Monday, February 14, 2005

A Good Mystery

Read John 2:1-12

Most folks know that the Gospel of John is just a little bit different from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. While they tell the story about Jesus, John wants to know what it is that enables Jesus to do the things he does, how it is that he is so different from other people. The other gospel writers focus on the man Jesus, John wants to understand the mystery of Jesus.

And in trying to understand, and explain, that mystery to us, John gives us behind-the-scenes glimpses of Jesus' ministry, he lets us in on conversations that appear to be private, he interprets as well as records the events which involve Jesus. And like any good mystery, John plants clues for us - images, words, hints, people - that will help pull everything together by the end of the gospel.

While John tells no birth narrative about Jesus, he does mention his mother. In the story we read today, Jesus begins his public ministry at a celebration - a wedding. Because they are part of the community, Jesus and his disciples are invited to attend. And at this very public event, surrounded by family, friends, and neighbors, Jesus performs what we call a miracle. He transforms water into wine. And his mother, Mary, is there, as one of the guests. But more importantly, she is the first believer ("do whatever he tells you"). Jesus begins his ministry with the trust, the support, the belief of his mother. And at the end of his ministry, when he is dying on the cross, he will look down and see his mother - still with him, still believing, still trusting.

And the clue John gives us is not the miracle that Jesus performs, but the statement that it is a 'sign'. It seems that John could care less whether or not Jesus can change water into wine, or recognize that a woman he is talking to by a well is living with a man, or that a fellow sitting under a tree comes from a certain town. What matters is that all these things are signs (clues) that point to Jesus. They are events, and conversations, and experiences that allow us to see Jesus for who he truly is - God's Word that has been embodied in human flesh.

Just as God once spoke creation into being, now God will speak salvation into existence, in the One who speaks compassion to those despised by the religious, in the One who is willing to be brother to every woman and man who have no family, in the One who shines light into the lives who visit him in the shadows of morning, in the One who prays for release in a garden and goes to a cross to deliver us from sin, in the One who solves the mystery of death by giving us life.

Prayer: Too often, Speaking God, we don't have a clue as to what you are doing in our world, or in our lives. Yet, you leave hints and signs all around us: in the laughter of children, in the wisdom of our grandparents, in the beauty of creation. Help us to be open to the mystery of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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