The Gospel of John, Jesus' first sign, part 4
Oct 10, 2019
After Jesus cast the money changers out of the temple, the disciples realized that His actions were prophesied in Psalm 69:9. The verse is quoted in John 2:17, which says,
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Thy house will consume Me.”
The Exodus Book of Psalms
Psalms 42-72 are collectively known as the Exodus Book of Psalms. Psalm 69 specifically is a Passover psalm, making it applicable at the feast where Jesus cast out the money changers. Perhaps that is how the disciples made this connection. Other statements in Psalm 69 that Jesus fulfilled in His ministry are:
Psalm 69:4, says,
4 Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs on my head.
John 15:23-25 records the fulfillment, saying,
23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, “They hated Me without a cause.”
Psalm 69:21 says,
21 They also gave me gall [rosh, “poppies,” i.e., opium] for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Matthew 27:34 records the fulfillment, saying,
34 they gave Him wine to drink mingled with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.
Psalm 69:25 prophesies of Judas, saying,
25 May their camp be desolate; may none dwell in their tents.
In Acts 1:16-20 Peter applied this to Judas, combining it with Psalm 109:8, “His office let another man take.”
Hence, there is no question that Psalm 69:9 also prophesied of Christ,
9 For zeal [kana, or Cana] for Thy house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me.
The apostle tells us that the disciples understood that this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus cast the money changers from the temple. The rest of the prophecy in verse 9 above tells us that the priests were reproaching God Himself and that they took it out on Jesus, the Son of God.
Cana and Zeal
This incident is part of the apostle’s commentary on the first sign, the wedding at Cana. Hence, John intended to make the connection between the Hebrew word cana (“zeal”) and “Cana of Galilee.” In doing so, he lets us know that changing 153 gallons of water into wine was a prophetic picture of cleansing our own temples.
We are being changed from water to wine, as it were. Our natural bodies are about three-fourths water, but we are to become filled with the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the one who drives from our hearts the love of money that desecrates our temples. Paul tells us later that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV). It is illustrated by Israel’s worship of the golden calf in Exodus 32:4.
Spiritually speaking, this is what the priests were doing in Jesus’ day, when He drove out the money changers. Their love of money had turned the house of God into a marketplace and a bank.
Cana is also the root word for a Canaanite, which, in Hebrew, is kena’aniy.
A Canaanite is a “merchant,” or merchant-banker. It also carries the meaning of being humble or lowly, perhaps derived from the “lowlands” of the land of Canaan. Being “lowly” can have a positive or negative connotation. Humility is a virtue but being a low-life is not. Hence, in Scripture one ascends to Jerusalem but descends to Canaanite territory. This is seen also in the 15 “Songs of Degrees,” or, better, “Songs of Ascents” (Psalm 120-134). These were customarily sung as people ascended to Jerusalem to attend the feasts.
Merchants of Canaan were known to be unscrupulous in their business dealings, so I think it is fair to say that the prophetic significance of a Canaanite is to be a lawless merchant-banker whose heart and lifestyle is far from godly.
Job 41:6 uses the term kena’aniy in this way, saying,
6 Will traders bargain over him? Will they divide him among the merchants [kena’aniy, “Canaanites”]?
No doubt this is also the meaning of Zechariah 14:21, “And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.” The context of this prophecy pictures a holy Jerusalem, which is actually a reference to the New Jerusalem, the “holy city” in Revelation 21:2. When Jesus cleansed the temple in the earthly Jerusalem, He drove out the Canaanites, or merchant-bankers, from the temple as a type and shadow of both the New Jerusalem as a whole and its individual citizens, whose temples are being cleansed.
The earthly city, which the prophets call “the bloody city” (Ezekiel 22:2; 24:6, 9; Nahum 3:1) is fleshly, carnal, or “natural” and soulish. As such it is associated with the first Adam, who was both “earthy” and “natural” (1 Corinthians 15:46, 47). Adam’s name has to do with “blood” (Hebrew, dam). Hence, the prophets identify the earthly Jerusalem as “the bloody city,” or the city of “blood” (dam) to distinguish it from the spiritual, heavenly city. The earthly city is full of bloodshed (“Blood City”), while the heavenly city is the true City of Peace (“Jerusalem”).
Likewise, the “zeal” of a Canaanite is to cheat his neighbor in order to make as much profit as possible. The “zeal” of Christ is to drive out the love of money, the root of all lawlessness.
The Temple Sign
John 2:18-21 continues,
18 The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?” 19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
Here it becomes clear that the real temple to be cleansed was not the building in the earthly Jerusalem but the temple of one’s body (1 Corinthians 3:16). The “Jews ask for signs,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:22, and so Jesus gave them a sign that they would not understand. Signs are good, as long as one’s heart is free of heart idols, but when men have heart problems, they will inevitably misunderstand or misinterpret the signs that they see.
This temple sign has at least two fulfillments. The first and most obvious is that Jesus’ body was “destroyed” (by crucifixion), and that He was raised up on the third day. But we too are part of the body of Christ. Our bodies are individual temples of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Collectively, we are also living stones in a greater temple described in Ephesians 2:21, 22.
This greater temple is what God has been building, for when He abandoned Solomon’s temple in Ezekiel 10:18 and 11:23, He never intended to return to that location or to a building made with wood and stone. Jeremiah 7:12, 13, 14 prophesies that the temple of Solomon was to be forsaken “as I did to Shiloh.”
When God abandoned Shiloh, Eli’s grandson Ichabod was born and named “the glory has departed” (1 Samuel 4:21). His glory never returned to Shiloh; neither will it return to the earthly Jerusalem. He is now building and cleansing a new and greater spiritual temple made of living stones, no longer a “bloody city” patterned after the soulish man, Adam.
The Second Temple built by Zerubbabel in 515 B.C. was dismantled stone by stone and replaced by a larger temple in the days of Herod the Great. The project continued long after Herod’s death in January of 1 B.C., and it had only recently been completed when Jesus cleansed it. The apostle tells us that it took 46 years to build.
The Greek word for temple is naos, a word that appears 46 times in the New Testament. The phrase, “It took forty-six years to build this temple,” carries a numeric value of 3588 (78 x 46). The numerics built into the text itself give us God’s fingerprints and are major signs of inspiration throughout the entire word of God.
Since our purpose from the beginning has been to be the temple of God, it is not surprising that the Hebrew word Adam has a numeric value of 46. The sin factor brought death, and God’s solution is resurrection. The number 46 is built upon the number 23, because 2 x 23 is 46. Twenty-three is the number of death and resurrection, so it is not surprising that Jesus would speak of His death and resurrection (23) in the context of the temple (46).
The number 46 is also the foundation of 276, which is 46 x 6. Six is the number of man, and 46 is about the temple.
We find in Acts 27:37 that there were 276 people in the ship that was wrecked while transporting Paul to Rome. This is a prophetic story showing how all flesh will be saved (Acts 27:44).
37 And all of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons.
44 And thus it happened that they all were brought safely to land.
The numeric value of “all flesh” (Hebrew, kol basar) is 276 x 2. So Genesis 6:12 says,
12 And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh [kol basar] had corrupted their way upon the earth.
In Luke 13:4, “all the men” (in Jerusalem) has a numeric value of 276 x 12.
Likewise, the Greek term for “of our flesh” in Hebrews 12:9 KJV carries a numeric value of 276 x 6. In Romans 8:5, “those who live according to the flesh” has a numeric value of 276 x 3.
The Jews said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple.” As I said earlier, this sentence carries a numeric value of 46 x 78, or 3588. But 3588 is also 276 x 13, which relates it to “all flesh” (276) and rebellion (13). Men spend their lifetimes building fleshly temples, but these must all be destroyed by death. Jesus prophesied not only of His own death and resurrection but of ours as well, as our own rebellious flesh is crucified with Christ. So Paul says in Romans 8:35, 36,
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long;’ we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
Our corrupted, fleshly temples are being destroyed. Indeed, we crucify the flesh, putting it to death, in order that we might be raised in newness of life. “For he who died has been justified from sin” (Romans 6:7, The Emphatic Diaglott).
By tying the temple sign to the first main sign of turning water to wine, we learn that the water points to Adamic flesh, while the wine points to the New Creation Man in His post-resurrection and perfected state. The temple sign, then, explains the earlier sign, telling us the process and even the timing through which we are atomically changed from water to wine.
Christ’s “zeal” for the house of God, then, is His determination to cleanse the temples of all flesh.
Apparently, Jesus did not explain the temple sign, because the disciples—John in particular—understood the meaning of this sign only later. Thus, he concludes in John 2:22,
22 When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.
This is part 4 of a series titled "Jesus' First Sign" To view all parts, click the link below.