The Miracle Worker - John 2:1-25
An audio recording of this sermon is available.
In 1991, the British public were shocked to hear that an ex-Coventry City
goalkeeper was none other than the Son of God. Terry Wogan is loved by many
people today because of his dry sense of humour during the Eurovision Song
Contest but in 1991 he had his own talk show on BBC 1. Over the years he interviewed
a number of famous celebrities but on one particular evening he found himself
sitting opposite someone who claimed to be the Son of God. Before his appearance
on Wogan, David Icke had played football for Coventry City, he had been a sports
reporter for the BBC and he had even been a political activist for the Green
Party. But, in 1991, to a packed studio audience, he claimed to be the Son
of God. Not surprisingly, his statements were met with laughter and ridicule
from the studio audience and subsequent newspaper reports suggested that he
was mentally ill.
What makes David Icke any different from Jesus of Nazareth? Both men existed and both men claimed to be the Son of God. So why do millions of people around the world believe the words of Jesus and yet reject the words of David Icke? Why do millions follow Jesus as Lord and yet reject David Icke as a lunatic? Well, it’s all about evidence. David Icke was all talk, he was all mouth. But Jesus did things to substantiate what he said.
Couple of weeks ago we examined why John wrote his Gospel. Do you remember his statement near the end? It comes from John 20:30-31. I’ve put it on your handout as a reminder.
John 20:30-31: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Just before this Thomas sees the risen Jesus and believes. This is not the normal experience. The way to believe is to examine the written evidence that God has preserved for us.
Particular things we are to examine. Verse 30: Miraculous signs.
What is a sign? It points to something. What is a miraculous sign? Something special that Jesus did which points to his true identity.
Jesus did loads of these but John has selected some on purpose. Why has he included them? Verse 31. These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
End result is life. Fullness. A reconnected relationship with the God who made us. Way to that life is to believe, or to trust your life to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.
Christ equivalent to the Son of God. Referred to the Messiah or the Promised King of the Old Testament. What John is claiming is that Jesus is this Christ or this Christ is Jesus.
How do we know? The miraculous signs point to his true identity. The Christ was expected to say and do certain things and if anyone claimed to be the Christ he would have to prove it by his actions.
In John 2 we are presented with the first miraculous sign that Jesus ever performed. So if you have your bibles open let me show you how the miracle we read about is supposed to convince us that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.
It all begins at a wedding. Verse 1. “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.”
No one is exactly sure why Jesus was a guest at this wedding. Various suggestions have been made.
o One ridiculous idea is that in those days your street cred was enhanced if you invited a famous celebrity to your wedding. Perhaps a famous local teacher. But remember at this time Jesus wasn’t very famous. We are approaching the end of the first week of his ministry and how many disciples does he have? Read chapter 1 and count them. He has five and these have all been nicked from his cousin John. So at age thirty what does Jesus have? No house, no mortgage, no kids and a few mates who seem to like him better than his cousin. Not exactly prominent teacher material is he?
o Others suggest that he was there because he was fun. I like this idea. There is no proof of it for this example but we must rid ourselves of the misconception that Jesus was a dull guy. He was anything but. He was funny, witty, intellectual and controversial.
o Jesus turned water into wine but the church has managed to turn wine into water.
o We must put the fun back into fundamentalism.
o But then again we are told that not only were Jesus and his disciples there but so was his mother. It may well have been a family friend.
Whatever the reason this new band of disciples were at this party with their new leader. And this is when disaster struck. The wine ran out!
Not sure why. Had someone tried to cut the cost. Had the Internet order been typed in wrong. Had the delivery boy brought the wrong quantities. No explanation is given but the embarrassing fact is presented: there was no wine to be consumed.
Major embarrassment in the first century. Particularly for the bridegroom. He had one major responsibility – to get the wine sorted! This was a serious issue. Not only would he receive a major kick in the head from his new wife but in the shame culture of the first century major embarrassment awaited him. It was a major problem. But what could be done? Well, Jesus’ mother had an idea. Verse 3. “When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
She is not expecting Jesus to say, “Well, that’s very interesting. Well done mother, you are very observant.” That would surely deserve a parental rebuke for insolence. She is obviously expecting him to do something about the lack of wine.
But what is she expecting him to do? He hasn’t performed any miracles yet. Perhaps she thinks he can. Or it may be that he has proved himself to be a very resourceful teenager.
Either way Jesus’ response is very unexpected. Verse 4, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?…My time [hour] has not yet come.”
Understand the first bit. You are out with your friends at a party and your mum comes up to you and asks you anything. You are tempted to say, “Mum, I’m out with my mates. This is not the time.”
But what about the second half of the sentence? What does he mean by saying “My time has not yet come.” The time for what? Does he have a certain time for helping out distressed bridegrooms? What an odd thing to say?
The way to understand this is to realise that in John’s Gospel there is a theme that runs all the way through which concerns Jesus’ hour. I’ve put a few references on your handouts.
John 2:4, 7:30, 8:20, 12:23, 13:1, 17:1
John 7:30 At this they tried to
seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
John 8:20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.
John 12:23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
John 17:1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.
The hour in John’s Gospel is the full public revelation of his true character and identity. The big surprise is that this takes place not apart from his death but his death is at the very centre of his public glorification.
So when Jesus says my time has not yet come he means that this is not the time for a full public revelation of his glory.
He is not the victim of events but is divinely in control of events despite appearances.
And yet I love Jesus’ mother’s response. She is obviously not used to taking ‘no’ for an answer so look at what she says in verse 5.
“His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus has a dilemma. He knows he can help. But this is not the time for a full public demonstration of his identity, power and character. What will he do? Well, he finds a way.
There were six stone water jars nearby, which each held a vast quantity of water – 20 to 30 gallons. Jesus calls the servants, gets them to fill them to the brim and then gets them to draw some out and take to the master of ceremonies. Tasted it, blown away by the taste and calls the bridegroom to give him a big slap on the back. Everyone else brings out the Tesco Value when the guests have had too much. But this wine is obviously the best vintage.
Important to note that at this point only Jesus, his disciples and the servants knew where the water had come from. This was a low-key event but it produced dramatic results.
o Quantity. Someone has worked out that he probably produced the equivalent of 800 bottles.
o Quality. It was the best vintage.
The result? Verse 11. “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.”
Granted this was a powerful miracle but how does this provide evidence that Jesus is the Christ?
Various expectations of the Christ. Lots of predictions that had to be fulfilled.
o Where he would be born.
o What he would do.
o What could be expected when he arrived.
Take you back to one OT prediction of what would happen when God would send his promised King.
Amos 9:13, “’The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when the reaper will be overtaken by thee ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills.”
A new day promised which would be accompanied by lots of wine and new wine. Both quantity and quality.
So this miraculous sign in John’s Gospel is not the only thing designed to convince us to commit our lives to Jesus as the promised Messiah but even to this small detail Jesus acted in a way expected of the promised King.
Said a few weeks ago that the main reason I am a Christian is because of the historical evidence. I realise this is not why everyone becomes a Christian in the first place. There is one way to God and many ways to Jesus. I am convinced that if we want to stay as Christians through the good times and bad times then we need to rely on the objective historical evidence. Our feelings and fears will come and go but the evidence remains the same.
Jesus not only said things but did things to convince us that he is God’s promised Messiah.
Jesus as Messiah has many implications for us. Many I could point out but the one I want to focus on as I finish is the sheer privilege of living in these days after Jesus has been and gone. I think this is the main focus of these opening chapters of John.
The old has gone, the new has come.
Important to realise that the old was good. Learn from John 1:17 that God’s people have received one blessing after another. It was a blessing to live under the Old Covenant. Even better to live now under the new covenant.
Let us not play the old and new against each other.
In fact, it was out of this old covenant that the new blessing emerged. Might even be a hint of this in our story. The new wine emerged from the water kept in the ceremonial jars of Jewish religion.
But even though the new age of the Messiah has emerged from OT Judaism it is much superior. See this pointed out in the new few chapters.
End of chapter 2. The place of sacrifice is changed. Jesus goes into the temple goes and causes a massive confrontation. Turns over tables, makes a whip and throws out the money changers. Jews say in verse 18, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this? Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days.” But the temple he had spoken of was his body.”
Old was good. A place where sin could be atoned
for, where sacrifice is made. But how much better that we now have a better
sacrifice that has been made once and for all. How much better that we don’t
have to have a special priesthood who make sacrifices to an angry God. That
we do not have to gather together in fear hoping that this sacrifice presented
at the front will placate the anger of our Creator. How joyful that Jesus has
done it all and the destiny of his followers is absolutely certain.
The old has gone, the new has come.
Or look at what happens next in chapter 3. Jesus meets this Nicodemus. He is a wise teacher but not a member of the kingdom of God. Why? He has not been born-again or born from above by the Holy Spirit.
A born-again Christian is not a type of Christian. By definition, you have to be born-again to be a Christian.
This was all promised in the OT. A new age when God would fill his people with his Spirit and they would have a powerful new ability to obey his commands. This is our privilege.
Why? The old has gone, the new has come.
Sitting here and you are not yet a follower of Jesus. Maybe this has intrigued you. Are you convinced? Read the Gospel. Get Melvin’s book, “Close Encounters.”
Christian. May this strengthen your faith and let this encourage you to praise God for the sheer privilege of living in this age. Various things will happen to us this week but these facts remain the same forever. Let us contemplate them and let us seek all the more to invite those we love, those we meet to enjoy the blessings on offer to all those choose to believe that Jesus is the Christ. Let’s pray.
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