Dear Church Family,
In the preaching series in the Gospel According to John which we began at the beginning of this year, we have just left the Prologue of John’s Gospel (John 1:1-18) and have entered into the historical narrative. As such, I’d like to clue you in to something very interesting that the Apostle John does as he recounts the beginnings of Jesus’ earthly ministry: he deliberately describes the events of these verses (John 1:19-2:11) as having transpired over the course of one week.
This first week of John’s Gospel is delineated by John through certain markers: “the next day” (John 1:29), “again the next day” (John 1:35), “they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour” (John 1:39), “the next day” (John 1:43), and “on the third day” (John 2:1). When we put all of these things together, we may outline this first week as follows:
Day 1 (John 1:19-28) – John the Baptist is interrogated by a Jewish delegation from Jerusalem
Day 2 (John 1:29-34) – John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is of a higher rank, the Lamb of God
Day 3 (John 1:35-39) – Jesus calls two disciples (Andrew and one who is unnamed)
Day 4 (John 1:40-42) – Andrew brings his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus
Day 5 (John 1:43-51) – Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael
Day 7 (John 2:1-11) – Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding in Cana
Leon Morris writes in his commentary on these verses, “The opening of the narrative proper might well be understood as the account of the happenings of one momentous week. John does not stress the point, but he does give notes of time that seem to indicate this.”
Since, as Morris points out, this is not a point that John stresses, we probably ought not to make too much of it; however, there are at least two ways in which we may draw some teaching and application from this ‘first week’ outline.
The Beginnings of a New Creation
First, John’s pattern of laying out this first week as he does highlights the parallel that he seems to be drawing in his Gospel to the first week of creation. This parallel is also seen in the opening verse of the book of Genesis and the Gospel of John, “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). Just as the opening words of the Gospel reveal this deliberate parallel, so does the structure of beginnings of the historical narrative.
What that teaches us is that Jesus is engaged in beginning a re-creation – the Redeemer has entered into the created order. Jesus is beginning the work of forming a people, the Church, who are a new creation (Galatians 6:15). Presently, those who have the first fruits of the Spirit are groaning together, eagerly awaiting the consummation of Christ’s work (Romans 8:20-25). On the last day and return of Christ, He will make all things new (Revelation 21:1-6).
The Provision of Sabbath Rest
Second, in pointing out the order of the days of this first week as he does, it seems that John is emphasizing the theological significance of Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). In that passage, we are told, “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). The stated purpose of Jesus’ miracle is that it manifested (or revealed) His glory, and it was this evidence that was the immediate inducement of faith in His disciples.
At the same time, when we see that this miracle took place on the seventh day of this first week as John describes it, it highlights the spiritual rest which Jesus brings. The rest, which is commanded and signified in the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15) is fulfilled and realized in the spiritual rest that Jesus gives (Hebrews 4:1-11). This idea of rest, or freedom from the Law, is also illustrated in the fact Jesus used the waterpots designated for the Jewish custom of purification (John 2:6) and from these ceremonial pots, He brought forth good wine (John 2:10). Jesus fulfilled the Law and purifies His people by His Spirit.
All of this reveals how the Bible emphasizes the new beginning for the people of God which is inaugurated at Jesus’ first coming. In this first week of the John’s Gospel, Jesus begins to restructure the people of God, with Himself as the locus or center. As the One who gives rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30), He does away with the ceremonial laws and reveals His glory in His first miracle at the wedding of Cana.
Just as He gave a new name to Simon Peter and then changed the water into wine, He creates in us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:25-27). “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This is the good news of the gospel. This is the glorious work of our Savior. These are the blessings that we enjoy in the new covenant, because Christ, the Son of God, has come!
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch