Monday, 22 January 2018

Turn my water into wine

Genesis 14: 17-20 (page 10 in our pew Bibles) In Genesis we meet the mysterious figure of Melchizedek, the priest king of Salem (Jerusalem). An important figure for the writer of the book of Hebrews
Revelation 19:6-10 (page 1039 in our pew Bibles) The images come thick and fast but the centrepiece is a marriage in heaven between the lamb and the saints as the culmination of the Christian story. 
John 2: 1-11 (page 987 in our pew Bibles) The wedding at Cana is the first and keynote sign of John's gospel. This beautiful story is the gospel in miniature.

We have an embarrassment of riches this morning as two of my favourite and most significant stories in the Bible are both brought to us on the same day.

Melchizadek the priest king of Salem, and the wedding at Cana.

Melchizadek only appears once in the whole history of the Old Testament. And it is here in just four verses in Genesis. He appears from nowhere and disappears just as suddenly. But from these four verses we have what is considered a pre-figuring of Jesus Christ right at the heart of the Abrahamic revelation.

Melchizadek, whose name means “the king of righteousness” was also the King of Salem, the early name for Jerusalem and Salem means peace, so Melchizadek was King of righteousness and King of peace. The story also tells us that he was priest of God most high.

Abraham (Abram at the time), the friend of God, was blessed by him and Abraham paid him a tithe, a tithe is paid to God, and in response Melchizadek gives Abraham bread and wine.

The symbols fall over one another, and in one special book of the New Testament, the letter to the Hebrews , explains Jesus’  eternal priesthood in relation to Melchizadek.

Jesus Christ is a priest forever after the order of Melchizadek says Hebrews quoting Psakm 110 verse 4, a verse which appears in the psalm which begins
“The Lord says to my Lord. Sit at me right hand until I make your enemies your footstool”

The symbolism collides in a glorious collision that cements the high priesthood of Christ in a way that is unmistakable.

Wine appears in that early story and is also the main symbol used in the first sign that appears in John’s gospel.
The first point to make is that there are no miracles in John’s gospel. He doesn’t use the word, there are only signs.

Signs point you in a definite direction and we are definitely being shown the way here.

This sign is the first one in this most spiritual of gospels, because it is the most important sign, the keynote sign to which all other signs in John refer back to.

The first four words of the story provide the key. They are “On the third day”. This is a story about the resurrection and the effect that Jesus’ spirit has on human beings.

It is nothing less than what the gospel means for people in a beautiful story form. It is the gospel in miniature.

The six stone jars of water used in this sign are the water used for ceremonial washing and therefore represent the old order, the old covenant.
In the brusque way Jesus talks to his mother has also been said that she too represents the old order here.

The water actually represents us, our lives, the water of our lives. In this sign it is your life in those jars.

With the Spirit of Jesus involved,”on the third day”, our lives are transformed from base water into the most marvellous wine.

And let us not forget that in John’s gospel the Holy Spirit was breathed on the disciples “on the third day” on Easter Sunday. There was no waiting for Pentecost if we follow John’s gospel.

The marriage at Cana reflects the joining of your soul and the soul of Jesus in the final marriage feast written about in Revelation

The wedding at Cana and the marriage of Jesus with his saints is the same marriage.

The angel tells John “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage feast of the lamb. And then he said to me. “These are the true words of God”.

The marriage feast is also sometimes portrayed as the great banquet and of course the Eucharist is a foretaste of that – a taste of things to come  - communion with God and each other through the medium of Jesus Christ.
The bride here today is the true church. All people who through faith have put their trust in Jesus.

John lived and wrote in troubled times and the church was terribly persecuted and Revelation is an attempt to explain the present and envision a glorious future.

That vision, this prophesy was anchored in a sound understanding of the work of Jesus Christ. Unless the prophesy was anchored in the work of Jesus Christ it was false prophesy.

As John himself writes in chapter 22:18 there is no room for other interpretation. There is no new revelation in Christianity that could supplant that basic understanding of the work of Jesus. Anything that tries to do so is heretical.

God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)   

No comments:

Post a Comment