For a few years in seminary, I was the graduation coordinator for our school. This meant that every spring we hosted 2000 people to watch 200 students graduate. On the big day, one of the most important parts of the ceremony was the pledge spoken by the president and the students. And that pledge required reading a covenant from the graduation bulletin.
Most years this went off without a hitch, but one year we forgot to put bulletins on the graduates seats, so that by the time that the president was looking for the graduates to respond, there was no response.
It was a semi-catastrophe, and one that required a few people to run around throwing bulletins to graduates. Clearly big events require a myriad of specific details to make them run smoothly.
The same is true in salvation. If God is going bring salvation to the world as John 4:42 says, there are an infinite number of details that go into giving eternal life to those who deserve everlasting death. To be specific the number of details is not actually infinite, because God alone is infinite. But the number of details is so large that the whole of humanity could not discover it, even if everyone of us was named Solomon or Einstein or Elon.
The truth is, God delights to create a world so manifestly complex that he alone can run it. And marvelously in the middle of his vast creation he enjoys wedding planning too. In fact, the world as we know it began with a wedding in Eden and it will end with a wedding in Zion. In between, God is working all things together for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose—which is the eternal union between Christ and his bride.
The Storyline of John 4
After John finishes his opening chapter, John 2 takes us to a wedding in Cana, where Jesus performed his first sign. At the end of John 4, John returns to Cana, to the place of this wedding. Not coincidentally, we find a second sign here (v. 54).
Apparently, John does not want us to miss the way these two events in Cana are linked. First, he identifies the healing as the second sign in verse 54, which builds on the first sign. He also mentions the water turned to wine in verse 46. And last he places this healing of the royal officials son on the third day just like the wedding. N.B. The second sign comes on the day after the two days in Samaria.
In short, John is working a myriad of details into this last section of John 2–4. And knowing that John 2–4 is inspired by the God who is an Eternal Wedding Planner, we should see that the healing of this boy is more than a glorious miracle. Rather, this second sign is the culmination of everything we have seen in John 2–4.
Indeed, it is an event that shows God’s power to raise the dead by his Word, and it is a launching pad for everything that will happen in the rest of John’s Gospel. By the end of John, we will find another Son who does not merely approach death, but dies and rises again. As John records, God the Son Incarnate will die for the sins of his people and by his resurrection, he will create a people who will be his everlasting bride. Wonderfully, this is the message of John 2–4, which prepares the way for the rest of the Gospel.
Resources on John 2–4
Over the last few weeks (and years actually), I have preached on these verses, and you can find all of those messages here:
- We Have Seen His Glory (John 2:1–12) — By Bruce Forsee
- The True Temple (John 2:13–25)
- The Light That Brings Life (John 3:1–21)
- He Must Increase (John 3:22–36) — No Audio :-(
- Well, Well, Well: Look What We Have Here: A Marriage, A Mountain, and a Messiah (pt. 1) — A Sermon on John 4:1–18
- Well, Well, Well, Look What We Have Here: A Marriage, A Mountain, and a Messiah (pt. 2) — A Sermon on John 4:16–26
- Well, Well, Well: A Marriage, a Mountain, and a Messiah (pt. 3) — A Sermon on John 4:27-42
- The Wedding Planner: What the Second Sign Teaches Us about Prayer, Jesus, Faith, and the End of All Things (John 4:43–54)
You can also find a few helpful study guides here:
- Getting Back Into John’s Gospel: An Introduction to Jesus Christ in John 1–2
- Seeing the Literary Structure of John 2–4
- What Does Baptism Look Like? Seven Observations from John 3:22–36
- Was Jesus Among the Larpers? How Reading John 4 with Genesis 29 Helps Us Understand Biblical Typology and Jesus’s Identity
- Seeing New Creation Light in John 2–4: Three Ways Jesus Replaces the Darkness of the Old Covenant
John is a glorious book and it points to the Son who is full of grace and truth. May we continue to look to him to find life in him. And may these sermons be a help to that end.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds
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