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John 1:35-3:21 #eebc2018

Well, there’s a lot to cover in this passage. That’s what comes of using a computer program to generate a reading plan: it may stretch it farther or make it lopsided. You might need to spread out some of the Friday readings.

This one moves from the public identification of Jesus by John through the calling of the first disciples and then to the first of the miracles identified by John as a “sign” of Jesus as the Messiah. Then we have the interaction of Nicodemus.

Let’s work quickly:

1. I find it interesting that you have public action, public action, public action, and then a private conversation with Nicodemus. This is something to watch in John: the balance between public and private actions in John. Note, for example, that the miracle is public though the actual disclosure of how it happened was not.

2. There is no linguistic or grammatical reason to think that “wine” means anything other than “wine.” That does not mean that Jesus endorses general alcohol consumption and it’s plain that drunkenness is a sin. The telling reality is that it took until the American Prohibition movement of the late 1800s for anyone to define the Greek word for “wine” as anything but wine. If it takes 1800 years to redefine a word, there’s a question there.

Now, wine was typically diluted and drunkenness was frowned upon, so there’s really no parallel to modern wine. Think of it this way: you’re probably talking consuming a beverage that has a grape (or other fruit, probably grape) flavor but is mostly water. A usual ratio was 3 or 4 parts water to 1 part wine. A typical modern wine takes about 3 glasses to hit the legal intoxication limit—you’d have to quintuple that to make the same alcohol content. That’s if there was any strength to the wine. It may have been very weak.

What’s the value? A bit of alcohol kills a lot of bacteria. That’s the main thing that’s happening.

Jesus turning water into wine does not justify beverage alcohol. The cultural gap is bigger than that.

3. Note that the first disciples rapidly bring others to Christ—the Gospel travels most rapidly down relational lines.

Further thoughts: John 2 and John 3 (and more John 3)

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