Pivot Point At A Wedding

Let Go Let GodIn any worthwhile relationship there will be moments of trust to the other as truly wishing the good of the other.  In relating to Jesus, it could be complicated to do both.   To have a fitness of the relationship with Jesus is a surrender to grace in full.  Case in point, Mary who is full of grace, would be an example for the new disciples to see that exactly.    Also what we will see is that her relationship was full of grace as well.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. After this, he and his mother, [his] brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days (John 2:1-12).

They have no wine- One sign of  a close relationship is if few words need to be spoken to communicate a need. In approaching Jesus in ones personal relationship with him, one does not have to be wordy. Mary knew there was no need.

Woman, how does your concern affect me?– – The appearance in wording to Mary may seem dismissive to the modern eye and that Jesus is admonishing her.  A historical approach shows actually that Mary’s access to Jesus was very blessed. As for “Woman”, it was actually a term of endearment.  The Greek word for woman was gune. That word was used by Augustus to Cleopatra and Odysseus to Penelope by Homer (Steve Ray, St. John’s Gospel: Bible Study Guide and Commentary; Loc 1305 Kindle).

The next part is better translated with the understanding it was an idiom.  It was “What to you to me”.

When the idiom is used in response to a person’s request, either stated or implied, the speaker sometimes capitulates to the expressed will of the other (2 Kings 3:13) ….Jesus complies with Mary’s request, and Mary herself appears perfectly confident that Jesus will respond favorable to her petition. In affect, Jesus would not have initiated the miracle at Cana, but neither does he refuse his Mother’s prompting (Ignatius Study Bible).

This means there was nothing separating them which sets the stage of her understanding that the gravity of her request.What is about to be explained to her is that what is about to transpire will be her getting her wishes but her petition would go beyond that miracle to the relationship getting much more complicated: in the way of the cross.

My hour has not yet come– – Jesus makes a statement that could be taken as a no, but his action in a moment speaks louder than those words.  In his words Jesus leaves room to the appointed time that all is set right.  Yet here could be considered an hour where life is not the same again.  Jesus speaks to Mary on the significance of this intercession in that if there was any apparent wiggle room for him to go back to being a locally known carpenter it would be blown out here by his agreeing to her request.  If actions speak louder than words, this miracle would be like an naugural speech.  When we ask anything of Jesus, our consciences should be informed of the significance of the interaction.  The mark of change is continual when we ask for God’s intervention and we should be prepared for that in taking up ones cross to follow Jesus.  Mary was prepared for this 30 years prior when an old man prophesied to her that, “a soul will pierce your heart as well”.

Do whatever he tells you– – I keep coming back to this verse which bears repeating because humanity can fall into the mistake implied.  “Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer (2 Corinthians 5:16).  Not to say that Mary was repenting, but she had to appropriate her faith to a new level regarding Jesus in that from this day forward, her experience of Jesus would have to be outside of a default box of her known life.  It is not up to her what happens this hour and so she endorses the will of Jesus with a God-inspired openness.  Her faith in requesting and responding works as a catalyst of God’s work on the cross.  Here Mary takes her hands off Jesus and released him to the world.

six stone jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings– Augustine saw a symbolism in the six jars being symbolic of six ages of God doing something unique.  I would lean more on it being a matter of the six covenants that God had made in the Old Testament with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David.   They all were initiated in grace by God.  And if one sees the significance of stone materially, remember then that stone does not get stained.  Thus perfect for ceremonial washings.  The beauty of this is one could propose that there were six jars but seven vessels.  Jesus was that seventh vessel of grace that fulfills the intent of the first six.  Seeing this through the lens of the Old Testament, we can appreciate how God directed a momentum of covenant in His dealings with Israel.  In fact, the word in Hebrew for making a covenant was to “seven ones self”. Three years later Jesus speaks of a new covenant when he lifts up another supply of wine and declares it the blood of the new covenant.  As miraculous as the wine was about to be, it was a spiritual foretaste of the cup of the covenant.

as the beginning of his signs– – For those who examine the miracles of Jesus that are specifically described, there are teaching implications that must be considered.  The actions of Jesus speak as infused messages that due to the meaning and power them make the grey harder to turn to.  The signs point to objective and inconvenient truth to surrender to or deny.

and his disciples began to believe in him– – The longest time of discipleship represented in this group was a whopping 5 days by this point.  To see Jesus as a nice option and a nice guy does not cost anybody anything.  But with “believe” being a pregnant word in the gospels with faith and works bound together, one can see that decisions were made that day to simply do whatever Jesus tells them to do just like Mary said. Those who obey Jesus are not just receptacles as an end but vessels to share salvation to the world.  That was them.  That can be any of us if you decide to take up your cross and follow Jesus. This is the divine romance.  For Jesus begins here to begin a courtship with the world.

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Perspective is everything.  Perception is the all consuming reality for us even if it is wrong.  Sure it could be about how we do math but really in a daily sense right or wrong perspectives are crucial on how we perceive good or evil.

Paul taught that the love of money is the root of many kinds of evil. It makes sense in the rat race world we live in.  Why not cheat your neighbor if the Almighty for you is the Almighty Dollar?  Money and corruption go together for a reason in the issue of greed whether it is corrupt politics, business or other things.

But Jesus dug into the matter of greed even more.  He had just talked about the contrast of riches of earth that are seen as an end in themselves versus the invisible ones of heaven.  But in digging deeper the lens that people see the world around them is addressed.

 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c] your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon (money) (Matthew 6:22-24).

Jesus is getting at the roots of what salvation is all about.  Living in a revival meeting, Billy Graham effected country we hear of the common perspective that to “see the light” is to “ get saved” and have your fire insurance paid for.

But Jesus has a message that can be interpreted like that but also much further. Jesus spoke from the richness of the Old Testament scriptures including the Psalms and so did his disciples.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?

The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid” (Psalms 27:1)?

The Old Testament source most quoted by Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church Fathers was the Septuagint which was the Greek translation of the Old Testament.  This is important to the common salvation key of interpreting holy life.  To be “saved” (sozo) was to be made whole.  One can see that in the Greek like when the unclean woman touched Jesus and she was made whole.  She was “sozo’d” so to speak without baptism or the Sinners Prayer.

So yes, one can see the treasure in heaven but that can not be deep enough because then we are motivating ourselves by seeing the handiwork of God as end in itself instead of seeking His face.  Just as natural life is defined as consuming something, so should we remember that spiritual life is about seeking Jesus Himself for Himself.  And from that it makes sense that the eyes with light could have an effect on the mind, heart and body.

But let us not stop there.  Spiritual and natural life are also defined as happening by reproducing.  Disciples of Jesus that walk in the fullness of salvation are to reproduce children and/or fruit that will glorify God.

“Alas, child, light of my eyes, that I have let you make this journey!” (Tobit 10:5).  Strange though it may seem, the perspective of the mother is seeing her child as an illuminating source.  She did not mean that her son was a celestial body nor a deity.  She believed that life does go on and uses a spiritual reference to esteem her son’s value to her by the grace of God.  There is a fulness to her life here because she sees a heavily blessed treasure on earth that is relational.  If our eyes are purified then we will have a more pure appreciation for the priorities and actions that matter.

Or then there is emptiness that fits with the reference of Jesus.

“The eye of the miserly is rapacious for food, but there is none of it on their own table” (Sirach 14:10).  The miserly seek to save as an end in itself and thus they lose.  It was people like that who Jesus referred to in saying “how great is the darkness”.

I leave you with a story of conversion that fits what I am talking about.  Ron Rearick stole 1.5 million dollars from a  plane in the 70’s.  He had it in his hands for a few minutes and said “It’s not enough”.  Then he was arrested, went to prison and was paroled sooner by far than he expected.  When he came out he was a new Christian and got married.  When he and his wife were about to drive away from the wedding some friends were able to give him a modest amount of money.  He swelled up with joy and said it was more than enough.  He had peace in the light of the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  So can you.  So can I.  What’s stopping us?

AFTER CREDITS SCENE

Some of my readers may have wondered why I quoted Tobit and Sirach.  If you are a Protestant you do not regard these as rule of faith scripture.  I have changed on that as well when I ceased being a Protestant and became a Catholic (but I did not cease being an Evangelical).  Below are some points by Catholic Answers.  Keep in mind that the Council of Carthage was authoritative on the undisputed New Testament.  Can we cherry pick with their Old Testament finding?

Proof on Deuterocanonicals

There are close affinities of thought, and in some cases also of language, between I Peter, i, 6, 7, and Wisdom, iii, 5, 6; Hebrews, i, 3, and Wisdom, vii, 26, 27; I Corinthians, x, 9, 10, and Judith, viii, 24-25; I Corinthians, vi, 13, and Ecclesiasticus, xxxvi, 20.

The sub-Apostolic writings of Clement, Polycarp, the author of the Epistle of Barnabas, of the pseudo-Clementine homilies, and the “Shepherd” of Hermas, contain implicit quotations from, or allusions to, all the deuterocanonicals except Baruch (which anciently was often united with Jeremias) and I Machabees and the additions to Daniel. No unfavorable argument can be drawn from the loose, implicit character of these citations, since these Apostolic Fathers quote the protocanonical Scriptures in precisely the same manner. For details of these testimonies see Loisy, “Canon de l’Ancien Testament”, pp. 71-72.

the Council of Carthage. Canon 36 reads:

[It has been decided] that nothing except the canonical Scriptures should be read in the Church under the name of the divine Scriptures. But the canonical Scriptures are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ruth, four books of Kings, Paralipomenon two books, Job, the Psalter of David, five books of Solomon, twelve books of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezechiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Ezra, two books of the Maccabees. Moreover, of the New Testament: Four books of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles one book, thirteen epistles of Paul the apostle, one of the same to the Hebrews, two of Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude, the Apocalypse of John.

Thus [it has been decided] that the Church beyond the sea may be consulted regarding the confirmation of that canon; also that it be permitted to read the sufferings of the martyrs, when their anniversary days are celebrated. (From Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, translated and published in English as The Sources of Catholic Dogma)

Two key points should be noted. First, while the names and divisions of some Old Testament books differ from contemporary usage (for example, the four books of Kings are, in modern Bibles, divided into 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings), the canon is that of the Catholic Bible, not of the Protestant. Second, this canon was to be confirmed by the “Church beyond the sea”–which means Rome.