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Week One: Day Three – Trailing Clouds of Glory

John 2:11–12 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 12After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

Understanding the Word. The culmination of the story tells us that this was the first of Jesus’ semi-public sign miracles, revealing his glory, and that it was the disciples themselves who believed in him. We must be careful not to download all of the later Christian faith into the word believe when we hear something like verse 11. Here it likely means they came to believe what Mary already knew—namely, that Jesus could perform miracles. Throughout this gospel there is not only a crescendo of the miraculous, but there is also a crescendo of confessions of who Jesus is. The resurrection of Jesus is the climactic miracle (foreshadowed by the last sign narrative about the raising of Lazarus) and is followed finally by a confession of “my Lord and my God” by Thomas, which matches up with what the prologue in John 1 says about Jesus. Ironically it is only unbelieving Thomas’s confession after seeing that proves to be a fully adequate confession of who Jesus is.

Verse 12 is interesting because it suggests that we are in a period of overlap between the time that Jesus was still at home with his family as an adult, and when he left his family behind and traveled with his disciples. This then would be a story from very early in Jesus’ ministerial career. Notice it is Capernaum (or more properly, Kefer Nahum—the village of the prophet Nahum) where they go. Capernaum was to become Jesus’ base of operations, probably based in the home of Peter’s mother-in-law (which can possibly be seen today underneath the modern Franciscan church at Capernaum). This story should be compared to Mark 3:21, 31–35, where Jesus distances himself from his physical family because they not only fail to understand him; they are even worried (based probably on the exor- cisms) that Jesus is playing with fire, or as the text suggests, is not in his right mind. The story of Jesus and his relationship with his brothers is even more problematic than that with his mother. As John 7:5 will inform us, Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him during his ministry. This did not mean they didn’t believe he could do remarkable miracles, like the one at Cana. It meant that they didn’t think that he was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. It was only after Easter, and because of an appearance of the risen Jesus specifically to his brother James, that this situation seems to have changed (see 1 Cor. 15:7). Acts 1:14 tells us there is a happy ending to this story, for we find Mary and the brothers in the Upper Room, praying in preparation for Pentecost with the other disciples. This is the last direct reference to Mary in the Gospels and in Acts, and perhaps the last one in the whole New Testament.

Questions

  1. What do you make of Jesus’ relationship with his brothers? Compare it to the relationship of Joseph with his brothers in Genesis.
  2. What does “believe” seem to mean in John 2?
  3. The term “glory” comes up a good deal in the Fourth Gospel (see, for example, John 1:14—“we have seen his glory”). What do you think it refers to?