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Saturday, June 20, 2009

On feasting and fighting

With Scott gone, leading team Bible study fell to me, and as always the process of spending the week in John 2 made it way more meaningful to me than to anyone else I'm sure.  It is a fascinating picture of the announcement of Jesus' ministry:  first, he rescues a wedding party by lavishly transforming water meant for ceremonial cleansing into fantastic wine.  Then he whips the chaos out of the temple courts so that the Gentiles can regain their access to worship.  Hard to imagine an mission or NGO with a similar ministry-launch, a combination of alcohol and fury, feasting and fighting, joy and judgement.  But if Jesus is to invite us into the final wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev 19) there are battles to be fought, because we live in a world gone awry, surrounded by enemies.  And the deeper symbolism only becomes apparent later, when the passover cup of wine turns into a true consuming of God's wrath, when Jesus' blood flows for the final cleansing and making of all things new.  In that moment we see wine and joy and pain and sorrow and wrath and judgment all come together in one action, LOVE.  In Skip Ryan's book on the Gospel of John I found this poem, which beautifully combines the images:

The Agony (George Herbert, 17th century poet)

He who knows not love,
Let him take and taste that juice
Which on the cross a nail against a beam did loose.

Then let him say, if he did ever taste the like,
Love is that liqueur, sweet and so divine,
Which my God tastes as blood, and I as wine.

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