Bible · Jesus · Political

Where Jesus Attends A Wedding

So, we have this group called BUNS – where we look at a Bible passage, play Uno and eat NibbleS ….

last time, we were looking at John chapter 2, where Jesus goes to a wedding and turns water into wine.
Whatever you think about the miracle as recorded, it’s important to think about the context, and ask if there might be something going on under the surface.

I think I read somewhere that ‘context is everything.’

Whether it’s everything or not, it’s definitely important, as is our own context.
I’m listening to a podcast at the moment called the Bartcast, specifically some talk by Ched Myers on the Gospel of Mark. He’s opening up some interesting lines of thought about what might be going on in the Gospel that is related to the social and policital setting at the time of Jesus. It’s got me thinking more about the possible sub texts in gospel passages, and I had some thoughts about the ‘water into wine’ incident.

In the account, they have run out of wine at the wedding – the bar has run dry. There’s a major panic, and Jesus’ mother tries to get him to do something. (What did she think he was going to do ….?).
He’s not keen intially, but his mother seems to have an inkling that he might do something, so she tells the servants to be prepared for action.

Jesus seems to change his mind and sees these water jars, six of them, each one holding over 100 litres of water. (The water is used for ceremonial washing). Jesus tells the servants to fill them right up to the brim and then draw some off to take to the master of ceremonies. Of course, it’s become wine, and the wedding party is saved.

Now I’ve heard quite a few sermons on this passage and preached on it a few times myself. But I’ve never had this thought before. Obviously everyone is very happy to drink the wine … but actually are they happy to drink it, or would some of them be a bit unsure if they knew where it had come from – holy water jars ?

Because these water jars aren’t just any old water jars. They’re used for a religious ceremony. And now they’re being used to help a party get into the swing again after and embarassing lull in the proceedings.

What if there’s something going on here that is a bit naughty. A bit of a dig at the people who control the religious side of life. And an encouragement to the general crowd to drink the holy water (that is now beaujolais, or equivalent). I think what Jesus has done is pretty subversive. He’s taken what is set aside for a religious purpose and made it common property. He’s punctured the sacred balloon. He’s driven a coach and horses through … sorry, I’m getting a bit carried away with metaphors here, but I hope you get the idea.

Religious people sometimes set up what we might call a sacred / secular divide, where a part of life is for religion (like Church on a Sunday) and the rest of the time, life is for living. But isn’t everything sacred, isn’t everything holy ?

In the subtext of Marks’ Gospel, there are things going on that are more about the political setting, probably to do with the plight of the poorest people, and who has the power, and how that dynamic needs to change. Maybe this incident in John’s Gospel is more about who has the power in the religious world, and Jesus taking an axe to that particular tree. I don’t know, I’m just asking.

Grace and peace anyway …

Bible · faith · Theology

Discovering The God Of Plenty

I’m pleased to have started the C25K – couch to 5k – a programme to take me from having little cardio exercise during the last four months, to being able to run continuously for 30 minutes.

The podcast that I listened to today on my run was an interview with Sam Wells. Sam is vicar of St Martin in the Fields Church in London. There’s so much in what I’ve heard today, I’m not sure where to start. This will be a brief post, just aiming to make one simple, but important assertion. More to follow another day.

I think the best starting point is to note that we often function as though we live in a world of scarcity. Not enough resources. We’re always fighting a losing battle. But if we set against that the world view of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament we find that they affirm the opposite. God has given us all that we need. We do, in fact, live in a world of plenty, a world of abundance.

I’ll come back to the way Sam Wells argues this on a later post, but for now I’ll just offer a thought from my Bible reading today. As so often happens, I find that things come together in ways I could not have planned. After my run I read John chapter 2, and the account of Jesus turning water into wine.

If you don’t know the story, you can read it here

I’ve read this passage often, and preached on it more than a few times, and I always see something fresh. Today, it’s the way this gospel passage seems to be saying exactly what Sam Wells was talking about. In the story, the wine at a wedding has run out, and Jesus turns over 120 gallons of water into wine. That should be enough!

In 11 verses, we get something that should be foundational to faith. God is a God of plenty, not scarcity.

Of course that raises all sorts of questions about what we see around us, with people living in poverty and so on. There is more to say that sheds light on this, but I’ll have to leave it it until next time.

Grace and peace