Monday, April 16, 2012

Musings on John Chapter Two: I

The corpus (body) of John the Apostle’s work (the Gospel, three letters, and the Revelation) begins and ends with the Word, the Lamb, a wedding and the Temple.

The Bible begins with the Word (“and God said”), a lamb (an animal had to die to provide skin coverings for Adam and Eve), a wedding (“for this cause a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall be one flesh”), and a Temple (Eden was a place of communion with God and the sphere of that communion was to have radiated outward into all the earth).

In John Chapter Two Jesus is at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, then He is at the Temple in Jerusalem during Passover; the chapter ends with a warning to the reader in the form of a commentary on Jesus’ view of popular belief concerning Himself. Genesis has a warning (“do not eat of this tree”), and Revelation closes with warnings in the midst of promises (see Revelation Chapter Twenty-two). Revelation also concludes with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the true Temple of God coming into full expression; a Temple not of inanimate material but a Temple consisting of the Living God and His people, His Bride. The oneness of marriage pronounced in Genesis is revealed to be a shadow of the oneness of God with His people, the oneness of the Lamb with His Bride (see Ephesians 5:32).

The Word is transposed downward from John 1:1 to 1:14; then transposed upward in John chapters 20 – 21 (the Resurrection and Ascension); then transposed downward in its fullness in Revelation chapters 21 – 22. The promised image of God in Genesis chapters 1 – 2 is fulfilled in Revelation 21 – 22; what the First Man (Adam) could not fulfill, the Second Man (Jesus Christ) began anew and brought to completion (John 1:14; 12:23 – 26; 17:22; Revelation chapters 21 – 22).

Paul writes, “So then you…are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit,” Ephesians 2:19 – 22.

Then Peter, “…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 2:5.

To appreciate a tapestry, especially a large and grand tapestry, we must step away to gain perspective, pause, and contemplate. The image must come to us, and the image is not information per se, it is not bits and bytes generated by a computer; the time for appreciating the interwoven threads will come, but without perspective there is no appreciation of interconnectedness, no understanding of the artist’s patterns and techniques, no reception of the grand message of the colors and materials and weavings.

I may be able to recite the books of the Bible in order; I may be able to quote extended Biblical passages (though more often than not we teach memorization of isolated verses); I may be able to correctly identify the historical settings of Biblical books; and I may be able to cite the salient beliefs of my particular tradition (though to find those who have thought them through and understand them is a rarity – we tend to applaud parrots rather than thinkers) – but if I do not see the Biblical tapestry then what do I have? After all, the Bible begins with images and it ends with images, and what a shame to be able to enumerate all the materials within a tapestry but not be able to actually see and receive and describe to others the images and patterns and story of the tapestry.

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