Warning: Don’t let the simplicity of the writing in the Gospel of John trick you.
If you do, you’ll miss out on the beauty, the richness, the depth, the holy aha! that awaits you.
Today, we read Day Five of the #LentChallenge. But I’m still wonderstruck by what I discovered on Day Four. I feel compelled to share this with you today.
The first chapter of John introduces us to the Baptizer who introduces us to Jesus.
The second chapter of John takes a sharp, throw us off the bus, left turn.
We depart the riverbanks of the Jordan, the brilliance of the Spirit descending, for a peasant’s party.
Jesus attends a wedding, His mother and disciples in tow.
The writer of John doesn’t waste words. We soon discover the tension.
The wine runs dry.
Today, a caterer or hotel manager would scoot to a nearby store to restock. Such an option wasn’t readily available in ancient times.
In the Middle East, wine provides a cash crop, much like olive oil.
Archaeologists note that in many of the ancient plots of land, traces of vines remain. It wasn’t uncommon for rows of families to nurture and harvest grapes each year—right from their backyards.
The poor scrimped and saved for the food and wine that accompanied a wedding, often for many years.
Cruel judgments and unkind words were spoken of those who couldn’t throw a wedding in style. Oh, how the Grilled lamb and dates and honey-filled treats would have flowed freely.*
Thus, when the wine runs dry during the festivities, much is at stake for the family.
But much more is at stake than the host’s embarrassment.
If you use the Color Method for John 2:1-12, you’ll notice only one name appears in the entire the text: Jesus.
There’s mention of Jesus’ mother, the woman. The master of ceremonies. The disciples. Yes. But the only person named is Jesus.
Jesus is the center of the story.
Also, Mary will never be named in the Gospel of John. For the remaining chapters, she is the “mother of Jesus” (John 6:42, 19:25-27) or “woman” (John 19:26).
It’s easy to over-emphasize Jesus’ response to his mother. “I can’t help you now.” “It isn’t yet my time for miracles.”
The real zazzle resides in the woman’s response: Do whatever he tells you.
From this moment on, everything changes.
For them. For us.
Water becomes wine. To give it rhyme, H20 becomes Merlot.
Of all the miracles, this was Jesus’ first.
That’s no accident.
Jesus is making all things new.
- This miracle sparks belief in the disciples (v. 11).
- Jesus performs the miracle in a town that never appears in the Old Testament.
- The water of one age—needed for purification—is now replaced with a joyous wine of a new age. Purification now comes through Christ.
- The water that once ran red in the Nile runs red in a new exodus.
With the arrival of Christ, the living water never found in a pot is found in a Person.
John doesn’t tell the story of lowly shepherds like Luke.
But we are still invited to the lives of those with less means. These peasants didn’t receive a bright night star or a scene of angels descending (Luke 2).
All things new for them meant sipping on a hundred gallons of the finest vintage ever created.
Indeed, Jesus makes all things new. Then. Now. Today.
What do I most need to read but least want to hear?
Jesus is making all things new.
But that newness often hinges on five words.
“Do whatever he tells you.”
This has been a sacred echo for me. Remember my invitation to wake up each day and pray, “Holy Spirit, what do you want me to do today?”
I’m still praying that prayer.
And in that prayer and response, I realize I’m asking God to make all things new.
Obedience calls us to seek life from the source, the One who is the Source of Life.
This is a recurring invitation throughout the Gospel of John. A holy invitation. A sacred echo.
For me. For you.
Now let me ask you:
What did you least want to read but most need to hear in today’s reading?
(If you have any questions post them below. We’ll be collecting and gathering responses for insight from New Testament scholar, Craig Blomberg in the upcoming weeks).
Day Four: John 2:1-12 Discussion Questions:
What does Jesus’ response to His mother reveal about His priorities and mission?
According to this passage, who was aware of the miracle? Who did it cause to believe? What surprises you about the response to the miracle most?
In what area of your life, do you most need to walk in obedience.
How has God been making all things new for you in the last week?
What do you find most challenging about today’s reading? What do you find most comforting about today’s reading?
*Sloyan, Gerard. John. “Interpretation.” (Atlanta: John Knox Press), 1988. pp. 30-42.
- John: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching
- The Gospel According to John by D.A. Carson
- Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey
- Beloved: 40 days in the Gospel of John eBook/PDF download
Need to catch up? See below for previous blog post during our Lenten season: