Saturday, April 21, 2012

Musings on John Chapter Two: II

“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee…” (John 2:1)

“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’” (John 2:19)

The story is about a Bridegroom seeking a Bride. The image of God is male and female in unity (Genesis 1:27). As Paul writes, “This is a great mystery” (Eph. 5:32). And so the Word is made flesh, but the Word will yet be made flesh again on Pentecost, and that making of flesh, that progressive incarnation of Christ in His Body, has its consummation in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the presentation of the New Jerusalem, a Bride prepared for her Husband. As an earthly bride descends a grand staircase, or walks down a cathedral aisle, the Bride of Christ makes her entrance for all to see; her Husband is her glory and she is His delight.

Christ is the head of the Bride, He is her Savior, He loves her and gives Himself up for her – that He might sanctify and cleanse her in order that He might present her in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:22 – 33). Paul is right, this is a great mystery. Is it any wonder that Jesus’ first sign was done at a wedding?

Just as the body of Jesus will be raised in three days, there is a sense in which a wedding will be inaugurated on Easter morning, for Jesus Christ came out of the tomb to claim His Bride. What an amazing love He has for her – she isn’t much to look at with the natural eye; she is soiled and stained and trampled on and misused and abused and confused about whom she is and who she belongs to. The swirling images of Body and Bride and Temple and Priesthood and Flock and Family dance in and out of each other, the light playing through each turn of the kaleidoscope – let us take them for what they are and how they are presented – our focus now is on the Bride, Jesus died for His Bride, He rose for His Bride, His Bride was filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost; He has cleansed her, He is cleansing her, He will continue to cleanse her – a marriage supper is in process after which is the grand entrance, unveiling, and consummation.  This is a love story of a Bridegroom for a Bride, a Bride who starts out unlovable and untouchable but who is transformed through the Bridegroom’s love into a radiant beauty, a beauty with the glory of God.

“The mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’”

What hour is Jesus speaking of? Can it be the inception of His ministry, the inception of His signs? How could this be for surely Jesus would not perform a premature sign? Can it be that Mary had an expectation that Jesus would do a grand sign for many to see? Perhaps. In the event only a few people were privy to the miracle – it did not take center stage such as many of His other miracles – turning water into wine was not an attention getter.

Was it the hour of the Bridegroom’s own wedding to which He referred? Certainly it was no accident that Jesus’ first sign was performed at a wedding. Did Jesus look through that wedding in Cana and see the First Man and First Woman? Did He look through that wedding in Cana and see the Marriage Supper of the Lamb; did He see His Bride, the New Jerusalem, descending from the staircase of Heaven in her glory?

[Exegetical Note: These thoughts are part textual exegesis and part devotional interaction with the text. From a baseline exegetical perspective, some elements of my thoughts should be held tightly, others lightly; I believe we have the freedom in Christ to enjoy both. Were this a commentary or were this a class in exegesis, I would not venture as far afield as you may find herein, in any event, because the Biblical text is more than the Biblical text, that is, because it is also the Word of God (and therein lies a many-faceted mystery), we not only have a body (the text) but we have the Life-giving Spirit. And it may even be that we have a soul, which would be the heart and mind of man, including the imagination].

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