Christianity 201

September 13, 2019

Water to Wine: Miracle, but also Symbol

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

This is our tenth time with Ben Nelson at the site Another Red Letter Day. This is a much shorter devotional, but I really liked the insight. Click the title below to read at source.

Then I’ll be back after with an additional comment.

Water to Wine

In John 2, the writer tells us about a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Mary, Jesus’ mother attended and brought Jesus and the boys.

You know the story – if not check it out here.

One of the striking statements in this story comes from the head waiter.

… “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”John 2:10

I’ve heard this interpreted a bunch of different ways, but today the Lord put in my heart a simple idea.

From the beginning of creation, God wanted companionship from us.

Isaiah tells us

“For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.Isaiah 54:5

So God gave the law to Moses and invited Israel to be His people, His bride. But the law was inferior wine. God invited folks to a wedding, but there was no joy. The bride couldn’t keep her garments clean and the whole thing went bust.

The law was inferior wine.

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,Romans 8:3

So God took water and turned it into the best wine.

God through His Spirit, put His seed into the womb of a woman and filled a human water pot with a new kind of wine. Wine filled with the Spirit of God. He put His own Son into flesh and blood man and brought joy unspeakable to the wedding feast of the ages.

Anyway–just a thought.


…As I read this I was reminded of an analogy that N.T. Wright introduced when we were taking a course with him in July at Regent College. The study was on the book of Galatians and how Paul was trying to teach the people at Galatia that the law was good for a time, but it was a precursor to something greater that was yet to come.

It was the week of the 50th anniversary of the American lunar landing, and he pointed out that the law was like the booster rocket needed to get the space capsule out from the pull of earth’s gravity, but once it escapes that, the booster rocket is jettisoned an no longer needed.

It’s interesting that the phrase we often use is “the law and the prophets.” Neither Ben nor myself mentioned prophets to this point, but I wanted to end with Hebrews 1:1-2a

In the past God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. (GNT)

The coming of Christ brought an end to both law and prophets.

If you’re thinking that means that I mean the end of the gift of prophecy, I am not saying that, just as the coming of Christ didn’t mean an end to the prohibitions regarding lying, stealing, adultery, idol worship or taking God’s name in vain.

It was instead, as Ben said above, “a new wine.”


 

 

October 28, 2017

Signs and Imperatives: Mary

We’re back for a seventh visit with Ben Nelson at Another Red Letter Day. Earlier this week he kicked off a series called “Signs” which he explains in detail at this link. To read today’s post and save a link that will allow you to read the whole series, click the title below.

Mary’s Imperative – #Signs – Episode 1

John records several signs with the intention of leading us to faith in Jesus.
 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. – John 20:30-31 NASB
 I’ve heard many say there are seven signs in John’s gospel, but I count nine. We’re going to look at the first seven over the next few weeks.
 
Turning Water to Wine The Royal Official’s Son Healing at the Pool of Bethesda Feeding of the Five Thousand Walking on the Water Healing the Blind Man Raising of Lazarus
 
Now, look at this list. If you were Jesus, and you were planning your ministry strategy, where would you start? Let’s assume you know how much power you have at your fingertips, where would you start. OK – maybe not with raising the dead, we all like a good climax. But how about one of those times Jesus healed everyone in town or fed the masses. Don’t you want to come onto the scene with a big splash?
 
But John starts his account of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with a miracle Jesus Himself didn’t even want to do. Even the venue was regrettable, a little family wedding in a tiny town in Galilee. Not in the Temple in Jerusalem, or in the courts of the king, but He starts His ministry in a little nothing town.
 
And then we have the nature of the miracle. Many of the miracles Jesus did brought relief to suffering, or clear glory to God.
 
But John starts with this very strange story.
 
Jesus and His disciples find themselves invited to a wedding. At this point, we know He’s got at least five followers. I’m guessing there were seven by this time.* Mary, the mother of Jesus is also there.
 
You know the story. They run out of wine at this wedding party. Weddings could last up to a week in the tradition of the day, but do you know what they called a wedding with no wine?
Over!
I’m not sure how Mary learned of this or why she felt responsible to do something about it. I guess all moms know everything. She found out and takes the news to Jesus. “They have no wine.”
 
Jesus’s isn’t impressed. He says, “Mama, Why are you telling me? My time has not come.”
 
He’s not scolding her, but He didn’t feel the pull of the Spirit to do anything about this particular issue.
 
So why this story?
 
Remember when Jesus started speaking in parables? The first parable is the model. He uses that model to teach not only the lesson but how to interpret all the other parables.
 
So it is here. 
 
Mary is going to give us a key to all John’s signs.
 
Jesus blows it off, but Mary does not accept His pass.
 
Mary gives us a command—an imperative.
 
“Whatever He says to you, do it.”John 2:5
 
There it is. The key.
 
This is what’s going to open up every other sign.
 
This is what’s going to open up every solution in your life.
 
You know the rest of the story. Jesus has them grab the nasty tanks of water where people have been washing off the filth from their lives’ journeys. They fill these tanks up to the brim and then Jesus tells them to ladle some out and take it to the boss. Jesus makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 gallons of wine.
 
The waiters carry this ugly water to their boss, all the while smelling dirty water in the ladle. Right up till the head waiter puts it to his lips. Suddenly, he’s tasting wine. And not just any wine. This is fine wine, good wine, the best wine.
 
Guess what—the party is on!
 
You know, for thirty years, I’ve heard this preached as “Jesus saved the best wine for last,” but that is not what the text says.
 
It says you’ve saved the best for “NOW.”
 
For “NOW.”
 
Not for the last generation, not for the last days, not for the day before the 2nd coming. I suppose that could be us. But even is Jesus tarries, this word is for us.
 
He made the “BEST” wine for “NOW.”
 
I love this.
 
Bring the water pot of your life, filled with the filthy water of your past, and place it in front of Jesus. Allow Him to fill you with the living water—the Holy Spirit. As He ladles you out to this thirsty world, what they will experience is the best wine, NOW. And not just a communion cup half full, but abundant wine. Enough to bring joy into every circumstance.
 
So what now? What about us?
 
Go and do whatever He tells you to do.
 
That’s going to require you to listen for His words daily. That’s going to demand ears willing to hear and a heart willing to believe and follow no matter where He leads.
 
Are you in?
 
Let’s do this.
 


NOTES:

*We’re told the two of John the Baptists followers left John and began following Jesus. One of them was Andrew, Peter’s brother. Andrew went and got Peter. Then Jesus met Philip who brought Him to Nathanael. So that’s five we know of for sure. I’m thinking James and John are in the group too, but I can’t prove it.
 
I mentioned in my introduction that Bishop Joseph Garlington preached a message at the Voice of the Apostles Conference last week, in Lancaster, PA. His sermon inspired this series of messages. In it, he highlighted the imperatives Jesus spoke for each of these signs. I am going to take some time to look at these signs and those imperatives in this blog.
 
Jesus, in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) tells us to teach those we touch to obey everything He commanded. In simplest of terms, Jesus’ commands us to love God with all we have and all we are and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. But in these Jesus encounters, we’ll see Jesus giving clear instructions to those around Him. Let’s look together at these commands and see what they have for us today.