The book of John is laid out theologically instead of chronologically, and this is desperately important as we read it.  Again and again I’ve heard people dispute the truth of the bible by arguing that John is in a different order than the other three gospels, an argument that doesn’t realize John’s purpose in writing.  He states it quite plainly at the end of the book (John 20:31): “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

According to Dr. Gary Burge, the layout of this gospel story is done in such a way as to show Jesus superseding everything the Jews hold as powerful, righteous, or important.  And so John begins with ceremonial cleanness.  The large jars holding the water during the Canaanite Wedding of today’s reading were reserved for the ceremonial cleansing that was required regularly of every practicing Jew.  But instead of honoring the need for ritual cleanness, Jesus turns that water from dutiful obedience to the law into a means of celebrating relationship.

The temple itself was Jesus’ next target.  The idea that God was present in Jesus Himself instead of in the temple is widespread through all the gospels, but in John it is made most clear here.  As Jesus comes to the temple, He does so to reform it and show His authority over it.  He drives out those selling the sacrifices from the Court of the Gentiles, for the buying and selling, the bleating of animals, and the general ruckus is disrupting the Gentiles from their worship in the only place they are allowed to worship by Jewish law.  He then makes His usurpation of the temple obvious.  “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days,” is a foretelling of His resurrection of course, but also acts as His final replacement of the temple when it comes to God dwelling with us.

So, with the first two symbols that Jesus is superseding, ritual cleanness and the temple itself, John begins his explanation of just how important Jesus is to our life, our worship, and our eternity.

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