69:1-4 NLTse).

This is another prophecy about Jesus. This shows how Jesus felt and what He thought about while He was outside forming that whip. One look at that courtyard and Jesus felt like He was drowning. Jesus was just beginning His ministry and He was tired of crying. He was crying His whole life. It was time to get up and do something, to put God’s plan of salvation into action on time and on course. Jesus was definitely outnumbered. He was facing off against the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, temple guards, Roman guards, Herod’s people, and a bunch of people who couldn’t understand His message. That didn’t slow Jesus down. You think David had to have a lot of faith to face his giant, think of what Jesus went up against.

If you still don’t believe Jesus pointed people back to scripture to see at least ten times more than the small message He gave them, look at the summation in Psalms 69.

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. For this will please the LORD more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the LORD hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people. Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them. For God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the towns of Judah. His people will live there and settle in their own land. The descendants of those who obey him will inherit the land, and those who love him will live there in safety. (Psalms 69:30-36 NLTse).

I don’t think I need to explain what’s been recorded in Psalms 69 and how it relates to John chapter 2. Can you see Jesus thinking about this Psalm as He’s sitting outside working on that whip? If those pastors trying to make an excuse to release their personal anger, or trying to explain their personal interpretation on that story had spent a little time, turned and few pages and looked where Jesus pointed them, where God’s Spirit was trying to lead them, they couldn’t have missed this message. The sad fact is, if those religious leaders in the temple had looked at that scripture, they would have never put Jesus on that cross.

To think, when I try to teach this simple study method, some people argue, saying there’s no need to waste time looking up scripture Jesus quoted. How can you hope to understand half of what’s in the gospels or New testament if you don’t look at Old Testament scripture Jesus and other people quoted? Those people who argue with me think it’s a simple matter of looking at a few random texts and going with whatever pops into your head. Isn’t that a form of eastern religion – relying on your inner being? Isn’t that in conflict with relying on God’s Word and relying on His Spirit? Not only are those people hurting themselves, but they are holding other people back from the simple things God is holding out to them. What could be easier than following clear and simple instructions in the Bible?

We see the words miraculous sign repeated. Those religious leaders asked what authority Jesus had in addition to asking for a sign. If they were listening, they would had seen, Jesus gave them everything they needed. That whip showed how all the words in scripture are woven together. They didn’t listen to Jesus. They didn’t go back to scripture. They didn’t know how to rely on God’s Spirit. No wonder Jesus didn’t trust them.

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