Dec 27 2020 - Advent Through John - Christmas - Don't Exclude Those Jesus Includes
1st January 2021
We are going to continue in John
Lord, thank You for the opportunity, as we have worshiped You- thank You for this Christmas celebration- that You became one of us so that we might be with You. Our sins are forgiven, and You delight in us. Speak to our hearts- and work in all the other things going on- the technical things, that they would go smoother.
John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “What business do you have with Me, woman? My hour has not yet come.”
I am going to give a bit of history and get the setting straight, here.
Cana is only about 3.5 miles from Galilee. Galilee as a region- was at odds with Jerusalem -they kind of thought their own way- like Texas or North Dakota.
A wedding was a big deal. They would last up to 7 days. If you were a family of modest means, you would have a large wedding. If you were a family of even more means, you would have a VERY large wedding. So from large to very large- no such thing as a small wedding! People would come and go throughout the seven days, but friends and family would stay for the entire time- so there were a lot of rules and etiquette- very much laid out how these things worked. If you invited someone to a wedding, when they had a wedding, you were invited The society operated around honor and shame and reciprocity.
There was also this concept of- you’d better bring out the right gifts- and the hosts should have the right wine. For a week- that was a long time to provide food and drink for people.
Most scholars believe the wine was wine- not grape juice- maybe less alcohol content, but it was wine- and the concept was that there should be enough to send food home with people at the end of the seven days.
Having an Italian mom, I get this! That rubbed off on me. She would make so much lasagna to take some home.
To run out of wine, in this situation, was a real faux pas.
When Mary comes to Jesus and says, they have no wine- she is somewhat of an insider to know this information. She comes, making a request of Jesus. This shows courage and faith.
She is asking- if you were able to watch the Christmas Eve service, Dick mentioned how Mary pondered these things in her heart. She knew that He was different, and she is asking Him to do something about the lack of wine.
Jesus’ response is curious: Woman- what does that have to do with us? My hour is not yet come. This sounds harsh- but that is most likely not how it was.
Think of in the South- someone saying, Ma’am…
Jesus’ response is respectful, but no sone would ever use this word for his mother. So the question is, what is going on? Why did he respond this way? Mary approached Jesus not so much as her son, but as a miracle worker. She is appealing to what she knew to be his authority and power- so Jesus responds in kind- not as her son, but as the Lord, the Christ.
This is a minor, gentle rebuke- or maybe rather a correction of understanding- so He is showing, as she engages in His ministry, there needs to be a separation in her mind of Jesus as her Son and Jesus as the Christ. She must understand that she is no longer… that He is the Messiah of all humanity.
Second thing- my hour is not yet come- Mary had failed to understand the cost of this action- what it would cost Jesus. We think- turning water to wine- that is fantastic- Jesus thought differently- My hour is not yet come. The hour- is the cross. It is not time for Me to go to the cross yet. This miracle begins Jesus on his journey to the cross.
By doing this, He is telling the world, I am going to the cross- I am going to die.
John tells us the end of the story at the very beginning.
The word was God- the first purpose- and in Chapter 2- foreshadows the end. The next section- turning the tables. The others put this at the end, but John, right out of the gate, wants us to know that everything Jesus does has one purpose, to lead Him to the cross.
Why does this miracle lead to the cross?
5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He tells you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone water pots standing there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing two or three measures each. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the [c]headwaiter.” And they took it to him. 9 Now when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the groom,
He takes these water pots- which were part of their religious purification- and does something completely different. The people would have to purify themselves before joining in celebration- and Jesus takes the original purpose and sets it aside. He is saying- these things- the religious structures that you have and cherish that are so important to your faith- are no longer necessary, and I will replace them. So He replaces the water jar with wine. He is confronting their religious system.
Jesus tells the parable- no one takes new wine and puts it in old wineskins- otherwise they break
What Jesus is doing- acting out this parable. He is saying- all this stuff you have going on in your religious practices- are old wineskins. He is saying- I am New Wine- the New Creation- and in Me, everything will be transformed- He turns over the tables in the temple- and He is replacing it all with something new.
John does this using water throughout the gospel. John the Baptist baptized in water- one coming after that will baptize with the Holy Spirit.
To Nicodemus: Unless you are born of water and the Spirit….
Then the woman at the well- you drink from this well that Jacob dug- and get thirsty again- the water I give, you’ll never be thirsty again.
Jesus is changing everything.
You may have noticed- we are quick to become old wineskins. It does not take us long. If you, like me, came to faith during the Jesus movement of the 60’s and 70s- it was new wineskins- with new wine! As a college student- I thought, we have finally found the way to do it- everything before us is just old wineskins. But every generation becomes old wineskins- it is so easy for that to happen. Every church- every person- we get into habits- and we don’t see it as core what God wants me to be doing with this- it just becomes what I am used to. Maybe it is time for some change. Jesus is having a public clash of values in this passage with the water and wine. A public clash of values that is different from what we might think! We think of Christians versus the world- the culture wars- and that is the public clash of values. But Jesus is not clashing with the values of the world- He sees those as irrelevant. My kingdom is not of here, there is something much greater than this- we are totally separated from the worlds’ values.
John in his first letter- Do not love the world or the things of the world, if anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. He draws such a sharp contrast- between two… I was thinking about that- don’t love the world- yeah, we agree with that- or the things of the world- I won’t love the world, but some of the things, I’m going to love!
Jesus’ clash is with the religious institution. That is where He hammers away. So
9 Now when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the groom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the guests are drunk, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His [d]signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Jesus does two things here- He engages with this deeper spirituality and engages in real life issues. He shows He will remove shame of sin- and also the shame and disgrace of the people throwing this wedding.
So from a practical standpoint- that do we do? Jess threw a big party! More than enough wine!
We need to ask ourselves- what unnecessary spiritual burdens do we place on others?
Legalism? Works/righteousness- spiritual superiority. The concept that we do things right. We build boundaries to keep people out that Jesus wants to let in. We all have boundaries- we need boundaries- but too often, we set up boundaries to keep people out that Jesus wants in. And that is the problem.
Second thing Jesus does- there is a practical life of mercy- He lifts peoples’ burdens- my burden is easy, and My load is light. Do we put heavy burdens on others with our faith? Or are we like Jesus always lifting burdens?
If you have anger issues- this is a great book (Unoffendable)
Quit thinking it is up to you to police people- and that God needs you to take a stand. God needs nothing. We can become the religious police.
We don’t like Political correctness and the thought police- but we become the religious version of that.
He goes on: Quit trying to parent the whole world. Quit offering advice when exactly zero people asked you for it. Quit serving as judge and jury- quit thinking you need to discern others’ motives. Quit rehearsing in your mind what that other person did to you. It is exhausting- trying to run everything.
That is what happened in Jesus’ day- the religious leaders were trying to control everything. It is just human nature to want to control, but God wants us to give up control
Preventing the shame, and the loss of honor of the host of the wedding was every more way important than honoring the religious tradition. People mattered most. It was all about these people He was so concerned that they would not experience shame. It is odd that He rejects their religious tradition.
When we think of religious tradition- we think of some old denominational church- but we need to look at us first- he rejects and replaces the ‘spiritual thing to do’ with true spirituality. Then He accommodates the cultural norms and decorum. We think that is not important- these people will survive- but He took into account the individuals’ feelings- important to Jesus.
Christians have done a really good job engaging in some areas of our world- food pantries- cars lined up- and oftentimes, it is Christians and churches behind all of that. Christians have done a great job. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters- it is often Christians behind that. ESL- tutoring- we see Christians engaged.
Our kids in Columbus- one is involved with Safe Families. When there are problems in a family and children are in danger of being taken, the church family takes in kids for a time so the family can get their lives together- so the kids can go back.
Our other son- works with a group- She Has A Name- Women who have been brought into sex trafficking and helping them to get out of those situations.
There are so many areas where we are good at- but there are so many ways the church is lacking where we don’t engage well with certain groups of people. We can celebrate where we are good, but we need to examine where we are not. Certain disabilities, issues like divorce- the church often doesn’t know how to engage. I won’t go through a list- but how can we engage? Where is shame coming to someone- and we are taking it away?
Lord, we thank You- we ask You for Your grace- help us- with all that has been done- and help us to see where we fall short and where some still feel left out. In Your name we pray.