God’s People, part 219: Bridegroom

Read John 2:1-12

“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!’” (John 8:58, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

water-wine-2Part 219: Bridegroom. When reading the Gospel of John, people tend to look at the miraculous signs of Jesus as mere miracles. This is partly because, in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus is shown performing many miracles such as healings, exorcisms, raising the dead, walking on water, and calming the seas. The whole of these miracles are a sign of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 61.

It is a mistake, however, to confuse the signs in the Gospel of John with ordinary miracles. In this particular Gospel, both signs, as opposed to miracles, are performed. What is the difference, one might ask? The difference is that miracles were commonplace and not exclusive to Jesus. They displayed the power of God, or the gods, through the person performing them; however, the person him/herself was no more than a mere human being. The signs of John, on the other hand, reveal God’s glory and identity in Jesus Christ. In other words, the signs point to WHO JESUS IS in relation to God: namely, God incarnate (aka God in the flesh).

John’s Gospel is a highly developed theology and it is laid out very liturgically, which is why it works so well with Good Friday tenebrae/stations of the cross services. It can be broken up into four different sections: Prologue (John 1:1-18), Book of Signs (1:19-12:50), Book of Glory (or Exaltation) (13:1-20:31), and Epilogue (chapter 21). The Gospel of John also contains a series of sevens. Seven signs (2:1-12; 4:46-54; 5:1-47; 6:1-4; 6:15-21; 9:1-41; 11:1-57), seven “I Am” statements (6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5), seven “witnesses” (1:34; 1:49; 6:69; 10:30; 11:27; 20:28; 20:31), seven “word-images” of faith (1:12; 3:15-16; 4:14; 6:35-37; 7:37-38; 10:9; 10:16, 27), and seven “equalities” between Jesus and God the Father in John 5 (5:19-29).

The sign in the Scripture reading above is one of the most famous signs Jesus performed. We all know the story, Jesus was at a wedding with his family and disciples. Suddenly, the wine was gone as everyone had drank it up. Jesus’ mom approached him and “volun-told’ him to do something about the problem. Jesus didn’t really want to, but who can say no to their mother, so Jesus relented and told the servants to fill up the six empty jars of wine with water.

When I say jars, we are talking about stone vessels that could hold 20 to 30 gallons each. That’s a total of 120 to 180 gallons or nearly 1,000 bottles of wine. That’s an inordinate amount of wine for people who had already gone through the initial wine they had!

Once they had filled all vats to the brim, Jesus instructed them to take some out and give it to the master of ceremonies. Tasting that it was wine, he handed it to the bridegroom who was blown away by superior quality of the wine and exclaimed, “A host always serves the best wine first; then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (John 2:10, NLT)

This was the first sign revealing God’s glory in Jesus Christ. As a result, the disciples believed in him. In fact, that is the purpose of signs, to point to ultimate reality. Signs give us direction on which way we need to go. In the context of Jesus’ signs, they point us to the realization that there is nothing greater in the world than what we find in Jesus. This was the proclamation of the bridegroom who tasted the wine and it was this sign that led Jesus’ initial disciples of truly believe in him.

The question for us is this, have we seen the signs? Have we seen the signs that point us to God in Jesus Christ? Have we tasted his wine and have we experienced the pure goodness that comes from a life in him? Let us be challenged to search for God’s signs in order that we might see Jesus Christ for who he truly is: our resurrected and ascended Lord God, the only-begotten Son, fully human and fully divine, who is of the same substance, begotten not made, coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it…So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”  The Beloved Disciple, in John 1:1-5, 14, New Living Translation

Lord, help me to see the signs in which you are revealing yourself to me so that I may grow in my believe and in my faithful response to you. Amen.

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