Thursday, April 28, 2016

Relentless

A series of expositions on John the Apostle Pt.3

John 2:4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied “My hour has not yet come.”
By now Jesus has a following and has gained some notoriety. John’s Gospel tells us that he and his disciples were invited to the wedding at Cana in Galilee. A wedding banquet was a seven day party in this ancient Hebrew culture. Inviting a notable teacher was a common practice.

I imagine the disciples and specifically John standing near Jesus as the wine grows less and less. To run out of wine before a wedding banquet had ended would have been humiliating for the bride groom and caused the entire celebration to come to an abrupt end breaking many unwritten laws of Jewish hospitality.
Did the mother of Jesus know he could work a miracle, had she seen this before? Jesus seems to understand that she is implying he should use his supernatural abilities “My time has not yet come.”

There are a couple different camps of thought here on this subject. After all we see the family of Jesus coming to gather him in the Gospel of Mark because they think he’s lost his mind, so even if Mary had witnessed or known about what he was capable of she did not know or at least accept the idea of her son being the Messiah that he some time later he would begin to lay claim to more publicly. This is after all a very public event, the entire town would have been involved and would in turn know that Jesus had provided the wine through a miracle, and Jesus seems to be of the mind that it is too early yet to make such a public announcement, but he listens to his mother anyway.

John and the other disciples have spent time in counsel under the no doubt astonishing teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. They have seen him in interactions like the one with Nathaniel where he seems to know the unknowable. They have become more and more convinced that he is what the Baptist claimed, Phillip tells Nathaniel after they have spent just a short time with him that “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law and the prophets also wrote.” But they have yet to see “greater things” which they are about to begin to witness.

The disciples stand nearby and listen intently as Jesus tells the servants to fill the jars with water. Six very large jars that could hold about thirty gallons a piece was a bit of work. I can imagine the looks of confusion and worry not only on the faces of the servants about to do what this newly prominent teacher is asking, but on the faces of his disciples also.
Will he look like a fool and make them who have been following him look like fools also? What does filling water jars used for wash water have to do with wine? What on earth is he thinking?
Surely this is just a few of the thoughts and fears running through the mind of young John and the other students of Jesus. Their doubts and fears mounting as the servants go about the work of filling the wash jars. A fever pitch of anticipation had culminated in the disciples as Jesus tells them “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
Could they see its violet color as it was drawn or did that heated anticipation continue until it was delivered to the master of the banquet?

John and the disciples exchange anxious fear filled whispers and looks as they watch the cup delivered to the banquet master as he stands surrounded by guests, surrounded by the entire city of Cana. I can imagine Jesus looking on at his students, beholding their great lack of faith. The disciples see Jesus’ eyes on them and straighten their backs changing there cringing twisted faces into sure confident looks as the banquet master sips from the cup. His face explodes into an expression of pure pleasure, eyes wide, cheeks fully lifted in an ear to ear smile. Relief and wonder fill the disciple’s facial expressions; Wine runs down the chin of the banquet master as he slaps the bridegroom’s back telling him how impressed and happy he is with this marvelous wine!

Young John looks on at his teacher still standing near the wash jars now filled with not just wine but the best wine, the young boy’s eyes wide and mind racing as his assurance and confidence grows in who it is he has left the Baptist to follow, excitement welling up in him as he thinks on things to come.

Rant
We are raised in a world that professes chance as the way of the universe, the way life itself managed to come together and create the very intricate systems we see everywhere we turn, so when we as Christians refute chance and claim that a plan is being laid, that details are being ordered by the guiding hand of God the unbeliever sees us as a fool.

Whether we know it or not once we’ve been open to our friends, family, and coworkers about following Jesus people all around us begin watching and listening. They are interested to see how we will handle not the good stuff but the tough stuff, the trials of our faith. It is very easy to be vocal about our trust in the Lord but do we show it?

Do we trust the Lord enough to remain kind to a person giving us a hard time at our job? Do we trust the Lord enough to be the honest person while surrounded by a crowd of dishonest people? Do we trust the Lord enough to be different, to stand out, and to say no to going along with things we know are not the will of God?

Because when we loose our temper at that person at work, when we agree to go along with something that is not on the up and up, and when we find ourselves alone in a room full of worldly people and there is really no distinction between their speech and ours, there’s really no difference between their goals and our goals, and really, if we are honest with ourselves, the only difference between those people of the world and us is the cross necklace on our neck, or where we sit on Sunday we don’t just hurt ourselves we hurt Christianity.

We prove to that unbelieving lost person at work looking on as we loose our temper that this Christianity thing is just another social club. When we walk around professing Christ and our language is littered with profanity, lustful talk and all the material things we want and can’t live without, we are proving to that unbelieving family member that this Christianity thing is just one of many silly religions people like to claim, that there isn’t anything real behind it, just myth and fairytales. When we claim Jesus as our Savior and then walk through our lives worried and anxious about the economy, consumed by politics, or obsessed with the sins of the lost cutting down and condemning people who are without God we have proven to the on looking unbelieving people around us that this Christianity thing isn’t really about much else than the fish stickers on our cars and the crosses around our necks. 

We can be that person at work or anywhere that is nice to the person being nasty.
We can be that person that says no when asked to go along with dishonest behaviors or activities.
We can be that person who isn’t constantly cursing, or lusting after the things and other people of this world.
We can be that person that isn’t full of fear because of the economy, politics, or even our own personal financial struggles.
We can be that person that makes people feel better for having interacted with us that people see as the calm person even in the midst of trouble, as the strong person unshaken by worldly circumstances.

When people see that they will want to know why we’re different, how we’re so together when things are falling apart. But that’s not going to come through willpower; it comes through a real relationship with Jesus Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Change is not where we sit on Sundays or the stickers on our cars or even the volunteer work we do, no, change comes from inside through a rebirth of the Spirit.

Lets stop being afraid to look like a fools and be confident that if we do the work the Lord is asking of us he will change the fear we’re filled with into strength, he will change the anger we’re brimming over with into love, he can and will change our very worldly ways into his ways just as he changed this very worldly water into heavenly wine.


We need only be willing to be filled, we need only do the actions necessary and he will provide the miracle.