This is one of the most personally challenging passages that I have felt God speaking to me about for a while.
I have been and still am working through what this means for my life and serving God.
I hope this really stirs something in you as you hear it.
John 2:1-11 (NLT)
2 The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, 8 he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. 9 When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” 11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
- Sometimes it looks like the world is out having a party while Christians sit sombrely in a church on their own – and a huge divide!
- That is religion, not Christianity, neither is it Jesus’ example
Come on, that’s a challenge for all of us right there!
- If you are watching with us and not a believer in Jesus, you might want to keep watching because He is likely very different from your preconception
- He is a party animal who wants to extravagantly bless our lives
If we look at this story, we can see some incredible truths and remember, this is Jesus’ first miracle – law of first mention.
- We can know it is important in setting context and meaning to the rest of Jesus’ miracles
Jesus and His Disciples are invited to the party! I love that Jesus and His disciples are invited to the party, to the wedding!
Almost 2000 years later religious and self-righteous proposed followers of this same Jesus are the first ones not invited to the parties, the weddings, the places where celebration is. Particularly some of the ones Jesus attended.
So how do we become like Jesus and get an invite?
1. Bring the right things – it’s all about what you bring!
Jesus seemed regularly invited to the parties and places of those who would have been considered Godless gathered.
- He was invited to Zacheus’ house
- He is referenced as the ‘friend of sinners and Tax collectors’
- He was actually known for it and criticized for it
Luke 7:33-38 (NLT)
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” 36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
Jesus was sought out by the broken and the worldly who would likely have never gone to the house of the Pharisees! Yet when Jesus is in the House, it’s amazing who will come!
Church can I put to you that when Jesus is in our Church (and we represent Him correctly) sinners will be drawn to the life, joy and freedom in Him.
Jesus was invited because of what He brought!
It seems that according to God’s own Son, our ultimate example, the greater sin is to be so out of touch with the world or so religious that we are not invited to the sinners’ places and parties who need to know about God.
- I wonder if too often the Church sadly has been known as the Pharisees place rather than Jesus’ place
- If we are so ‘holy’ we are never invited to the people and places that are far from holy, maybe we have mistaken holy for religious!
- If those who don’t know Jesus are not coming to our Church house – why not? Is Jesus there or have we lost our way?
If we bring the wrong things it’s no wonder we aren’t invited to the places where we can make a difference.
Can you imagine the godless and sinners inviting Jesus if He brought was:
- Solemn brooding
- Bashed them with the scriptures
- An arrogant, pious, religious attitude
- No fun vibe
Nothing has kept the Church from reaching a lost and broken world like not being in it, or being in it but being so religious, which people mistake as ‘Holy’, we can’t deal with a swear word or dirty joke.
2. Wear the right clothes!
This goes even further when you look at the details of the miracle.
- Jesus takes the water jars that were used for ceremonial washing according to the religious law of the time – these were implements of religious use!
- He takes the water that would be used to do ceremonial religious washing and turns it into wine to bring joy and celebration!
He takes the religious and re-purposes it to bring joy and celebration.
Maybe Jesus wants to take some of the things we tend to get religious about:
- Music, worship, how Church should look, what we consider holy and what we think holy looks like, and turn it into some wine!
- Something to bring some joy, life, fun, hope into people’s lives
- And not just a little – Jesus made the equivalent of about 750 normal sized wine bottles
- That not only covered the party but was extravagant!
God is a God who wants to bring extravagant blessing into our lives! He has more good than we could dare comprehend.
You see Jesus turning the water to wine saved the wedding host great embarrassment. It would have brought shame on the family.
- Religion wants to expose things
- Jesus came to cover things
If you have never met Jesus – hear me clearly this morning.
- His plan is not to expose you to shame and guilt and condemn you to Him, but to win you with love and cover our shame, sin and guilt
- He forgives and brings wholeness
To get invites to the places where we should be to be like Jesus, we must get rid of judgemental, self-righteous and religious clothes and put on some gear fit for a party!
Let me tell you what it is – our constant responsibility as believers is to find ways to inject and bring:
- Life, joy, hope, love and God’s goodness into the light!
- We were spoken of by Jesus as salt and light!
Salt adds flavour!
- It makes things better tasting!
- It improves things!
Do we add to things and make environments and situations better?
Do we leave people with a nicer taste in their mouth?
Do people leave an interaction with us uplifted?
Does our social media encourage and bless or criticize and get all emotional about things?
I don’t mean we don’t have struggles, but how about we take the struggles to Jesus and then take Jesus’ life to those around us?
The other example is a light on a hill!
- Somehow in some ideas of Christianity this has become thought of as a lighthouse warning of rocks and peril – but that is not what the Bible says!
It says a city on a hill! It is a place of shelter, warmth, food, people, life!
Jesus’ intent is not that we are the lighthouse, defenders of all things religious, but instead that those who are in the valley should look up and see a place where:
- They get a reprieve from the elements of life
- There is food and people to welcome them
- There is warmth and life
- It is a place you want to head to
- Imagine a weary traveller in a dark valley looking to the glow of a city and longing to reach it
3. Return the invite – throw a party yourself!
I love this first of Jesus’ miracles because in it Jesus sets the tone for the rest of His ministry. He embraces bringing life!
- His first miracle is done at a party, a place of gathering, celebration, life and He even brings the extra wine when it runs out
There was a group of people who had an issue with Jesus going to parties and being invited to sinner’s houses and who He hung around with.
- The religious
- The people who were ‘self-righteous’ who ‘judged others’
I love this chapter in John because Jesus goes from the party to the synagogue and there is quite a different response.
John 2:13-16 (NLT)
13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
Let’s be real for a minute. Too often Christians would be known for throwing the wine out at the party and welcoming a pious, religious service!
No wonder at times Christians have been excluded from the parties of sinners and choose to sit in irrelevant, religious dying congregations rather than following the example that Jesus set.
We need to re-look at the party and see what we need to do to invite them to ours!
If we want to be in the places where Jesus was, we must as believers and Churches do what Jesus did!
- We can’t have boring, irrelevant services
- We can’t do the same old, same old
- We can’t get stuck in tradition and religious ceremony
- We can’t live a Christianity that is boring and lifeless
- As Christians our Christianity should uplift, bless, encourage, bring life!
- Christians and Churches should be known by what they are for, not against
Our vision is helping people find life and live it! Because that is what Jesus did.
Jesus was angry at the Synagogue because it should have been a place of prayer, where people connect with God and discover Him, meet with Him.
But instead it had become about:
- The stuff
- Religious ceremony and rules
- Should have helped those needing to find God rather than presenting dead religion
In our Churches and even our lives we must steer clear of:
- Religious activity
- Creating hoops for people to jump through
- Exclusive social groups and be inclusive
- Being irrelevant and comfort focused
- Lip service Christianity has no place
Real Jesus-like Christianity is exciting, radical, Holy Spirit empowered and Life giving!
But as with any message we usually fit on one of two extremes. So let me clarify it all with this verse:
I like the summation of the miracle in:
John 2:11 (NLT)
11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
John 2:11 (NIV)
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Some will be listening to this thinking, I can live however I want, God doesn’t care, I am not religious.
In order to please Him, our lives must bring Him glory
- Abusing substances
- Living outside God’s boundaries with sex
- No time for God…
These do not bring glory to God.
So, whether we are in church or at a party – our life should bring glory to God!
So, there is no room for religion – but equally no room for compromise!
- The outcome must be to glorify Jesus!
If you come to this Church, and particularly if you call this place home, here is what we don’t care too much about:
- Personal preferences
- Popular opinion
- Our comfort or tastes
- Religious views or attitudes
We do care about bringing glory to Jesus and bringing people to Him!
Helping People Find Life and Live it!
I wonder if some of us might be confused by this miracle because providing some wine to bring joy to a party and protecting a man’s reputation to some might seem far less important than healing a lame man.
We could be tempted to chalk it up as a minor little intro to the real miraculous, but Jesus chose this as His first miracle – and it revealed His glory!
So, let’s break this down to brass taxes as Christians for a minute.
- If we think we are Christian because we rejoice that they are out of wine at the party – wrong Bible!
- Equally if our lives and behaviour are compromising and not bringing glory to God, we are reading the wrong Bible!
Jesus’ plan for every person is to bring life, joy, hope and light into our lives!
And as Christians we ought to be on the invite list because we bring:
- Life to the Party
- Joy to wherever we are at
- Light, warmth, shelter and comfort
- Salt to improve the taste of life for people
Does our workplace see us as that?
- Do our friends who don’t know Jesus want us around or are we tolerated?
- Does our social media point people to the life of Jesus or our own sadness or religious opinions?
- Would people say of us that we bring life and joy when we come?
- Is our attitude toward Church more worried about the lost coming and feeling like they can come than our own comfort and want for the familiar?
- Are we more worried about helping the people who don’t know Jesus to find Him, or are we more worried about us being fed?
Can we ask God to change our heart and perspective today?
- Do we need to ask ourselves as individuals, but also as the Church of Jesus, some big questions today and perhaps consider what is God saying for our next seasons ahead?
Suggestions for discussion
- Are you comfortable around the sinners and non-religious people?
- What do you intend to do to make sure you are invited to those groups of people?
- Are these people comfortable in your company? If not, why not?