In the opening chapters, the apostle John recounts the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as one who came to bring filling to emptiness and newness to old. In what areas of human life does Jesus come to bring newness?
First, Jesus came to bring in a spiritual newness as important as the original creation. John 1:1 recalls the language of Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning…” The first chapter of the fourth Gospel describes one week. On the first day, a delegation of Jewish leaders approached John the Baptist (1:19-28). The second day John the Baptist declared Jesus as the Lamb of God (1:29-34). On the third day, two of the disciples of John the Baptist followed Jesus (1:35-38). On the fourth day, Andrew confessed Jesus as
Messiah (1:39-42). Jesus searched out Phillip on the fifth day (1:43-51). On the sixth day, Jesus traveled from Judea to Galilee. The seventh day (the third from Andrew’s confession), Jesus attended a wedding in Cana (2:1-12). What is the significance? The first week of creation resulted in the wedding of Adam and Eve. The second creative week concluded with a wedding.
As the agent of Creation (1:3-4), Jesus’ ministry began a week of new creative activity. He came to bring the new wine of the kingdom into the old, brittle wineskins of Judaism. His transforming newness replaced the temple built by Herod on the principle of exclusion with the temple of His resurrected body. He taught Nicodemus about a new birth from above—a spiritual birth (chapter 3). Rather than the stale water from Jacob’s well, Jesus gives living water springing up into eternal life (chapter 4). Rather than worship connected to one special place—whether Jerusalem or Gerizim—Jesus transformed worship into a matter of heart (chap. 4). Jesus came to transform by implementing newness.
Second, Jesus came to bring newness in terms of pouring new wine into the old wineskins of Judaism (2:1-12). In the OT, the withdrawal of wine became a symbol of judgment and removal of covenant blessings (Deut. 28:39, 51; Joel 1:10). The family experienced the embarrassment of no wine—an embarrassment for which wedding attenders could sue. The legalism of Judaism in Jesus’ day, testified to God’s withdrawal of the wine of blessings. On the other hand, the prophets associated the messianic blessings with free-flowing wine (Isa. 25:6; Amos 9:13-14; Joel 3:18). The six water pots for Jewish cleansing rituals portray the ineffectiveness and barrenness of empty, legalistic, perfunctory, joyless, and powerless religion. The new wine of the kingdom was drawn from the old water pots of Judaism. The new wine of Jesus’ transforming power burst the old wineskins of religion. The new wine of the Kingdom will bring blessings and joys into churches but the new wine may burst old containers.
Third, Jesus came to transform sick religion (2:13-25). Religion becomes sick when it loses its purpose. The moneychangers allowed worshipers to purchase sacrificial animals with coins not containing an image of Caesar. One family controlled the bazaars of money changing and charged a 12.5 percent surcharge and then exorbitant prices for the animals. Furthermore, the moneychangers set up business in the Court of Gentiles. God intended Israel to be a blessing to the nations—a light to the world. The one place where Herod’s temple allowed access to Gentiles, excluded Gentiles. Second, religion becomes sick when religion focuses on the institution rather than Him.
Is the focus of the church on budgets and buildings rather than people?
Fourth, Jesus came to transform religion into a relationship (2:21-23). God purposed the Temple—the dwelling place of God—to be a place where He and humans meet. The new transformed temple for meeting God is the resurrected Jesus.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.