The Sign of Wine

Audio:

Introduction

The Sign of Wine   John 2:1-12

Introduction

Welcome to the wedding at Cana. Just as today the Hebrew wedding was considered to be the most grand event in life. Barclay: Typically the Hebrew wedding ceremony took place late in the evening following a feast. After the ceremony, the bride and groom were taken to their home in a torchlight parade complete with a canopy held over their heads. They were always taken along the longest route possible so everyone would have the opportunity to wish them well. Instead of a honeymoon they had open house for a week. They were considered to be a king and queen and actually wore crowns and dressed in bridal robes. In lives that often contained much poverty and difficulty, this was considered the supreme occasion. This is the occasion into which we step in this text.

John 2:1-12 (NRSV) On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.

This wedding feast was as important an event as a young Hebrew bride and groom could expect to enjoy in their lives. We cannot overemphasize the distress in Mary’s voice in verse 3 “They have no more wine.”  In Jewish wedding feasts, wine was essential. Not so guests could drink to excess but it was a symbol of exhilaration and celebration. Childhood dreams of the ideal wedding were about to dissolve in a nightmare. This moment provides the setting for the first miracle of Jesus. This is a joyous demonstration of the life-changing power of the Son of God.  The first sign. What does the sign say to us about Jesus?

1. What Does This Tell Us About the Family of Jesus?

Was this a family wedding? Perhaps since Mary was there and Jesus and his disciples were invited to be present. In John’s Gospel Mary is never named, only referenced as “the mother of Jesus”. In John we only see Mary here and then one more time at Jesus’ cross. The encounter between Jesus and His mother gives us only a slight insight – we do not read very much about Mary past the incarnation birth of Christ. She informs him that the wedding feast is out of wine. Jesus’ response has inspired volumes of writings as people try to understand his response. “We would love to have heard Jesus’ tone of voice here as in so many other places in the gospels.” (Bruner) Jesus’ hesitancy to act is ignored by his mother as she instructs the waiters to get ready to do whatever he says.

After this, verse 12 tells us, Jesus went to Capernaum with mother, brothers, and disciples. We know later that the brothers have a hard time believing Jesus to be Messiah. Jesus’ family was not perfect. His mother did not understand fully his mission. His brothers were not completely on board with his messiah complex.  His father seems to be missing after the initial birth stories, and it is is thought that Joseph has died. 

This is one of the few windows into the life of Jesus with his family that we have.

2. What Does This Tell Us About the Person of Jesus?

A rural wedding is the scene of Jesus’ first miracle, and we can appreciate that it was not a large demonstration. Bruner: There is a normalcy and wholesomeness about Jesus’ social life that deserves underscoring and imitation. … Jesus was clearly not a recluse, a hermit, or an unnaturally religions person. He was invited to meals and parties, and he came to a number of them.” This miracle of Jesus indicates his interest in the host of the wedding – that he not be embarrassed. For a Jewish feast wine was essential. “Without wine, there is no joy.” – saying of the Rabbis. More, he turned the water into a wine that was remarkable to the taste and abundant in quantity (150 gallons!).

Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

The friend of sinners – what a beautiful saying. Our challenge is to find something beautiful in every human being we encounter and encourage them to follow the Creator who made them. On an ordinary day, at an ordinary wedding feast, Jesus is about to do something extraordinary. Understanding Jesus as a real person who cared about people and spent time with regular people gives us insight into who he was.

3. What Does This Tell Us About the Mission of Jesus?

Jesus said to his mother, “My hour has not come.” We are reminded in the middle of this party that Jesus has a mission that transcends every other circumstance. “My Hour” is usually understood to refer to the coming crucifixion at Calvary. All through the gospels Jesus talks about his hour.

Jesus came into this world for a specific purpose. He steadily moved toward that hour for which he knew that he had come into the world.  (Barclay) 

John 2:11 “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

He revealed his glory. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[d] full of grace and truth. ” (John 1:14)

The mission of Jesus to reveal to the world the love of God began to be seen at the wedding at Cana.

4. What Does This Tell Us About the Church of Jesus?

Though it will be some time before the church is established in Acts 2, it was a part of the plan of Christ to build His church… a gathering of people of faith to share the good news with the world. Jesus’ miracles in John’s gospel are ‘signs’ – they point to the truth of Jesus’ identity. They also inform the mission of the church. We follow in the footsteps of our Master and point people to Jesus. The glory that God gave to Jesus, he has passed along to us in some manner.

John 17:22 “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one…”

The mission of Christ to save the world is our mission and we are the signs for an unbelieving world to see and follow.

Conclusion

In this simple story of a normal day in the life of Jesus we learn something about his family, his person, his mission and his church. The themes of abundance and joy run throughout this text. The Sign of Wine points us to the ideas…

*Jesus cares about our ordinary everyday struggles.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  

*Jesus is focused on his mission to save the world, and so we should be also.

*Jesus loves with extravagance … creating an enormous amount of wine;  it is still true that Jesus blesses us in enormous extravagant ways.

1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! …

*We shouldn’t expect little of Jesus, but pray BIG!

*Jesus is worthy of our trust. His mother said, ‘just do whatever he says’.

Psalm 104:14-15 (NRSV) You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.

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-Starting Wednesday January 24-

LifeGroup Discussion Questions

1. Every wedding seems to have something funny that happens. Maybe something went wrong or something was just funny. Was there something at your wedding that made everyone laugh – or something memorable that you always think of?

2. Sometimes we throw the word ‘miracle’ around loosely. What are some things that are sometimes called a ‘miracle’?  What constitutes a true miracle? What do you think of Erwin Lutzer’s clarification:

“A popular but wrong, definition is to say that a miracle is a point in time in which God intervenes in the world…. That definition fails for one good reason: It gives the false impression that God only occasionally intervenes in the world. … A miracle happens when God, who is continuously active in the world, breaks His usual pattern and does something extraordinary.” [Erwin W. Lutzer. “Seven Convincing Miracles.” (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999) pp. 16-17.]

3. What did Mary expect of Jesus in saying, “They have no wine”?

*Do you think that she understood him to be a person who could work miracles? 

*How do you ‘hear’ him calling her  ‘woman’?

*Why did Jesus remind Mary, “My time is not yet here”? How might she have interpreted that statement?

5. There are several passages that use the imagery of wedding / wedding feast to describe God’s love and relationship with His people. After reading the following passages discuss how each describes your relationship with God.

*Isaiah 62:3-5

*Matthew 22:1-14

*Ephesians 5:25-33

*Revelation 19:6-9

6.  Jesus’ brothers had a difficult time accepting him as “Messiah” (John 7:1-6; Mark 3:20-21).

*Can you think of some reasons why they struggled with this idea?

*What are some reasons why people sometimes struggle today to accept Jesus as Lord?

*What would you suggest to someone who did not believe? 

*What does our life have to do with the rest of the world believing?

*What does it mean to “believe in Jesus”?

When you have time check out Kelb Heitzman’s 6 minute lesson on this text. He always does a great job.

Next Week: John 2:13-25

Main resources for this week’s lesson:

Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of John  by William Barclay

The Gospel of John, A Commentary by Frederick Dale Bruner

Come and See

COME AND SEE                            John 1:35-51

Audio

 

Introduction

John 1:9-13 (CEB) The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light,  but the world didn’t recognize the light. The light came to his own people,  and his own people didn’t welcome him. But those who did welcome him,  those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children,  born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. Jesus stepped into a world that both believed and disbelieved. But it’s not as easy as just those two options. WHAT we believe about Jesus is important.

Jami Amerine is the author of “Stolen Jesus an Unconventional Search for the Real Savior.” She identified ten false ideas about Jesus. Here are a few…

Mean Jesus – mean and angry, full of wrath and ranting about about how sin would destroy you.

Political Jesus – How would Jesus vote? Since there were no Democrats or Republicans in His day, we don’t know.

Genie in a Bottle Jesus – Your wish is not necessarily His command.

I’ll Teach You Jesus – How many of us believe in this works-based and punishment-loving Jesus? 

If/Then Jesus – If I do such and such, then Christ will do what I expect.

Will you pray this prayer with me? “Jesus, I said yes to you. I want only you. The real you. All of you. You promised that if I seek I will find. Help me seek the truth and keep my eyes wholly fixated on the true you. Amen.”

The first disciples were getting their first look at Jesus the Messiah. They had to overcome their own impressions of who he was… who they expected.

1. FOUR WHO SAW JESUS

A man who lived in his brother’s shadow

John 1:35-40 The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus walking along he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said, “Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?” 39 He replied, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two disciples who heard what John said and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter.

Two of John the baptist’s disciples follow Jesus. Andrew is one of them. The other? John? Andrew is always bringing someone to Jesus (6:8;12:22). This is his great example to us. We know much more about his brother.

An unpredictable and unreliable man

John 1:41-42 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ[c] ). 42 He led him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Jesus took one look at Simon and gave him a new name. Simon is now Cephas (Rock). Peter appears as anything but a rock. He is impulsive, volatile, and unreliable. That is not God’s last word for Peter.

An indecisive man

John 1:43-44 The next day Jesus wanted to go into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter.

Phillip is the only disciple said in this Gospel to have been called by Jesus. He seems out of his element, and perhaps was of limited ability. When faced with feeding 5000, his only thought is that even with a lot of money they could not feed the  multitude. When the Greeks came to him asking to see Jesus he did not know what to do and consulted with Andrew before bringing them to Jesus (12:21-22).  It was Philip in the upper room  asking to be shown the Father – and that is all we ask! (14:8-9)  Jesus went  out of his way to find this rather limited man and to enlist him in the apostolic band. He was a perfectly ordinary man.

Philip, Andrew and Peter were from Bethsaida. Not much is told us in the Gospels about the city. Jesus denounced it as one of the cities where he did most of his miracles (Mt 11:20-24; Lk 10:13).

A man who is initially skeptical

John 1:45-51 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.” Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” Philip said, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here is a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are God’s Son. You are the king of Israel.” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these!  I assure you that you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up to heaven and down to earth on the Human One.”

Nothing is recorded of Nathanael other than this incident and his presence among the fishermen in 21:2. Some suggest that Nathanael is to be identified with Bartholomew, an apostle who is never mentioned by name in John, just as Nathanael is not mentioned by name in the Synoptics.  Jesus offered a high regard for him. Jesus salutes him as a straightforward person. Nathanael’s response:

“Rabbi” – which he did not use at first. 

“King of Israel” – Nathanael is speaking in the highest terms available to him. He has just been called an Israelite. He is acknowledging Jesus as his king.

2. WHAT DO WE SEE IN JESUS?

One who gives us a New Start (Lamb of God who takes away sins of the world)

One who gives us a new hope (New name)God can capitalize on our strengths (Peter) God finds every person valuable (Phillip).

One who gives us new mission. Keep reading the Gospels to be ‘marinated’ in the story of Jesus.

3. BRINGING OTHERS TO SEE JESUS

Andrew sets the tone for the rest of the Gospel story by going to get his brother to see Jesus. Jesus ends his mission by telling us to go out and tell everyone about Him.

How are we bringing others to see Him?

Living lives devoted to Jesus Christ.

Being a church devoted to Jesus Christ and His ways. Honor His presence, wear His name, Driven by His heart. 

Constantly entering into the lives of strangers to the Kingdom as representatives of Jesus.

Conclusion

This year begins with a focus on Jesus … seeing in Him one who gives us a new start, a new hope, and a new mission. Seeing Jesus must move us to bringing Jesus to the world…in our life, in our church, in our hearts.

Psalm 66:1-5 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth! Sing praises to the glory of God’s name!  Make glorious his praise! Say to God: “How awesome are your works! Because of your great strength, your enemies cringe before you. All the earth worships you, sings praises to you,  sings praises to your name!”  Come and see God’s deeds; his works for human beings are awesome…

LIFEGROUP QUESTIONS

1. When Jesus meets Simon he immediately gives him a new name. Did you have a nickname when you were younger? What was it Did it stick through the years? Did you like it?

2. The text today talks about four disciples, three of whom we know very little about. With which one do you identify most? Which one reminds you of you … and which one would you like to be more like?

Andrew – always introducing others to Jesus

Philip – always seems out of his element, unsure

Peter – loud and impulsive, not always dependable

Nathaniel – honest to a fault, cynical about Jesus’ hometown

3. Barclay wrote, “Of course, we have to know Christ ourselves before we can invite others to come to him. The true  evangelist must himself have met Christ first.” As we read about the first steps of faith in Christ these disciples experienced, who was mostly responsible for planting the seeds of faith in your heart?

4. “Come and See” is the refrain we see in this passage a few times. If you were going to invite your lost friend to see Jesus, what is it about Jesus you would like for them to see most?

5. John records more than a dozen names or descriptions of Jesus in this chapter. Scan through the chapter and pick out  one or two that we can use in our worship and prayers to Him – names that are meaningful to you.

6. The earliest disciples were witnesses of the identity of Christ. What are some ways you (either as individual or  group) can be a witness for Jesus in our community? What is one specific action you can take to demonstrate the love of Jesus to others who do not yet know him?

Next Sunday: John 2

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Resource:  Ten False Versions of Jesus

Voice in the Wilderness

A Voice in the Wilderness  John 1:19-34

Audio:

Introduction

On the last day of 2017 we should spend a little time looking back. What did we accomplish? What did we miss? What did we learn? It’s a season for making resolutions. What do you think is the most common new year’s resolution? According to one article:

1. Diet, Exercise, Lose Weight.

2. Read More

3. Learn something new (take up a new hobby)

4. Save Money

5. Be nicer, Kinder, more patient

6. Get a new job

7. Volunteer and donate more to charity

8. Drink less alcohol

9. Relax and get more sleep

10. Make new friends and be a better friend

The Good News: about 41% of Americans make new year’s resolutions. The Bad News: Only about 9.2 % of us will achieve our resolutions. Whether you set resolutions or not, it is important to have your life headed in a particular direction. If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to achieve it! Our text today is more about getting life focused in the right direction, rather than just how to have a better life. I’m convinced if our life is focused on Jesus we will have a better life!

1. Hear the Voice in the Wilderness! (John 1:19-28)

John 1:19-28 (CEB) This is John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” John confessed (he didn’t deny but confessed), “I’m not the Christ.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” John said, “I’m not.” “Are you the prophet?” John answered, “No.” They asked, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied, “I am a voice crying out in the wilderness,  Make the Lord’s path straight, just as the prophet Isaiah said.” Those sent by the Pharisees asked, “Why do you baptize if you aren’t the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”John answered, “I baptize with water. Someone greater stands among you, whom you don’t recognize.  He comes after me, but I’m not worthy to untie his sandal straps.” This encounter took place across the Jordan in Bethany where John was baptizing. 

John the Baptist didn’t seem to be a likely candidate to pave the way for the ministry of Christ to begin. He had a wild appearance! He had an offensive message! He lived a weird lifestyle! He broke out of the usual religious scenery! He had an unusual purpose: (John 1:23) But John was still a great man with a great message. With personal humility, John pointed away from his work and words to the One who was to come. 

John 3:30 “He must increase and I must decrease.”

The world needed the directive message of John the Baptist –just this time to introduce Jesus. We need a voice in the wilderness as well. Without a focus on Christ our life can be a wilderness.

Wilderness of Sin – around us and within us. Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”

Wilderness of Divided Attention – so many voices calling out to us every day. Is the voice of God drowned out?

Wilderness of Disappointment  – with God, with other people, even with ourselves.  Many people give up.

Wilderness of Religious Disengagement. Less and less engaged with church and it kills our spiritual life.

Whatever your wilderness, hear the voice in the wilderness calling you to Christ.

2. Keep Your Eyes On Jesus (20-34)

John 1:29-30, 34  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ …. I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son.”

*He is the Lamb of God (29)

A common expression for us, but this is the only time in Scripture that the term “lamb of God” is used. Jesus is referred to as a Lamb. 

Sacrifice (Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and tormented, but didn’t open his mouth. Like a lamb being brought to slaughter, like a ewe silent before her shearers, he didn’t open his mouth.”)

Victor. Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’  ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

*He is the Sin Remover (29b)

Taking away the sins of the world / my sin. The very thing that can keep us from what we want most in life is our own sin. In this new year we cannot continue to walk in sin and still believe that we are enjoying the best of what God had to offer.

Romans 6:23  The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

*He is Able (30, 34), he is both Eternal (30) and the Son of God (34)

Whatever else has our attention today, we should turn our eyes to Jesus the eternal Savior.

Conclusion

Whatever other new year’s resolutions you might have, we can’t afford to leave off two: Hear the voice in the wilderness, and keep your eyes on Jesus. 

“Keep thine eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to Him; when thou liest down at night look to Him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail thee.” – Spurgeon

We are to follow Him. We are called to spend our days with Jesus … learning, imitating, growing. We are to share Him. (John 1:40-42). John the baptist pointed to Jesus. John’s disciples beheld him, followed him, and now are sharing him. As we share we remember that we are introducing the lost to Jesus … but not Jesus to the Lost…for He already knows their name.

Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

LifeGroup Questions

1. We can all think of New Year’s Resolutions we haven’t kept, can you name one you have kept? Or one you intend to keep this year?

2. Who do you think is more like John the Baptist today, and why:

*A Yelling Street Preacher

*A Preacher in the Pulpit

*A Christian Serving the Poor

*A Disciple sharing faith with a lost person

3. John Calls Jesus the “Lamb of God” – a unique expression in all of Scripture, found only here. The reference is unclear, though there are several possibilities.

*The Passover Lamb – when children of Israel’s lives were spared in Egypt due to the blood of the lamb on the doorposts.

*The lamb led to the slaughter in Isaiah 53:7, the suffering servant prophecy.

*The lamb of the daily sacrifices offered morning and evening in the Temple.

*The Triumphant Lamb of apocalypse. (Revelation).

Any of those may be what John has in mind, but which one holds the most significant meaning to you?

4. Twice in John 1 Jesus is presented as being “unknown” (see vs. 10 and 26). In what ways was Jesus “unknown” in those two verses? What is it about Jesus that seems to be “unknown” today? Is there something ‘unknown’ about Jesus that you wish you knew?

5. Who has been a “John the Baptist” in your life – someone who has served as a spiritual guide and one willing to talk to you if they see something amiss?

6. Name one thing about Jesus you wish the whole world knew.

Resources

http://www.wcvb.com/article/top-ten-new-years-resolutions-of-2017/14501135

Five Discipleship Goals for 2018

 

Five Discipleship Goals for 2018

1. READ YOUR BIBLE DAILY. (1 Peter 2:2)

Read your Bible daily, if you would be strong

To witness for Jesus and overcome wrong;

“I’m busy” you say, as you lay it aside

But when you neglect it you’ll surely backslide.

2. KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS. (Colossians 3:17)

Keep looking to Jesus, He never can fail

And walk in His footsteps in every detail;

The world’s bright attractions will fade from sight

When you look to Jesus, your Savior and Light.

3. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING. (Luke 11:9)

Pray without ceasing, you can count on Him

Who cleanses and keeps you a victor o’er sin:

There’s nothing so great that our God cannot do,

And nothing so small that He won’t do for you.

4. CONFESS HIM TO OTHERS. (Matthew 10:32)

Confess Him to others, be bold for your King

To those who are living in darkness and sin;

What help can you better to all recommend,

Than this blessed Jesus – the needy one’s Friend?

5. DO SOMETHING FOR JESUS. (James 1:22)

Do something for Jesus, He did all for you,

Your Joy is complete when His will you do;

So seeking to please Him through each new day

His presence shall gladden each step of your way.

(Author Unknown)