John 2

The Ignorant Feast-Ruler (John 2.9-10)

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. (John 2:9-10)

The ruler of the feast doesn’t know where the wine comes from, but recognizes that it is good. The servants, who are obedient in doing what Christ tells them to, know where the wine comes from. This relationship between masters and servants subtly threads its way through John’s gospel. Later, a master will marvel that his son has been healed, persuaded to believe in Jesus’ by the testimony of his servants (John 4.50-53). After that, Jesus draws a clear contrast between lasting sons and temporary servitude (John 8.34-35). Jesus nuances the relationship between masters and servants, and between the sender and the sent, in parallel to the relationship between the servants sent to the master with water-that-is-wine-that-is-blood here in this miracle (John 13.13-16), and extends this parallel between himself and apostles to the apostles and their subsequent converts (John 15.20).

John’s gospel carefully contrasts the leadership of Israel with the apostolic leadership of the church. In almost every miracle, there is a skeptic from on high, someone ignorant—often but not always willfully so—of what the evidence plainly indicates. In this miracle, the master of the feast has no idea why the wine is suddenly so good; in the next miracle, the Jewish ruler doesn’t know that Jesus healed his son until his servants tell him it is so; in Jerusalem, when Jesus heals the lame man, and later the blind man, the leadership of Israel balks, rejecting Christ; when Jesus breaks bread in the wilderness, the crowd balks at his blood and flesh; when Jesus raises up Lazarus, the priests conclude that they must kill Jesus, not understanding that this execution is actually salvation (John 11.49-51).

The contrast between ignorance and understanding is summed up in the discourse between Nicodemus and Jesus, when Jesus says to a confused Nicodemus:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3:10-12)

There are two types of students, two types of would-be disciples, in John’s gospel. One group, John’s group, the group with which John identifies, is comprised of those who are born again, born from above, seeing with eyes of the Spirit, judging rightly rather than according to the appearance, realizing that Jesus’ words are truth and eternal life. The other group, represented in the skeptical leadership, evaluates the miracles of Christ according the evidence which they can evaluate with their eyes, and measure against the technical laws of Moses. The insightful reader will come to understand, through John’s gospel, that the true follower of Jesus evaluates things by a different set of criteria altogether, not by literal legalism but by spiritual evaluation undertaken according in and by the Spirit (see also John 7.21-24).

PS - Thanks Norman for pointing out the typos :)