Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Musings on John Chapter Two: VI

“This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory. And His disciples believed in Him.”

John’s account of the water turned to wine doesn’t portray Jesus speaking to the water, or touching the water, or having any direct interaction with the water. He doesn’t say, “Water, I command you to become wine.” He doesn’t go over to each water pot and touch it, close His eyes, open them, and behold – the water is now wine! There is no drama such as when Jesus stands outside Lazarus’s tomb and commands, “Lazarus come forth.”

Jesus performs this sign, this miracle, in the midst of daily life; to be sure it is at one of those special moments in life, it is at a wedding; but weddings do happen everyday. Births and weddings and deaths and tax collecting and fishing and illness and festivals – all of these things are the stuff of life, we read about them in our newspapers; on the front page, in the obituaries, in the sports section, on the society page, the religious section; it’s all the stuff of life. Jesus touched people in the midst of the stuff of life, in the midst of daily life Jesus interacted with people. But not only did He touch people in the midst of daily life, He also called people out of mundane life, out of the cycle of living and dying and making a living – He called them out of mundane life to hear Him and to follow Him so that life would never be the same; so that making a living would never be the same, so that attending a wedding would never be the same, so that all the facets of living from Monday to Sunday would never be the same, and so that – for certain! – dying would never be the same.

Before John Chapter Two is finished Jesus will make an appearance in the Temple and in making an appearance He will make a scene, and in making a scene He will offend many people. Jesus will talk about destroying a Temple and it will be a mysterious talk with many facets – facets that we have been uncomfortable with for over 2,000 years. We like to keep Jesus in the buildings we have erected for Him, He is safe there, we can control Him there. We cannot control Jesus if we bring Him to work, nor can we control Him if we invite Him to a wedding or a picnic or a funeral or a hospital; but we can do a pretty good job of controlling Jesus if we can keep Him in church buildings. Lucky for us that the world wants to help us, it wants to help us keep Jesus in church buildings and out of public life; we can always blame it on the world when we stand before Jesus and He wants to know why we didn’t obey Him in daily life or why we didn’t tell others about Him in daily life, we can always reply, “Well Jesus, surely you know it wasn’t permitted.”

Turning water into wine was not a marquee event, most people didn’t know it happened; but the disciples knew, they saw His glory. How does one describe glory? There is a visual glory, such as Isaiah and Ezekiel saw; and there is a glory of “sense”, which accompanies the visual but which may also be experienced without the visual. One of the Biblical words for “glory” is a Hebrew word that carries with it the meaning of “weight” and “heaviness”. Yes, glory can be euphoric, but it can also be heavy – perhaps this is why the ancients often worshipped prostrate, it was not only a posture of acknowledgment of Deity, it was also a physical response to the weighty Presence of God.

Did the disciples at the wedding in Cana sense the weight of the glory of God as Jesus turned the water into wine? John writes in John 1:14, “…and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father…” Whatever they sensed, whatever they saw, it was a manifestation of His glory and they believed in Him.

It is not Sunday mountain-top experiences that constitute the fabric of our pilgrimage, nor is it occasional retreats or conferences or other special times or places; these may all have their place if we have the freedom and leisure and the means to enjoy them. But the fabric of pilgrimage is daily life, be it in the home or neighborhood or in the marketplace or in education, whatever constitutes daily life is the primary fabric of our pilgrimage. Do we see His glory in daily life?

When we see His glory in daily life it is not that we might make merchandise of it and trade on it, nor is it to draw attention to ourselves – it is that we might know Him and believe in Him and that we might introduce Him to others.

It isn’t likely that the bridegroom knew the Son of God was at his wedding, it isn’t likely the master of the feast knew that the Son of God had turned the water into wine, it isn’t likely that the servants knew Who this was that was commanding them to put water into pots and then take it to the master of ceremonies; people didn’t know that the Son of God was at the wedding. The same is true today, some will know He is at work, some will not; some will know He is in the neighborhood, some will not; some will know that He is at the funeral or wedding, some will not. One thing is certain, He will not be there at all if He is not there in us and through us, if we are not there as His bread and His wine.

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