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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weighing the Word: John Two

This week's Weighing the Word has taken us to the second chapter of the Gospel of John.

I begin, remarkably, with the simplicity of setting and timing. Let's review. Jesus was baptized near Bethbara (Bethany) and within two days traveled to the region of Galilee. On His way there, he aquired some followers, Disciples. These men were Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and one unamed disciple of John, the baptizer. The close of John One finds us with Jesus and these five men in the town of Bethsaida. By this time, we have been three days with Jesus.
Which brings us to the second chapter's reading. The chapter begins with timing: "On the third day." It struck me that these first verses of John take us through a succession of days in the life of Jesus. This would have taken place the "third day" after Jesus was baptized. So... This was before Jesus was taken to the desert and tempted (Matthew 4, Luke 4)?

We also find that Jesus has traveled once again to Cana. There He, His mother and the five disciples attend a wedding. In verse two, we learn Jesus went for a very obvious reason - He was invited.

1. Jesus goes where He is invited.

Jesus and his family likely knew the families who were hosting the wedding. Mary's concern for the reputation of the groom's family seems to indicate a relationship. Then the dilemma. Picture Mary leaning into her son and whispering in His ear, "They have run out of wine, my Son."

And Jesus' response, "Dear woman, what does that have to do with me? It's not quite my time to shine." In essence, His response is "Not Yet."
But, Mary's faith in Jesus is persistent. She turns and tells the servants to do whatever He tells them to do.
And, just like that, God changed His mind? I don't think it really comes down to that. Jesus taught that we are to honor the authority placed before us in our lives. So, how could He preach and teach "Honor your father and mother..." If He, Himself, refused to honor His own mother. I believe her persistence and faith in Him moved His heart to have compassion on her.
2. The Miracle.
What was significant about this miracle? Here are a few things I observed:

* The persistence of faith expressed in Mary's request of Jesus prompted Him to action even though His initial response was "Not yet."
* The wine was not made from just any old water in any old pot. It was made, in fact, from water that was set aside and used for ceremonial cleansing. These posts held anywhere from 20-30 gallons of water each. Jesus told the servants to the fill the pots and they did - the brim. Overflowing. That is approximately 120-180 gallons of water. In the NKJV it says that water was set aside for the purification of the Jews.
* Water in the Bible often represents many things, but in this case - the picture is clear. Water meant to be used for Cleansing was used instead for what? For celebration, for anointing? Think about this. The miracle at Cana represents precisely what Jesus had experienced just days before in the Jordan river. A baptism of repentence in the waters of the Jordan - a cleansing. And the anointing and blessing of His Father as He came out. Then others believed in Him because of what they had witnessed.
How beautiful is that picture? That when we submit ourselves in obedience and persistence of faith, the result is purification (cleansing) through repentance and the anointing and blessing of the Father upon our lives.

A few other notes of interest from the wedding reading: The symblism of Jesus' first miracle being performed at this wedding in Cana - is not lost on me. This entire thing will culminate in the ultimate Wedding Feast when we all gather in heaven to spend eternity with our Father and Bridegroom. HMM! HMMM! HMMMM! Why did Jesus say His time had not yet come? As I said in the first paragraph, I believe the context of the Scripture indicates that this wedding took place before the Spirit led Him into the desert to be tempted for forty days. Why?
The next verse: "This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory..." (vs. 11) Jesus knew that the temptation and testing had to come before He went forth. Jesus was telling His mother that it was not yet time for His glory as God's Only Begotten Son to be revealed.
Jesus saved the best for last... Let's hold onto that truth. He didn't throw the best out there right at the beginning - He could change the water into wine at any moment. He could have literally changed the bad wine into better wine... good wine. But, He didn't. He waited until they had exhausted all of their resources and then gave them not just what was better, but what - indeed was best.
After the wedding, Jesus travels and spends a few days (NLT) in Capernaum, where His brothers join this traveling caravan of people. Why did His brothers join them? Well, because Passover was coming - that is why. The annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem was at hand. It was time for the family to make their trip to the holy city to observe the custom of Passover. Jesus' ministry begins and ends with Passover.

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the family likely paid a visit to the temple to make the necessary sacrifices. Jesus' passion for His Father and the temple that bore His presence and His name overflowed as He watched the moneychangers and the vendors selling their wares right in the temple courts. The indignation and righteous anger rose up in Him and He made a whip and scourged those who would defile His Father's house. He drove out the corruption and the greed that sat before Him. His disciples even remembered the verse Psalm regarding the Messiah's zeal for God's House. But, is it lost on anyone else... Just days before He was obedient to His authority when His mother asked for a miracle. Then this day - He breaks the law of the Romans by interfering with the work of the money-changers. And still... Pilate would say three years later, "I find no fault in Him." HMMM!

I noted the following points:

1. Evidence requires little faith.

The Jews were asking for evidence of His identity at every turn. They wanted EVIDENCE to prove His authority. But, they did not realize that the requirement of evidence exhibits very little faith. Jesus was living and observing the traditional Jewish customs of His day, but He was also redefining the standard and the truth about what would come after Him. The Jews were so caught up in their own ideas of "God" that they missed Him. Legalism always blinds eyes, deafens ears, dulls hearts and confuses understanding.

2. Faith confirms evidence.

The disciples and others who witnessed the miracles and words of Jesus during those days in Jerusalem came to believe He was the one who had been promised. They put their faith in Him.
In turn, they recognized the evidence the Jewish Leaders had been looking for but unable to see. You see, I believe that verses 24-25 speak so loudly to us today:

"But Jesus did not commit (entrust, NLT) Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man."

Jesus understood that humanity is limited. We struggle with the limitations of our flesh and a fallen existence. He did not need anyone to explain to Him why the leaders wouldn't believe Him and why common, ordinary folks in the streets would. He already knew and recognized those He came into contact with everyday.

I believe this brings clarity to us as ministers of His gospel. Jesus never got caught up in what the people expected of Him. What they thought the Messiah should look like. He was discerning and focused on one thing: The will of His Father. Jesus came to do the work of His Father in the person of the Son, the Messiah. His ministry demonstrated His anointing and His authority had come from God the Father. The miracles demonstrated His power and His Love that overflowed in Him through the Holy Spirit.
Those who experienced His presence without expectation did not question Him - they simply believed. Jesus must always be glorified.

I read these translations as I met with God this week. If you have read John Two this week, please share your insights in a blog post or comment. If you share a blog post please use MR. LINKY and link us directly to your post so we can read and learn from your insights as well! Thanks for Weighing the Word with me this week. It's been a joy!

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