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John 1:19 – 2:25

09.29.2010

General consensus is that Jesus’s public ministry occurred over a span of three years (from roughly age 30-33).  Seems a relatively short time for the most influential public speaking tour in all of human history, but I suppose the final act was a bit of a doozy.  Nonetheless, Bible scholars consider the ministry as containing three parts, each lasting about a year: obscurity and gathering followers, widespread popularity, and growing backlash ultimately leading to rejection.*

After assembling His crew, Jesus attends a wedding in Cana, a town near His hometown of Nazareth, probably the wedding of a family friend.  This is the scene of His famous miracle, turning the water into wine.  John calls this His first miracle, meaning that He didn’t perform any during His earlier life (contrary to what’s contained in some apocryphal gospel accounts). 

This miracle illustrates something I learned from…(you’ve got a 50/50 chance here: Lewis or Chesterton)…Lewis!  He points out that most of Jesus’ miracles are not magic tricks or spectacles unrelated to who He is and what He is trying to teach.  Yes, it’s true that Jesus performs miracles in part to support His claim to be God, sort of saying, ‘Look at what I can do.’ 

But they’re more on point than that.  In a sense, He’s saying, ‘Look at what I have been doing since the beginning of time.’  See, God takes water and turns it into wine all the time.  He created an intricate and still ultimately unexplainable system whereby living grape vines soak up water from the soil and produce fruit, whose juice then ferments into wine. 

Understood this way, Jesus’ miracles all fall into one of two categories.  Either He is performing on a small, visible scale the miraculous processes of nature that He created and set in motion, or He performs acts of healing and resurrection that are a preview of His grand act to come.

The second famous episode from this passage is Jesus’ cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem.  This is always cited by younger evangelicals who claim that the Jesus depicted in most art as meek and scrawny isn’t the God they know.  Their savior must be ripped (buff/cut/swoll/whatever the hippest term is) because He upturned stone tables and ran the moneylenders out of the temple with a whip in His hand.  It’s silly, but I do like the point.

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* Remarkably similar to the pattern for most modern pop culture trends

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