“Unit 13, Day 1: John 2,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 13, Day 1,” New Testament Study Guide
In Cana, the Savior performed the first public miracle of His earthly ministry when He turned water into wine. He went to Jerusalem for the first Passover of His public ministry, and He cleansed the temple for the first time by driving out the money changers who were desecrating His Father’s house.
Think about the following “firsts” that may have occurred in your life: your first day of school, your first job, or the first time you remember feeling the Holy Ghost. What other firsts have you experienced that have been significant to you?
Why do we sometimes place importance on the “firsts” in our life?
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. It was in Cana that Jesus performed his first recorded miracle.
Read John 2:1–3, looking for a problem that arose during the wedding feast.
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. Jesus’s mother, Mary, turned to Jesus for help in replenishing the wine. We are not sure what role Mary had at the wedding feast, but it is obvious that she felt some responsibility when the wine ran out.
The Joseph Smith Translation helps us understand Jesus’s response to His mother: “Woman, what wilt thou have me do for thee? that will I do; for mine hour is not yet come” (Joseph Smith Translation, John 2:4 [in John 2:4, footnote a]). In Jesus’s day the title “woman” was a loving and respectful way to address one’s mother.
Read John 2:5, looking for what Mary said to the servants. Consider what Mary’s instructions to the servants teach us about her faith in Jesus.
Read John 2:6–7, looking for what Jesus instructed the servants to do.
The phrase “purifying of the Jews” in verse 6 refers to the Jewish practice of ceremonially washing their hands with water before eating a meal. Large stone water pots held the water used in rituals such as this. “A ‘firkin’ was about nine gallons (34 liters), so the six pots could have held between 100 and 160 gallons (about 380 to 600 liters)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 207). Note in John 2:7 how full each of these pots were filled.
Read John 2:8, looking for what Jesus instructed the servants to do next.
If you were one of the servants, what might you have thought or felt as you took a cup filled with this liquid to the governor of the feast?
Read John 2:9–10, looking for what the governor of the feast said after tasting the drink that was brought to him.
What had happened to the water?
To understand what the governor of the feast said, it may help you to know that the best wine was often used at the beginning of the feast, and lesser-quality wine was used later into the feast.
Jesus did not provide 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.
- In your scripture study journal, list truths that you can identify from John 2:1–10 about Jesus Christ, His relationship with his mother, and His power.
One of the truths you identified from John 2:1–10 may be similar to the following: Jesus Christ has power over physical elements.
Read John 2:11, looking for what effect this miracle had on Jesus’s disciples.
The Joseph Smith Translation states that “the faith of his disciples was strengthened in him” (Joseph Smith Translation, John 2:11).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How can understanding this miracle, and understanding that Jesus Christ is the Creator of heaven and earth and has power over physical elements, strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ?
What other accounts in the New Testament also illustrate that Jesus Christ has power over physical elements?
Think of an active, outdoor game you played as a child. Although the game is innocent and fun, would you feel comfortable playing it on the holy temple grounds? Why not?
During the first year of Jesus’s ministry, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Read John 2:12–17, looking for what was happening in the temple when Jesus arrived.
Why do you think Jesus became upset by what was happening in the temple? Notice what Jesus did to correct the problem.
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. Even though this commerce was necessary, handling such business in the outer courts of the temple was disrespectful and irreverent. In addition, these money changers were charging excessive prices for the animals, seeking to make unreasonable profits.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the scene: “As Jesus entered the outer courts of the temple, … before him were stalls of oxen, pens of sheep, cages of doves and pigeons, with greedy hucksters [sellers] offering them at exorbitant [unreasonably overpriced] prices for sacrificial purposes. Crowded on every hand were the tables of the money-changers who, for a profit, changed the Roman and other coins into temple coins so that sacrificial animals could be purchased” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:137–38).
Through His actions and words, Jesus taught the sacredness of His Father’s house.
Notice in John 2:16 that Jesus said that the temple was His Father’s house. From this we learn the following truth: The temple is the house of God.
Temples are houses of God because they are places where God may come. Ordinances pertaining to the salvation of God’s children are performed in temples, and those attending the temple can feel the Spirit of the Lord there. Since the temple is “the House of the Lord,” as written on the outside of it, the Lord Himself may at times be present there. Temples are the holiest places of worship on the earth.
Read the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter, looking for why Jesus drove the money changers and merchants from the temple:
“In the process of moral decline, reverence is one of the first virtues to disappear. … Love of money had warped the hearts of many of Jesus’ countrymen. They cared more for gain than they did for God. Caring nothing for God, why should they care for his temple? They converted the temple courts into a marketplace and drowned out the prayers and psalms of the faithful with their greedy exchange of money and the bleating of innocent sheep. Never did Jesus show a greater tempest of emotion than in the cleansing of the temple. …
“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. ‘Take these things hence’ he said, ‘make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.’ (John 2:16.) His 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, 52–53).
- In your scripture study journal, write the following statement: I can show reverence for the temple by … Then list as many ways this statement could be completed as you can in two minutes. Keep in mind that you can show reverence for the temple even when you are not actually at the temple.
Choose one of the ideas on your list, and use it to set a goal to show reverence for the temple.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied John 2 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: