Thursday, October 4, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Amos 2 and John 2

Amos 2 – Amos continues to “channel” God’s words to the wicked nations of Moab, Judah and Israel.

Judah has “rejected the Law of Yahweh and failed to keep his precepts, because the false gods which their ancestors followed have led them astray” (2:4).

Israel’s crimes are laid out in great detail: they have “sold the virtuous man for silver and the poor man for a pair of sandals” (2:6). They “trample on the heads of ordinary people and push the poor out of their path” (2:7). They have engaged in the practice of “sacred prostitution” even though it is part of the religious practice of people overthrown by God when the Jews took possession of their lands. “I raised up prophets from your sons and nazirites from your young men” (2:11). Nazirites were young men who pledged themselves to a consecrated, holy life, which did not include any drinking of wine or cutting of hair, unless the hair was offered up as part of a sacrifice to God.

Now Israelites have forced Nazirites to drink wine and forbidden prophets to prophesy (2:12). For these sins God intends to “crush you into the ground” (2:13). 

John 2 – “On the third day there was a wedding . . .” (2:1). The wine gives out and Jesus’ mother says to him, “They have no wine” (2:4). It must be pregnant with meaning for Jesus when she says this, because he responds with a non sequitur—“Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come” (2:4). She ignores him and says to a servant, “Do whatever he tells you” (2:5).

Why does he call her “woman”? Why does she ignore his reservation? Is this supposed to have humor in it—Jewish mother humor? There may be some of that in their interaction, but there is also some very profound stuff in this gospel about what is happening here. Jesus’ use of the term “woman” would make sense if he is preparing us to see her as the “woman” of Revelation 12:13, and I would add the “woman” reference in Genesis 3:15 – the “protoevangelium” that plays such an important part in John’s gospel. The “seed” [offspring] of the woman is Christ but Brown would say not only Christ but the Christian believers who are His body in the world – the “beloved disciples.” I have written a whole article that is posted here - "Genesis and John" - and I will make reference to it as I go along here.

Jesus does the miracle, turning six 20-30 gallon stone jars of water into fine wine. The result of it all is that Jesus reveals “his glory” here very early in his ministry, “and his disciples believed in him” (2:11). This level of comprehension and acceptance does not come anywhere near this early or easy in any of the other gospels.  In Mark, Jesus dies deserted.  In Matthew and Luke, his disciples’ comprehension does not come until after the resurrection or just before the ascension.

Jesus goes from Cana to Capernaum with his mother, brothers, and disciples. The Passover celebration is near and Jesus goes to Jerusalem.  He finds people in the Temple selling cattle, sheep and doves.  He makes a whip out of cord and drives the merchants and moneychangers out of the Temple.  His disciples immediately connect his act with the prophecy “Zeal for your house will consume me” (2:17 quoting Psalm 69:9).

The Jews ask him what “sign” he can show them and he responds, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19). They are astonished that a temple that took 46 years to build could ever be rebuilt so quickly, but John tells us that he does not mean the outward temple, but the “temple of his body” (2:21). In Jerusalem, many respond to his signs, but he does not trust them “because he knew all people . . . knew what was in everyone” (2:25).

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