Bible reading for March 12: Exodus 23; John 2.
"Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land." (Exodus 23:30)
Case laws continued (Ex 23). So many of these principles are directly applicable to believers today. A few are ceremonial, relating to the festivals, and some are civil, relating to life in the land of promise. The command, "You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk" (23:19), has been subject to much speculation. Some say we ought not mix meat and dairy products. Or, it may refer to a particular kind of sacrifice that the Canaanites practiced, and hence was an idolatrous act. Or, more likely, it is a prohibition against using that which is life-giving (the mother's milk) for cooking its young offspring. For example, compare this with Deuteronomy 22:6... "If you come across a bird's nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young." This is a way of honoring the life-giving bond of mother and young.
Little by little (23:30). This verse, I believe, is a good picture of the believer's sanctification. We are declared righteous by our faith in Christ (justification), but experiential righteousness (sanctification) must be won a square foot at a time. Each of us must battle with indwelling sin, whether that be pride, lust, idolatry, lying, ingratitude, unfaithfulness, etc., in an ongoing growth into Christlikeness. Sometimes it's three steps forward, two steps back (or three), but we make progress little by little in our sanctification. Paul wrote, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18).
"This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him." (John 2:11)
The wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-11). The Apostle John records some miracles -- what he calls "signs" -- that the other gospel-writers do not include in their gospels. In reflecting back on his ministry with the Lord Jesus, John shows that this early miracle echoes again with the Genesis creation story, where the woman is created for the man and brought to him (Gen 2). Human history opens with a wedding and so does Jesus' ministry. In John 2 we see six stone water posts, recalling to us the six days of creation out of water. Jesus' response to his mother in verse 4 (Gr., "what to me and to you") is an idiom translated in various ways. The main notion is that he questions her motives in this situation. She is probably trying to manipulate him into publicly proclaiming his messianic identity. It was his Father's will to perform this miracle, but only a few people were to know what actually happened. This is the first of seven signs that John will report. Only #4 and #5 below are also recorded in the other gospels...
The seven signs.
1) He turns water into wine. (John 2:1-11)
2) He heals the official’s son. (John 4:46-53)
3) He heals invalid at Bethesda pool. (John 5:1-29)
4) He feeds the multitude. (John 6:1-14)
5) He walks on water. (John 6:16-24)
6) He heals the man blind from birth. (John 9:1-12)
7) He raises Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:1-44)
Cleansing of the temple (Jn 2:13-25). For the details and chronology of this event see the netbible.org on John chapter 2, specifically the NET notes and the notes by Dr. Tom Constable for the various alternatives.
Image credits. The diagram at top is from Introduction to Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem (Zondervan, 1994). The lower image is a photo by Wu Jianxiong on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.