all things are new
The NT is clear that there is a relationship of promise and fulfilment between the OT and the NT; what is promised in the old is fulfilled in the new. Fulfilment implies both discontinuity and continuity. However, we should note that when the NT discusses aspects of continuity hard on its heels is normally a stress on discontinuity (Cf. Roms 5:12-21). The reality is the NT writers are far more anxious to stress the ‘newness’ in fulfilment than the similarity; for them the new eclipses the old. Indeed the very fact of ‘newness’ (we speak of a New Testament which is a reference to the biblically referenced ‘new covenant’) suggests there is something, imperfect, inadequate, inferior about the old; the new renders the old passing and obsolete.
Some NT writers like John scarcely mention continuity at all. After all if the ‘new’ has as its focus, basis and heart, a divine person, the Word who was with God and was God and has become flesh, then here is glory without parallel. Here is something that was never here before, the glory of the only Son of his Father full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14).
There is nothing in the past that matches this. Here God is introducing something breathtakingly new. In the past God had spoken in shadows but now he reveals himself in his Son, he reveals himself in full glory, as he really and truly is, for to see the Son is to see the Father.
No man has seen God at any time but the Son who is in the bosom of the Father has declared him (Jn 1:18).
And so John writes, with radical discontinuity, ‘the law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ’ (Jn 1:17). Of course, in one sense there was grace and truth in law, after all the law was God’s truth and it did make gracious provision for sin, but John will brook no rival with Christ. When the true light shines all lesser lights disappear. He, and he only, is the way, the truth, and the life (titles some may have conferred on law). He is the fulfilment that eclipses the promise, the new that replaces the old so that the old gladly says, ‘he must increase and I decrease’. Thus when John the Baptist’ s disciples see Jesus they rightly leave John and follow Jesus; the new had come (Jn 1:35-44).
And it is the ‘newness’ in Christ, the ‘fullness’ that resides in Him that John invites us to receive, the irrepressible joy of eternal life, which is nothing less than shared fellowship with the one true God and Jesus Christ, whom he sent.
water becomes wine
Ch 2 makes this new joy to be found in Christ clear. It is Jesus first miracle. He is at a wedding in Cana. It ought to be an occasion for joy as weddings are. But the wine, a biblical symbol of joy, had run out. All they had were empty stone water-jars kept for ritual purification. Judaism was redundant. The old had no joy to give. It was lifeless, powerless, joyless. Mere ritual. Only in Jesus could new wine be found and wine that was (paradoxically) better than the old.
His mother knew this. Instinctively she knows the solution lies in Him. She tells the servants to follow his instructions and entreats her son. But she is mistaken, for it can be no longer be as a mother asking her son she must beseech but as one who asks her Lord for he is now anointed for his messianic mission and it is as Messiah she is inviting him to act. Here she can only entreat on the same basis as everyone else; she must come apart from blood relationship and acknowledge him as Lord. She must come not as one who gave him birth but as one born again through him; one who has received him, believed in his name and been given the right to be called a child of God. And so he addresses her as ‘woman’ (a title of respect) but not ‘mother’.
His time to be revealed as Messiah had not yet come but Messiah is full of grace and out of that fullness all receive. He commands the empty jars of (empty) Jewish ritual to be filled with water and served to the guests. The water flowed as a fully matured wine. Judaism was powerless to bring up for joy, fullness of joy, lies not in the ritual water of the old but in the rich wine of the new; it lies in Christ. This is his glory.
John at every point stresses this newness that lies in Christ. In him will be found a new power, through a new baptism, the baptism of the new covenant, the eschatological baptism in the Spirit (in 1:33,34). In him will be found too that eschatological life, the life that Ezekiel saw when dead bones lived, new life in the Spirit (Jn 3:3-10). In him, God finds a new dwelling place on earth, a tent or temple, where his glory is not hidden but revealed (1:18; 2:19-22). In him, a new centre of worship is created, a new sacred space, for in his ascension men will worship neither in Jerusalem, Gerazim, nor Mecca, but will worship in spirit and in truth through Christ (4:19-26).
In Christ, old things have passed away and all things have become new. Day by day believers live in this newness. Each day the Spirit of the risen reigning Christ bubbles up inside us like a fresh mountain spring, living water, refreshing, renewing, re-invigorating, realizing within us the life of the living triune God. Filling and flooding our hearts with Christ. We know even in troubles, especially in troubles, what it is to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
The old is gone: the old self we once were; the old sin we once served; the old master who once duped us; the old world we once loved that hates us. All are broken cistern that hold no water… empty jars that contain no wine. The new is come. In Christ we daily live and have our being. We look to him and in Him have everything. Every day is a celebration of all he is. Every day is Christmas, Easter, Pentecost. We belong to the Eschaton. The Fulfilment. The rich wine of New Creation.
Each day belongs to the new, not just January the 1st.