Saturday, April 18, 2009

Uncovering Paradigms in John 2:1-12

Day two of reading through John trying to see through the lenses of "shame/honor," "defilement/clean," and "fear/power" (from this blog post) and tripped upon all three in John 2:1-12. I am remembering that the culture in which Jesus & the Israelites lived was full of situations reflecting these worldviews.

In this passage, I see a situational example of the "shame/honor" paradigm. The hosts of the wedding party had run out of wine for the wedding celebration. The footnote in my Bible says: "To run out of wine was more than embarrassing; it broke the strong unwritten laws of hospitality." So Jesus, in this situation, was responding to a heartfelt need... the need to restore the honor of the hosts. And He was capable to do just that.

The "defilement/clean" paradigm is more subtle in this text, but it is still there. Jesus sees 6 stone water jars at the wedding party and uses those very jars to turn water into wine. Those jars were used for Jewish ceremonial washing. My Bible footnote reads: "According to the Jews' ceremonial law, people became symbolically unclean by touching objects of everyday life. Before eating, the Jews would pour water over their hands to cleanse themselves of any bad influences associated with what they had touched." This cultural notion of defilement still exists in many modern belief systems. Although we don't see Jesus doing an act of cleaning here, we learn that "defilement/clean" is a common paradigm at play in His audiences' lives. And we know that (later) Jesus provides the answer to 'how can I be clean?'

Third, we see the "fear/power" paradigm at play through the miracle that Jesus performs. There is not so much an expression of fear in this scenario, but a bold demonstration of Jesus' power. My Bible footnote reads: "The miracle showed Jesus' power over nature... Miracles are not merely superhuman events, but events that demonstrate God's power." For those who witnessed this miracle of Jesus, do you think they wondered- in awe- if He had the power to change or rule over the things in their lives that made them feel fear? Jesus has the power to meet our needs, the ones we are desperate for intervention in.

Although the 3 paradigms at work in this passage don't specifically address salvation in these instances, they DO point to it. Because they touch on the issue of JESUS' ability to restore HONOR where there is shame, to offer CLEANNESS where there is defilement, and to demonstrate POWER which alleviates fear. These things point to Jesus' character, His powerful ability, and His role in our salvation!

Isn't that COOL!

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