Tuesday 16th Apr 2024Lighthouse

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“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

John 20:30-31 NRSV

 

Thought: 

When we read the gospel have we asked the question, why is Jesus performing miracles and what does this tell us about the nature of God? 

The signs are pointing towards who God is and bringing us to life. Without faith that Jesus is the messiah the son of God, we miss out on life in His name. John believes the signs (miracles) are more than just healings and miraculous occurring they are the key to believing in Christ who is the pathway to life. John writes his book as he wants us to believe in Christ as he knows that is the key to life. The requisite to our belonging to Christ is that we first believe in him, second that we as believers are baptised into the body of Christ, and we join the church, this is how we find life.

We focus this morning on the gospel of John and how he captures stories and events using the term “sign.” Signs point towards something and we can discover how we can concentrate our lives to manifest Christ through the way we live. One thing we are working towards is being effective signposts that point toward Christ. We do this by the way we treat others and how the love of God is manifest in us. Recording Jesus, John writes everyone will know you belong to me by the way you love each other (Jn 13.35) John writes in his letter later in life, how can you say you love God yet hate your fellow human? (1 Jn 4:20)

John’s purpose in writing his book gives us an insight into the purpose of Christ's mission which is to bring us to life. He writes the thief comes to steal kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life in full. (10:10)

We begin lent shortly a time when we prepare ourselves to further embrace the message of Christ. The gospels are orientated towards the grand finale the resurrection which we celebrate at Easter. We as a church are ready for the gospel of Matthew. The ultimate sign is that of Christ's resurrection but we will get there in April. In Matthew 12 and 16, Jesus refers to Jonah when he is asked for a sign by some of the Scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus says that the only sign will be the sign of Jonah: Jonah's restoration after three days and three nights inside the great fish prefigures His resurrection.

Today we open this series with the first sign Jesus did in Cana while attending a wedding.

Three points or questions to ponder this morning, why a wedding, why so much wine and what can we learn about Christ for us today?

 

Story:

There’s a wedding in Cana, a city not far from Nazareth, 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, seems to be in charge of the wedding, Jesus’ disciples are present, and they run out of wine. 

Mary approaches Jesus to do something about it, but Jesus rebuffs her attempt by saying “my hour has not yet come,” and that “hour” is the glorification-by-crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension (12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1). 

However, Mary turns to the servants and orders them to do whatever Jesus says. Seemingly, Jesus either shifts his mind or perceives Mary’s surrender to him as sufficient for him to do exactly what she asked in exactly a surprising manner. He speaks something into reality and turns the water in some large purification stone vessels into an abundance of wine. Someone once calculated it to be the equivalent of 907 bottles of wine. The “master of the banquet” tastes it and realizes this wine is superior to the wedding’s table wine (2:9-10).  With the question, who leaves the best wine until the end?

And the story ends with this from John’s comments 

“Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

John 2:11 NRSV

 

Introduction:

The most important term in this passage is not found until verse eleven, and the word is “signs,” and the water into wine miracle is the “first [or “beginning”] of his signs.” In the Synoptic Gospels Jesus does miracles but John deepens miracles by labelling them “signs.” Most think there are seven signs in John’s Gospel, with the explicit mention of “sign” and possibly another two others often mentioned. 

 

1.    Water into wine: [2:11] 

2.    Healing the official’s son: [4:54]

3.    Feeding thousands: 6:14 [6:2]

4.    Raising Lazarus: [12:18]

5.    Lame man healed: 5:1-15 [6:2]

6.    Healing blind man: 9:1-41 [9:16]

7.    The resurrection of Jesus: 20:6-7; [2:18-19]

 

To make it a little more complex, John tells us Jesus did many signs, which is his favourite term for a miracle (e.g., 2:23; 3:2; 4:48; 6:2, 26, 30; 7:31; 9:16; 11:47; 12:37; 20:30). 

 

The definition of sign used here is “something given especially to confirm, corroborate or authenticate.” it also “authenticates the Lord and His eternal purpose” and a sign is noted as “an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature;“

A sign is a public deed performed by Jesus that reveals who he is but requires faith to perceive its truthfulness. As such, then, a sign is an act that, upon pondering and imagining, continues to reveal the true identity of Jesus, but only for those with faith. 

 

Point 1 Why do we think John chooses a wedding to open the public ministry of Jesus?

A wedding is part of the big-picture story that John is writing. The wedding feast in Bible times would often last for days and everyone was invited. The importance of this can be understood in a covenant relationship. Vows made and promises declared. We see this primarily as the church being the bride of Christ and being married to the Lord. The depth of the relationship Christ has with the Church goes deeper than that of a loyal subject to a distant king. 

Jesus said in John 14 that if you believe in me we will make our home with you. (14: 23) Reviewing John 14 the readers would have understood the language here is wedding language. Like in my father's house…. I go and prepare a place for you. (14: 2-3) this passage was a well-known phrase that a groom would say to his bride.

In our story of the wedding in John 2. Jesus' initial reaction to his mother Mary was this is not my time. The time of his glorification was still to come, he could have meant his transfiguration or his resurrection or his returning glory. John records later (12:23) that the time had come for his glorification. 

 

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” …. Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him.”

John 12:27-28, 37 NRSV

 

Another thing to note is that Jesus used parables to talk about feasting and inviting those from the highways and byways in his stories. John seems to revolve his book around the major feasts celebrated in Jewish culture. The major feast is the feast of weeks, Pentecost or first harvest, Passover coming out of Egypt (Easter) and tents (second harvest) Additionally, a wedding is a sign of what is to come, John writes of the marriage supper of the lamb (Rev 19) this is the final joining of Christ and his church.

 

Point 2 Why is Jesus all about wine? 

Secondly, as we have said signs are then iconic moments. The act of turning water into more than an abundance of wine iconically reveals the identity of Jesus and his abounding sufficiency, but only to those with eyes to see. 

The wine reveals Jesus to be the source of abundant joy. Drinking is a bodily experience of quenching thirst, and drinking wine evoke sweetness and celebration. All of this, and more, forms in the minds of those who ponder the sign itself. 

They are the ones who ‘believe like the disciples, so fulfilling the purpose of the Gospel (20:30-31). As the children of Israel saw God’s glory (Ex 13:21-22; 16:10-11; 24:15-17), so Jesus’ disciples are the ones who see the “glory” of Jesus (John 2:11). 

During the feast of Passover when Jesus was celebrating his disciples, he takes the cup of wine to seal the new covenant which represents his blood. Commanding them to take it for the forgiveness of their sins. This new covenant was to include anyone who believes in him and just the the first sign at the wedding in Cana, Jesus makes this wine abundant available for everyone.

 

Point 3 What does this tell us about Christ

The sign then is a tactile, palpable experience of the presence of God. Is it about the wine or is it more about who Christ is to us?

It compels us to answer the question of questions: Who is Jesus? Why would Jesus care about running out of wine? Perhaps more people showed up than expected, Jesus perhaps had a plus one but instead went with the plus 12. Is Jesus covering for his disciples or is Jesus listing to his mother and being a good Jewish son?  Jesus seems to change his tune and meets the need of the hour. I'm sure this isn't an excuse for poor planning when it comes to wedding arrangements. Or is Jesus the kind of guy that wants the party to go on? So many questions and few answers, John would perhaps say this is a sign that points us towards the glory of Christ and as God incarnate he can perform miracles that confound nature itself.

What we do know is that Christ is returning for a wedding feast. Christ is the groom and is making his bride ready, we keep oil in our lamps waiting for his return. Christ has made room for us in his father's house and when it's ready he will return.  

 

God, in his great compassion, has made Himself known to humanity, but he has done so on His terms. He has done so through Jesus.

Even while many people demand signs, God has given the ultimate sign in Jesus who has made God known to us. (Jn 17:26)

This is through his birth, life, death, and resurrection, Jesus reveals the character and nature of God. These signs that John wrote about show us that we can have a relationship with God. Furthermore, it is  only through knowing Christ we come into eternal life. 

 

“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

John 17:3 NRSV

 

Today, we can read and believe these stories we discover that God can do what we think is impossible. That belief leads us to places where we know God is at work in us. What circumstances are we facing that Christ can make a big difference in our lives?

A sign is a public deed performed by Jesus that reveals who he is but requires faith to perceive its truthfulness. As such, then, a sign is an act that, upon pondering and imagining, continues to reveal the true identity of Jesus, but only for those with faith. 

Christ wants to reveal himself in all his glory. As he does we believe in him, and as we believe in him we have life. The story of the wedding and the wine tells us that Christ is all about abundance in his new covenant. 

Are you ready for Christ to return? Signs of the end times are upon us, we only need to look around us in the world today. Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, I wonder do you know him? Do you believe in him? Will you publically declare that faith in him today?

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