Sharing John's Gospel
by Craig Bogley

Session 3 - The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12)

Environment - Equivalent to Session 1

Prayer - "Breath Into Me the Courage to Make Something New" (Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace, 100-101).

Reading - John 2:1-12. Have one person read the passage slowly. Suggest that each person listen for the essence of the story and to identify the people involved.

1. Who would like to briefly summarize the story?
2. Who would like to name the people involved in this story?

Facilitator - Notice from the outline of John handed out in Session 1 that this reading is the first of seven signs in which the Word reveals himself to the world and to his own, but they will not accept him. Part Two: From Cana to Cana, John 2:1--4:54 treats themes about the replacement of the Old Testament institutions. Note the parallel with the message in 2 Cor 5:17, "The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." John's Gospel in this sense may be considered a Christian Genesis, a story of re-creation. The Wedding at Cana speaks to the replacement of Jewish purifications.

Reading - Chose another person to read John 2:1-12 a second time. Instruct the audience to select one of the people in the narrative. In their imaginations during the reading of the story, they are to pretend that they have become the person selected.

3. Describe what you experienced as the selected person during the reading of the passage.
4. To what does "on the third day" in John 2:1 refer?

Facilitator - "The third day" seems to continue the series of days from John 1:29, 35 43. Wedding festivities usually lasted a week and those invited might be expected to contribute consumables such as wine. But also read Exodus 19:16 (pause to read aloud). "The third day" could also recall the moment of God's revelation and the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. And could this also be a foretelling of the resurrection?

5. What biblical images in Isaiah 25 does John 2:1 summon up?

Facilitator - Isaiah 25:6-8 also summons up images of the messianic era and its fullness marked by wine and the abundance of fine food.

Reread - John 2:3-5

6. What role does the mother of Jesus have?
7. How would you interpret the sharp, twofold response from Jesus?

Facilitator - Jesus asks, "O woman, what have you to do with me?" Clearly, this is not the type of response a son usually makes to his mother. The response is abrupt, and puts distance between himself and his mother perhaps drawing attention to the relationship and mission which he has with the Father.

8. What does "My hour has not yet come" mean?

Facilitator - This is a further reference indicating that Jesus' life is marked by a series of events leading to an "hour," determined by his relation ship with the Father.

9. How would you explain Mary's surprising response in the face of a rebuke in which it is made clear that she stands outside the world of the relationship between Father and Jesus?

Facilitator - With unconditional trust and with no foreknowledge of God's designs for her son, she issues instructions to the servants to do anything he tells them to do. She is the first person in the narrative to show that the correct response to the presence of Jesus is trust in his word. In her brief appearance she triggers the action that leads to the miracle, the manifestation of the glory of Jesus, and the faith of the disciples.

Reread - John 2:6-10

10. What is the significance of the stone jars?

Facilitator - Note that these are six of them, one short of the "perfect" number. This could be an indication that the previous gift of the Law is to be perfected in the coming of Christ. Such jars were free from uncleanness and hence, were used in Jewish purification rituals. The water in these jars is to be transformed into a "sign" in and through which Christ's glory will be revealed.

11. What important theme does the action in the story illustrate?

Facilitator - The mother's command is executed perfectly. The servants do just as Jesus instructs, (1) to fill the water jars to the brim, and (2) to draw from the jars and take a sample to the steward. A crucial theme here is the importance of accepting the "word" of Jesus.

12. What role does the bridegroom play in the narrative?

Facilitator - Note that he plays no active role; he is only spoken to. The steward believes that the bridegroom is responsible for the fullness of the excellent wine, but is surprised that this wine is available near the end of the celebration. Although the mother of Jesus was told that the hour had not come, the steward seems to think that it has, as he tells the bridegroom that he has kept the best wine until now. However rich the gift of wine may have been, Jesus points beyond to a larger story, his final revealing "hour".

Reread - John 2:11

13. What does the narrator's comment signify in this verse?

Facilitator - We have seen in the Prologue an announcement that the glory was seen in the incarnation of the Word in the person of Jesus Christ. This fullness of God's gift perfected the former gift of the Law. This verse indicates the beginning of signs in which Christ's glory was manifested. The transformation of water into wine is the first sign of the Word in the world and a foretaste of the transformation to come. The disciples who initially tried to contain Jesus within the limitations of their own messianic hopes , illustrated in John 1:35-51, came to believe when confronted with this first sign of the glory of Christ.

Reread - John 2:12

14. What is the significance of this verse?

Facilitator - The major people of the story are assembled, Jesus, his mother, the disciples and the brothers of Jesus are added. The group journeys from Cana to Capernaum. This closing comment indicates not only physical movement, but a spiritual journey more deeply into the narrative.

15. Are there further questions or comments you would like to discuss before we close in prayer?

Closing Prayer - "Teach Me Your Ways" (Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace, 102-103).

For Session 4 - Read John 3, esp. the Nicodemus Story (2:23-3:36)

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