Lent 2 16th March 2014 Year A
Familiarity can breed if not contempt at least indifference. A passage like this can become so well known that its profundity can slip pass us all too easily.
Two men meet, representing two very different ways of thinking and being. Jesus is seen in John’s Gospel to represent something radically new. Thus this gospel has John the Baptist as the high point of the old order before stepping aside with the words, ‘I’m not worthy to untie his sandals.’ Jesus then commences his ministry in this gospel at the wedding in Cana of Galilee where the symbolism of water being changed to wine represents that all is made new and the old is past. Jesus, symbolised by wine, is not of the same order as the old water. He next cleanses the temple. This episode is surely placed here by John as distinct from the other gospel writers who more naturally, and I am sure historically correctly, place it as the beginning of the last week of his ministry. John moves the episode to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to emphasise the point again that in clearing or even symbolically destroying the Temple Jesus is meant to be seen as something radically new which can’t be fitted into the old system. John is pointing out that Jesus’ sacrifice will replace those sacrifices of the old temple. Now this encounter comes between Jesus and Nicodemus in order again to make the same point.