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The 1st Sign: From Water to Wine 

Preaching Notes John 2:1-11

John 2:1-11

1  On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  2  Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

3  When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

4  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?  My hour has not yet come.”

5  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6  Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.  7  Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.”  And they filled them up to the brim.  8  And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.”  So they took it.

9  When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew).  The master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine.  But you have kept the good wine until now.”

11  This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

I.  Miracles

Miracles, we love them, and we pray for them

We focus on the what more than the who 

Miracles reveal spiritual truth about Jesus, there is Christological significance in each miracle. They reveal Jesus’ oneness with God the Father

The 7 Miracles in John’s Gospel

1.  The turning water into wine at Cana – John 2:1-11

2.  The Cure of the officer’s son – John 4:46–54

3.  The healing of the lame man at the pool – John 5:1-15

4.  The feeding of the 5000 – John 6:1-15

5.  The walking on the lake – John 6:16-21

6.  The cure of the blind man – John 9:1-41

7.  The raising of Lazarus – John 11:1-44

Their purpose in John’s Gospel

Miracle stories in John’s Gospel are called signs and reveal information about Jesus for the purpose of leading people to believe in Jesus as Messiah, Christ, anointed, Chosen One, Son of God, Son of Man

By believing ==> you might have life in his name  –

John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

II.  The Signs of the Miracle at the Wedding Feast in Cana

First public event of Jesus’ ministry at a semi-private event

Private 7 day Wedding Feast

Cana – small village in Galilee not a populous or crowded place to create buzz

Wedding at Cana Most mundane as far as miracles there

Jesus turned 120-180 gallons of water into wine for small party

=> What’s going on

A.  Weddings in the Bible – 

Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 22:1, Mark 2:19-22, Revelation 21 

Genesis 2:18-25 – Institution of marriage, before the Fall

Matthew 22:1

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son

Revelation 21 – Consummation of Creation’s restoration at a wedding

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people

Weddings are – foundational for imagery of the church as the bride of Christ

This is the Messianic wedding feast

B.  Rites of Purification in the Old Testament

People used stone jars in rites of purification because they did not attract impurities

The great annual purification from sin of the people was on the Day of Atonement

Jesus – a man without impurities

The vessel of God’s grace has no impurity

He is fit to be the atonement

C.  Significance of wine in the Old Testament

5 Cups of Wine Passover/Seder Meal – Exodus 6:6-7 and Malachi 4:5

The Cup of Sanctification – I will bring you out

The Cup of Deliverance – I will free you

The Cup of Redemption – I will redeem you

The Cup of Restoration – I will take you as my own people

A fifth is poured saved for the return of Elijah, see Malachi 4:5

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”

This points to Jesus pouring out the cup at the Lord’s Supper

Wine is a symbol of joy

Mark 2:19-22 Parable about the kingdom where the setting is a wedding feast

Wine points to the Lord’s Supper

Purification will come, not by the being washed in water, but through the blood of Jesus

D.  The Best Wine Now

Usually serve the best first, but the best comes last

The new covenant with God, established before creation is revealed at this time

The sheer quantity, 120-180 gallons – in the prophets, as abundance of wine

Reveals the lavish provision, never failing provisions of God’s Kingdom

III.  The Sign is for You about who do you believe Jesus is?

John 2:11 – This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.  And his disciples believed in him. 

Event => manifestation of Jesus’ glory

Who witnessed the miracle?

Disciples and servants only

Could have included Mary

Who saw Jesus’ glory?

Disciples

Perhaps the servants

Who believed in Jesus?

Only the disciples

Not everyone believed

This is normative – many see, but do not understand

John 12:37-43 (edited)

Though Jesus had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, … For again Isaiah said, “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart.” …  Nevertheless, many …  believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. 

==> ??? Do you believe in Jesus?

Verbally, most of us would say, “Yes, I believe!”

Are you more attracted to the glory of man instead of the glory of God?

Do you believe that you have found life in Jesus?

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Release of the Captives

July 8, 2012

Philemon

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers,because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.  Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.  I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.  I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it, to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.  At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

I.  WHEN WE ARE OFFENDED

Let’s start off with a bad memory today

Who has offended you recently => difficulty forgiving

Claims of inability to forgive

Declarations of unwillingness to forgive

When we have been hurt … we seek justice

The deeper the wound … the more difficult to forgive

If you have forgiveness issues, the book of Philemon is for you

Onesimus, a runaway slave is being sent back to Philemon by Paul

II.  LOOK AT GOD’S WORK RATHER THAN THE OFFENSE

God has changed Onesimus … he has confessed and repented

Three changes in Onesimus

He is a convert and a changed person

He desires to make restitution (repentance)

He was of value in service to Paul while in prison

Paul gives God the credit for conversion and repentance

Calvin:

To renew a soul of man and form it anew to the image of God—is not a human work, and it is of this spiritual regeneration that he now speaks

This is where forgiveness has it’s birth

When someone comes seeking forgiveness, they have been sent by God

To deny them forgiveness is to deny God what He desires

This is the theological root of Paul’s appeal

III.  PAUL’S APPEAL TO PHILEMON

Based upon their relationship as Christian brothers

They were co-workers in the Gospel

One of grace and charity

Invites him to forgive, rather than commands him

Luther:

Paul empties himself of his rights to compel Philemon also to waive his rights

Again

A man is more easily drawn than pushed, and compulsion brings with it a rebellious will

Genuine forgiveness flows from the heart, is not forced by command

John 3:16 … For God so loved the world

Romans 5:23 … While we were still sinner, Christ died for us

Love and grace are free acts

Corinthians 9:7 –

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Forgiveness can be neither demanded nor commanded

We teach the opposite with kids to siblings

IV.  DOES GOD HAVE A PLAN WHEN PEOPLE HURT US?

Joseph and his brothers … remember Joseph’s declarations

Genesis 45:5  

Now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.

Genesis 50:20

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Paul points to the work of God and God’s will

Philemon lost a slave

Paul gained a servant

Philemon gains a brother

Our obsessive focus on the offense blinds us to God’s redemptive mercy

Are we going to follow the work of the Holy Spirit or Satan?

Luther:

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to lead to confession of sin. On the other hand, it is the work of the devil to make the sin worse.

When we withhold forgiveness or fix conditions to earn forgiveness, we play into Satan’s hand

V.  PAUL ASKS PHILEMON TO WELCOME HIM BACK

Paul could have kept Onesimus => thwarting the work of God

Philemon had the right to punish and demand justice

Paul did not deny this or argue against civil law

Paul even offers to cover Onesimus’ debt to Philemon

Paul is willing to make the sacrifice … he becomes the Christ

When we freely and graciously forgive other … we become Christ

Practical theology from the Lord’s Prayer

Forgive us our debts as we forgive others

Paul invites Philemon to live out his faith

VI.  WHEN OTHERS TURN TO US 

When we side with others justifying NO forgiveness …

Often done is sympathy and empathy

Often done as a stand against sin

We are actually standing against God and His grace

Paul teaches how we ought to take care for and restore those who sin

Luther:

The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom of mercy and grace, while the kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of murder, error, darkness, and lies.

Forgiveness is providing sinners and sinned against a new start.

I started by asking you to remember pain

Now I ask you to remember grace => taught you about forgiveness

Art Ross’ grace to me and my high school buddies

The Pope forgiving the man who attacked him

When someone honors your confession and repentance with grace

=> is always a great day for you

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it


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Is Your God Too Small?

J. B. Phillips coined the phrase “Your God Is Too Small” as the title of his famous book, written in 1961.  He wrote the book for believers and skeptics.  It is well-written, short and concise, an easy read.

He begins the book by outlining 12 false understandings of God, which limit Him to the narrow understanding of many people.  In the remainder of the book He writes about GOD in all of His BIGNESS.

The premise of the book is that our image of God was too small to meet the needs of the modern world of 1961.

I was a young kid back in those days.  My world extended as far as the local school yard and trips to my grandparents.  My world was pretty small and God was awfully big to me.

As I have matured, my interest in the bigness God has dwindled.  The designation God is an all consuming concept.  God is never a small thing.

People talk about God less and less in today’s world, while their personal gods get bigger and bigger.  

In today’s digitalized, techno-driven, fast-paced, information-overload, app-driven world, I need to know God, I need to feel His presence, to be assured that He loves me.

Lois Cheney’s words in her book God Is No Fool resonate in my heart:

It is good, in the magnificent sense to know that God is a friend to humans. I know of no religion in which the God is both God and friend. 

We fear because God is all-powerful. 

We worship because God is all goodness. 

We bow in humility because God is all master. 

We serve because God is all-purposeful. 

But perhaps the most significant thing of all is that 

We love, because God is a friend forever. (1)

If you do not know God as your friend, then your God is too small.

Jesus said, No longer do I call you servants … I now call you my friends.”   (John 15:15)

+ + +

  1. Cheney, Lois A. (2005-03-01). God is No Fool (pp. 83-84). Autism Today. Kindle Edition. 

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There are no atheists in foxholes, the science lab, or the back pew.

There are no atheists anywhere.  Every one is a person of faith.

The scientist, the atheist, the egomaniac, and the Christian are all people of faith.  Everyone believes in something, even if that something is nothing.

Two variables distinguish people in faith

1.  The object of their faith.

2.  How their faith shows itself.

The scientist has faith in evolutionary theory, the atheist in the absence of truth, and the egomaniac in self.  None of which adequately explain the beautiful intricacies of creation, love, hate, suffering, sin, mercy, forgiveness, or ethics.  Neither do these three provide a basis for hope, which poets, philosophers, and psychologists say is essential to healthy living without the malaise of despair.

The Christian’s faith in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the only faith that provides a full explanation of these realities and essentials for living.

The Christian faith is solid not because of the faith of the Christian, but because of the object of that faith.  As F. B. Meyer said, “The Christian leans not so much upon the promises as upon the Promiser.” (1)

The second variable that distinguish everyone in their faith is how do they show their faith.  Is there faith:

  • A static intellectual belief?
  • A life lived from heart-felt conviction?

To believe is different than to live what you believe.  There is an inherent foolishness in not staking your whole life on what you believe.

Martin Luther wrote:

How does your faith show itself ? Faith must never be useless, deaf, dead, or in a state of decay.  But it must be a living tree that bursts forth with fruit. That’s the difference between genuine faith and false faith.  Where there is true faith, it will show itself in a person’s life. (2)

Passive faith accepts the Word as true,

But never moves. 

Active faith begins the work to do, 

And thereby proves.

Passive faith but praises in the light, 

When sun does shine.

Active faith will praise in darkest night

Which faith is thine? (3)

+++

  1. Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
  2. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 52). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  3. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert (p. 86). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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