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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Gospel of John and a New Creation

In the Gospel of John, we see in the first chapter, three times in a row, John using the phrase "the next day" then in John chapter 2 he says, "on the third day". Now while we might be tempted to just read over these, but they are significant. If you add up the days it equals 7 days.

We see here a recreation theme going on. This is how this plays itself out in the text:

  • The gospel of John begins - "in the beginning" and has an introduction about the eternity of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist. This introduction is the first day.
  • Then on the "next day," John calls Jesus the "lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." This is the second day.
  • Then on the "next day," which is the third day, Jesus chooses his first disciples.
  • Then on the "next day," Jesus calls Philip and Nathaniel. This is the 4th day.
  • Finally, in John Chapter 2 is the wedding feast at Cana, which begins "on the third day". Well, the third day from the fourth day is the seventh day.
It is appropriate for the wedding to be on the seventh day, a covenant is being made between a man and a woman on the same day that God would make his covenant with Adam and Eve.

I also found more evidence of a recreation theme inside each one of those days as well.

  • The Gospel of John opens in verses 4 and 5 and says that Jesus was the light of men and in verse 5 that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
    - This is an echo of the first day of Creation when God made light and separated the light from the darkness.
  • Now when it says in John 1: 29 "on the next day" it talks about being baptized with water and the spirit coming out of the heaven.
    - Back in Genesis on the second day God separated the waters below, from the sky above.
  • On the third day, when Jesus calls his first disciples, he renamed Simon - Peter or Rock.
    - In Genesis on the third day is when God made the dry land appear.
  • On the fourth day, when Jesus meets Nathanael and Philip, Jesus says to Nathanael - "Truly, Truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
    - In Genesis on the 4th day - God fills the heaven with the sun, moon, and stars. And stars are symbols for angels as St. John tells us in his other book, the book of Revelation - Revelation 12:4: "the dragons tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth" - which is interpreted in Revelation 12: 9 - "and the great dragon was thrown down that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, he was thrown down to the earth and his angels with him."
  • Finally, in John 2 when it says "on the third day" which in John's chronology is the seventh day, we see Jesus at a wedding, just like Adam and Eve made a covenant with God on the seventh day.
    - In John 2 it says "on the third day." It is pointing forward as well to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and ultimately to our own resurrection on the last day when we will enter the new creation of the new heavens and the new earth.

Oh, and there is more!

In John Chapter 2 when it says "on the third day," we have calculated that it is also the seventh day. In the Old Testament, there was a ritual that was to take place on both the third day and the seventh day.
In Numbers Chapter 19, it talks about being ritually unclean if you have come in contact with any dead body. You would have to wash with water on the third day and the seventh day. Only after that could you rejoin the community for public worship.

I believe that by Jesus taking this water at the wedding at Cana, he was using it to reinstate those people who had been defiled by touching the dead in the sense that we are all "spiritually" dead. Jesus, by making the water into wine, is pointing us to the Eucharist that would bring us life. He is prefiguring here the Eucharistic cup which is "the best wine" that the bridegroom gives his guests at the wedding feast.


Anonymous said...

Working along the same lines, I thought I saw, in the way Jesus and John the Baptist (and Moses) are described in John 1, a reference to the 'greater and lesser lights' of Genesis 1 - the moon reflecting the light of the sun. John set out to write a different sort of gospel, depicting Jesus as the physical and spiritual embodiment of OT prophecy. So, John 1 introduces us to the Lord (Jehovah) Jesus Christ as Creator, Son of God, Messiah, Passover Lamb, Fulfiller of the law, Source of grace, truth and eternal life (the new birth) and Baptiser in the Holy Spirit. Throughout his gospel, John uses the physical necessities of life - light, air (breath), blood, drink (water, wine), food (bread, meat) - to illustrate the spiritual necessities of life that are only found through faith in Jesus.

Anonymous said...

There is another significance to the 3rd day and the 7th day. Saint Teresa of Avila depicts the spiritual journey as a journey towards marriage to the Groom, Christ, which happens when the soul reaches the 7th mansion, in the 3rd stage of the spiritual life. (See "Interior Castle" by Teresa of Avila and "Three Ages of the Interior Life" by Garrigou Legrange.) Also, didn't it take 7 times in the river to be cleansed of the leprosy in the OT and have the skin come out as pure and silky as a new born baby's?