Notes on John (Pt. 7): The Structure of John 2

[Notes on John (Pt. 6)]

Behold, the Lamb of God!

Looking at John 2, one can immediately see that the passage is divisible into two portions: (a.) the Wedding Feast, and (b.) the Cleansing of the Temple. What is not as readily apparent, however, is that the overall structure of the chapter points us back to John the Baptist’s statement in John 1:29 – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” – and points us forward to the fulfillment of those words as our Lord paid for the sins of His people. We can, I think, break the chapter down as follows.

2:1-12 2:13-25
  1. Marriage Feast[1]
  2. Third day miracle (Wine)
  3. Lesser Wine/Greater Wine
  4. Ritual/Grace[2]
  5. First Miracle
  1. Passover Feast
  2. Third day miracle (Body)
  3. Lesser Temple/Greater Temple
  4. Ceremony/Christ[3]
  5. Final Miracle

The two events parallel one another and portray Christ as the One who offers the better wine that supersedes the old wine and truly satisfies, and the True Temple of God broken for our sins but raised to life on the third day. In this we see the two elements of Communion in symbol [(a.)the blood of Christ (i.e. the New Wine) and (b.) the body of Christ (i.e. the true Temple)], both of which point us to the third day – the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

John 2 follows the pattern of John 1:17 by, in each of the two narratives’ presentation of the lesser versus the greater, ritual versus grace, ceremony versus Christ, and, overall, Law versus Gospel, paralleling the writer of the book of Hebrews when he states that

…Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.[4]

Further adding that

…the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“ Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’”

8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.[5]

The structure of John 2, it seems, intentionally presents the elements of the Lord’s Supper to emphasize the following:

  1. Christ is the Passover Lamb of God
  2. His blood, not ritual, cleanses sinners
  3. He is the true temple and sacrifice
  4. The Old Covenant (old wine) has been superseded by the New Covenant (new wine)

-h.

[Notes on John (Pt. 8)]


[1] These two themes (i.e. Marriage and Passover) are brought together by John in Revelation 19:6-9 & 21:2; 9-14.

[2] The six waterpots were the product of ritual that was unscriptural (cf. Mark 7:1-9, specifically v.3), and here stand in opposition to the wine freely offered by Christ to those who had none. The Jews had a false means of purification, but Christ replaces it here with a symbol of His shed blood (which truly purifies us, cf. 1 John 1: 7 & Rev 1:5).

[3] The contrast between ritual and grace is also present here, albeit implicitly, as we note that the True Temple and the Final Sacrifice (the Lord Jesus Himself) judges (and brings to an end) the earthly temple and its attending temporal sacrifices by overthrowing the money changers’ tables and driving out the sacrificial animals.

[4] Heb. 9:11-15

[5] Heb. 10:1-10

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3 thoughts on “Notes on John (Pt. 7): The Structure of John 2

  1. Heather says:

    Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
    In the volume of the book it is written of Me—

    And Jesus said:
    You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. And they are the ones witnessing of Me, (Can’t help it…everything reminds me of that verse :D )

    Anyway. Lots to consider here, Hiram. The body and blood significance have been on my mind as I seem to repeatedly encounter the Lutheran understanding of the Eucharist.

    This post is a nice change from trying to decide whether to accept “This is my body/blood” as being a literal statement.

    Like

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