Take a Look, It’s in Two Books—Reading Glory: A Reflection of Genesis in John’s Gospel

Theme Party for Wednesday, June 11 (’14)

Read Genesis 1-2 and John 1-2:11.

The two most creative events in human history are not about us; they’re about God.  Separated by unknown years, they set a trajectory that expands from seminal, original events to encompass and transform everything, from what we see to ways we sing, from how we think to why we act.

In Genesis 1, God speaks chaos and disorder into order and rhythmic harmony: Days 1-7 record the refrain, “And God said…and it was….and it was good.”  The climax, in Genesis 2:22-25, is a celebratory love poem that sets an absolute, timeless standard for marital bliss and purpose: marriage is not about us, it is about spreading the glory of the Lord across the globe.  As they were brought together in love, they were to procreate and spread the image of God (i.e., a reflection of God’s majestic character illustrated in Man), from one end of the Garden to the other, and beyond.

In John 1, the Apostle intentionally echoes the language of the pre-historic creation to establish that the one about whom he writes is the same one who spoke harmony from chaos in Genesis 1.  Attentive readers assume what comes next will also be similar to what they have read in Genesis; they are not disappointed.

John 2 reflects Genesis 1: the Creator takes what is useless in the moment, speaks a powerful and transformational word, and before anyone knows what has happened, creates precisely what is needed for his glory to be displayed and declared by witnesses. Jesus takes water, issues orders, and gives wine for no other reason than to display his glory in an obscure corner of an otherwise unimportant area of a Roman province.  Like Genesis, John 2 establishes a standard of bliss: it is this man—the only True Alchemist—who is more than he appears.  We have no where to go for life but him.  Thus, only a few chapters later, Simon Peter responds to a question from Jesus with the confession, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Did they realize they were witnessing a replica—a re-creation?  Regardless, we do, and we must confess and sing as did Simon Peter: I will be yours: you have the words of eternal life.

The following similarities are noteworthy in unequivocally linking John’s Jesus to Moses’ Creator and in explaining why Jesus would choose water as an instrument of initial glory—his first miracle.  Once seen, the harmony, from temporally and spatially disconnected events, becomes clear and we find a new fuel for song, worship, obedience, and expectation.  In short, we find a foundation for the beginning of the rest of our existence.

Genesis 1: first miracle, involving water, leading to Creation
John 2: first miracle, involving water, leading to a new-creation

Genesis 1: the “word” creates
John 1-2: the “Word” creates

Genesis 1: An (originally) limited audience which grew to universal awareness (cf. Ps 19)
John 2: A private locale at a private party which grew to universal awareness (cf. John 20:30-31)

Genesis 1-2: Two witnesses celebrate
John 2: A few witnesses celebrate

Genesis 1-2: Abundance of life and growth
John 2: Abundance of wine, a symbol of life and growth

Genesis 1-2: Order out of useless water
John 2: Order out of useless water

Genesis 1-2:  Displays his power and glory, esp. his divine nature, finalized by an invitation for people to be satisfied in his glory and rest as they enjoy his provision for them in Creation.
John 2:  Displays his power and glory, esp. his divine nature, finalized by a provision and invitation for people to enjoy what he’s given them in a new-creation wine.

Genesis 1-2: Concludes (2:22-25) in wedding celebration as Adam and Eve are joined together in marital bliss.
John 2: Concludes in wedding celebration with the best wine served last, contrary to prevailing cultural norms, as a declaration that the Creator has come to turn his people’s sorrow to joyful bliss.

I’m thankful for the Old Testament.  If John did not have Genesis 1-2, this miracle, Jesus’ first, would not have had the same punch it does.  The message is as clear as the wine was red: This Jesus is bringing a new creation to replace the old, beginning with a new birth to replace the old, to all who place their trust in him.  God’s majestic character, once illustrated in all men (but twisted due to sin), now is embodied in One Man.  Cease from your work; the time for celebrating has come!


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