Wine and Whips!
Wine and Whips!
You missed church on Sunday…we were closed for the big storm that wasn’t…it was miserable Saturday and Sunday, that’s for sure.
So what do you do with a sermon that was never preached? We didn’t have worship on Sunday morning, maybe it was supposed to be that way, especially with a sermon entitled, “Wine and Whips”
This past Sunday we were going to focus on Jesus first miracle in the gospel of John. John is a metaphorical or spiritual gospel. The author is trying to make a confession of who he understands Jesus to be. Be very careful of taking everything in this Gospel literally. Jesus dies before Passover in the gospel of John. In Mathew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus has the last supper with his disciples in the upper room as they celebrate Passover together. In John Jesus dies before Passover. (John 13:1, 18:28, 19:14, 31, 42). The reason? John likes to think of Jesus as the Passover Lamb (John 1:29), and what did the Jews do on the day before the Passover, the day of Preparation…they killed the lamb to prepare for the Passover feast the next day. In John’s gospel Jesus dies before the Passover.
While I’m at it, look at the last meal with the disciples beginning with the oldest written gospel, Mark. Mark uses 11 verses to describe this last meal, Mk 14:12-25; next written, Matthew uses 12 verses, Mt 26:17-29, and Luke last written of the three, uses 13 verses, Lk 22:7-20. John blows them away! John needs 5 chapters to explain the last meal with the disciples, John 13:1-17:26.
Something crazy is going on in John. I love his metaphorical/spiritual nature because he exposes a truth that facts can’t discover. There is not one parable in John, some believe that the whole gospel might be a parable……(I’ll save that for another day), and Doubting Thomas found only in the gospel of John. I could go on and on about the uniqueness of John’s gospel.
Jesus first miracle in John is recorded only there. No other gospel records it. It is the wedding at Cana, when Jesus turns a huge amount of water, like 50 gallons, into wine. (John 2:1-11) Better yet, it’s a really great vintage. In order to understand what John is doing you have to understand that a big party, a banquet, was a symbolic concept for ancient Israel in which they would be restored to prominence and peace and in some cases, not only them, but with all other peoples of the world. It was the “party” that we all would hope for when we can put down guns and take up peace. A time in which we don’t see difference as division but embrace it as evidence of the uniqueness of how God made us. This party metaphor is worthy to hope for, then, as well as it is today.
Isaiah 25:6 (NRSV)
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
Isaiah 55:1-2 (NRSV)
1 Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Joel 2:24-26 (NRSV)
24 The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. 25 I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you. 26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
This party theme is picked up in the New Testament as well. Many believe that John is using the miracle at Cana as a story that claims Jesus to be the one who ushers in such a glorious time. All will be filled and satisfied. John is building upon the imagery of the Old Testament. John believes that the time has come in which God will bless people, through Jesus. This blessing will come through who Jesus was and what Jesus taught and did.
Check out what Jesus does next….the wedding at Cana is followed by Jesus making “a Whip of Cords”. (John 2:13) The next story following this banquet feast is far from a celebration. I guess for some it would be…..Jesus enters the temple and makes a whip of cords and drives out the money changers. Jesus brings about change and transformation. Although some will celebrate, others, who have made religion into a market place to exploit people, will be disappointed.
Jesus goes from wine to whips in a matter of a few verses. Changes are about to happen, if this new era, this “Party” is to be ushered in. Jesus starts at the top…changing religious practices because he believes that the temple belongs to God and all people. God is the father of all people, not only the Jews, or the rich, not only those who sacrifice, but all people, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, doubting Thomas, Nicodemus, (all figures that appear only one place in the Bible, in the Gospel of John)
Are you joining in the celebration or regretting the religious past of yesterday?