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Water into wine. A redefined Genesis 1 – N.T. Wright’s Gospel of John 2:1-12

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December 2, 2015 by Craig

If you haven’t watched the videos on Genesis 1 now might be a good time. They’re less than 20 minutes total and they, along with this reading, will broaden your vision of the kingdom of God. Go ahead and watch them, we’ll wait right here for you.

Only the one true God could say, “you’ve heard it said…but I say unto you…
Jesus, in what John shares with us in this passage, is redefining truth, doing signs imaginatively, giving new ways of understanding, new ways of seeing the Kingdom of God become established.

Have you ever wanted to really understand a text and get closer to your God, and for some reason you just couldn’t seem to make the connection? One of the things I hear said at my Church is that “you can’t make it on your own.” How true that really is in more than one way.

N.T. Wright here is giving us historical information that helps bring understanding to the text, that helps make the text come alive to where we can join in on John’s “treasure hunt,” and have a much better opportunity to make a connection to our God.

The historical “signs” seem to be where Jesus is saying through actions, that you’ve done things in the past like this…but I am here doing things differently now. Jesus is, through signs, changing the theology of the way things worked in the past (traditions) and setting in place a new theology of how things will be done where He’s recognized (the kingdom of God; new creation).

Understanding just what the theology of the day was is not what’s important now (important as that is), Jesus is doing things quite differently here, theology is being reframed, understanding of who and what God is is becoming clearer. Jesus seems to naturally, imaginatively, redefine everything He comes in contact with, bringing new meaning of what it is going to be like when God’s kingdom is finally and fully present.

For one, heaven and earth intersecting is taking on a different meaning from what we saw in Genesis one. A new definition of just what and where the Temple is, is now in the process of being redefined.

The Jewish purification rites represented in the jars in this story begin to take on a new way of being accomplished.

The wedding itself becomes one clue or signpost that John uses to express many changes that we can look forward to in the Great Wedding Feast between God and His people, changes of the Truth setting us free.

The shame of running out of wine and the regarded bad luck brought on the bride and groom were social disasters that a different dimension of reality transforms when Jesus is present. Cultural shames are changed into new fresh life when compassion is shown in unexpected ways. Water to wine is the transformation that takes place when God’s love bursts into the present world, when heaven and earth come together imaginatively.

Imaginatively and for real is what happens when, with these events, the life of heaven comes down to earth, when the Word becomes flesh.

Maybe more than all of these, or maybe combined in all of this, is the power of the resurrection to come (for them) and the power of the resurrection realized for us in the present. John sums up this very thing when he says that all this took place “on the third day.”

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