Studies in John's Gospel -- Part 3
Real Joy and Peace
By: A.J. Higgins, M.D.
Passage: John 2
A wedding and a Temple! The one reminds us of human joy and happiness: the other of satisfying man's innermost spiritual need. Here then are two very human institutions and, as well, two divinely ordained institutions. God has always been intensely interested in man's joy and spiritual satisfaction. And, certainly, man has been deeply interested in these as well. Religions by the score have proliferated, all professing to answer man's quest for inner satisfaction. A hedonistic society caters to "happiness" and "enjoyment."
From the inspired pen of John in his second chapter come remarkable insights into these very subjects. John links together a marriage feast (vs. 1-11) and a religious temple (vs. 13-17). This link is neither accidental nor insignificant. At the wedding feast with all it promised for happiness and joy, something was missing: for the mother of Jesus observed, "They have no wine."
But before further considering the significance of this, look down the chapter to what follows: the scene shifts to the Temple in Jerusalem at Passover season. (It could just as easily and as accurately be any modern day denomination or church.) The Lord Jesus entered the outer court of the Temple and surveyed the scene. This was not now a case of something lacking, but of something added. He made a scourge of small cords and drove out the sheep, oxen and money changers.
The marriage feast representative of life's joys comes to a halt because something was absent; the scene of promised spiritual satisfaction is divinely condemned because something was added. These two conditions accurately summarize the human condition. Our quest for joy and inner peace remains an elusive, tantalizing goal. The testimony and experience of each generation is: "something absent, something added."
"...something absent, something added...
these two conditions summarize the human condition."
Is there a remedy? Or are we simply physicians diagnosing an incurable illness? Look again at the inspired page to see what answers the Word of God offers.
Mary's instructions to the servants "Whatsoever He saith unto you; do it" (vs. 5) and Christ's insistence on the authority of His Father in spiritual matters (vs. 16) teach us clearly that we must submit to whatever the Bible, the Word of God, teaches.
And what, then, does it teach? While the subject of joy and peace are developed later in John's Gospel, the great secret of their possession is clearly stated by Paul: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Rom. 15:13). The purchase of peace is revealed to us in Isa. 53:5: "The punishment of our peace was upon Him." It is in the sacrificial work of Christ upon Calvary that sin, the great problem facing mankind, was dealt with to God's satisfaction. Sin has robbed men of joy and been the great barrier to communion with God (Isa. 59:1,2). By trusting the finished work of Christ upon the cross, mankind can know the joy for which the human heart was made and the spiritual satisfaction for which he was created.
"Can we safely leave our quest for joy and peace with Christ?"
Many who have never trusted Christ as Savior may cavil at the simplicity of the Bible's answer for peace with God. They would argue that something more is needed: religion, ritual, good deeds. To these we point to the error in the Temple: adding to the Word of God. The rationalist may object and deny the Word of God. By taking away the Scriptures he leaves men without any joy and peace in spiritual matters.
Can we safely leave our quest for joy and spiritual peace with Christ? The last verse of our chapter assures us of this, "He knew what was in man." The Divine Creator has stepped into history to meet the need of His creation. Who could better know how to satisfy the human heart, than the One Who created it?