Devotional Thoughts for Feb. 10, 2013/First Sunday of the Great Lent
- On the Third Day
Meditation on St. John 2:1-11. The Sign at Cana
By HG Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan, Thrissur
The Church, once again, is providing us a time for introspection and for transformation through the observance of the great lent which our Lord Himself observed. We read that He had only forty days fasting, but we know His whole life was an experience of fasting as He was always with His Father and with us which is the true meaning of fasting. This is how He walked to the cross, faced death and then walked out of the tomb. We are invited by the Church to walk all that way to resurrection slowly and step by step with Him who came out from among the dead. That is why we come across this observance every year. Through this we may climb the steps one by one to reach the total transformation of our self.
As you may know, Gospel according to St. John has to be read differently. He was not interested on a verbatim report on what all happened during Jesus life time on earth. Rather he wanted to bring out the theological insights of the events during Jesus days in this world.
John starts chapter 2 with a note on the day the sign was performed. He says, On the third day . This might look as if John was giving a chronological reference, well he was not. If we follow strictly the chronology it was not the third day, rather was the seventh day. First day John introduced Jesus to the public (1:15ff.); on the second day again John testifies Jesus (next day 1:29); on the third day once again John introduced Jesus to his disciples (one more next day 1:35 ff.); on the fourth day Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael (again another next day 1:43ff.). Then comes our third day (2:1). It should be assumed that the third is after the day Jesus called the two disciples, Philip and Nathanael, not the third after He was introduced by John. Following the chronology of the events, we may say that Cana event was on the 7th day after His public appearance. Seventh day is the day of perfection for the Jewish community. That is not what is referred here. The Jewish perfection day is calculated on the basis of the old creation narrative which has been surpassed by new creation that was at hand. Of course the old and the seventh of the old are in the back ground. But that is not what is important right now.
Right now the third day, when the transformation of the material or the bodily will take place is important. That is the day of resurrection when, according to Paul, the perishable shall become imperishable (1.Cor. 15:42ff.). The seventh day of the creation was in anticipation of the third day and therefore seventh has lost its immediate express relevance and third has received final relevance.
This is the day Jesus worked on the water to transform it to be fine wine which made the master of the ceremony extremely happy though did not know how it happened and where did it come from. It should be remembered that, in the creation event God worked on water on the third day to create fertile land where all living creatures live and multiply (living creature appeared in water also after God divided between water and land). That was a moment of happiness. Because the chaotic water which was all over under the sky with the deadly and evil monster Leviathan in it (Job 41:1), obeyed the command of God and gave way to the creative and life sustaining land (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). Here in Cana Jesus, the Word of God, which was the cause of all creation (John 1:3, 4), again works on water, with a Word of command, to make it live with fermentation and that gives joy to His creation (in our Holy Eucharist we need to use fermented wine with life in it and not just grape juice which is only a soft drink). This is another reason why John specifically brings in the third day to reference. Of course what happened at Cana was only a sign (John 2:11). The final third day is in the waiting. So no one should get too excited at this third day event when one of the materials in this world gets transformed. What is to be longed for is the final third day when the whole created world shall be transformed.
The passage is part of a larger section 1:19 to 12:50 which is to be compared with the detailed description of Jesus public ministry according to the other three Gospels (the Synoptic Gospels). This large section is called the book of signs as what all Jesus did during this period and recorded here were signs. A sign is not an end in itself, rather points to something greater and that lies in future. Everything Jesus did on earth pointed towards what was to happen beyond historical arena and hence had to be comprehended by people as such. This event was the first among several to follow. So the joy that was in this event had to be taken further to a joy that will be at the end.
This passage again is the climax of Jesus calling of the disciples. Actually we do not have the names of all the disciples recorded here. Only four, Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip and Nathanael are mentioned. The name Nathanael is not mentioned in the other Gospels. Commentators say, Nathanael should be Bartholomew (Matt. 10:3. son of Tholmai). The climax is marked by the last verse of our passage where it is said, And His disciples believed in Him meaning those disciples called by Him witnessed the sign and it helped them believe in Him (2:11). Whatever Jesus did in this world was for his disciples to believe in Him. Believing in Him is not a passive sentimental attitude, rather an active participative life style (John 14:12). This is what He prayed for before the tomb of Lazarus ( So that they may believe that you sent Me. John 11:42). From this prayer we may understand that He was not hopping to have just four or twelve disciple to believe in Him, rather everyone who may see or hear of Jesus acts of signs.
This certainly includes us too. We are his disciples who may look at what He does in this world, in our lives and in history and believe in Him. Many a time what He does in our lives is taken by us as a single act of blessing upon us. Of course it is, but we need to consider them as signs only, that we do not get too excited about what happened, rather wait for what shall happen in future, a full participation in the death and resurrection of our Lord, now in this world in our daily life and, further in the world to come. What happens now is only a sign for us to believe that greater things are possible with Him and are in the waiting. Every day has to be a third day for us for more than one reason.
Metropolitan Yuhanon Mor Meletius, Thrissur
- Dear Believers,
�This is another reason why John specifically brings in �the third day� to reference. Of course what happened at Cana was only a � sign� (John 2:11). The final �third day� is in the waiting. So no one should get too excited at this �third day� event when one of the materials in this world gets transformed. What is to be longed for is the final third day when the whole created world shall be transformed.�
I totally agree with Melitios thirumeni�s view. Biblical numerology is a treasure house of mysteries. 2nd day, third day, 7th day 12th day, 40th day, etc are numerical secrets that finger point to the journey till we reach the 8th day, that is Eternity. 1,000 years is equivalent to 1 day. St. Peter and Moses, 2 Pet. 3:13; Ps. 90:4. There are vividly 3 ages or days, OT, NT and 1, 000 years in paradise. I have given detailed accounts of these 3 epochs in my books, quoting OT AND NT.
�On the 3rd day there was a marriage at can, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus was also invited to the marriage, Jn. 2:1-2.� The 3rd day referred here is the wedding feast in the bridal chamber in Paradise after second epoch that dawns the 3rd day. Hence the wedding in Cana that represents the wedding in Paradise for which Jesus came down to earth for inviting us for the banquet. The Mother of Jesus was already there, and Jesus came down from the right side of the Father to the Paradise for the wedding. Rev. 20 and 21 illustrates more details about this wedding and subsequent account of our journey to of New Jerusalem.
Miracle of wedding feast in Cana that delineates the wedding feast in the Bridal chamber is the beginning of miracles in the celestial plane that is replete with mysteries. The 50th day after 7 weeks of great lent that participate in the Passions and sufferings and resurrection of the Lord is the Jubilee year that make us free from the servitude of sin.
2nd day is vitally important. 'You know that after two days the Passover is coming..., Mt. 27:2. Passover means passing over to another stage, from this world to Paradise, say after 2, 000 years. We do not know the exact time. As my health is not conducive for writing more, I take my leave here.
E.S. John, Australia