John the Evangelist’s gospel is chockablock with nuptial imagery. He begins his gospel by carefully drawing our minds back to Genesis with the words “In the beginning” (John 1:1). He then audaciously takes us back not merely to the beginning of creation, but to (if we may speak of it this way) the eternity behind creation. That is, where the Word was with God and the Word was God. Before God said, “Let there be light”, he was eternally speaking the Word who is himself in love and the Word was giving himself back to the Father in love in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
When that Word, in the fullness of time, became flesh and dwelt among us, he came (in John the Evangelist’s telling) in a kind of creation week, since he comes to inaugurate a new creation. So John’s gospel carefully counts off four days beginning with the appearance of John the Baptist in John 1:19 and delineated by markers to separate the days (John 1:29, 35, and 43). Then the evangelist suddenly announces, “On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee…” (John 2:1). This is typical of the evangelist’s subtle and multi-layered literary art, because it does five things at once.
First, it rounds out the New Creation Week (4+3=7).
Second, in rounding out the New Creation Week and placing Jesus at a wedding, it recalls for us that Jesus is the Second Adam of whom the first Adam was merely a prefiguration.
Third, it reminds us that, by his own preaching, Jesus claims to be the true cosmic Bridegroom (cf. Mark 2:19-20; Matthew 25:1-13).
Fourth, it recalls for us that the public ministry which Jesus is about to begin in the “first of his signs” (John 2:11) is going to culminate in his resurrection “on the third day”.
As to the fifth thing the evangelist is up to, we will discuss that presently.
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