SUMMER REBOOT – this podcast was originally published on 24 May 2019.
Welcome to Friday’s Podcast. Our reading today is John 2: 1-11. Next week my colleague James Brown will pick up the baton and continue to lead us through this incredible gospel.
Today I’ll focus on verse 5-7: His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from eighty to a hundred and twenty litres. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.
I saw this article written by Pete Grieg, author, church leader and founder of the global 24-7 prayer movement. He says this:
Can I be honest with you? I’m actually not that into prayer, it’s Jesus I’m into, so we talk.
I don’t believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the power of God. So I ask for his help. A lot.
I’m not into evangelism. I hate evangelism. I’m into Jesus. So I talk to people about him.
I’m not into social justice. I’m into Jesus. So I find myself picking fights with his enemies.
I’m not into worship – all those soft rock songs, over and over again – I’m into Jesus. So when I see him I smile. I bow. And yes, OK I admit that I sing quite a bit too.
I’m not into church. Have you seen the state of it? But I’m into Jesus. So I like his people. (they’re a little weird, but hey, so am I…)
THE VISION IS JESUS.
Not Christianity. Not rules and religious observance. Not prayer, mission and justice. Not church planting, miracles or mission. If you love Jesus I guess you’ll do all that stuff: you’ll pray and worship and go to church and preach the gospel, but in doing all those things, in pursuing all those things, too often we lose Jesus. In all the clutter of Christianity we bury Christ.
Some of us need to stop being Christians for a bit – we’re just too good at it. It’s become habitual.
Urgent voices call us to abandon the familiar comforts of Christianity to strike out into the unknown and rediscover Christ. Get back to that place where we are so bewildered and enthralled by his actual presence that we will do anything, go anywhere, say anything he tells us whenever.
We are over familiar with holy things. We talk to God and he talks back, for crying out loud. That means you’re either insane or experiencing an actual living, conversational, interactive relationship with the creator of the cosmos. No middle ground. You’re insane or a saint.
Jesus was so uninterested in starting a religion that he never thought of a name for his way of life, never started a bible school, never wrote a book, avoided the rich and famous, and barely stuck around long enough to secure succession. The way of Jesus is viral not structural, relational not religious, revolutionary not predictable.
As with the first chapter of John’s gospel – chapter 2 is packed with punchy and powerful meaning.
In today’s passage we read that Jesus and his disciples are attending a wedding in Cana in the Galilee.
A faux pas of epic proportion unfolds. They run out of wine. In 2019 if you went to a wedding and the wine ran out you’d give feedback or have a grumble and if you’d paid for the wedding a strong conversation may well ensue with the organisers. But in Jesus’ time – this would have been an incredible embarrassment. A huge shame to the family and would have probably meant that the village or community would have assumed that the newly married couple were cursed.
This story is famous. Jesus is the perfect guest. Turning water into wine. Wow – not only wine but the very best wine. I heard a joke once: ‘Jesus walks into a bar and orders 12 pints of water. Turns and winks at the disciples…’
But as with all of John’s gospel and specifically at the beginning of his gospel there’s clues and pictures and subtle and not so subtle messages littered throughout about who Jesus really is.
In verse 7 it says ‘fill the jars with water.’ – so what? These jars were huge and they contained water for purification. Jewish people have strict cleansing laws and throughout a day could easily become unclean. So cleansing oneself is really important. Jesus takes these large pots – a symbol of making people clean – and fills them to overflowing with the finest Malbec you could taste.
He takes ordinary water – meant for one thing – and transforms it into something incredible.
That’s a picture of what he does with you and me. Takes us – destined for one use – and if we allow him, he turns us into something far greater than we could imagine.
Jesus saves the day. He frees the father of the bride from shame and the potential to be ostracised from the community. He breaks the curse that would have hung over the newly married couple.
It’s not about the miracle. In fact John doesn’t call them miracles – he prefers the word ‘signs’. It’s a sign of what is to come. It’s a sign of God’s incredible power breaking in; a foretaste of heaven.
I love reading of old revivals – I love reading about one of my spiritual heroes, John Wimber. It’s all good stuff. But I find it tempting to hunger after the miracle and not the miracle maker.
The miracle, or sign as John calls them, points us to something bigger.
Whatever this Friday brings, walk into it knowing that the one who takes ordinary cleansing water and turns it into wine – will use your life, your story, as a sign to point to Jesus.
Be encouraged this day!
Thank you for this incredible story! Thank you that you take the water of our lives and turn them into something incredible. Amen
READING: John 2:1-11
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’
‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’
His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from eighty to a hundred and twenty litres.
Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.