What did he mean by that?
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they say something that makes you think later, “What did he mean by that?”. Perhaps it was a little ‘throw away phrase’ tucked into a story left as a clue. Maybe a hint to something they will tell you later; maybe a reference to something they aren’t ready to share yet.
That happened to us this week as Christiane and I were preparing the sermon for Sunday. We were talking about the story of Jesus turning water into wine starting in John 2:1. Then Christiane asked me: Isn’t it interesting that John starts the account of Jesus first miracle with: “On the third day…” ? It is a little opening phrase I have skipped perhaps every time I’ve read this passage. Since “All scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction” (2 Tim. 3:16), once she said it, I had to ask: “What did he mean by that?”
If I came to you and said: “On the third day”, then asked you where I was going with that, most likely you would think I was referring to the Resurrection. Could this be exactly what the Gospel writer was foreshadowing in the midst of Jesus’ first miracle? If so, why did he put that here in the story of water being transformed into wine?
Last Sunday we spoke about the importance of looking at Scripture in a way that puts Jesus and His redemption of the world in the forefront. In a passage like this, we must look beyond the surface meaning of the miracle being performed and into the intention of God in all things: the revelation of Himself, the coming of His Kingdom, and redemption of the world.
This particular phrase “on the third day”, which at first glance seems to be just a reference to the day of the week, makes us think of another time when John uses familiar words to evoke a deeper meaning. In chapter 1:1, John presents Jesus’ divinity by using another familiar phrase, “In the Beginning…” His intentions are clear here. He is using the well known passage in Genesis 1:1 “In the Beginning God created…” to establish that Jesus is from eternity to eternity. He is the WORD. He is the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“In the beginning” may ground us in John’s account of the life of Jesus in our midst, but he quickly draws the parallel that this is not a literal account of when Jesus’ life started. Since He has always been the “I AM” from eternity to eternity.
In our passage, even if John was just recording the day of the week when these events took place, we should explore a deeper meaning and see what else God wants to reveal to us today.
The miracle of transforming water into wine, on the third day, points to the amazing victory Jesus secured for us on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection gives us the opportunity to also be transformed from inside out. Not as literal water being turned into wine, but as our spirits (our lives) get to be inhabited and transformed by His Spirit. We can now say with Paul:
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Gal 2:20a
Glory to the One who secured us victory!
Blessings and peace,
Rev. Todd and Dr. Christiane