Pastor Sarah's thoughts from Calvary UMC of Arnolds Park& Okoboji
Friday, February 5, 2016
Read John this Lent
Lent Starts with our Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday Feb 10 7 PM
Then lasts 40 days until Easter March 27th. Lent is a time for Christians to go deeper with their spirituality and grow in faith. One of the best ways to do this is to dig into scripture for yourself and grow closer to Jesus by reading his words and how he lived. Join Calvary this Lent in reading through the Gospel of John. We will be using Adam Hamilton's book as our guide and one of the great things about the book is that it has the words from the Bible at the end of each chapter so you don't have to go searching or even know how to open a Bible - its all right there for you. I encourage you to buy a copy and join us in worship as we discuss the major themes of John and to join us in one of our discussion groups:
Thursday mornings at 9:30 AM
Friday afternoons at 2 PM
both at the Boji Bay Pavilion behind Perkins in north Milford.
John calls the miracles of Jesus “miraculous signs.” A sign points toward something else. Scholars often refer to John 2 through 12 as the “Book of Signs.” John’s stories of Jesus are intended to have a deeper meaning, which answers the questions, Who is this man Jesus? How does he affect my life? What is required of me?
Today, we’ll focus on Jesus’ first miraculous sign in John 2:1-12—turning water into wine—and how we might study it to find deeper meaning.
Jesus and his disciples had been invited to a wedding, and a wedding banquet followed. Jewish wedding banquets in the first century are thought to have lasted seven days. These occasions were then, as weddings and wedding receptions are today, among the great moments in the life of a family and one of the most joyful times in any community. It’s for this reason that the Bible often associates heaven with a wedding banquet.
But remember, there is a deeper meaning to John’s stories. This story is not only about Jesus providing wine for a wedding but also about the life he offers to each of us.
At the wedding banquet described in John 2, the wine ran out. This was terribly embarrassing for the host. Remember, at that time water was not always safe to drink, and people often drank wine at every meal. Wine offerings were made to God as a sign of life and joy and goodness. And though some passages of Scripture warn about drunkenness, there also are many that portray wine as a good part of life. (There are over 250 references to wine in the Bible, and most are positive.)
In the story, Jesus’ mother came to Jesus and told him the wine had run out. Then she told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them. We don’t know that Mary was expecting a miracle at this point, only that Jesus was going to make sure the wine problem was solved. I think she may have imagined Jesus going with them to the local wineseller to purchase more wine. With this in mind, she gave instructions to the servants at the wedding banquet.
But remember, John’s stories of Jesus are intended to have a deeper meaning. Here’s a question that might help you see the deeper meaning here: Who are Christ’s servants today? The answer: we’re his servants.
Now, listen again to verse five: “His mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” Note that when the servants did as they were told, a miracle occurred—water was changed to wine; the ordinary was converted to the extraordinary. John may have been saying, similarly, that if all of us do as Christ tells us, then our ordinary lives can become extraordinary.
You might say, “Is that really what John meant?” We can’t be sure, but so much of John’s writing has multiple levels that the little clues and phrases may well point to this deeper meaning.
The servants didn’t just fill the jars; they filled them “to the brim.” I think John is telling us that Jesus wants to fill us up completely. We’re meant to be overflowing, as a cup “runneth over.” Remember, the overarching theme of this Gospel is that we might have life in Christ’s name.
Notice that the wine Jesus created from the water was not just any wine, but the really good wine. And not just a little, but a lot: perhaps 150 gallons! The wine that Jesus created was better than the wine the guests had been drinking before. John wanted us to see that the life Jesus offers is richer, deeper, and of a higher quality than the life we live apart from him.
To find out more about the meaning of Jesus’ transformation of water into wine, and the point of the other miraculous signs recorded in John’s gospel, check out, John: The Gospel of Light and Lifeand read the Gospel of John this Lent!