Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mary's Role in Heaven

Joh 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
Joh 2:2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.
Joh 2:3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."
Joh 2:4 And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
Joh 2:5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Joh 2:6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
Joh 2:7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
Joh 2:8 And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it.
Joh 2:9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom
Joh 2:10 and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now."
Joh 2:11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

There are several very key points here. First, note how it starts off:

Joh 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
Joh 2:2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

John introduces this scene by putting the emphasis on Mary. He says, this is what's going on, and this is who is there. Then he says, "Jesus was also invited..." This doesn't mean Jesus isn't important, but John begins by making sure we are paying attention to Mary. The reader is naturally inclined to be focused on Jesus, and the fact is that Jesus is prominent in this passage as well, so the reader would simply take no notice of Mary while reading this passage. However, John wants to make sure there is attention on her by immediately putting her in the forefront in the beginning before the narrative starts focusing on Christ. This way the reader will not pass her over, whereas if it began by saying "On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and Jesus was there. His mother was there also," Mary would fall into the background too quickly and the reader wouldn't pay any attention to her.

Next we see that Mary intercedes for the wedding guests so that Jesus will grant them something, which ends up being wine. So at a bare minimum this passage is showing us Mary in an intercessory role.

But there's something far, far more interesting about this passage. If we go back to John chapter 1, we see a summary of Christ calling the apostles. He is starting to build His kingdom. The last line of John chapter 1 says:

Joh 1:51 And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Immediately after John records Jesus saying "you will see heaven opened," he writes "On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there."

So John tells us that the kingdom of Heaven will be opened, then he says "on the third day there was a wedding." Again and again and again Heaven is described by Jesus as being a wedding. John, who wrote this very passage, uses the image in Revelation where he describes Heaven as the "marriage supper of the lamb." On top of this, Heaven was opened to all believers on the third day after the crucifixion.

So if we read through John chapter 1 into John 2, we see Jesus building the kingdom, then we are told we will see Heaven opened up, then we are told that there was a wedding on the third day. This happens to be the only wedding in the entire New Testament, a New Testament filled with the use of weddings to represent Heaven. What we are seeing in the wedding at Cana is Heaven. What we see in John 1-2 is a description of Christ building His kingdom, then of Heaven being opened on the third day in which Jesus brings desciples to Heaven.

There's more. John starts his gospel by paralleling Genesis 1:1, when he says, "In the beginning..." He then describes the creation, saying, "all things were made through him..." He then mentions the Mosaic Covenant, saying "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."(17) He then mentions Isaiah and John the Baptist, two of the prophets, quoting John saying, "He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."(23) John the prophet is leading the way to Christ. Then Jesus comes, and we are told "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (29) Then John mentions the coming of the Holy Spirit in verse 32. Then we see Jesus gather desciples.

Then So really, if we read John 1-2, we see John summarize:

1) The Creation
2) The Law
3) The Prophets
4) The coming of Christ (the Nativity)
5) The descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost)
6) The The Building of Jesus' Kingdom

John is paralleling his account to the entire history of the world. Then when this is done, he says we will see Heaven opened and then describes a wedding on the third day.

The wedding is, again, the only description of an actual wedding n the New Testament, even though the enitre New Testament, including John himself, use weddings again and again and again to describe Heaven. He presents this right after saying Heaven will be seen opened, and he places it on the third day, which is when Heaven was opened up. The wedding at Cana is a description of Heaven.

And in that description, John calls our attention to Mary, and Mary intercedes and Christ as a result performs a miralce involving wine, which connects directly to the concept of the Eucharist. Then the master of the feast rewards the bridegroom because the wine the bridegroom has provided is the good wine, the best wine, wine that is better than the previous wines. This is a description of the Father rewarding the Son for His good blood. This miracle, we are told, manifested Christ's glory.

After this, John introduces a new scene, this time keeping Christ in the forefront by introducing it, " After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother..." (12) This further makes the point that John's introduction of Mary first, almost in away describing the main character of a story and describing Christ the way one would describe a lesser character, is not just a fluke (nothing in Scripture could be anyways), but is significant.

Of course if you try to take John 1-2 as a literal timetable of the history of the world, it won't work, because He's already shown up in John 1 before Moses and Isaiah and so forth. The point is that John is drawing a parallel, not giving a summary. Protestant commentators have also noticed this parallel, in fact many of them. Same thing with the wedding. The analogy is not perfect, but Jesus' parables aren't either. Parables and anaolgies are things which are similar to other things; by their very nature, they are also dissimilar, or else they would be the things they represent, which they are not. The sorts of things I am describing here are what are called polyvalent symbolism, something studied in the Scriptures by Catholics and Protestants alike, in which one symbol has multiple meanings.

(By the way, this doesn't really have to do with the post but it is so related I will put it up anyways. We see that after this description, John turns attention to the Passover feast. Then he makes another reference to "three days" and says that also at the Passover feast He did signs which led people to believe, just as His sign at the wedding was described as leading people to believe. This seems to be a comparison between the Heavenly goings-on and the Mass.)

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