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2960RE: [John_Lit] Filling to the Brim?

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  • pi.veldhuizen@wxs.nl
    Jan 1, 2003
      Jeffery asked:

      "In John 2:7, the servants fill the jars to the brim
      with water. Was this normal procedure for large stone
      jars used for ceremonial purification?"

      Although I do not know to what extent such jars used to be filled, I would
      like to remark that an abundant supply of 'traditional' water is surely
      "normal procedure" in John 1-7.
      This supply is both in some sense praparatory to, and stands in opposition
      to the new gift that Jesus is offering.

      In John 2 it is plenty of purification water in the jars - which seems to me
      to symbolize fulfilment of the law "to the brim". It will not bring
      salvation if it remains external, at the door - but brought inside and
      touched by the word of Jesus it becomes a purifying power of another kind.
      Wine is more like fire than like water..

      In John 3 there is plenty of water where John is baptizing - whereas no
      water at all is mentioned when the mysterious baptismal practice of Jesus is
      mentioned. The Baptist states the opposition: I am baptizing with water, he
      will baptize with fire and spirit. The Baptist, the utter representant of
      the Old Covenant, needs a full supply of water to prepare people for the
      qualitative change that he himself cannot perform. In his last speech in
      John, about the bridegroom, he himself is the one that, as it were, carries
      the water into the wedding room where Jesus takes over to baptize with fire.

      In John 4 Jacob's Well presents a water supply sufficient for father Jacob,
      all his sons and all his flock (verse 12). According to Jewish tradition,
      Jacob's Well used to be filled to the brim every time when Jacob came to
      draw water. Again, though not in the same way, this place of traditional
      abundance is the starting point where Jesus takes over and offers his own
      new gift instead.

      In John 5, Jesus comes to the pool of Bethesda and, not denying the actual
      saving power of this abundant supply of water, touches the lame with his
      word, offering his saving gift instead.

      In John 7, finally, Jesus appears at the Feast of Tabernacles, which
      involved abundant outpouring of water by the priests in the temple court, at
      the place where according to prophecy a river would spring forth at the day
      of salvation and water all the land - and without bringing water Jesus
      proclaims that faith in himself will make that river to flow out of your
      inner self. And look - Jesus does not proclaim so at the beginning of the
      feast, but at the end (7:37), when the feast is "filled to the brim".

      Is this to say that you cannot accuse the Johannine Jesus of not taking
      tradition seriously? Or is it to say that Jesus'gift enters precisely there,
      where the holy tradition is fulfilled to the brim - as its utter fulfillment
      which fully acknowledges its weight before taking its place?

      Thank you, Jeffery, for this occasion to arrange some loose threads in my
      Kind greetings and best wishes, let us fill this new year to the brim, and
      may the word of Christ change all the water we'll carry into it, into wine!

      Piet van Veldhuizen
      Rotterdam, Netherlands
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