Lesson: Isaiah 62:1-5
1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
The Book of Isaiah is a composite of writings from three distinct periods in Ancient Israel’s history. The writings were compiled from about 700 BCE to about 300 BCE.
Chapters 1-39 are called “First Isaiah” and are the words of a prophet (one who speaks for YHWH – translated as “LORD” in all capital letters in the NRSV) who called for Jerusalem to repent in the 30 years before Jerusalem came under siege by the Assyrians in 701 BCE. “Second Isaiah” is Chapters 40 to 55. In these chapters, a prophet brought hope to the Judeans during the Exile in Babylon (587 to 539 BCE) by telling them they had suffered enough and would return to Jerusalem. “Third Isaiah” is Chapters 56 to 66 in which a prophet gave encouragement to the Judeans who had returned to Jerusalem (which was largely destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE) after the Exile had ended.
Today’s reading is from Third Isaiah and is part of an extended poem that begins in Chapter 60. The prophet asserted in a poetic manner that he would continue to speak for God until Jerusalem was restored (v.1) and had a new name (a new beginning), namely, “My Delight is in Her” (v.2).
As is often characteristic of poetic verses in the Hebrew Bible (and also true of ancient Canaanite poetry), the verses are repetitive – the idea in one phrase is repeated in slightly different words in the next. For example, “Nations shall see your victory” is followed by “And every king your majesty.” “You shall wear a glorious crown” is followed by “a royal diadem.” The same pattern is followed in verses 4 and 5.
The “nations” (v.2) means non-Jews (Gentiles) and is sometimes (depending on the context) translated in the Hebrew Bible as “the peoples.” The derivation is goyim (Heb) = ethne (Gk) = gentes (Lat) = peoples, nations, Gentiles.
The reading concluded with marriage symbolism in which YHWH rejoiced over his bride, Jerusalem.
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
Corinth, a large port city in Greece, was among the early Jesus Follower communities that Paul founded. Its culture was diverse and Hellenistic, and Corinthians emphasized reason and secular wisdom. In addition to Paul, other Jesus Followers also taught in Corinth, sometimes in ways inconsistent with Paul’s understandings of what it means to be a Jesus Follower. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written in the 50’s (CE) (likely while Paul was in Ephesus) and presented his views on several issues.
It is one of Paul’s most important letters because it is one of the earliest proclamations of Jesus’ death on behalf of sinners and his resurrection and it contains the basic formula for celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
Today’s reading began “Now concerning.” This indicates that Paul was responding to something written to him by the Jesus Follower Community in Corinth. Here, Paul emphasized that all spiritual gifts come from God (v.6) and are manifestations of the Spirit for the common good (v.7). He listed (v.8) gifts that Greeks would value most (wisdom and knowledge) and affirmed that they come from the Spirit. He then enumerated other gifts (faith, healing, miracles, prophesy, tongues) as being equally important and also as coming from the Spirit. Paul emphasized that gifts are allocated by the Spirit (v.11) and are not allocated on the basis of merit or skill.
The verses which follow today’s reading make clear that the diversity of gifts exists within unity. “We were all baptized into one body – Jews [Jewish Jesus Followers] or Greeks [Gentile Jesus Followers], slaves or free” (v.13).
Gospel: John 2:1-11
1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
The Fourth Gospel is different in many ways from the Synoptic Gospels. The “signs” (miracles) and many stories in the Fourth Gospel are unique to it, such as the Wedding at Cana, Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, and the Raising of Lazarus.
The chronology of events is also different in the Fourth Gospel. For example, the Temple Event (“Cleansing of the Temple”) occurred early in Jesus’ Ministry in the Fourth Gospel, rather than late as in the Synoptic Gospels. In the Synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper was a Passover Seder, but in the Fourth Gospel, it occurred the day before the first day of Passover so that Jesus (who is described as “the Lamb of God” in the Fourth Gospel) died at the same time lambs were sacrificed at the Temple for the Passover Seder that was to be held the night he died.
Today’s reading recounted the First Sign – the changing of water to wine at a wedding in the town of Cana. Cana is about 9 miles north of Nazareth and is still a small village. In the Fourth Gospel (unlike Matthew and Luke) the “mother of Jesus” is never mentioned by name.
The water jars are large which indicated that the number of guests would have been large, and the fact that they are empty shows that the guests had already washed their hands.
In the Fourth Gospel, the actions of Jesus are called “signs” which demonstrate Jesus’ Messiahship rather than “miracles” which astound those who observe them.