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Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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Daily Devotion for September 17, 2020


<i>The First Prayer in Congress</i>, by Tompkins Harrison Matteson, 1848
The First Prayer in Congress, by Tompkins Harrison Matteson, 1848.

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Whatever one’s opinion of Martin Luther, one cannot help but marvel at his authorship of this magnificent, stirring hymn.




Prayer to be Reformed

Lord God, I have tried in vain to reform myself, and I have failed. Only you can truly change my heart; and I pray that you will do it, by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Make me your instrument, Holy God. Replace every prideful thought with a psalm, every angry instinct with a prayer of love and forgiveness. Let the sight of me radiate your glory, not mine; let every word that comes from my mouth be music from your harp and every thought in my mind the dove of your Spirit. Inhabit me, infuse me, reform me, that I may live only in Christ, and He in me.

Amen.

Praise

All praise to Thee, Eternal Lord
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for a throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.

Amen.

For God’s Protection

O  God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom; Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Closing Praise

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.

Amen.


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.


Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question

What does 2 Timothy 3:16 tell us?

Answer: “All Scripture is inspired by God . . . .”



<i>The Virgin Enthroned</i> by Abbott Handerson Thayer, ca. 1891. +
The Virgin Enthroned, by Abbott Handerson Thayer, ca. 1891. I suspect the model is his eldest daughter, Mary.

John 2:1-11 (ESV)

O

n the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.


Blue Latin Cross

John 2:1-11 (DP Literal)

The Miracle at Cana (2) - The Basic Meaning

About the translation.

1 And on the day the third wedding occurred in Cana of the Galilee, and was the mother of Jesus there; 2 Were invited also Jesus and the disciples of him into the wedding.

3 And having lacked of wine says the mother of Jesus to him, Wine not they have. 4 Says to her Jesus, What to me and to you, woman? Not yet has come the hour of me.

Hebrew purification jars

5 Says the mother of him to the servants, Whatever he might say to you you must do.

6 Were there stone jars six for the purpose of the purification ritual of the Jews standing, holding each measures two or three. 7 Says to them Jesus, Fill the waterpots of water. And they filled them as far as the top. 8 And he says to them, Draw now and carry to the feast director; [and] they carried.

9 When tasted the feast director the water wine having become, and not he knew from where it is, [but] the servants knew the having drawn the water, calls the bridegroom the feast director 10 and says to him, Every man first the good wine gives, and when they are intoxicated the inferior; you have kept the good wine until now.

11 This did beginning of the signs Jesus in Cana of the Galilee and revealed the glory of him, and believed in him the disciples of him.


Notes on the Scripture

Today’s Notes provide a glimpse into serious Bible scholarship. It is something most people never see, and probably do not realize exists. We will not continue in this vein beyond today. I do hope, however, that you will enjoy a little taste of it. (If the first section “Today’s Translation” bores you, just skip it!)

Today’s Translation

We are presenting a different translation with each of the lessons on the Wedding at Cana, and the primary translation today is an unpublished literal translation I made. This is a specialty translation for the serious Bible student; it is by it nature difficult to read.

Why would anyone want a literal translation that is so difficult to read? For accuracy. When you read an English Bible, you are not reading God’s inspired Word, but an interpretation of it. This can actually be quite important, as people all-too-frequently will base an idea or belief on something that they think is in the Bible, but is not, because they have read an inaccurate translation. (We have an article, The Wedding at Cana: The Accuracy of Different Translations, for those who want to learn more about this subject.)

cluny decorative

You can see the inaccuracies in even the ESV — in general, an excellent translation — by comparison. The most changed part is verse 10. The ESV supplies a euphemism, “when people have drunk freely,” but the Bible says “when they are intoxicated”. This does, actually, have theological significance, because the ESV obscures the implication that the old wine has affected the minds of the wedding guests, so that they do not realize it when they are given inferior wine, just as the Pharisees' minds had become muddled by increasingly minute rules of conduct and life in the world.

Other slight inaccuracies are “poor” wine in the ESV, instead of “inferior” wine in the Greek, and “first” sign instead of “beginning” of the signs. If one interprets the old wine as a symbol of the law of Moses, as is quite possible, there is a difference between calling it “poor” and calling it “inferior”. The old wine is not bad; it is rather not as good as the new.

This is really picking some nits, no doubt about it. The ESV is an excellent translation. But it, like all translations, sometimes misses the mark, and the reader has no way to know this without a truly literal translation (unless he or she has learned koine Greek). (The NASB, the best and most widely read “literal” translation, ameliorates the problem by supplying alternate readings in footnotes.) Hence, the need of a “truly literal” translation. It is an aid to serious scholarship, something to turn to when you have a question, or a dispute, about a specific term in the translation you are using, or where the wording of two translations is different.

At any rate, you might want to refer back to this, as we will discuss variations in translations while we study this passage.

The Basic Meaning of the Story

The story is not difficult to follow, but there are a couple of rough patches. The apostles are invited to a wedding and they attend. At some point, Mary tells Jesus that they have no wine. Jesus uses a Hebrew idiom, “what is this to me and to you,” meaning “this is none of our business.”

Then we hit the rough patch. Jesus says that his hour has not yet come, something He often says later on to indicate that the time of His crucifixion has not yet arrived. It is an apparent non sequitur (we will make some sense of it in a later comment); but John is especially prone to non sequitur, both in his gospel and his epistles, and we learn not to expect strict logical progression in either his grammar or his thought process. What we may take, immediately, from this statement, is an impression that there is a profound meaning to the events to follow.

Mary and Jesus

Then we get a more obvious non sequitur. Mary tells the servants to do what Jesus tells them to do, even though He has just stated that it is not His problem. We must simply accept that something is going on beneath the surface. Has Jesus changed His mind? Possibly. Perhaps he meant to tell Mary that she does not have reason to believe it is their concern, but He knows something she doesn't; He means to puzzle her to teach her something.

Since we do not have an original of the gospel — and the oldest copy of this part of John was made over 100 years after the original was written — it might be that part of it has been lost in the process of making copies. Otherwise, John apparently expects us to fill in some gaps.

The rest of the surface narrative is easy to follow. Jesus has the servants fill six large stone jars, used for Jewish purification rituals, with water. He then changes the water into wine. There is a person, possibly a slave or a professional wedding planner, who is supervising the catering, and he remarks (to the groom) that usually the better wine is served first and the inferior wine later, when the guests are intoxicated; but Jesus' “new wine” is superior. This is the beginning of the signs of Jesus' divinity, revealing His glory, and his apostles believe in Him.



endless knot

Daily Inspiration

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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

John 14:6: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.



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Comments (4)

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Waynesays...

I have pondered this scene of wedding at Cana, and Mary's strange reques t to Jesus. I wonder if Jesus had performed other miracles in her presence that was not documented?

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Paulsays...

Thank you so much for helping us recognise the value of scholarship and how slight shifts in word usage alters implied meaning. I am also greatly inspired by the use of art to illuminate the entry into a fresh new day with a visual model of the lesson, often very powerfully conveyed. This is an amazing meditation and may God bless your work abundantly. I am in Bangalore, India.

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Bobbie(San Antonio)says...

Another interesting story on a tiny scrap that is almost 2000 years old is the Rylands Library Papyrus P52 from the Book of John. It also addresses today’s topic about what is truth. P52 has fragments of Jesus saying to Pilate........ everyone who is “of the truth” hears MY voice The caps were my edit :)

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Dorisays...

I really need to hear this lesson today! Thank you for your hard work

Daily Quiz

Top score(s) on the Daily Quiz for Sep 17, 2020 were:
randall martin (12)
Gary Merriman (11)
Elaine Gibson (11)

Top score(s) on Match-a-Verse:
Keith Langley (9 out of 9)
Pam Carpenter (9 out of 9)
Greg Flippin (9 out of 9)
Norman Daniels (9 out of 9)
randall martin (9 out of 9)
Elaine Gibson (9 out of 9)

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