In this chapter we see Jesus' first miracle, and really the beginning of His public ministry. It begins at a wedding, a happy event which is threatened by the lack of preparation on the part of those who planned it. They are out of wine, which symbolizes joy in the scriptures.
Jesus meets the need at hand by providing wine from the water jars, which were part a ritual of purification practiced by the pharisees. It is interesting to note that these water jars were handy, but the wine, which was a huge part of a wedding celebration, was not. These water jars were used for tradition of hand washing which was followed by the pharisees, but which, according to Jesus, was a tradition of men, and not a commandment of God. We can see Jesus' opinion of this tradition in another Gospel account:
3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘ This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
7 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (Mark 7:3-9, New King James Version)
Despite this, Jesus takes the preparation for this legalistic tradition of men, and uses it to bring forth what is needed at the moment, wine, the symbol of joy. Jesus often takes our efforts, even when they are misguided or done with wrong motives, and uses them to accomplish His will and glorify Himself.
Later in the chapter we see Jesus in Jerusalem for the passover. While there He drives out the money changers and merchants from the temple, and when confronted and asked to show what authority He has to do these things, He predicts His own death and resurrection, but no one understands what He means at that time. Later, after His predictions are fulfilled, the disciples remember and understand.
There is much to be gleaned from this chapter, and a verse by verse analysis of it could get quite meaty, but for me what stood out most to me was the last three verses.
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25, New King James Version)
It is implied in these verses that Jesus must have done many more signs than what is specifically told about in the chapter, because many believed in His name after seeing those signs. Here the scripture says a curious thing, it says, "He did not commit Himself to them..." this made me want to look further into it. Because Jesus is not uncommitted. He came here to earth committed to the task of saving our souls. He was committed to that cause to the point of death. Yet the passage says He did commit Himself to them. I was fairly certain byt he context what it meant, but I wanted to verify for myself that I was correct, so I looked up the word in my Strong's Concordance. Here I found that the word used means "to entrust with your well being", it went on to say as an example, the way that Christians should commit their lives to Jesus, which implies a total entrusting of oneself.
So the passage does not imply any lack of commitment or wavering on the part of Jesus, rather it is a sad commentary on the condition of the human heart. These people were the ones who saw His miracles and signs, and who believed in Him, and Jesus knew their belief, but also knew the condition of their hearts and because of that He knew He could not trust them or put any confidence in them.
The problem is that although they believed, they had not yet been transformed. Their belief was a mental assent to the truth of what they had seen with their own eyes. This is why, a short time later many of these same people would be shouting, "Crucify him!!!" It was basically the same problem experienced by Peter, who believed and followed, yet when it really counted, denied Jesus.
The problem is that our hearts, without the transforming, cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, are desperately wicked and deceitful, capable of the heinous sin and betrayal, and not worthy of one ounce of trust. (see Jeremiah 17:9).
What we need is the transforming power of His Holy spirit. This begins with our need to be made new, to be reborn (which is an issue that is addressed in the next chapter of John), however, even after this rebirth we still carry with us the old sinful nature, which scripture calls our "old man" (see Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22, and Colossians 3:9). Because of this "old man" our hearts hearts are still not trustworthy on their own. We must continually ask Him to search our hearts and show us anything that needs to be confessed and cleansed away.
We need to be continuously renewed and continuously influenced by His Holy Spirit. Once we undergo the initial transformation of rebirth we are still being continuously transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2), which is both a supernatural act of God and an act of our free will, an act which we do by presenting ourselves to Him, for Him to do with what He pleases (Romans 12:1).
Once we are reborn, once we have that new nature in Christ, we are still continuously transformed from glory to glory, and how is that transformation accomplished? It is by gazing with an unveiled face at the glory of the Lord through worship, prayer, and reading His word.
15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:15-18, New King James Version)We may not see Him in His full glory yet, rather we gaze at him as if in a mirror, but the more we gaze upon what we can take in of His glory, the more we are transformed and the more of His glory we will be able to see, and the more of His glory we see, the greater will be our transformation. And one day, we will be freed from this sinful flesh and be fully transformed, able to enter into His presence and see Him face to face. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Revelation 22:3-5)
Lord, I pray that you will search my heart, show me anything within me that I need to confess, that I need to give over to you and let you cleanse away. Transform me Lord, draw me into Your presence, that I may gaze upon Your glory, for I know that no person can gaze upon Your glory and remain unchanged. Transform my heart more and more into Your image. I give myself to You, a living sacrifice, do with me what You will.