4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
There must have been a reason for this apparent, impatience. We are probably not far wrong in attributing it to the difference between the view that Jesus would have in putting forth miraculous power, and that which would be entertained by those who wished and saw and admired it.
Christ would realise that this exercise of miraculous power was a condescension on the part of God, for the purpose of manifesting and establishing His Anointed One, with a view to His own great purpose towards man -- a purpose of love and salvation truly, but first of exalting and hallowing His own great name, and condemning the universal insubordination of man.
Miraculous power would therefore be in Christ's estimation an implement of holiness; but Mary's view for the moment appears to have been that it would be a human convenience, and likely enough there was mixed up with this view a little of a mother's pride in the greatness of her Son.
Christ had proposed to supply the wine, but he would not do it at human call or to gratify human complaisance. He therefore answered his mother in a way that in modern times would be considered equivalent to a snub.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 12
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
The good wine
The ruler of the feast finds that what the servants have brought is the very best wine. He is ignorant of its origin, but it is so good that he feels impelled to remark that the custom was to bring out the good wine first: but here, the good had come last.
It must have been prime liquor to have evoked such a tribute from a connoisseur who had partaken freely of other wine during the evening. His verdict is a confutation of the extreme teetotal suggestion that the wine Jesus made was the unfermented juice of the grape. An unfermented vegetable juice would have been the reverse of appreciated by men who had "well drunk" of ordinary wines.
What Jesus made was wine, and that, the very best. Vegetable juice is not wine. It must undergo vinous fermentation before it can be so designated.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 12
12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.
Capernaum was situate on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, near its northern end; and from the description left us by Josephus, was a busy and thriving place, in a most pleasant and salubrious situation. ... Jesus and his company
"continued not many days, but went up to the passover at Jerusalem." *
13 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
But why did they come to Capernaum, instead of returning to Nazareth? Probably because the time to attend the feast was too near to make it worth while to go back to the seclusion of Nazareth, from which they would so soon have to re-emerge.
At Capernaum, they were on the highway of public traffic, on which so many travelling companies would soon set out to the Holy City. With these they would journey along the valley of the Jordan, reaching Jerusalem in two or three days.*
14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
Sheep and oxen were required for the offerings of those who attended the feast; doves, likewise, for the poorer of the community, who were not able to offer an expensive animal. Many of these, coming from long distances, would be unable to bring the sacrificial animals with them, but would come provided with money (as the law of Moses prescribed) to buy, offer and eat on the spot.
The provision of these animals for sale in the neighbourhood of the temple would therefore be a great public convenience. So with the money-changing. Many would come to the feast unprovided with money current in Jerusalem, and eligible for the tribute payable by every son of Abraham to the priests for the maintenance of the temple service. They would have money, but money belonging to a distant province, and not "taken" in the Holy City. How were such to obtain suitable coin without the money-changer?
It would seem on the face of things as if it were not only an unobjectionable, but an indispensable and praiseworthy institution that the dealers in all these things should offer their wares to the frequenters of the temple.
The words which Jesus addressed to these dealers, as he broke into and upset their arrangements, indicate another view of the situation, and one which probably none but himself entertained.*
15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
The action and the words would savour of intemperate zeal in the eyes of merely natural thinkers....This kind of zeal does not appeal to most men. The nature and source of it Jesus made manifest on a later occasion. When acting a similar part, he called attention to a statement in the prophets:
"Is it not written, my house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves."
Jesus recognised something inconsistent with the true object of the temple service in the eager turning of the supply of its physical requirements into an occasion for making money. He would have had men come with supplies in the spirit of service -- not with the object of gain. There is a time for everything. His sympathy was with the praying, not with the trading. His sympathy amounted to zeal -- a zeal so intense as to be an eating up zeal -- an executive zeal -- a zeal impelling to action.
He flourished a whip of small cords about the ears of the chaffering rabble. He glanced scorching rebuke at them as he overturned their tables and scattered their money, and with imperative gesture, ordered them all out. ...It is a side of Christ's character entirely overlooked in popular presentments of him. It is one that has a useful place. *
17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
It is a singular thing to contemplate that this, at this time, unknown young mechanic (for he was only 30), in the garb and dialect of a provincial Galilean, should be able to overawe and coerce a crowd of Jerusalem Jews, in the face of the temple authorities, and actually expel them from the precincts of the temple, with the loss of their money probably in many cases.
...God was in him in the immeasurable abiding presence of the Spirit. This power, directed indignantly, was irresistible. It paralysed the hands of his enemies on more occasions than one. He was enabled to make a lane through their ranks on the brow of the Nazareth heights; and to arrest their stone-filled hands in Jerusalem when his cutting words had goaded them to deadly intent; and to throw a whole band of soldiers on their faces when they came to arrest him.
The power of God which was often "present to heal," was always present to protect His anointed, until his hour had come.
"In the shadow of His hand hath He hid me"
is the prophetic description which explains all. The fire of God's indignation streamed from his eyes upon the profane multitude that were defiling His courts, and therefore they were powerless to raise a finger against a young man whom otherwise they would not only have disregarded, but overpowered; whose interference they would have resented as intolerable presumption.*
Seek the great and essential gift of total devotion that marks off the few, rare, eternal children of God from all the shapes and sorts and sizes of passing creatures of the flesh: total dedication, total singleness of mind and love and purpose.
Pray fervently and constantly for it. Nothing is accomplished without it. With it, mountains are moved. "I MUST be about my Father's business ... The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up!"
This is not some strange, far-off uniqueness for Christ alone. This is the ONLY Way of Life, which he has gloriously exemplified for us. God will give it to all who constantly and earnestly SEEK it: not just in passive prayer, but in study, and service, and deep meditation -- and repeatedly wrenching the mind back from present distractions to eternal realities; constantly wrenching the mind and hands back from childish fleshly playing to mature spiritual working.
The prize is eternity. It is only for those who value it enough to give it their whole lives, and cast everything aside to get it.
Anything less mocks God.
19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
He spake of the temple of his body
They imagined he meant that he could rebuild Herod's Temple in three days if it were to be destroyed.
...Jesus knew his work from the beginning. No part of it was an afterthought. His death was before him as a known appointment of the Father's; and his resurrection the end, of which he never lost sight.
He steadily pressed forward towards it in the midst of all the blindness and confusion and misunderstanding that prevailed around him, deflecting not in the least from the path he was called upon in his faith to follow.
In this he hath "left us an example that we should follow in his steps." We are not told what rejoinder Jesus made to the incredulous enquiry of the Jews. Probably he observed silence -- often the best answer. His words -- not understood -- remained with some who heard them, for they were made the pretext of an accusation against him, when at the last he was led as a lamb to the slaughter.
They were for this purpose perverted. He was accused of having said that he would destroy the temple [Mk 14: 58]. A slight change in words makes a wonderful difference to the meaning sometimes; and enmity never hesitates at changes that are even not slight.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 13