Lesson 61: John 2

“Lesson 61: John 2,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 61,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 61

John 2


In Cana, the Savior performed the first public miracle of His earthly ministry when He turned water into wine. Jesus Christ went to Jerusalem for the Passover. He cleansed the temple by driving out the money changers that were desecrating His Father’s house.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 2:1–11

Jesus changes water into wine

Invite students to think about the following “firsts” that may have occurred in their lives: their first day of school, their first job, the first time they remember feeling the Holy Ghost.

  • Why do we sometimes place importance on these and other “firsts” in our lives?

Explain to students that as they study John 2:1–11, they are going to learn about the first recorded miracle that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. Invite students to look for why this first recorded miracle may be significant.

Explain that a short time after Jesus was baptized, He and His disciples attended a wedding feast in Cana, a village near Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth. Invite a student to read John 2:1–3 aloud, and ask the class to look for what problem arose during the wedding feast.

  • What problem arose during the wedding feast?

Explain that wine was a customary drink at a wedding feast. Sometimes the wedding feast would continue for multiple days. To run out of wine would have been embarrassing for the hosts of the feast. Mary seemed to feel some responsibility for the feast, so when the wine ran out, she approached her Son and asked for His help in an effort to save the hosting family from embarrassment. Jesus’s response demonstrated respect and compassion for His mother’s desire to help at the wedding.

Invite a student to read John 2:4 aloud, including the Joseph Smith Translation in footnote a. Ask the class to follow along and look for Jesus’s response to His mother.

  • What did Jesus say in response to His mother?

  • How does Jesus’s response show His respect for His mother? (Jesus not only asked His mother what she wanted Him to do, but He also expressed willingness to do it. You may need to explain that in Jesus’s day, “woman” was a respectful way to address one’s mother.)

  • What was Jesus referring to when He said, “Mine hour is not yet come”?

Invite a student to read John 2:5 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Mary said to the servants. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What do Mary’s instructions to the servants teach us about her faith in Jesus?

Invite a student to read John 2:6–7 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Jesus instructed the servants to do.

  • What did Jesus instruct the servants to do?

Explain that during Jesus’s time, waterpots made from stone were considered ritually pure for use in religious ceremonies. It was the practice of Jews to ceremonially purify themselves prior to eating a meal by washing their hands using the water from these waterpots.

First Century AD Limestone Pots

Limestone pots from the New Testament era in Israel

  • How full did the servants fill the waterpots?

To help students understand the amount of water held in the waterpots, display an open container that can hold one gallon (or one liter). Explain to students that a “firkin” was about nine gallons (or 34 liters), so the six pots could have held between about 100 and 160 gallons (or about 380 and 600 liters). Fill the container with water.

Invite a student to read John 2:8 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Jesus instructed the servants to do next. Ask students to report what they find. As students report, dip a cup into the container of water, and hold up the cup.

  • If you were one of these servants, what might you have thought or felt as you took a cup to the governor, or leader, of the feast?

Ask a student to read John 2:9–10 aloud, and invite the class to look for what the governor said after tasting the drink that was brought to him.

  • What had Jesus done to the water?

  • What did the governor of the feast say about the new wine? (Explain that the best wine was often used at the beginning of the feast and lesser-quality wine was used later into the feast.)

Explain that Jesus never provided a specific interpretation of the meaning or symbolism of this first recorded miracle of His mortal ministry. There are, however, many significant truths we can learn from this account of Jesus’s first recorded miracle.

Divide students into small groups of two or three. Invite each group to list on a piece of paper as many truths that can be learned from John 2:1–11 as they can. After sufficient time, invite a member from each group to share with the class the truths their group identified. Invite a student to act as scribe. Ask the scribe to write on the board each unique truth that is shared. The following are some of the possible truths students may identify: Jesus Christ has power over physical elements. The Savior knew He had a divine mission to fulfill. The Messiah manifested His divine power through miracles. The Son of God loved and respected His mother.

Invite a student to read John 2:11 aloud, and ask the class to look for what effect this miracle had on Jesus’s disciples.

  • What effect did this miracle have on Jesus’s disciples?

Circle the following truth on the board from the list of truths the students identified: Jesus Christ has power over physical elements. (Note: If the students didn’t list this truth, add it to the list.)

  • How does understanding that Jesus has power over physical elements strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ?

  • What other accounts that we have studied in the New Testament also illustrate that Jesus Christ has power over physical elements? (Answers could include the following: the two miracles of the loaves and fishes [five thousand: Mark 6:33–44; four thousand: Mark 8:1–9], calming the storm [Mark 4:35–41], or walking on water [Matthew 14:22–33].)

John 2:12–25

Jesus cleanses the temple

Invite students to name outdoor games they played as children. After they list several games, ask the following:

  • Although these games are innocent and fun, would you feel comfortable playing them on the grounds of the temple?

Divide students into groups of two. Invite each group to read John 2:12–17. As they read, have the groups look for and discuss the answers to the following questions (write these questions on the board):

  1. Who did Jesus find in the temple?

  2. Why do you think Jesus became upset?

  3. What did Jesus do to correct the problem?

After sufficient time, display the picture Jesus Cleansing the Temple (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 51; see also, and ask a few groups to report their answers. You may need to explain that the thousands of visitors who came to Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover needed to purchase animals to offer as sacrifices in the temple as part of their worship. Money changers exchanged Roman and other currency for temple currency so that sacrificial animals could be purchased, and other merchants sold the needed animals. While the commerce needed to happen, handling such business at the temple was disrespectful and irreverent.

  • What truth about temples can we learn from Jesus’s description of the temple in verse 16? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: The temple is the house of God.)

  • In what ways are temples the house of God? (Students’ responses may vary but may include the following ideas: Temples are places where God may come, where His presence or Spirit may be felt, and where ordinances pertaining to His work of salvation are performed. Temples are the most holy places of worship on the earth.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter. Ask students to listen for how Jesus’s understanding of the holiness of temples contributed to His decision to drive the money changers and merchants from the temple.

Hunter, Howard W.

“The reason for the tempest lies in just three words: ‘My Father’s house.’ It was not an ordinary house; it was the house of God. It was erected for God’s worship. It was a home for the reverent heart. It was intended to be a place of solace for men’s woes and troubles, the very gate of heaven. … [Jesus’s] devotion to the Most High kindled a fire in his soul and gave his words the force that pierced the offenders like a dagger” (“Hallowed Be Thy Name,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 53).

  • How did Jesus’s actions show His reverence for His Father’s house?

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: We show reverence for the temple by …

Divide students into groups of two or three. Invite the groups to write on a piece of paper as many ways to complete the statement as they can. After a minute or two, ask one group to share its list with the class. While the first group shares, ask the other groups to put a check mark next to each item on their lists that is mentioned. Next, have another group share the items on its list that were not mentioned by the first group. Repeat this process until all of the groups have shared.

  • How is it possible to show our reverence for the temple even when we are not in the temple?

Invite each student to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals why they feel it is important that they do all they can to show reverence for the temple. Also invite students to write a goal to do one thing to show reverence for the temple. Encourage them to act on this goal.

Share your testimony of the principles identified in the lesson today.

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Scripture Mastery Review

This activity could be used to introduce or review a set of scripture mastery passages. Select a number of the scripture mastery cards, and prepare to distribute them among your students. (Be sure to have multiple copies of each card so more than one student receives the same scripture mastery passage. You may want to have enough cards for each student to have two or three different passages.) Distribute the cards to students. Allow students time to study the scripture mastery passage, the reference, the key words, the context statement, the doctrine or principle, and the application ideas on each card. Call out clues from the cards (for example, words from the scripture mastery passage or the key words, context, doctrine or principle, or application). Students who have the associated card should stand and say the scripture mastery reference aloud.

Commentary and Background Information

John 2:1–11. “Good wine”

“There are many references in the Bible to the evils of drunkenness and strong drink (for example, see Proverbs 23:20–21; Isaiah 5:11–12; Ephesians 5:18). These verses do not specifically forbid the use of alcohol, but they do condemn overindulgence and drunkenness. In our day, the Lord has revealed the Word of Wisdom, which does forbid consumption of alcoholic beverages (see D&C 89:4–7). We should avoid judging the people of earlier dispensations by the commandments the Lord has given us in our day” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 208).

John 2:4. “Woman, what have I to do with thee?”

“The Savior’s response to His mother may seem abrupt as it reads in the King James Version, but both the Joseph Smith Translation and the Greek version indicate that He spoke with respect. Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: ‘The noun of address, “Woman,” as applied by a son to his mother may sound to our ears somewhat harsh, if not disrespectful; but its use was really an expression of opposite import. … When, in the last dread scenes of His mortal experience, Christ hung in dying agony upon the cross, He looked down upon the weeping Mary, His mother, and commended her to the care of the beloved apostle John, with the words: “Woman, behold thy son!” [John 19:26]. Can it be thought that in this supreme moment, our Lord’s concern for the mother from whom He was about to be separated by death was associated with any emotion other than that of honor, tenderness and love?’ (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 144–45).

“The Joseph Smith Translation also helps us understand that Jesus not only asked His mother what she wanted Him to do, but He also expressed willingness to do it: ‘Woman, what wilt thou have me to do for thee? that will I do’ (Joseph Smith Translation, John 2:4 [in John 2:4, footnote a]). The question ‘What have I to do with thee?’ essentially meant ‘What do you want me to do?’ (John 2:4),” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 208).