Short Meditations in John 2: 14. Religion Challenged
Jn 2:18 Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
It is interesting when you ponder on this verse to note that nobody was asking “WHY did he do this?” So often when something happens we miss the main point – why is it happening? When young children kick over the traces we fail to ask why they are doing it, and we fail to see that we, the parents, have failed to lay down boundaries that provide a sense of security of our children. When we come across terrorists we fail to ask why is it they are acting and fail to see the injustices they are rebelling against. No, so often it is easier to point fingers at the person and fail to face the issues behind the behaviour.
So instead of asking of Jesus, why have you done this – for they probably knew in their hearts that what had been going on was wrong – they challenge him as a person. Note John says, “the Jews”. It is a collection of people, the religious people of Jerusalem, the people who habited the temple who, as a group, stood against him. So often in history wrongs have been perpetrated by people who have been part of a crowd. When a crowd comes together people take on a new courage to act badly. In this case they stand against the one man, and they challenge who he is. The come against him in an aggressive manner, they “demanded of him…”
The wanted to know by what authority he acted. Their authority came from the fact that they were expressing the indignation of the religious authorities of the temple. That is what gave them the temerity to challenge him. They knew that what had been done challenged the religious authorities who presided over the temple and over Judaism, who had in act set up this ‘market’ in God’s house. So in effect what they were saying is, we represent the authority of Judaism, the authority of the temple, and you are no part of us, so who do you represent? You’re a nobody! You are wrong!
And to prove their point, they make an interesting challenge: “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Now why should they ask such a thing unless they know people are already wondering is he is the expected messiah. They exercised no miraculous works, but they demand such things of him. Now of course, as we look at his ministry, we see exactly this, but they are blind to this. Prejudice (or guilt) blinds minds to the truth. Unbelievers challenge God to act on their terms. Wrong!