Tag Archives: Mary

In our last study, I mentioned a common misconception many Christians have about the Virgin Birth. They think it was by being born of a Virgin that Jesus was kept from inheriting our sinful human nature.  If you haven’t read that lesson, please take a few moments to do so.  You can find it just below this one.  Now, in this short study, I want to explain the first reason Jesus had to be Virgin Born.

Reason #1: To Fulfill Old Testament Prophecy

According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of people born since the beginning of time is approximately 108 billion.  But God promised that one (and just one!) of those babies would become the Savior of the world.  Scholars call it the proto-evangel—the first preaching of the good news by God Himself.  When did He make this declaration?  From the very moment of man’s fall into sin! Wasn’t that gracious of God?  To turn man’s most evil deed into a promise of forgiveness and salvation! Speaking to the serpent (possessed by the devil) who had deceived Eve and led both her and Adam to sin, the Lord God said:

“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

OXYGEN Volume 09Two facts are obvious.  A human Savior would crush the work of Satan while suffering in the process.  But the second fact is equally gracious.  Though it was the woman who first opened the door to the devil, it would be through the seed of the woman that mankind would one day be saved.  Notice! No mention of the man’s seed is made. This is the first hint in Scripture of the Savior’s Virgin Birth.

But that raises a question:  With so many people having been born into the world, how would we who need a Savior recognize Him if He came? Even if the estimate of the Population Reference Bureau is inflated, it is clear that billions of souls have been born into this world.  For example, today we are told that there are over 7 billion people living on earth.  And you can be sure the same serpent who deceived Eve would love to deceive us into believing in the wrong one.

To make it clear who the Savior is, God came up with a foolproof plan. He chose a man named Abraham and his family (called the Hebrews or Jews), gave them His moral law, entrusted His promises to them in a sacred book called the Bible, and after hundreds of years of using them to prepare the world for His coming, He sent us His Son, the long-awaited Savior through the womb of a Jewish virgin by the name of Mary.  Over 60 major prophecies were fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus, many of which were beyond His control. For example, Genesis 12:1-3, 2 Samuel 7:12-13, and Micah 5:2 said He would be a descendant of Abraham and David and be born in Bethlehem, a little town 6.2 miles south of Jerusalem.

But the clearest identifier and the most amazing prophecy is the one found in Isaiah 7:14, written 700 years before the birth of Christ.  In a time of war when the survival of the royal line of David was in question, God promised King Ahaz, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

This is a prophecy which has been continually attacked by critics of the Bible.  They argue that the Hebrew word for “virgin” (almah) can mean young woman instead of virgin.  But this is quickly corrected if you consult the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made 200 years before the birth of Christ. For the Greek word chosen by the Hebrew scholars to translate almah is parthenos which is only used to describe a virgin, that is, a young woman who has never had sexual relations with a man.

But what seals the deal and ends all argument is the fulfillment of this prophecy described by the Apostle Matthew.  Four times in five verses, he assures us that Mary was a virgin, that no man was involved in the birth of Jesus, but that He was conceived by a miracle of the Holy Spirit.  I have underlined the key phrases.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.  But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”  And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18-25

Luke’s account adds further support. He says it was to a “virgin” named Mary that Gabriel appeared and revealed that she would give birth to the Savior.  But Mary was confused, giving further proof of her virginity.  She humbly asked the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”  The angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:26-35

Why, then, is the Virgin Birth important?  It proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the one and only Savior of the world is Jesus born, as the Bible promised, to a virgin named Mary two thousand years ago in the little town of Bethlehem.

Of course, deceivers abound.  Did you know, for example, that Jesus’ life both began with a lie and ended with a lie?  In order to explain away the miraculous birth of Jesus, His religious enemies spread the rumor that He was illegitimate, that Mary was impregnated by a Roman soldier passing through the village of Nazareth.  We see a hint of this in John 8:41 where His enemies scoff, “We were not born of fornication.” I have underlined the word “we,” which is an emphatic pronoun in the Greek language by which they compare themselves with Jesus.  In other words, they are saying, “We weren’t born of fornication like you were!”

What was the lie told following His resurrection?  Matthew 28:11-15 records it. In order to keep the people from believing in Jesus, the chief priests and elders bribed the Roman soldiers who guarded His tomb to say that His disciples came by night and stole His body while they slept.  How implausible!  Roman soldiers risking the death penalty by sleeping on guard duty?  And twelve cowardly disciples able to overpower a squad of seasoned soldiers?

But people believe what they want to believe.  If you are willing to accept the Virgin Birth of Christ, there is more than enough evidence to rely on.  But if you have made up your mind that you do not want to believe, the devil will be glad to plant enough doubts in your mind that you will find it difficult if not impossible to believe. Don’t let him do that to you!  After all, what is left to those who reject the Virgin Birth of Jesus?  Nothing! No forgiveness of sins and no assurance of salvation!  For if Jesus is not Messiah, no one is.  Only He has the credentials to be Savior of the world.  The Apostle Paul offers this assurance in Galatians 4:4.

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Reread the passages I have cited and be fully assured.  Jesus is the one and only Savior to whom you can turn this very moment to forgive your sins, to comfort your heart, and to answer your prayers.  Bible prophecy assures us of it.  That is the first reason the Virgin Birth matters.  In our next study we’ll take a look at a second and even more important reason.

Does the Virgin Birth matter to you?

OXYGEN Volume 16

Several years ago, a survey was taken among seminary students preparing for the ministry.  They were asked, “Do you believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ?” This was a cross-denominational survey taken of students from a variety of church traditions.  The sad fact is that the majority agreed.  53% said, “No, I do not believe in the Virgin Birth as described in the Bible.”  One beloved television pastor actually admitted, “When I come across a topic like the Virgin Birth that I’m unsure about, I just don’t deal with it.”

Yet this is and has always been one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith!  (Other fundamentals include the inerrancy of the Bible, belief in one God who eternally exists as three Persons, salvation by grace through faith alone, and the second coming of Jesus Christ.)  Furthermore, the danger when pastors fail to preach the truths of Scripture is that it undermines the faith of their members leaving them wondering what to believe.

FakeSo in this and my next two posts, I want to leave no doubt about what I believe and what the Bible teaches.  I believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ just as I believe in the sinless life He lived, His death for our sins on the cross, His resurrection from the dead three days later, His exaltation to the throne of Heaven, and His soon return to reward the righteous and punish evildoers.  But I want to do even more in this short series than tell you what I believe and what the Bible teaches. I want to explain why the Virgin Birth is important and why it ought to be fully embraced by everyone who loves Jesus.

But first, let me clear up a common misconception.  One of the reasons that is sometimes given for the Virgin Birth is that Jesus had to be born of a virgin so He would not inherit a sinful human nature. That is what I used to believe before I studied the topic.  After all, I thought, humankind first acquired its sinful nature as a result of Adam’s sin in the Garden.  But because Jesus was born of a virgin and didn’t have a sinful human father (Remember, Joseph was His step-father, not His biological father), Jesus was born free of sin. That sounded good until someone asked me a follow-up question: What about Mary? Wasn’t she also a sinner, and if so, wouldn’t she have passed her sin on to Jesus?

The Roman Catholic Church has offered one solution to this problem. It is called the Immaculate Conception. (No, not the immaculate reception! That is a football play.) I am not a Roman Catholic theologian. But what I am told about this teaching is that when Mary was born, God protected her from inheriting a sinful nature.  This is why she was able to give birth to Jesus without passing on her sin to Him.  She too was free from sin.

Immaculate-Conception-Main-Module-Dec2014But the always-important question to ask is: Is this what the Bible teaches? Was Mary free from sin from the moment of her conception?  Apparently, Mary  did not think so. For in her Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55, she proclaimed, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.”

So the Roman Catholic answer doesn’t work.  Mary herself admitted she was a sinner who needed a Savior.  Others suggest that it is only the father’s sin which is passed onto a child.  So Jesus was born sin-free because He had no biological human father.  But not only is there no Biblical support for that position; the Scriptures implies just the opposite.

For example, if you read through the books of Kings and Chronicles, you will find something quietly mentioned about both the good and bad kings (e.g., 2 Kings 12:1; 14:2; 15:2; 15:33; 21:1; 2 Chronicles 13:1; 25:1; 26:3; 27:1; 29:1) , so quietly that you could miss it if you aren’t watching for it.  The Scripture mentions their mother’s names, implying that it is not only the righteousness or wickedness of the father that influences a child; it is also the character of the mother.  Christian mothers will, of course, quickly admit this, that they have not only had to help their children overcome the evil tendencies of their husbands, but also the sinful tendencies which they themselves have passed onto their children.

 

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The Virgin Birth, then, was not God’s method of keeping His Son from inheriting a sinful human nature.  To do that, another miracle was needed – the miracle of supernaturally purifying Mary’s seed.

Having cleared up that misconception, then, we can now go on in our next study to discuss the first reason why the Virgin Birth is all-important! But before we do, may I ask you?  Do you believe in the Virgin Birth?  Is your opinion based on the teaching of Scripture? Prior to our next study, take time to prepare yourself by reading the historical accounts found in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-56.

His First Sign: Water to Wine!

Do you believe that God exists and that Jesus is Lord? If so, what reason would you give to someone who asked you why you believe? Here is a list of the most common reasons Christians give for believing. See which one comes closest to your own: 1) Answers to prayer; 2) Reading the Bible; 3) Marveling at what He has created; 4) Seeing changes in the lives of believers; 5) Sensing His presence in the worship services I have attended.

Picture1I ask you that question because that’s our topic for this study. In John chapter 2, we come to a turning point in John’s Gospel. The purpose for everything John wrote, I’d remind you, was to prove that Jesus is God. He states it clearly in John 20:31—“These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name.”

You see, according to John, it is only by believing in the Deity of Christ that you gain the eternal life He offers. For that reason, he have seen him call eyewitness after eyewitness in chapter 1, each one testifying to the Lordship of Christ. First, it was John the Baptist, then Andrew and John, then Peter, James, Philip, and Nathanael in that order. Six ordinary guys who became the greatest men who ever lived because they were willing to believe! Don’t get confused about that. The reason people go to hell is not a lack of evidence. There’s always more than enough evidence to believe if you’re willing to believe. The reason is a hardness of heart and unwillingness to believe the evidence God has given us.

Oxygen Volume 17But now in chapter 2, John moves on from the testimony of eyewitnesses to a second, even more convincing argument. He presents the first of eight great signs Jesus performed—each one something only God could do. He walks on water, creates new eyes for a blind man, creates food to feed 20,000 peoples, raises a friend from the dead whose body has been decaying for four days, and in the passage before us—John 2:1-12, if you’ll open your Bible with me—He turns water into wine.

I know it also helps sometimes to have a map of where you’re going, so let me do that briefly as we get started. Let me give you a short overview of John’s Gospel. It can be broken into four parts—chapter 1 which we’ve studied where John calls several eyewitnesses to testify to the Deity of Christ, chapters 2 to 11 where John describes the public ministry and miracles of Jesus, chapters 12 to 17 where he describes the private ministry of Jesus to His disciples on the last night before His death, and chapters 18 to 21 which describe His death for our sins and His bodily resurrection from the dead.

Picture2But here we are looking at Jesus’ first great sign described in John chapter 2:1-12 – water turned to wine. To guide our study, I’ve divided it into 4 parts—the feast, the faux pas, the feat, and the faith it gave His disciples as a result.

  1. The Feast

Have you attended any weddings this summer? I attended the reception of my niece and goddaughter a week ago Saturday, and it was beautiful! Beautiful bride! Beautiful decorations! Beautiful setting! It was held at her father-in-law’s 3-acre country with beautifully manicured lawn and garden, just outside of Monroe, Washington. And the food was delicious! The affair lasted all night for those who wished to stay. That was a little too long for some of us older folks. But nothing compared to weddings at the time of Christ.

jesus-turns-water-into-wine_WCA0116-1800Read verses 1 and 2 with me. Here John recalls where the wedding took place: “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.” The third day means it was the third day since He met Philip and Nathanael in Bethsaida. So if it was a Sunday they met, it’s now Tuesday—Sunday, Monday, Tuesday—which means everything we’ve read so far has happened in a week. They heard John the Baptist call Jesus the Lamb of God, they stayed with Him all night, they walked with Him from the Jordan to Bethsaida where He met Philip and Nathanael, and now they’re at a wedding with Him in Cana of Galilee. So if you think your schedule is crazy, don’t imagine for a moment that you’re busier than Jesus. He was always about His Father’s business.

Cana was also the hometown of Nathanael according to John 21:2 and about 9 miles from Bethsaida with a population of maybe 100 at the time. So it’s no surprise to find Nathanael there, as well as Mary. Having lived in Romania for 5 years, I can tell you that in old-world rural areas, you not only know the folks in your own village; you have friends and family in the next village too. Joseph isn’t because he’s died by this time. He died during the silent years when Jesus was working in the carpenter’s shop to support His family as the Firstborn Son. We know that because later, when Jesus is dying on the cross, He commits His mother into the care of John the Apostle, who was her nephew, something that wouldn’t have been necessary if Mary hadn’t have been a widow and Joseph was still alive. And as you’d expect of the mother of Jesus, she was busy serving at the wedding, maybe as the wedding coordinator, because you’ll notice in a moment, she feels very free to tell the servants at the reception what to do.

Picture3But the most important fact is that Jesus was there and performed His first public miracle there to emphasize the sanctity and importance of marriage in His eyes. So pay no attention to those who say that marriage is just a piece of paper! They don’t know what they’re talking about! Weddings matter and marriage matters. Marriage is a holy covenant made between one man and one woman in the presence of God and their family and friends, vowing they’ll be faithful to love one another as long as life itself. For that reason no other relationship on earth is as important or wonderful as marriage. Peter calls it “the grace of life,” meaning that of all God’s common graces—the graces He showers upon all people whether they love Him or not—of all His common graces, marriage is the greatest, which means any society that honors marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman will be blessed, whereas any society that fails to honor marriage is headed for chaos, judgment, disaster, and destruction. So watch out, America, how far you go! God is watching and will not bless what you’re doing!

For that reason, weddings have always been the most important celebrations on earth. I wish I’d understood that better as a young pastor. I would have preached it with even more conviction. The ancient world, especially the Hebrew culture, recognized that fact and considered a wedding the most important event of the year. Romania, where we served as missionaries, was also an old-world country in many ways, and they believed the same thing. Weddings would start in the late afternoon with a two to three hour ceremony at church, followed by a reception that lasted all night long, for anyone who could stay awake.

Picture4So it was in Cana of Galilee! Weddings often began on a Tuesday or Wednesday and lasted until the weekend. Or if you were well-to-do, they could last all week. And everybody came! Everyone was aware of the couple’s engagement that took place the year before, because an engagement was a legal contract that officially bound the partners to each other and could only be broken by divorce, even though the marriage itself wasn’t consummated until after the feast. What went on during that year prior to the wedding? That takes us to point #2—

  1. The Faux Pas

jesus-turns-water-into-wine_MG_0530-1800All year long the bridegroom worked to prepare a place for his bride to live, often a room added onto his father’s home. And he was also responsible to pay the full cost of the wedding. All of this to prove to her father that he had what it takes, that he was could provide for her once she became his wife! You see where the story is headed. The feast is in full swing and everyone is enjoying himself when the wine runs out. And that presents a problem.

As John MacArthur puts it, “Maybe he can’t plan! That’s what all of us fathers who marry off our daughters fear. Maybe he’s all smoke and mirrors and doesn’t know how to earn a living? I hope my daughter isn’t going to have to bring home the bacon!” They ran out of wine in the middle of the greatest celebration this couple would ever have—a huge embarrassment and a big question mark hanging over the head of this groom and his family. So verse 3 says: “When they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’”

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Now why do you suppose she would she say that to Him? Most preachers assume that she wanted Him to do a miracle. But why would she expect that? Had He ever done a miracle? No! Not that He couldn’t, but verse 11 says this was “the first of the signs” Jesus did. So there’s no reason for her to expect Him to do something He’s never done before. Again I think MacArthur gives the best explanation for this. When Mary had a problem, who did she always turn to, especially after Joseph died? Jesus, of course! Think about it. He never had a bad idea or made a bad decision in His life! He always led her in the right direction and had the perfect solution to every problem. If anything ever went wrong in their home, He always knew why it went wrong and exactly how to fix it. He was the smartest, wisest, and most resourceful person who ever lived. And He grew up in her home. By the way, He was also the compassionate person who ever lived! So who else would she turn to with this problem?

jesus-turns-water-into-wine_MG_0694-1800But wait a minute, is that the way a son ought to talk to his mother! Listen to what He says to Mary in verse 4. “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.’” Why such harsh words to the mother He loved? First, they didn’t sound nearly as harsh to Mary as when we read them out of context. For one thing, this is something He said to her in private, not publicly so as to embarrass. Remember that the next time you have something hard to say to someone you love, especially to your husband or wife. Wait until you’re alone with them instead of saying it out loud for the whole world to hear. That’s Matthew 18:15. Go to them in private and try to resolve things between the two of you before you let anyone else know about it. Tone of voice also makes a difference, and I know Jesus said it as gently as He could. And He was polite! The word “woman” is the same word He used at the cross when He entrusted His widowed mother into John’s care. Pointing to John, He said to her, “Woman, behold your son!” We have no equivalent in English, but He was saying in effect, “Dear Lady, what does your concern have to do with Me?”

8Why didn’t He call her “Mother?” Because the relationship between them had changed! For 30 years Jesus had been about His mother’s business, doing whatever she asked of Him. But now, with the cross looming before Him, He has just 3 years to be about His Father’s business. His mother, like His disciples, didn’t really get that until after His resurrection. But it’s imperative to let her know that from this point on, His only concern is the mission for which His Father sent Him into this world and nothing, not even familial relationships—can stand in His way. He gave her a warning of this early on in Luke chapter 2, when He was 12 years old and they found Him asking and answering questions of the scholars in the Temple. She scolded Him for worrying her. So He reminded her, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

BoyJesusLater He had to remind her again when she and his brothers stood outside a home where He was teaching, waiting to speak with Him. “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” He said. Then stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He explained, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” That’s true, isn’t it? We who love the Lord Jesus and do the will of His Father in Heaven are His brothers and sisters and mother. You see He wasn’t being unkind. But it had to be said. “I am the Son of God and I’m on a mission of infinite importance, and I can’t allow anything—not even family relationships—stand in My way. And thank God He didn’t let them get in the way. For if He had, you and I wouldn’t be saved today!

Nor is Mary offended. She may not understand the implications of what He’s said. But she knows who her Son is, and she trusts Him. So what does she immediately do? Verse 5: “His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’” Wise counsel! Wouldn’t you say? Whatever Jesus tells you to do, do it! That would save us a lifetime of grief, wouldn’t it? So what does Jesus tell them to do? That’s the third chapter in this thriller. We’ve been to the feast. We’ve witnessed the social faux pas. Now let’s watch Him as He performs His first miraculous feat.

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  1. The Feat

Do you know what the truly marvelous thing about this miracle is? Even though it wasn’t his mother’s place to give Him ministry advice…By the way, we’re going to find that Jesus never took the advice of anybody when it came to ministry. Why not? I thought a humble man always seeks the counsel of others? Not in Jesus’ case! He was humble. No question about that! More humble than you and I have ever dreamed. Try hanging on a cross for a crime you didn’t commit without defending yourself or trying to get even with your enemies! The reason He didn’t seek the counsel of sinful human beings is because He couldn’t trust us and didn’t need it. For this is no mere man we’re talking about. This is the Holy God become Man whose name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. So though it wasn’t Mary’s place to give Him advice (nor do I think she was asking for a miracle), women’s intuition may have told her something wonderful was afoot. And it was! By God’s grace her concern, the need of that young couple, and God’s will all came together in one miraculous moment of time, leading to one of the greatest feats He ever performed.

Picture5You see contrary to popular belief, this miracle was not an unexpected and premature event, interrupting God’s plan for His Son, due to a well-meaning but interfering Jewish mother. This was Plan A from before time began—for the first sign of Jesus’ Deity to be a miracle performed at a wedding in Cana of Galilee for His mother, His family, and His friends. Wasn’t that gracious of Him? And here’s how it happened. Verse 6 says: “Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim.”

This wasn’t water for washing their hands or taking a bath. It was for ceremonial purposes. Before a Jewish family would eat a meal, they’d pour water over their pots, their pans, their plates, and their hands, not to get them clean, but to be ritually pure. So for a feast of several days, you had to have a lot of water. But why did He have them fill the jars to the brim? So there would be no question about something being added to the water. Skeptics always try to explain away a miracle. Remember Pharaoh’s magicians and how they tried to copy Moses’ miracles? So they filled the jars to the brim. Ought to last till the weekend, don’t you think? But why so much wine? To picture the super abundance of God’s grace—“Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will be poured into your lap.”

Picture6“And,” verse 8 continues, “He said to them, ‘Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.’ So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine…” Wait a minute, you say! I think I missed it. When did He do the miracle? In between the lines, there between verses 8 and 9! But then that’s how the Bible always describes the miraculous—very matter of fact. You really didn’t expect Jesus to make a big deal out of it, did you? Drum roll, please! “Tuh-dum!”

But what a miracle it was! Verse 9 says: “When the master of the feast (the headwaiter) tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew, (he) called the bridegroom 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.’” That’s true, isn’t it? When we invite guests for dinner, we get out our best china, put flowers on the table, pull out our best recipe, cook our best meal, and serve them in style. But if they stay a second or third or fourth day, it’s: “There’s the fridge. Try your luck! I think there are leftovers in the back if you look hard.” But in this case, it’s far different! The maître d says, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk too much, he serves the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Good wine! This was the best wine anyone ever tasted—like new wine freshly squeezed from the grapes of Eden!

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  1. The Faith

But we can’t leave it at that. We need to take a step back before we finish and ask the big question: Why did John tell us this story in the first place? Answer: To help us relive it with him and discover with His disciples who Jesus really is. Remember they’re only a week into following Him and this walking by faith thing is new to them. So Jesus performs a miracle, and John tells us about it, so that both they and we will believe. We have been to the feast. We have witnessed the faux pas. We have seen the miraculous feat He performed.  Now it’s time to solidify our faith in Him. That’s what this miracle did for them and should do for us. Verse 11 says: “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”

jesus-turns-water-into-wine_MG_0586-1800 Remember there are only 6 of them at this time: Andrew, Peter, James, John, Philip, and Nathanael—all of them good friends, fishing partners, and strong believers in the God of the Bible—but not one has ever seen a miracle. Nathanael got a taste of His omniscience when Jesus said to him, “Before Philip found you under the fig tree, I saw you!” But not one of them (or you either, for that matter) ever saw a miracle like this. We’ve seen some amazing answers to prayer, but nothing like the magnitude of this miracle! 150 gallons of water instantly turned to wine!

The impact was so great two things happened right away. First, all six of His disciples put their faith in Jesus. I know. I know. They already believed in Him. Or they wouldn’t have followed Him all the way to Galilee. They called Him “Rabbi.” They called Him “Messiah.” Then Nathanael said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel.” But Jesus said they would see even greater things than these. And the first and one of the greatest was this—seeing their Creator make something out of nothing just as He had in the beginning. And for what purpose! So that both they and we would never doubt.

People-surround-Jesus-1024x744But even more important is the second thing that happened. John says they saw His glory! Isn’t that the purpose of our lives and what we’ve been longing for since we first met Him? I want to see His glory. And they did, at least in part! What glory? The eternal glory He shared with the Father before time began! You know the verse. So say it with me. John 1:14, “And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” And the best thing about is you didn’t have to be there to experience it. You can experience it this moment if you have faith to believe. As He said to Thomas, who finally believed and fell at His feet in worship saying, “My Lord and my God,” “Because you’ve seen, you’ve believed. But blessed (That means happy, elated, and overcome with joy!) “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed!” And so we believe without seeing, and we behold “His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus-Face-Paintings-01But someone will say, “I’d believe too if I saw a miracle like that!” Don’t be so sure. The Israelites witnessed 10 miraculous plagues in Egypt and the Red Sea splitting in half before them, and they still didn’t believe and died in the wilderness as a result! And the people of Jesus’ day saw even greater miracles than that. In fact, nowhere in the Gospels does anyone ever question Jesus’ power to do miracles. What His enemies claimed was that He performed miracles by the power of Satan, earning a place in hell as a result of it. The truth is Jesus performed miracle after miracle after miracle, day after day, for three years until virtually all disease was eradicated from Israel. But they still didn’t believe, because faith isn’t about evidence. It’s about a willing heart.

Jesus PleaThat means, if your heart is willing, you can know Jesus this very moment through simple childlike faith. So if you’ve never believed before, open up your heart to Him now as I lead us in a closing prayer. Say these words or words like them with me in the quietness of your heart and, if you truly mean them, Jesus promises that He will come into your life this very moment and live with you forever.

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