In Cana, the Savior performed the first public miracle of His earthly ministry when He turned water into wine. Jesus Christ went to Jerusalem for the Passover. He cleansed the temple by driving out the money changers that were desecrating His Father’s house.
Invite students to think about the following “firsts” that may have occurred in their lives: their first day of school, their first job, the first time they remember feeling the Holy Ghost.
Why do we sometimes place importance on these and other “firsts” in our lives?
Explain to students that as they study John 2:1–11, they are going to learn about the first recorded miracle that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. Invite students to look for why this first recorded miracle may be significant.
Explain that a short time after Jesus was baptized, He and His disciples attended a wedding feast in Cana, a village near Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth. Invite a student to read John 2:1–3 aloud, and ask the class to look for what problem arose during the wedding feast.
What problem arose during the wedding feast?
Explain that wine was a customary drink at a wedding feast. Sometimes the wedding feast would continue for multiple days. To run out of wine would have been embarrassing for the hosts of the feast. Mary seemed to feel some responsibility for the feast, so when the wine ran out, she approached her Son and asked for His help in an effort to save the hosting family from embarrassment. Jesus’s response demonstrated respect and compassion for His mother’s desire to help at the wedding.
What did Jesus say in response to His mother?
How does Jesus’s response show His respect for His mother? (Jesus not only asked His mother what she wanted Him to do, but He also expressed willingness to do it. You may need to explain that in Jesus’s day, “woman” was a respectful way to address one’s mother.)
What was Jesus referring to when He said, “Mine hour is not yet come”?
Invite a student to read John 2:5 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Mary said to the servants. Invite students to report what they find.
What do Mary’s instructions to the servants teach us about her faith in Jesus?
Invite a student to read John 2:6–7 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Jesus instructed the servants to do.
What did Jesus instruct the servants to do?
Explain that during Jesus’s time, waterpots made from stone were considered ritually pure for use in religious ceremonies. It was the practice of Jews to ceremonially purify themselves prior to eating a meal by washing their hands using the water from these waterpots.
How full did the servants fill the waterpots?
To help students understand the amount of water held in the waterpots, display an open container that can hold one gallon (or one liter). Explain to students that a “firkin” was about nine gallons (or 34 liters), so the six pots could have held between about 100 and 160 gallons (or about 380 and 600 liters). Fill the container with water.
Invite a student to read John 2:8 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Jesus instructed the servants to do next. Ask students to report what they find. As students report, dip a cup into the container of water, and hold up the cup.
If you were one of these servants, what might you have thought or felt as you took a cup to the governor, or leader, of the feast?
Ask a student to read John 2:9–10 aloud, and invite the class to look for what the governor said after tasting the drink that was brought to him.
What had Jesus done to the water?
What did the governor of the feast say about the new wine? (Explain that the best wine was often used at the beginning of the feast and lesser-quality wine was used later into the feast.)
Explain that Jesus never provided a specific interpretation of the meaning or symbolism of this first recorded miracle of His mortal ministry. There are, however, many significant truths we can learn from this account of Jesus’s first recorded miracle.
Divide students into small groups of two or three. Invite each group to list on a piece of paper as many truths that can be learned from John 2:1–11 as they can. After sufficient time, invite a member from each group to share with the class the truths their group identified. Invite a student to act as scribe. Ask the scribe to write on the board each unique truth that is shared. The following are some of the possible truths students may identify: Jesus Christ has power over physical elements. The Savior knew He had a divine mission to fulfill. The Messiah manifested His divine power through miracles. The Son of God loved and respected His mother.
Invite a student to read John 2:11 aloud, and ask the class to look for what effect this miracle had on Jesus’s disciples.
What effect did this miracle have on Jesus’s disciples?
Circle the following truth on the board from the list of truths the students identified: Jesus Christ has power over physical elements. (Note: If the students didn’t list this truth, add it to the list.)
How does understanding that Jesus has power over physical elements strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ?
What other accounts that we have studied in the New Testament also illustrate that Jesus Christ has power over physical elements? (Answers could include the following: the two miracles of the loaves and fishes [five thousand: Mark 6:33–44; four thousand: Mark 8:1–9], calming the storm [Mark 4:35–41], or walking on water [Matthew 14:22–33].)
Invite students to name outdoor games they played as children. After they list several games, ask the following:
Although these games are innocent and fun, would you feel comfortable playing them on the grounds of the temple?
Divide students into groups of two. Invite each group to read John 2:12–17. As they read, have the groups look for and discuss the answers to the following questions (write these questions on the board):
After sufficient time, display the picture Jesus Cleansing the Temple (Gospel Art Book , no. 51; see also LDS.org), and ask a few groups to report their answers. You may need to explain that the thousands of visitors who came to Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover needed to purchase animals to offer as sacrifices in the temple as part of their worship. Money changers exchanged Roman and other currency for temple currency so that sacrificial animals could be purchased, and other merchants sold the needed animals. While the commerce needed to happen, handling such business at the temple was disrespectful and irreverent.
What truth about temples can we learn from Jesus’s description of the temple in verse 16? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: The temple is the house of God.)
In what ways are temples the house of God? (Students’ responses may vary but may include the following ideas: Temples are places where God may come, where His presence or Spirit may be felt, and where ordinances pertaining to His work of salvation are performed. Temples are the most holy places of worship on the earth.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter. Ask students to listen for how Jesus’s understanding of the holiness of temples contributed to His decision to drive the money changers and merchants from the temple.
“The reason for the tempest lies in just three words: ‘My Father’s house.’ It was not an ordinary house; it was the house of God. It was erected for God’s worship. It was a home for the reverent heart. It was intended to be a place of solace for men’s woes and troubles, the very gate of heaven. … [Jesus’s] devotion to the Most High kindled a fire in his soul and gave his words the force that pierced the offenders like a dagger” (“Hallowed Be Thy Name,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 53).
How did Jesus’s actions show His reverence for His Father’s house?
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: We show reverence for the temple by …
Divide students into groups of two or three. Invite the groups to write on a piece of paper as many ways to complete the statement as they can. After a minute or two, ask one group to share its list with the class. While the first group shares, ask the other groups to put a check mark next to each item on their lists that is mentioned. Next, have another group share the items on its list that were not mentioned by the first group. Repeat this process until all of the groups have shared.
How is it possible to show our reverence for the temple even when we are not in the temple?
Invite each student to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals why they feel it is important that they do all they can to show reverence for the temple. Also invite students to write a goal to do one thing to show reverence for the temple. Encourage them to act on this goal.
Share your testimony of the principles identified in the lesson today.
This activity could be used to introduce or review a set of scripture mastery passages. Select a number of the scripture mastery cards, and prepare to distribute them among your students. (Be sure to have multiple copies of each card so more than one student receives the same scripture mastery passage. You may want to have enough cards for each student to have two or three different passages.) Distribute the cards to students. Allow students time to study the scripture mastery passage, the reference, the key words, the context statement, the doctrine or principle, and the application ideas on each card. Call out clues from the cards (for example, words from the scripture mastery passage or the key words, context, doctrine or principle, or application). Students who have the associated card should stand and say the scripture mastery reference aloud.