Good morning. Today we begin a new week together in the study of God's Word. I hope you look forward to it as much as I do. We are continuing our look at the Gospel of John. Today we are in chapter two and we will be looking at the beginning of Jesus' ministry according to John. If you recall each of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) had Jesus' ministry beginning after his temptation. John, does not give us an account of the temptation. (There is a reason for this) In John, Jesus calls his disciples and then attends a wedding.
"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.' 'Dear woman, why do you involve me?' Jesus replied, 'My time 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 Jews for the ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 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." (John 2:1-9a)
Wow! Neither Matthew, Mark, nor Luke ever recorded such a story. I wonder why John did? And why was this the beginning of Jesus's earthly ministry according to John? We will seek to answer those questions. This, of course, is the well known story of Jesus turning the water into wine. Many have asked the question: "Was it really wine?" Some, painstakingly argue that "Oh, No! It wasn't really wine!" These folks argue that it was grape juice that had not fermented. Their argument is simple: Jesus would not do such a thing as turn water into actual wine. I understand why these folks do not want to believe this. For many there is the association of alcohol with an abusive alcoholic father. I understand this. For others, believing this was not actually alcohol is an act of piety. (They refuse to accept alcohol being in the Bible.) Well, sorry folks but, Noah and Lot sure got drunk on something. And, the story itself testifies to this being more than "really good grape juice."
Before I continue I must tell you about my experience in Cana. I took so many pictures while in Israel, but unfortunately my camera battery died when we arrived in Cana. I remember Cana being a beautiful place. But what I remember most was the wine of Cana. Yes, they still have it there and they will gladly sell it to you. In fact, they had a wine shop. Yes, the very stuff that Jesus made is now for sell in Cana. And they will ship it to you back home. At the little shop there were samples of the wine offered. It was a very popular location. I thought to myself; "You might as well try it. How often do you taste the very wine of Cana?" So I did. Next to Castrol Oil I thought it had to have been the nastiest stuff I have ever drank. It was horrendously horrible. Yet, so many were drinking it and declaring; "Oh, wow! This is the best stuff ever! I'll take two bottles! Make it three!" All I could think was, "Jesus' final product had to have been better than this!"
Well, John tells us that Jesus was at a party. The party was going well, but then the wine ran out. His mother, who may very well have been the wedding planner, throws a fit. "The wine's gone! The wine's gone!" Jesus then calls for the water pots to be filled with water. He turns the water into wine. The master of the banquet realizes that they now have six water pots full of not just wine, but the "good stuff!" (certainly not the stuff I tasted. LOL) "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." (John 2:9b-10) Yes, Jesus turned the water into the best wine. Usually, by the time the party is over the guests are served the cheap stuff. After all, they would be too drunk to know the difference. Kind of like the old Mickey Gilly honky-tonk tune "The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time." (Yes, I used to listen to country music)
So, why did Jesus do this and why did John want us to know about it? Well, for one thing this could have been a message that what God is now doing far surpasses what God ever did before. But, I think there is another reason still. John goes on to say: "This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Can in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him." (John 2:11) The KJV simply says that this was the beginning of miracles. The NRSV and the NIV use the word "signs." The Greek word is semeion. (pronounced say-mi-on) It means "sign." In the synoptic gospels Jesus refuses to give signs. But, John says that because Jesus revealed his glory and because they saw this sign, the disciples "put their faith in him."
Well, the beginning of Jesus' ministry continues to be unique in the Gospel of John. Jesus clears the temple at the beginning according to John. (In the synoptics this took place at the end) For John, this event establishes the reason for the Jews hostility toward Jesus.
Well, I invite you to join me again tomorrow as we look at...well let's find out tomorrow. -Pastor Rick