The Fabulous Flying Firkens

Posted: August 3, 2015 in End of Religion
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In Deuteronomy 18:18, we read the prophecy that God would one day raise up a prophet like Moses. The word like means exactly what we would think it would mean—it means “like”—not identical, but similar in some ways and different in others.

Moses liberated people by the demonstrating God’s anger and judgment—symbolized by the power to turn water into blood. Jesus liberates people by demonstrating God’s grace and joy—symbolized by the power to turn water into wine.

At Jesus inaugural miracle (think that’s a coincidence?), turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana, we read that the party had already run out of wine. If this was the case, there had to be “empties” around, whether jugs, bottles, or wine skins—right? So, if there were empty containers lying around, why did Jesus deliberately select containers set aside for the specific purpose of religious ritual for the new wine?

And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. [John 2:6 KJV]

Was it deliberate? Was He making a point? I believe so. Why? Because Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion or even to perfect an existing one—Jesus came to put an end to religion in favor of relationship.

Jesus deliberately converted an icon of the religious ceremony into a symbol of relational celebration. He changed holy water into wedding wine. He changed legalism to life—religion into relationship.

All four gospel writers frequently use a fascinating Greek word to describe the effect of Jesus’ ministry. In English it is usually translated stumbling block, but is Greek it is skandalon, where we get the English word scandal. Their point seems to be that Jesus is a rock, but one you can just as easily trip over as build your life upon.

Soren Kierkegaard once wrote,

“Act just once in such a manner that your action expresses that you fear God alone and man not at all—you will immediately in some measure cause a scandal.”

Kind of puts a new spin on the phrase “What would Jesus do?” doesn’t it?

When I was in Bible College, one of the intramural basketball teams was called The Fabulous Flying Firkens. A lot of people took offense at the name. Ironically, that seems just about right.


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