“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece [twenty to thirty gallons]. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine: and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. And the Jews Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen: and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:1-25).
“Good morning. It’s good to see everyone. It seems we’re getting the temperature dialed in a little bit better, if it’s warm we can even make it colder. But I’m glad we’re not downstairs anymore. Turn in your Bibles to John chapter 2….let’s say a word of prayer and we’ll get started. ‘Lord we thank you that we can study your Word. We thank you that as we come here on Sunday morning, you give us the Bible and we simply go through it verse by verse, and though it’s a very simple thing to do, you God are a supernatural God, and Holy Spirit as you work, as your Word is taught it’s amazing what you do, you speak to people’s hearts. And you’re a discerner of hearts. You know everybody here, you know what everybody is thinking, has done, where they’ve come from, you know it all. You know the needs of every heart and every life. So it is a tremendous thing for us to come together as a church, and to study your Word together, and allow you to speak to us. So Holy Spirit, we do ask that you’d be upon all of us, and upon me now as I share your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’ [You know, it’s an interesting thing the pastor just prayed here, because real congregations and churches do not come together without God drawing people to them to form them. It is a work of God through the Holy Spirit, the forming of congregations, churches and yes, even denominations. Think on that a bit.]
John chapter 2, verses 1-5, “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants ‘Whatever he says to you, do it’” Well since chapter 1 John has given us a weeks worth of events. It says here “on the third day”. If you remember back to verse 19 [of chapter 1] there was a specific day, and then a few verses later, I think it was verse 25 it says “the next day”, and “the next day” and then “the next day”, we had four consecutive days. And now it says “the third day”, so we basically have about a week of time that’s transpired that John focuses on. And here we see “on the third day” which is the seventh day since we started, we see Jesus at a wedding, he’s at a wedding with his disciples, they’ve been invited. At this wedding, as we see there, he takes what would be there a costly mistake, and as we go on we’ll see the full picture here, but he takes what would be a costly mistake for a family in their culture, what would be a social embarrassment, and as we go on he completely changes the whole deal, turns it completely around. But as you see there, there’s no wine. And that would be a big deal. In fact there’s some commentators that tell us that in this type of culture, to run out of wine at the wedding, potentially the groom’s family could even be fined. So it’s significant what’s happened here, socially, but also for other reasons in the culture. So Jesus is in this situation, as we go on we’ll see what he does with it. But what he does is completely transform the situation. It becomes a dilemma, a concern, a significant situation, and he turns it completely around, and that’s the way he works. And I believe that’s the way Jesus even works today. You know, we have a wedding, the beginning of a marriage, we have the start of a marriage, and you could look and say ‘This is not a very good start, to be embarrassed, to be fined, potentially.’ But he turns it completely around. And God works the same way today in any marriage. When Jesus enters the equation, there can be dilemma, there can be hardship, there can be difficulties, and with Jesus, man, he can completely change the whole deal. The end result here as we go on is a happy bride and a happy bride groom, a joyous family, a strong family, and that’s what Jesus certainly can do. And maybe you’re here this morning, and your marriage hasn’t been going well, maybe it’s started off on a really bad deal. But you’re still hanging in there, but it isn’t looking good. Maybe you’re even thinking ‘We’re done.’ But understand what Jesus can do when he enters the equation, when people are willing to do what he says and requires, he can turn it completely around. But it’s interesting too, that he’s at a wedding. This is a wedding, this is a public wedding, and we must assume then that he certainly has an understanding of, a perspective of marriage and of a wedding. Certainly it’s important enough to him that he attends this. Of course, as we study the rest of the New Testament, marriage is indeed important, God ordained marriage, no doubt about it. And we see that pictured here for us too. The rest of the New Testament makes it very clear, of course even the book of Genesis, that God is the one that designed marriage, and God is the one that ordained marriage. And I guess we can use the opportunity to say that especially what’s happening today in our state this last week, in fact, I even made a phone call to one of our senators, but a marriage is one man and one woman. That’s what God has ordained. That’s the equation that he’s a part of. When you have one man and one woman and they marry, what happens is, there’s even a supernatural thing that happens, is that God says the two become one. But it only happens when you have one man and one woman that come together, they then become one. You use any other combination, it doesn’t work the same, it’s not marriage, it’s not ordained by God. It’s something else, it’s a union by men, but it’s certainly isn’t marriage. [Comment: The uniqueness of marriage goes beyond what we can physically see. There is a human spirit that God places in all human beings, as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” Now that’s talking about their physical bodies. But he goes on to describe something else that’s within man and beast alike. “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward [upon death], and he spirit of a beast that goeth downward to the earth?” So we see man has a human spirit within him, and animals have animal spirit within them. Let’s see what this human spirit does. 1 Corinthians 2:9-13, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, or ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man [i.e. human knowledge, like the arts, mathematics, astronomy, literature, languages, computers, manufacturing], save [except for] the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but [except for] the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world [i.e. our human spirits, combined with God’s Holy Spirit are no longer under the influence and controlled by the worldly spirit of Satan], but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” What Paul is saying here, that man’s intelligence, human knowledge far above animal intelligence, come to man by and through this human spirit, placed within every human being from God. Then Paul goes on to explain that God’s level of spiritual intelligence is imparted to believers, which is far above that of ordinary human intelligence. In Romans 8:16 Paul says “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” So God’s Holy Spirit, you might say, is intertwined with our human spirits, at least with believers this is true. In 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 Paul reveals something about the “one flesh” which may have escaped you. He says “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? [How? Remember Romans 8:16?] shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What?, know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body?, for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” What is being revealed here, is that when a couple (man & woman), married or otherwise, become sexually united, and become a couple that way, their human spirits become united, intertwined. (Notice this “intertwining” occurs regardless of whether “the couple” are married or not.) This is meant to be, as long as it is within marriage. What Paul is condemning is the uniting of the human spirit of a non-believing harlot with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ which is “intertwining” within the believer. The very image of the united human spirits of a married couple, is a very symbolic image of the union between God the Son and God the Father, united through the Holy Spirit. It is as Paul says, a mystery which we don’t fully understand. Have you ever tried to hide something from your wife, husbands, and she intuitively knows? That’s the spirit link between you two, called the “one flesh”. The sexual union has something to do with bringing on that spirit union. Athol Dickson, in his book “The Gospel According to Moses” pointed out this very same thing. This is what makes marriage and the sexual union between a man and a woman so special, it’s not simply physical, it’s a thing of the spirit of man, that very spirit we each possess that gives us our tremendous understanding of the world and universe around us, far beyond animal intelligence, light years beyond animal intelligence. No other union is of God but that between a man and a woman for this very reason. It’s not just a choice, it’s the way we’re “wired” upstairs, in our brains and minds. Our minds are a union between physical brain and the spirit in man that each person possesses. The human spirit in a man unites with the human spirit of his wife or in this world, his girl friend if they’re co-habiting (cf. 1 Cor. 6:16-17). This union goes far beyond just the physical that we can see, touch, feel, smell or hear.] So we use the opportunity this morning just to be a voice to that simple truth. But again, a wedding ceremony, a wedding ceremony is important to Jesus, marriage is important to Jesus, and today I use the opportunity too, because of even phone calls I’ve been involved in recently. But today in our culture, there’s understanding that a man and a woman living together is on the same lines as marriage [it is on the line of the bonding of the human spirits each possess], and it’s not. It isn’t at all [and he’s referring to the Christian Biblical standards we are to live by, not the world’s standards, which are like shifting sand]. And Jesus is at a wedding ceremony because he believes it important because marriage is important, it’s ordained by God. [And if you want a happy marriage, you should avail yourself of Christian resources that help explain how to have a happy marriage. One such is http://www.HOWMARRIAGEWORKS.COM.] And for those that say that a man and a woman living together are the same as a husband and a wife, that’s just not true in any way. In fact, those people that say that need to learn some basic wisdom. Even from statistics not too long ago there was a study, and the study was of marriages, comparing marriages where people we initially living together, and people that weren’t, and don’t you know, those that were initially living together had a 48 percent higher divorce rate than those that weren’t living together to begin with. So it’s interesting in our culture. I’ve talked to couples that are living together, they say ‘Well, we’re doing this, you know, we don’t want to get divorced, we want to be sure to work everything out.’ But statistically those that do that, divorce more frequently than those that don’t. And there’s a reason why. When you get married in God’s eyes and God’s ways, you have a husband and wife that have saved themselves and they wait for that wedding day, they’re also making a vow, and they’re saying ‘You can trust me, I trust you, we’re making a vow together, and we’re going to stick together. When you live together, you’re basically saying ‘We don’t trust each other.’ That’s what you’re saying. You’re saying ‘I don’t trust you, I don’t think you’re going to stay committed to me, so let’s try it out, and I can’t even trust myself that I’m going to stay committed to you, so let’s try this out.’ [That’s a hell-of-a-way to start out a serious relationship! Isn’t it?] Marriage the way God has made it is a man and a woman coming together and saying ‘We have made a vow before God, and we’re going to stick together, regardless, for better or worse, regardless, we’re going to hang in there and be faithful to this vow.’ So, living together, if you have been part of that, obviously God is a God that can be gracious and is merciful too, and he forgives and he heals. But if it’s something that you’re considering or presently doing, you should consider even the statistics, but even more importantly you should consider the Word of God.
“Jesus, they’re out of wine!”
This wedding takes place at Cana, and when you drive out of Nazareth today and you head toward the Sea of Galilee just a number of miles away, you go through this community of Cana. Above the road of the city of Cana, I noticed this sign when I drove there, my first trip, it was spelled Kana, for that reason we named our daughter Kana, but it’s spelled that way today in the community. You can go there today, outside the Sea of Galilee, and it’s this community where we know in the Bible where Jesus performs his first miracle, and he takes a difficult situation and he actually brings joy. So Cana is a neat name in that context. John tells us Jesus is there, his disciples are there, but also his mother. At one point his mother points out to Jesus, becomes aware of this fact that they’re out of wine at this wedding, and then she brings this to Jesus’ attention, that they’re out of wine. Now, I guess you could ask the question ‘Why is his mother concerned about it?’ and ‘Why has his mother brought the question to Jesus?’ that they’re out of wine. There’s a number of things, and this is for those of you who like to look at the text from different angles. But there is this possibility that some commentators would suggest is a possibility, the fact that she is concerned, it’s possible that she’s the hostess for this wedding. And what would happen in that culture, there would be a hostess at the wedding, and it would be the aunt of the groom. So it’s possible that Mary is the hostess, that’s why she’s concerned, that’s why she’s trying to do something about it….But Jesus hears about this dilemma, his mother of course brings the dilemma to him, they’re out of wine. And it’s clear from the context that she makes the statement, but in making the statement, she’s more than just making a statement. She’s hinting, or she’s making a request, she’s saying “Jesus, they’re out of wine, you know, do something about this situation.” So she’s making a request. But why would she come to him, her son, anyway in that situation? Why would she expect him to do something about it? That tells us a little bit about Mary, doesn’t it, a little bit about her perspective of her son at this point. She comes to him with this understanding that he can do something about it. And no doubt she remembers his birth, no doubt she remembers what the angel said to her at that time, also the testimony of Elizabeth and the shepherds and Simeon and Anna, she remembers all that. Tremendous things were said when Jesus was born, maybe there’s even other things. We’re told in Luke the chapters covering the time of Jesus’ birth, we’re told she heard these things, and she kept them all to heart, and she pondered them. [Don’t forget, she and Joseph had to take Jesus to Egypt for a certain number of years until Herod died, and that the whole region of Bethlehem had their boy children killed, from new-born sons to 3 years old in Herod’s attempt to kill the Christ child. That wasn’t lost on Mary either.] So she’s had a certain understanding about her son, no doubt about it. And now the ministry of John the Baptist started, it’s a very unique season taking place in the nation of Israel [Judea], and John has testified of Jesus, “This is the Lamb of God, this is the Messiah”, he said that. So with that, we see this confidence now, that she goes to her son and expects, and really requests that he would do something about this situation. So, I think that’s a good picture for us too. Obviously, Mary going to Jesus, I go to him, and that’s a good reminder for you and I, we have challenges that come into our lives, we have difficulties that we can encounter, and we can come to our Lord with the same confidence. ‘Now Jesus, here’s the deal, this is the hardship, this is the dilemma, I come to you, and I come to you and I request of you, because I know you care about me, I know that you can deliver me from this, you can get me through it, you can work anything if I come to you.’ And so Jesus’ mother, Mary, comes to Jesus during this situation. Now Jesus responds to his mother’s hinting, this request. He says ‘Woman, why are you seeking to get me involved with this situation?’ Now that’s an interesting way to address your mom, I wouldn’t recommend this to my three children, that’s for sure. ‘Woman’, that’s just, I don’t know [laughter]. But what does it mean? Peculiar way to address your mom. Is it a disrespectful thing that Jesus is doing at this point? Well, in actuality it isn’t, and the Greek helps us a little bit. But it might seem harsh and abrupt, but the Greek tells us really this is a polite way to address a woman, the word in the Greek is actually a polite form. Jesus will later use it to address Mary Magdalene outside the tomb, she’s afraid and confused at that moment, and turns and sees him, he says “Woman…” So same type of word, then he uses the same word when he’s on the cross and there’s his mother and there’s John, and he says “Woman, behold your son”. So it’s really a polite way to address her, there’s a tenderness in that word. But at the same time, it seems that he’s making a statement too, because he doesn’t say “mother”, he says “Woman”, and it’s clear earlier he had hinted at this too when he was younger, but he understands that she doesn’t have an authority over him in the sense that he does what the Father tells him to do, period. And that’s the way he responds, you know. ‘My time has not come yet, I have orders from one place’, and he completely perfectly obeyed his Father, God the Father, so we can note that also. And that’s where he had his perspective, and that’s the way he was as the Son of God, and we can note that here. So he says “Woman” and there’s that sense. But even when he was twelve years of age, of course he was a perfect child, and he was perfect, I mean he was perfect in every sense of the word, although he was very human and very man. But at the age of 12 you remember in Luke chapter 2, he was in the temple, and his mom and dad came looking for him, and even then he said “Do you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” ‘Don’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?’ So even then he was hinting, even at a young age. And now as a man, of course. So in that statement there is this sense, I mean, later, his mother will come looking for him and he’ll say “This is my mother, these are my brothers and sisters” referring to the disciples around him and his friends. So, what does he mean when he says “My hour has not yet come”? ‘Woman, why do you ask of me’, and ‘my hour hasn’t come yet’. What does he mean by that? Well as we go through the Gospel of John, he’ll say this a number of times. In fact, John will even make this statement. John chapter 7, verse 30, John chapter 8, verse 20, the religious leaders want to kill Jesus, they’re angry at Jesus, they want to kill him, they want to take him and destroy him and it says a couple times, but they didn’t because his time had not yet come. But interesting, as you study through John, and we get to chapters 12, 13 and 17, it then says, Jesus says “My hour has come”, of course referring to the cross. When it says ‘the hour has not yet come, my hour has not yet come’ he’s referring to the cross. So we’ll see that as we go through John. Of course the cross is the fulfillment of the whole purpose of why he came to the earth, it was to die on the cross, to be buried and raised to life, to deliver us from our sin, so that we could be forgiven of our sins, so that we could have then hope and eternal life. But also to deliver even the creation from the curse. So it was at that point where he completely manifested his glory as the Savior of the world. So he says “my hour has not yet come”, and it’s referring to this time of the cross.
“Whatever he says to you, do it”
Well, John then tells us that Mary instructs the servants there in verse 5 “Whatever he says to you, do it.” His mother, saying about Jesus to the servants, ‘Whatever he says to you, you go and do it.’ I think that’s a great statement. I think you can put that on the cover of your Bible, you know, ‘whatever he says to you, do it.’ You know, it’s really that simple. Walking with the Lord isn’t a confusing thing, it isn’t this thing that’s hard to figure out, it’s real simple. What Jesus says, what the Word of God says, what he shows you through the Spirit, go and do it, it’s that simple. In the future, our vision for this congregation is also that simple, what Jesus says to do, that’s what we do. We’ll keep it that simple. God, what do you want to do? What do you want to do in our town? What do you want to do in the Worcester County area? Whatever you want to do, you tell us what you want us to do, and that’s what we’ll do. It’s that simple. It’s not confusing. In fact, I really approach ministry that way. I think, some people, it bothers them a little bit. It just seems that simple, Jesus, let’s just ask him, ‘What are we supposed to do?’, let’s ask him. And what he says to do, do just what he says to do. In fact, may we do it with a spirit of Caleb. You remember this spirit, this heart of Caleb, in Numbers chapter 14, verse 24, God said of Caleb, he said “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him, has followed me fully.” ‘So he’s done what I said, and he did it fully, completely.’ And then later, Jesus will even say in John chapter 15, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” ‘You’re my friends, if you do what I say to do.’ So, that’s what it means to walk with the Lord. It’s that simple, just following him and listening to him, and obeying him. It’s also interesting to consider again that Mary, her relationship with her son, she directs the servants to her son. She doesn’t go to Jesus and then go back to the people, and then go back to Jesus, like a liaison, like a mediator, she presents the situation to Jesus, and then she says to the servants, ‘You go to him. Go to him, let him speak to you, and what he says, you go do.’ And again, it’s that simple. Those that say you have to go to Mary, and pray to her, and get her feedback, and get her working for you, it’s not necessary. In fact, Mary says right here, ‘You go to Jesus, and what he tells you to do, go do it.’ It’s that simple. And that’s the truth of the Word of God. Those that say otherwise do not understand the Scripture. I realize that there are other churches that teach otherwise, and some people have that understanding because they’ve been taught that, but the Bible makes it real clear. In fact, Paul says in 1st Timothy chapter 2, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.” He says, one Mediator. One. Not two, not multiple. The book of Hebrews, ‘We can go boldly to the throne because we have one Mediator.’ You see the picture here, ‘Go to Jesus, let him tell you’, and that’s all you need to do this morning. You don’t need any other mediator. You just need Jesus Christ. And he, as we saw in the last chapter, he is that ladder, he’s God, he’s man. He’s the One that can make the connection between us and the heavenly Father, he’s the only One, the Son of God.
Water to wine!
So, verses 6-12, “Now were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons of apiece. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the waterpots with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, ‘Draw some out now and take it to the master of the feast’, and they took it. When the master of the feast that tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew, the master of the feast called the bridegroom and he said to him, ‘Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now.’ This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, he his mother, his brothers, and his disciples, as they did not stay there many days [King James: “and they continued there not many days.”].” John then tells us that Jesus instructed the servants to go, there were certain waterpots, and to go fill them with water. And he even notes that these waterpots were those pots that they used for ceremonial purification, as part of the customs of the Jews, when they had meals they would go through this multiple times, in fact this ceremony of being purified, and they would use this water for that purpose. So these pots were there, and he instructs the servants to go fill them up. And what do they do? We’re told in verse 7 that they fill them to the brim. I really like that. These servants are cool servants. He says ‘Fill ‘em’, and they fill them to the brim. I mean, I think of that commercial I saw ‘fill it to the brim’, I think of that coffee commercial. But they fill them to the brim. Now that’s a picture of a servant to me that goes for it, who when is given an instruction, he doesn’t hold back anything, he just goes and ‘You say fill it, I’ll fill it right to the top, not just three quarters, not seven eights.’ In fact, if they would have filled it less, it’s possible that they would have regretted it later, based on what he did. It’s possible they would have ended up with less, later. But they actually, they don’t have to fill it to the brim. He just said fill it, that’s all he said. But they fill it to the brim. That says they’re excited about doing it. That says they’re committed to doing it. That says there’s an anticipation there. And that’s a great heart, to serve the Lord, these servants, that’s a great heart. That’s a great picture for you and I. Just going for it, full gusto, right to the top, all our means and all our heart, all our passion whatever it might be that God has asked us to do, cleaning in the bathrooms, working in the children’s ministry, working on the worship team, teaching the Bible study in the home, do it with all our hearts, right to the top. And these guys don’t regret it later. And if we do it, we’re not going to regret it later. In fact, sometimes we’re bumming later, that man, I wish I would have put a little bit more into it. I wish I would have given a little bit more, now that I see what the Lord did with that. Well, I’m sure they’re thankful for it. And the same will be true of you and I, you know, the measure we measure with will be measured back to us and then even some more, Malachi tells us [in the tithing chapter, 3:10-12]. He instructs them then, he says ‘Fell them up’ and they fill them up to the brim, and then he instructs them to draw some of the water out, and to bring it to the master of the feast. Now the master of the feast, who is this master of the feast? The Greek word tells us, at least originally in this culture, based on the word, it wasn’t the toastmaster, but the person who was the superintendent of the dining room, the person that made sure everything was in order, the furniture, also made sure the food was right in the proper order, and made just right, and tasted just right. So it seems to be, based on the Greek, that is the master of the feast that he says to bring the water to. But you can only imagine, they fill these pots with water, to the brim, they then draw out some water, they then go to the master of the feast, he then drinks of it. And then there’s this response of ‘Man! This is good stuff! I mean, this is the best! I mean, normally people bring out the diluted stuff, the cheap wine at the end, you know, people are a little buzzing now and a little drunk, and they will never even know. But you guys brought out the very best. This is amazing.’ You can just imagine the servants, because they knew they filled those pots with water. I would also presume, based on the way he kind of closes, they probably paled that water, however they drew out water, they had water. But now they stand somewhere along that route to the master, either instantly when they gave it to him, we don’t know. I would say the way God often works, it was at the very instant. And now they’re doing a double-take. I would be, I’d be ‘Give me that cup back! Wait a minute. I gave you water!’ [laughter]. And now, maybe all the pots, I would assume, even the pots are now filled with wine. Pretty radical, you can just imagine their response and their excitement, just their eyes and maybe the things that they would say. I mean, they would be pretty jazzed seeing this take place. Now John notes in verse 9 that the servants knew, but the master didn’t know, but the servants were the ones that knew. They knew that a miracle had just happened, something supernatural had happened. And they knew it, because as the servants, they were the ones that went, when you said ‘Go and do’, they went and did it, they were obedient, they did it fully, and now they get to see this wonderful thing that God has done. And they’re totally, I’m sure, blessed. And I know the same thing happens to you and I, it’s when, you know, God says to you and I, to his servants, ‘Go and do’ and calls us to whatever the ministry might be, and as we go and do….one of the best things about ministry is just how the Lord blesses you in return, and just in the blessing of seeing what he does. And to be able to be used as part of that. It’s just cool, I have no regrets the last 8 years here in New England. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way. But because coming to New England, ministering to New England I have a whole another appreciation for Jesus, just because of the experiences, seeing God do the things that he has done. I know my mother and father-in-law, they dropped us off 8 years ago at the radio building, it was moldy, dilapidated, my mother and father-in-law were completely thinking, I mean, they had no respect for me. It was very difficult, they had their little princess, you know [his wife], they treated her that way growing up and had given her an easy life, taken care of her, provided every single need. That is my father-in-law, if she had a need he took care of it, if she had a desire, he took care of it. Now she’s married to me [laughter], we leave our jobs, I started out OK in his eyes, but then we leave our jobs and we come here, and they drove out with us from California, their comfortable lifestyle, and they leave us at this dilapidated building, they knew that we were getting paid $1,000 a month [$250 a week, in 1995!] gross, that was it, only one of us. And they left, and drove down to Pennsylvania to see some family. And I can only imagine their discussion. [laughter] ‘What have we done?’ In fact, I do recall some comments, they expected us, in not too long to come back to California. But now every year they come out, and they look around, and they look around, and even to them, I mean, it’s clear there’s something going on, because they can look back. And that’s the way it works in our lives. So it’s exciting to be part of ministry, whatever the ministry is, to just go and do as the Lord leads. You don’t regret it, because you go and the Holy Spirit is working, God does what only he can do. That should be our prayer here in this congregation, ‘God, do what only you can do, so that no man will get the glory, in the end.’ And he does, and it’s exciting to be part of it. So, they’re pretty excited. And it’s not the master, I mean, he’s excited, but his experience is nothing like the servants. There’s a special experience that they have, because they saw it all, they had the “before”, they had the “during”, and now they have the “after.” And that’s just real cool to be part of that. But this passage here too, you know you have the wedding, you have the world using their sources, then as it goes on, they run out, there’s emptiness, there’s vanity, there’s a dilemma, there’s a lack of satisfaction. Jesus enters the equation, and now there’s joy, there’s something new, there’s something powerful that’s entered the equation. And I think there’s a picture there too….”He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living waters”, and that is this same picture here at this wedding feast.
This was Jesus’ first miracle
In verse 11, John tells us [up to this point] that this is the beginning of signs [King James Version: miracles]. He uses the word “signs” rather than miracle, He does that over and over, 8 times he says these are the “signs”, ‘this is one of the signs that Jesus gave.’ Indicating that Jesus, the sign, that this was the Messiah. So as John writes he shows his audience that Jesus is the Messiah, that he is the Son of God, through what Jesus said and through what Jesus did, so the different signs. But he says [in verse 11] “This is the beginning of “miracles”. Now that tells us right there that this is his first miracle. He didn’t do miracles before. Philippians says when the Son of God left his throne and became a man, he put aside his glory. He emptied himself of his glory, and he became a man, just as human as you and I are. He lived and grew up, as a child, like we did. He was perfect, he was the Son of God, but yet he put aside his glory. [Jesus the Messiah was Yahweh before, the very God in the Old Testament that dwelt in the tabernacle with Israel, the very one that spoke with Abraham, and Moses.] And then John the Baptist said that ‘God told me, God the Father, that when this one that the Spirit comes upon and remains on him, that is the Messiah.’ [Comment: Jesus had the Holy Spirit indwelling him from conception, just as John the Baptist did. The visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit coming on him (probably only visible to John the Baptist) was so John could identify Jesus as the Messiah.] So at the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon him and remained upon him, and now his ministry begins, and there are these miracles. But it says ‘This is the beginning of signs’, he didn’t do them before. When Jesus was young and he came up to a river, it didn’t divide and he walked through it. When he wanted a cup of water or a snack from the refrigerator, he didn’t just sit there and the refrigerator door came open and a snack came flying through the air and land at the table. That’s not the way he was, he was a child, just like you and I, which is amazing. When I went to the city of Nazareth the second time I thought about that, that he was a child, the Son of God. It’s an amazing thing to consider. But, now of course he came as the Son of God, and now he’s manifesting bit by bit, then fully manifesting his glory on the cross. That’s important to note, because there are other sources. In fact, somebody didn’t even know I’d be saying this, somebody made a comment to me before the service, they have some type of material, that’s there’s scholars (there’s plenty of them out there), but one scholar’s saying, supposed scholar, that there are not four Gospels, there are 34 Gospels, that there are 30 other books. And there are a lot of other writings, the Apocrypha. But you’ll notice, certainly in a number of them, anyway, I haven’t studied all of them, but I’ve studied some of them in college, that they talk about the childhood of Jesus, where he was doing these miracles. But John says he didn’t do miracles before [this first miracle at Cana of Galilee]. So John says these other things are false in what they declare. [And don’t forget, John has spent years taking care of Mary, the mother of Jesus, up in Ephesus, well before this Gospel was written in 90AD, so John has a very qualified eye-witness to the childhood of Jesus, Yeshua, and that is the testimony of his mother Mary.] And they are false [all these supposed other “gospels”], that’s why they are not in our New Testament. Do you want to know why these other books are false, the Gospel of Thomas and on and on, it’s because they’re not true. And John, of course, and those that were part of putting these collections together in writing these different things, understood that. Well, this is the first sign, the first miracle. The result is that we’re told the disciples believed in him. Of course, they believed him before, they’re following him, they’ve had a measure of faith. But this only strengthens their faith. I mean, that’s the Christian [and Messianic Jewish] experience, there’s always that step of faith that’s necessary. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God, you can’t get to God any other way. You can’t prove to yourself there’s a God, and become so sure intellectually that there is a God, and that there is no measure of faith. God has made it so that when we come to God we must believe that he exists by faith, there is this measure of faith. [I kind of disagree. One can prove Jesus is the Messiah by fulfilled prophecy, and one can prove the Word of God, the Bible, is true and accurate by fulfilled prophecy. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm and by the creation, intelligent design, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/dinosaurs/dinosaurs.htm . But once that relationship between God and a new believer has started, God does require faith and a spiritual walk in faith. Abraham’s life is a prime example of that. It is said in Josephus that Abraham proved God’s existence by the study of astronomy in Ur of the Chaldees, and then the relationship started, and God required more and more faith of Abraham as his life went onward with God.] But the amazing thing is, as you enter into a relationship with God, through faith, based on his Word, man, look what God does. The proof, the clear proof, I just look around and say ‘Man!, God is real!’ I share stories now and then where God clearly came and worked, no other explanation. So, we come to the Lord in faith, we walk by faith, but at the same time, God is real, interacting in our lives, looking for vessels to work through. And when he works, man, you’re like ‘Wow! Unbelievable! That was neat to be part of. Cool to see. Look at that person’s life, completely changed.’ Relatives going ‘I don’t get it.’ They were way out there, they’re semi-normal now, and then a spouse and a parent, on the PTA, and whatever it is. He works, he’s real, that’s what it says about the disciples, they believed in him, that experience now of walking in faith with the Lord and watching him work. Man, it’s a strengthening thing.
“Don’t make my Father’s house a house of merchandise!”
So they go from here, they head down Cana, it isn’t too far to the Sea of Galilee, really beautiful, you come down, they went up the western side, they stopped at Capernaum. My more favorite place in Israel is Capernaum, the ruins of Capernaum, you can go and see them, stand even in the temple [synagogue] that was there, at least one that was built on top of the foundation of the temple [synagogue] that Jesus ministered in. Verses 13-22, “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When he made a whip out of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changer’s money, and overturned the tables. And he said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away. Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise.’” I mean, he says that with a lot of emphasis. “Then his disciples remembered that it was written, ‘The zeal for your house has eaten me up.’ So the Jews answered and said to him, ‘What sign do you show to us, since you do these things?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty six years to build this temple, and you’ll raise it up in three days?’ He was speaking of the temple of his body. Therefore when he had risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them, and they believed the Scriptures and the word which Jesus had said.” So Jesus went up to the Passover. Three times in the year we’re told in Deuteronomy, the males, the Jewish males were to go up to the city of Jerusalem for the feasts. And Jesus certainly obeyed all the law, so he goes up at this time. You read a number of times in John, that there’s a number of Passovers, possibly even four in total that he goes to. [And we find that the early Church for the first 250 years, in Asia Minor and Jerusalem, kept the Holy Days of Leviticus 23, and these churches were basically Jewish racially and ethnically. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm. Letters of Polycarp and Policrates, preserved in the Post and Antinicene Fathers (a Catholic history) specifically show John, Polycarp, John’s disciple, and Policrates all observed the Quartodeciman Passover on the 13th/14th Nissan.] So he comes and he finds in the temple these people who are selling oxen, sheep and doves, the money changers are sitting there with their tables, they’re doing business. He’s watching that, he sees that, and then something comes over him. And it’s such a change from what was the picture before. Before is this picture of joy, of peace, now the picture is radically different. Some people even look at this and have trouble with it. But what he sees makes him so angry, so righteously angry, that he goes up, he begins to actually toss tables. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen somebody really get angry, kick walls or toss tables, but it’s really an intense moment. But he’s angry, flips tables, things are going everywhere, he’s got a whip, he makes a whip and he begins to chase folks out of the temple court area, and then he says the things that he says. He says ‘Take these things away’, he says to those with the doves, obviously he didn’t sin in this, I mean if he’d thrown some doves around in the cage he probably would have harmed them, so he says ‘Take these away. Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise.’ What he sees, is they’re making a business here. [And this was a major money-making business for the family of the high priest.] And in doing that they’re actually setting an obstacle between the people and God. And in doing that, they’re actually misrepresenting God to the people. The people of Israel were to be a light to the Gentiles, the nation of the Jews [Judea]. In the court of the Gentiles, where especially you want to represent God to the world, this is the court where the Gentiles could actually enter, they couldn’t go any further, but in that very place, there is this business going on. In fact, maybe Jesus saw it even took place, but it was taking place, you would come, and you would have your sheep or oxen, you would come in, and the priest was supposed to inspect it according to the law, it was supposed to be without blemish. But they would look real hard, they would look so hard that they would find something every time, and they would say to you, ‘Listen, this doesn’t quite cut it, you need something that’s already temple certified. We have those over here, and pay us fifty dollars for this sheep.’ [Sheep and oxen are a big money item. When the Pilgrims were finally able to crawl out of their debt with their investors in London, it was because they had switched over from farming to raising beef cattle, so this is big business.] Not only that, they also had these money changers, and what happened is people would come in with foreign currency, they’d come to the temple from different parts of the world, and you couldn’t use anything but a temple shekel. So when you went up there with your currency, to even buy these animals, they would then say ‘Listen, we need to exchange this’ and kind of like at the airports, sometimes you go to some of the places, and you’re like ‘Man! I gave them that, and that’s all they gave me back?’ That’s what they were doing, they were charging a tremendous exchange-rate and taking advantage of the people. Maybe initially this was an innocent thing, maybe initially, people coming from other places, they wanted to provide an easy way for them to get some of their animals, so they could come and worship, maybe it was good intentions initially. But what has happened in the hardness of the hearts of especially the religious leaders, they’re taking advantage of God’s people, and they’re making a buck at it, and God, Jesus, completely is so angry. The intensity of what’s happening was incredible to even see, and I believe the same happens today. I mean, God doesn’t, he doesn’t deal with that very well. When the people of God misrepresent him to the world, especially in the sense that we begin to take advantage. And that happens in different ways. And I hope at this congregation we keep it simple. God doesn’t want anything in the way. You should be able to come to this church, come as you are, and worship the Lord. You shouldn’t have to think you should pay something, you have to give an offering, or you have to dress differently, or you have to do anything. Because Jesus says ‘Come to me, all who are weary’, it’s that simple. And that’s the way the Church is supposed to be. And when we start to make it anymore complex than that, you can be sure that God doesn’t like it. And he shows us here, he gets angry at this. I mean, there are all kinds of other things that people are doing that he sees that are wrong, but this, misrepresenting God, taking advantage, making it difficult for the people to come to the Lord. He becomes very angry. We need to be careful, especially in our nation where we’re so much into merchandising and into business, churches can start to do it. In fact, there are things that bother me, there’s even today in our church, if we have worship lyrics printed in the bulletin or if we put them up and post them, we have to pay money for that, and since we’ve had to do that, it’s always bothered me. Now, certainly a worker deserves his wage, and if you write music and you sell in the Christian bookstores, great, you have concerts, great. But there’s something different about worshipping in God’s house and the Word of God. [Many of the Sabbatarian Churches of God refuse to charge for their spiritual literature, living by the Scripture, “Freely you have received, freely give.” This website is like that as well. Free-will offerings are welcome, but the material on this site is free for the taking, to be used for spiritual nourishment of an individual or congregation, doesn’t matter. It’s God’s material, expressly for the people of God, and whomever the Lord will draw to himself.] And when you start requiring money. But as a church, believe it or not, if we put up any worship lyrics, any songs, we have to pay money, we have to pay CCLI, we have a license, if not, we could get fined. What’s happened, is in some places the Church has taken on the mentality of the world. I don’t think God likes it. And maybe that’s why we drag our feet putting up this or that, because it just bothers me that we have to pay. And some of the worship songs are Psalms, I mean, they didn’t come up with it, they just put a beat to it, you know what I mean? And they’re like, ‘Give me my money.’ That’s wrong. I wouldn’t want to be those people. I know people have different opinions [but this is God’s “opinion”]. But hey, you write things, you can sell it, you can write books, great, Christian book stores, concerts….but Sunday [or Saturday] morning worship, Wednesday evening worship in God’s house, man, there’s something wrong when you require people to pay, because that’s what we see here, and I don’t think God likes it. He didn’t like it then, and he doesn’t like it now. And I think the Church needs to take note. He says ‘This is my Father’s house’, it’s not our house, it’s God’s house. So there is this sense of a healthy fear, this is God’s business, it isn’t Steve’s, it isn’t this congregation’s house, it’s God’s, and we approach it that way. We want to represent him, completely, in a certain heart, in a certain light, and do things his way. But later, this is the way they approach ministry at this time, but later [in the Gospel] he says this is ‘Your house’, Matthew chapter 23:38 he says “See, your house is left to you desolate”, your house. It was “My Father’s house”, now it’s later “your house”. God doesn’t even dwell there, God doesn’t want anything to do with it. [And in 70AD it was burned to the ground] I think that can happen even in churches today. We get on the wrong thing and start approaching it the wrong way, and God will do the same after awhile, he’ll say ‘Alright, I don’t want anything to do with that. It’s your house, call it whatever you want to call it, do whatever you want, but I’m not going to be associated with that, because you’re not representing me in the right way.’ But he says we’re told the disciples, they remember this Psalm 69:9, it’s a Messianic Psalm, “The zeal for your house has eaten me up.” Zeal, ah, I pray we come that way to church, I think that’s a healthy heart, there’s a passion for God’s house, there’s a passion for what God’s doing in this congregation, whatever the church might be, it’s God’s people coming together. He says ‘The zeal for his house’, Jesus, talking about the passion he has, the zeal for the house of God. I think that’s the right perspective, I pray we have the same.
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I’ll raise it up”
Well, they came to him, it’s interesting, they don’t question ‘Why did you do this?’, in fact they, maybe they think it’s wrong themselves. They know, I’m sure they do. They know they’re taking advantage of people, they don’t go after that, but they ask “Where do get the authority to do this?”. They question his authority. Of course, they as the religious leaders saw everything and had the responsibility. [In the book “The Day Christ Died” the author brings out that Caiaphas was the high priest. But Annus was supposed to be the high priest for life, but the Roman’s said he had to step down, so he put Caiaphas his son-in-law in the position. The author of this fine work brings out that the animal selling concessions were owned by Annus and Caiaphas, and that attacking the concessions was a direct attack on the money-making ability and schemes of the high priest and his family. Jesus does this once more, about three years later on the 10th day of Nissan, the very day the lambs are supposed to be selected for Passover, four days before he dies on the cross as the Lamb of God. He was forcing the Jewish temple leaders to chose him as the Lamb of God for the Passover sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.] And he responds and says “Destroy this temple, and in three days I’ll raise it up.” Of course they don’t understand that, and they say “It took forty six years to build this”, in fact, Herod began in 20BC, and he didn’t finish until 64AD [the Herod family, this construction went through several Herod’s.], so it’s still being built at this time. 46 years, there’s still some more years to go. This temple took a lot of work. There were, Josephus tells us, that there were stones that were essentially two-thirds the length of this room [my guess, sixty-six feet long], nine feet high, eight feet wide, huge stones in this temple, weighing as much as a hundred and forty tons, where Josephus tells us that 18,000 people were employed over the time of building this temple. So when Jesus says “Destroy it and I’ll build it in three days” they don’t understand what he’s saying, spiritually speaking. And of course, as God, he could do that too [i.e. actually rebuild that huge temple in three days. Hey, he created the universe in what physicists believe was an instant in time, called the Big Bang, which in itself is a proof of creation, something coming from nothing.] But they say, ‘Man, this forty-six years, what is he saying? Ludicrous, ludicrous.’ In fact, later they’ll mock him with it. They’ll do that mock trial, and they bring this up. He said that he could do this, and then when he’s on the cross there will be people that will walk by and say ‘This guy said he could raise that temple up in three days, let him save himself’. They’ll even mock him with it later. But he’ll prove it to them, because he’s on the cross, and he goes to the grave, and three days later that tomb is empty. [Now which would be harder to accomplish, to physically rebuild the actual temple, or to resurrect a dead human being back to life after three days in the tomb? I’d say the resurrection would be technically harder to accomplish. That miracle of Jesus Christ’s resurrection is a historic fact.] And he’s referring to his body, and that’s what John says, “he was speaking of the temple of his body.” Of course, John writing later, understands the whole picture of all these things. So, the temple, representing his body, also representing as he says here, this picture of his death. You know, the temple is going to be destroyed. In fact, Herod finished it, six years later the Romans destroyed it. Took them all that time, and six years later it’s destroyed. But of course Jesus said ‘This is your house, not mine’, later, because of where they had gone. But as we go through the Gospel of John we’ll see a number of pictures pointing to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So let’s just finish. “The disciples remember later when he rose from the dead, that he said these things…”
Jesus didn’t care about ‘public opinion’
Verses 23-25, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover during the feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs [King James Version: miracles] which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for he knew what was in a man.” So there are people that see the miracles, he continues to do miracles. They go, ‘Like wow! This is the Messiah!’ And some put their faith in him, some committed themselves to him, but we’re told here, he did not commit himself to men, because he knew the fickleness of the human heart. He knew what was in a man’s heart. He knew how people can be swayed here or there, and he certainly didn’t fear man. He as the Son of God did what he did because the Father said to do it. And it was that simple. He got his response and his respect, whatever, his evaluation was from God the Father, that’s all he cared about, pleasing God the Father and not man. You know, I think of that because of our reading this week in the Bible as we’ve been reading the Bible through together. Proverbs 29, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” The fear of man, when you fear man, there is a snare. Jesus didn’t have that problem, he didn’t fear man. He new what was in the heart of man, he just followed the Father’s leading. Let’s close in prayer….[transcript of a sermon given somewhere in New England]