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John 2,1-11

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TITLE:   Wine -- Revealing Jesus' Glory!

SERMON IN A SENTENCE:     Just as the miracle at Cana revealed Jesus'
glory and caused people to believe, so also our faithful lives reveal
Jesus glory and cause people to believe.

SCRIPTURE:    John 2:1-11

EXEGESIS:

CHAPTERS 2 & 15:  THE GOOD WINE & THE TRUE VINE

There appears to be an inclusio (a bracketing of stories) between the wine
imagery of the Cana story at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, where
he is revealed as the good wine -- and wine imagery of the "I am the true
vine" discourse at the very end of his ministry, where he identifies
himself as the true vine.

In the "true vine" context, Jesus says, "Abide in me as I abide in you.
Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the
vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the
branches.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because
apart from me you can do nothing" (15:4-5).

Jesus then talks about keeping his commandments, saying, "This is my
commandment that you love one another as I have loved you" (15:13; see
also 13:31-35).  He said, "By this everyone will know that you are my
disciples, if you have love for one another" (13:35).

At Cana, Jesus is revealed both in the good wine and as the good wine --
revealing his glory (v. 11).  In the "true vine" discourse, Jesus is
revealed as we "bear much fruit" (15:4) and love one another (15:5).


CHAPTERS 2-12:  THE BOOK OF SIGNS

Jesus told Nathanael, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened
and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man"
(1:51).  The fulfillment of that promise begins immediately with "the
first of his signs" at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee that reveals
Jesus' glory and causes his disciples to believe in him (v. 11).

Chapters 2-12 are often called the Book of Signs, because in them Jesus
performs signs that reveal his glory (v. 11).  John refers to miracles as
signs (2:11, 23; 3:2; 4:54; 6:2, 14; 11:47; 12:18, 37; 20:30), and Jesus
refers to them as works (5:20, 36; 9:3-4; 10:25, 32, 37-38; 14:10-12;
15:24).

A sign is more than a demonstration of power.  A sign reveals something --
points to something beyond itself.  At Cana, the sign points to Jesus'
glory (v. 11).  Signs, however, unlike miracles that are done openly, are
hidden from some.  Not everyone understands their significance.  The
disciples believe (v. 11) and many believe (v. 23), but "the Jews" (v. 18)
are skeptical.  Even the chief steward has no clue about the real meaning
of this sign (v. 10).

This Gospel records these signs "so that you may come to believe that
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may
have life in his name" (20:31).

Chapters 13 ff. are often called the Book of Glory, and have to do with
Jesus' "glorification" -- a code word in this Gospel for Jesus' death,
resurrection, and exaltation.


CHAPTERS 1-4:  THE OLD AND THE NEW

Set in a society that treasures ancient truths and venerates old age, the
common theme of chapters 1-4 is the replacement of the inferior old with
the superior new:

-- In the Prologue (1:1-18), we find wording that evokes the first
creation even as it tells about the new creation (read John 1:1-5
alongside Gen. 1:1-5).  In Gen. 1 we read about creation taking place at
the word of God (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26).  In John we read
about the Word that was with God, and was God -- present at the creation
and active in it (1:1-4).  In Gen. 1 we read about God creating light.  In
John we read, "The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into
the world" (1:9).  We also read, "The law indeed was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (1:17).

-- In chapter 2, we find "the replacement of the old purifications by the
wine of the kingdom of God" (2:1-11) (Dodd, 297).

-- In chapter 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus of the necessity of new birth
(3:1-21).

-- In chapter 4, Jesus contrasts "the water of Jacob's well and the living
water from Christ" (4:1-15) and then contrasts "the worship of Jerusalem
and Gerizim with worship 'in spirit and in truth' " (Dodd, 297).


VERSES 1-11:   A WEDDING IN CANA

This is Jesus' first act of ministry in this Gospel.  In Mark, his first
act is an exorcism; in Matthew, it is the Sermon on the Mount; in Luke, it
is a sermon in the synagogue.  "Each of these events is typical and
paradigmatic of the portrayals of Jesus in its respective Gospel" (Smith,
83).  The wedding at Cana is not just an interesting story included at
random, but provides clues to the meaning of the rest of this Gospel.

It is an odd beginning, however.  We would expect this Gospel's
"paradigmatic portrayal" to be more significant.  In this Gospel, Jesus
heals an official's son (4:46-54) and a sick man (5:1-9), feeds the five
thousand (6:1-14); walks on water (6:15-21), heals a man born blind
(9:1-34), and raises Lazarus from the dead (12:1-11, 18).  Why would his
first sign be wine for a party?  Why not one of these more significant
miracles?

Keep in mind that, in this Gospel, Jesus speaks and acts on more than one
level.  It is only on a surface level that this story is about wine for a
party.

This story establishes a pattern that we will see repeated in Jesus'
encounter with Nicodemus (3:1-21), the Samaritan woman (4:1-30) and other
occasions.  A person speaks (Mary, Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman), and
Jesus responds with unusual words/deeds that can be understood either on
an obvious, superficial level or on a less obvious, spiritual level.

Therefore, in the Cana story, we can understand the wine that Jesus
provides as a face-saving gift to the groom and his family or we can look
for a deeper meaning.  On some occasions, Jesus gives a discourse that
explains his signs/works, but not at Cana.  The lack of a discourse means
that interpretations of the sign at Cana are more diverse than they might
otherwise be.  We might understand the steward's comment to refer to the
"inferior wine" of Jewish law and the "good wine" of Christ's grace (see
v. 10) -- or we might understand the abundance of the wine that Jesus
provides to reflect the abundance of his grace -- or both.


VERSES  1-5:   MY HOUR HAS NOT YET COME

1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother
of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the
wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They
have no wine." 4And Jesus said to her, "Woman (Greek: gunai), what concern
is that to you and to me? (Greek:  ti emoi kai soi gunai -- literally,
"What to me and to you?) My hour has not yet come." 5His mother said to
the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."


"On the third day" (v. 1).   This would be the third day after Jesus'
encounter with Nathanael (1:45-51).  The first two stories of this Gospel,
the wedding (vv. 1-11) and the cleansing of the Temple (vv. 13-22) are
both "third day" stories.  The author specifically links the latter to
Jesus' death and resurrection (vv. 19-21).  Linkage between the "third
day" of the Cana story and the resurrection is less certain.

"and the mother of Jesus was there" (v. 1).  Jesus and his disciples were
also invited  (v. 2), thus giving the lie to the theory that the shortage
of wine resulted from Jesus and his disciples unexpectedly swelling the
guest list.

We don't know which disciples are present. Four were previously named --
Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael (1:40-48) and there seems to be
a fifth unnamed disciple, probably the author of this Gospel (1:35-40).
The twelve are mentioned in 6:67, but we have no idea when the other
disciples arrive on the scene.

Only in this Gospel is Mary with Jesus both at the beginning of his
ministry and at the crucifixion (19:26).  She is never named in this
Gospel, but is referred to only as "the mother of Jesus" or "woman."

The location of Cana is uncertain.  We believe it to be near Nazareth --
perhaps at the site known presently as Kefr Kenna, about three miles from
Nazareth -- perhaps at Khirbet Qana, about eight or nine miles north of
Nazareth (Pfeiffer, 203).  Cana is mentioned in the Bible only in the
Gospel of John.  It is the home of Nathanael (21:2), and Jesus will also
heal a royal official's son there -- his second sign (4:46-54).  Thus
Jesus gives his first and second signs in this small, obscure town far
from the Jerusalem temple -- an example of ministry at the margins.

Mary and Jesus surely know people in Cana, or they would not be invited to
this wedding.  This is friendly country.  The people of Galilee are
receptive to Jesus, in contrast to Judea, where he will face determined
opposition.

"When the wine gave out" (v. 3).  These people live plain lives, and most
can afford wine only occasionally.  They are, however, expected to provide
plentiful food and wine for weddings.  The wine in question would be
fermented wine, diluted with water.

Weddings are celebrated for seven days, and are a community celebration.
To run short of wine would be a serious embarrassment for the host parents
and newlyweds.  Morris cites Derrett's research that "it was possible to
take legal action in certain circumstances against a man who had failed to
provide the appropriate wedding gift" and wonders whether a bridegroom and
his family might be subject to liability for running out of wine (Morris,
156).  While that possibility seems remote, it is not difficult to imagine
neighbors excluding the shamed family from future weddings and other
community events -- thereby perpetuating the family's shame.

"the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine' " (v. 3). It is not
clear what Jesus' mother has in mind.  Her comments in v. 5 indicate that
she expects him to do something.  There is a strong possibility that she
has been widowed for a number of years, and has leaned on Jesus for
support.  She has seen him handle problems, and is confident that he can
handle this one.  Perhaps she expects him to take a collection from his
disciples to purchase additional wine.  Perhaps she senses that he is
capable of a miracle.

"Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come"
(v. 4).  Jesus' response sounds uncaring and even disrespectful to our
ears.  However, "woman" (Greek: gunai) suggests distance rather than
disrespect.  Jesus uses the word as a form of address on several occasions
(Matt 15:28; Luke 13:12; John 8:10; 19:26; 20:15) -- never
disrespectfully.  "What concern is that to you and to me?" (literally,
"What to me and to you?) is a Semitism that can mean (1) What have I done
to deserve this? or (2) What is my involvement in this?  The first meaning
seems hostile, while the second "implies simple disengagement" (Brown,
99).

Jesus' response is most likely a gentle, distancing rebuke -- a way of
telling Mary that she can no longer presume upon their mother/son
relationship.  Since Jesus left home to begin his work, he has "been
anointed with the Holy Spirit and (has) received power to undertake the
special work which is Father (has) given him to do.  Now that... he (has)
entered on his public ministry, everything (including family ties) must be
subordinated to this" (Bruce, 69).

"My hour has not yet come."  Jesus' hour, we will discover later in this
Gospel (12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1), is the hour of his glorification -- the
hour of his death, resurrection, and ascension.  Jesus is living by God's
timetable.  His "actions will be governed by the hour set by God, not by
anyone else's time or will" (O'Day, 537).

"His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you'" (v. 5).  Her
response is modeled after Pharaoh's instruction to the Egyptians during
the famine (Gen 41:55), where Pharaoh expressed great confidence in
Joseph.  Mary has the same confidence that Jesus can and will do something
to remedy the wine shortage.  "She is the first person in the narrative to
show...that the correct response to the presence of Jesus is trust in his
word....  The mother of Jesus is the first to show the quality of true
belief" (Moloney, 68).

If the water is a symbol of Jewish purification and the wine is a symbol
of Jesus' grace, then "Mary's statement, 'They have no wine,' becomes a
poignant reflection on the barrenness of Jewish purifications" (Brown,
105).


VERSES  6-8:   JARS FOR THE JEWISH RITE OF PURIFICATION

6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of
purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons (Greek:  metretas duo
e treis -- two or three measures). 7Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars
with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, "Now
draw (Greek:  antlesate) some out, and take it to the chief steward." So
they took it.


Stone jars are used for ritual-purification water, because non-porous
stone is less subject to impurity than porous clay.

Barclay notes that the Jews regard seven as a perfect or complete number,
and six is incomplete.  "The six stone waterpots stand for all the
imperfections of the Jewish law" (Barclay, 89).

The amount of water held by each jar is literally "two or three measures"
-- twenty or thirty gallons (NRSV).  The total amount of water, 120-180
gallons, is far more than the amount required to purify this crowd.
Willimon notes that one cup of water would purify a hundred people, so
these jars contained water enough to purify the whole world.  The water
thus symbolizes the overwhelming grace available through Jesus, who has
come "so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have
eternal life" (3:16).

"Now draw (Greek:  antlesate) some out, and take it to the chief steward"
(v. 10).  The chief steward is in charge of the wine, and would share the
embarrassment of the shortage. He is responsible, not only for the
quantity of wine, but for its quality and distribution.

The usual interpretation is that Jesus instructs the servants to draw wine
from the jars, but Westcott notes that antlesate is commonly used for
drawing water from a well.  He suggests that the servants draw the wine
from the well -- and that the six vessels remain filled to the brim with
water -- not wine.  He believes that this "indicates that the time for
ceremonial purification is completely fulfilled; the new order, symbolized
by the wine, could not be drawn from jars so intimately connected with
merely ceremonial purification" (Carson, 174).  This, however, remains
conjecture.  There is no reason that antlesate could not be used for
drawing wine from the six jars -- and that seems to fit the story better.
If the servants are not drawing wine from the jars, the details about the
large size of the jars and their being filled to the brim seem irrelevant.


VERSES  9-10:   YOU HAVE KEPT THE GOOD WINE UNTIL LAST

9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know
where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the
steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, "Everyone serves the good
wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk.
But you have kept the good wine until now."


This story never tells us exactly when the water becomes wine.  The
servants pour water into the jars and, when the steward tastes it, it is
wine.  Perhaps it becomes wine as soon as the servants fill the jars -- or
perhaps when they draw it out.  Nor do we know how much water becomes wine
-- whether the full contents of the jars (the usual interpretation) or
just the amount drawn out.  If this is intended to be a miracle of
abundance, then all the water in the jars must become wine.

Just as the steward does not know where the wine comes from, there is also
much confusion about where Jesus comes from.  Jesus' origin is one of the
concerns of this Gospel (6:46; 7:27; 8:14; 19:9) and that suggests a clue
to the meaning of this passage.  Some people know where the wine/grace
comes from, but others do not.  As is often true in the Gospels, there is
a reversal here.  The steward should be the one to know the wine's
origins, but it is the servants who know.  In like manner, the religious
leaders should understand Jesus' signs, but it is the disciples, more
ordinary folk, who believe.

The steward says to the bridegroom, "But you have kept the good wine until
now" (v. 10).  Bauckham regards this as the punch line -- the key to
understanding this story.  The steward intends to comment on the odd
behavior of the host for keeping the best wine until last.  However, in
this Gospel, people often say things that have a deeper meaning, having no
idea that they have done so.  In this instance, the deeper meaning is:
"God has done a very surprising thing.  He has saved up till last his very
best gift to Israel and the world.  His best gift was not in Israel's
past, when he gave Moses the law and Israel the land.  He has kept the
best wine until the coming of Jesus" (Bauckham, 490).  This, then, becomes
a story about moving from the water of the law and prophets to the wine of
Jesus' grace.


VERSE 11:  AND HIS DISCIPLES BELIEVED IN HIM

11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed
his glory; and his disciples believed in him.


This sign reveals Jesus' glory, with the result that the disciples believe
in him.  Brown says that this is the point of the story (Brown, 103).  The
purpose of Jesus' signs is to inspire belief.  Indeed, the purpose of this
Gospel is "that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son
of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name" (20:31).

Most scholars believe that Jesus works seven signs in this Gospel.  While
the Gospel does not specify that number, seven is a "complete" number in
the Jewish schema, and therefore reasonable.  The usual listing of signs
includes:

1.  The wine at Cana (2:1-11).
2.  The healing of an official's son (4:46-54).
3.  The healing of a sick man (5:1-9).
4.  The feeding of the 5000 (6:1-14).
5.  Walking on the sea (6:15-21).
6.  The healing of the man born blind (9:1-34).
7.  The resurrection of Lazarus (12:1-11, 18)

Some scholars combine the feeding of the 5000 and walking on the sea as
one sign so that the resurrection of Jesus (20:1-18) becomes the seventh
and final sign (Carson, 175).


SERMON:

Jesus changed water into wine at Cana of Galilee.  Where is Cana?  To tell
the truth, we aren't rightly sure!  In the Bible, Cana is mentioned only
in the Gospel of John.  It tells us that Cana was in Galilee.  We think
that it was near Nazareth, where Jesus grew up.  We don't really know.

You would think that we would know.  John tells us that the miracle at
Cana was Jesus' first sign -- his first great deed -- his first miracle.
It gave the world its first glimpse of Jesus' glory.  It kicked off his
ministry.  You would think that Christians would exhaust every effort to
find out where Cana was -- and, in fact, that has happened.  Christian
scholars have tried to find Cana -- and have determined a couple of
possibilities -- but nobody knows for sure.

And that's the point!  Jesus could have chosen to start his ministry
anyplace--Jerusalem -- Rome -- but he chose to start in a small town in
the middle of nowhere.  You might call it "ministry at the margins."

As Jesus goes through his short life, we see him favoring ordinary people
in ordinary places -- healing beggars along the way -- and children --
people who did not count for much.

Jesus ignored people who could have helped him -- religious leaders --
people with political clout -- wealthy people.  Or, even worse, he
embarrassed them -- infuriated them -- made them his enemies.  Jesus
wasn't just being foolish.  He had come to help people, but it was the
down-and-outers who understood that they needed his help.  The rich and
famous didn't care much for Jesus.  They could not admit that they needed
his help.  After all, Jesus was just a country boy from Nazareth -- a
country boy who failed to pay them proper respect -- a country boy who
didn't know his place.

We need to remember Jesus' affinity for the poor and vulnerable.  We live
in a success-driven culture that celebrates money and achievement.  While
we don't really like rich and famous people, we envy their money and their
fame.  We would like to be rich and famous, if we could just figure out
how to get there.  We, too, are tempted to look down our noses at people
who are not doing well in life.  We need to remember that people like that
were Jesus' best friends.

So it is interesting that Jesus chose a nowhere place like Cana to start
his ministry -- ministry at the margins -- ministry among ordinary people
in an ordinary place.

Jesus' first miracle is also interesting.  Jesus works other miracles in
this Gospel.  Most are healings.  In one case, he brings a man back from
the dead.  Those miracles gladden our hearts, because we know what it is
like to be sick.  We know what it is like to grieve over the death of a
loved one.  When Jesus heals someone, it gives us hope.  Perhaps, when we
need him, Jesus will heal us too.

But Jesus' first miracle -- John calls it a sign, because it points to
something -- to Jesus' glory -- Jesus' first miracle wasn't healing a sick
person or reviving a dead person.  It was transforming water into wine --
a nice gesture -- it saved the wedding party -- but it sounds like
Miracle-Lite compared to Jesus' healing miracles.

So why did Jesus, for his first miracle, turn water into wine? Perhaps it
was because his mother pressured him.  Perhaps he was just warming up.
Perhaps he decided to test his super-powers on something minor before
meddling with someone's health.  Perhaps he was just being careful.

Or perhaps there was something more significant involved.  In the Gospel
of John, Jesus often says and does things that have two meanings -- an
obvious but superficial meaning and a hidden but significant meaning:

-- That is true when he tells Nicodemus about new birth in chapter 3.

-- It is true when he tells the Samaritan woman about living water in
chapter 4.

-- And it is true when he turns water into wine in chapter 2.

In some places, Jesus explains his intended meaning, but not here -- not
at Cana.  We are left to guess.  There are a couple of possibilities:

-- One is that the abundance of wine that Jesus creates is a symbol of the
abundant grace that he brings.  He creates enough wine for a dozen parties
-- a hundred parties -- just as he brings enough grace to save the worst
of the worst.

-- Another possibility is found in the wine-steward's comment that the
bridegroom has kept the best wine until last.  The Jewish people had the
law and prophets, but God saved the best wine -- Jesus -- until last.

In other words, when Jesus turned water into wine, he was sending a
message.  It was subtle -- a message that most people would miss -- but
some would understand.

Then, at the end of the story, John says:

"Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee,
and revealed his GLORY;
and his disciples BELIEVED in him."

That is the bottom line!  This sign -- this miracle -- this transformation
of water to wine revealed Jesus' GLORY -- and his disciples BELIEVED in
him.

Jesus had just begun his ministry and had just called these disciples.
They had followed him, because there was something compelling about him --
but the jury was still out -- they still were not sure -- maybe Jesus was
sent from God -- maybe not.  But, after Cana, there was no question in
their minds anymore.  Jesus transformed the water into wine -- fine wine
-- abundant wine -- and in so doing revealed his GLORY -- gave the
disciples a glimpse into his identity -- let them see something of his
power ---- and they BELIEVED in him.

When I read that story, I wish that I could have been there.  I wish that
I could have seen the miracle -- could have tasted that good wine.  I find
myself wondering if it was a burgundy -- or a chardonnay -- or perhaps
even a champagne.  That would have been perfect, wouldn't it!  Champagne
for the wedding!  Champagne is a wine, you know!  If it were champagne
that Jesus made, I am sure that it was the very best champagne -- the
hundred-dollar variety -- maybe the thousand-dollar variety -- the kind
that I have never tasted!  I wish I had been there to taste it!

I wish I had been there, too, just to see Jesus at work!  To see him do
his thing!  To see the worry on the faces of the hosts -- and to see worry
replaced by amazement -- and amazement replaced by joy!  I wish that I
could have been there to see his GLORY, because that would help me to
BELIEVE in him -- and sometimes I need a faith-boost!

But, if I am honest, I must admit that I have seen Jesus at work.  I have
seen him do even more wonderful things than turning water into wine.
Jesus transformed my life!  He did it over a period of many years, because
I was blessed to have a Christian mother who introduced me to Jesus as a
small child.  Jesus has been chipping away at my rough edges for decades.
You might doubt that, because I still have rough edges, but please believe
me when I tell you that, if it had not been for Jesus -- well, I hate to
think what I might have been.  In my life, Jesus has turned water into
wine!

And when I look out at this congregation, I can see that Jesus has been at
work in your lives too.  I see faces that reveal Jesus' GLORY.  Every day
of every week, I see people in this congregation doing kind and generous
deeds -- and you do them because Jesus has made a difference in your
lives.  You have rough edges too, and some people criticize you because
you are not one hundred percent saintly all the time.  Answer them this
way.  Just tell them that, if it had not been for Jesus -- well, you hate
to think what you might have been.  In your life, Jesus has turned water
into wine!

And he is still doing it.  Winemaking is a slow process, you know.  You
plant the grapes, and then you wait.  It looks like nothing is happening
-- nothing at all -- but it is.  If you stand in the middle of a vineyard,
you cannot hear the grapes grow -- you cannot see them grow -- but they
are growing.  If you come back tomorrow, they will look the same -- and
the next day, and the next.  But if you come back a month from now you
will see the difference.  God is turning water into wine!

And so it is with us!  As we walk with Christ day by day, we become more
and more like him.  For some people that growth comes quickly -- they
experience a dramatic conversion -- yesterday they had no faith and today
they are full of faith -- but for most of us, spiritual growth is slow --
nearly invisible -- but Christ is working in our lives day by day --
turning water into wine!  And when that happens, we reveal his GLORY!  Our
lives give other people a glimpse of Jesus!

And, as we look around this congregation, we see other people whose lives
reveal Jesus' GLORY!  Their witness strengthens our faith!  We are
strengthened by them and they by us, and together we reveal Jesus' GLORY!
And as we see his GLORY, we come to BELIEVE in him!  And as we reveal his
GLORY, we help others to believe in him.

I would like to close with a story -- a true story about Kenny Walker --
an All-American football player at the University of Nebraska.  Kenny was
a great football player.  He is also deaf.

Nebraska has a tradition where they honor football players in their senior
year at their last home game.  Each senior runs onto the field as the
announcer introduces him, and fans rattle the rafters with their cheers.

Nebraska fans loved Kenny Walker.  They knew that he couldn't hear their
cheering, but they wanted to honor him.  Then someone had a great idea.  A
local newspaper ran an article showing people how to cheer in sign
language.  To do that, you stand, hold your hands above your head with
fingers spread, and wave your hands back and forth.  That is cheering in
sign language. (NOTE TO THE PREACHER:  As you go through these last two
sentences, hold your hands above your head with fingers spread and wave
your hands back and forth.  It doesn't matter if you do it perfectly.
Just do it confidently.)

At his last game, Kenny waited his turn to run onto the field.  As the
other players ran out, Kenny felt the vibrations of the cheering and the
foot stomping.  Then it was his turn.  As he ran from the tunnel, he felt
no vibrations.  Where was the crowd?  Then, as he emerged from the tunnel,
he saw the crowd on its feet -- hands above their heads -- fingers spread
-- waving their hands back and forth in a huge cheer that only a deaf
person could hear.  The crowd was giving Kenny glory.  (PREACHER:  Make
the gesture again as you describe the crowd's gesture.)

When I first read that story, tears came to my eyes as I pictured that
crowd waving their hands above their heads -- giving Kenny glory --
telling him in a very special way that they loved him.  Tears came to my
eyes as I imagined Kenny's surprise -- and his sudden recognition of this
very special greeting -- of this crowd's special affection for him.

And it reminded me that we Christians need to give that same kind of care
and attention to Jesus' GLORY -- to revealing his GLORY in our lives -- so
that people might see Jesus living in us and BELIEVE in him.

Later in this Gospel of John, Jesus will tell us exactly what sign that he
would like to see when he runs onto the field.  He will tell us of his new
commandment -- his great commandment.  If we really want to honor him,
this is the way to do it.  He says,

"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples" (13:34-35).

If we really want to honor Jesus, that is how we can do it -- by loving
one another.  When we do that, people will look at us and see Jesus -- and
BELIEVE -- and give him GLORY!  And then our discipleship will be
complete.


TRUE STORY:

See the story of Kenny Walker in the sermon above.


A BIT OF HUMOR:

In Dick Van Dyke's Sunday School class a little boy climaxed his prayer
like this:

"For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
forever and ever.
Amen and F.M."


THOUGHT PROVOKERS:

A voluntary dedication,
a daily assignment of all work and play and activity for the glory of God
can make anything genuine prayer,
whether it is digging ditches,
doing the dishes,
selling insurance,
or even playing golf,
which is often the same as digging ditches.

-- John W. Lynch

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The secret of piety
consists in seeing the whole world as belonging to God
and reflecting his glory.
To rise in the morning on seeing the light of a new day,
to eat a simple meal,
to see a stream running between the mossy stones,
to watch the day slowly turn into evening
-- even small things like these can brim with meaning
when seen as allusive of God's majesty.
"To the religious man," writes Abraham Heschel,
"it is as if things stood with their backs to him,
their faces turned to God."
To accept the good things of life,
most of which come to us quite apart from our own efforts,
as if they were matters of course without relating them to God
is quite wrong.
In the Talmud, to eat or drink without first making a blessing over the
meal
is compared to robbing God of his property.
Through all Judaism runs this double theme:
we should enjoy life's goodness,
and at the same time we should augment this joy by sharing it with God,
just as any joy we feel is augmented when shared with our human friends.

Huston Smith in The Religions of Man

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Chuck Colson summarizes his life this way in Loving God:

The real legacy of my life was my biggest failure --
that I was an ex-convict.
My greatest humiliation -- being sent to prison --
was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life;
He chose the one experience in which I could not glory
for His glory."


*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Dr. Paul Brand  was speaking to a medical college in India on "Let your
light so shine before men that they may behold your good works and glorify
your Father."  In front of the lectern was an oil lamp, with its cotton
wick burning from the shallow dish of oil.  As he preached, the lamp ran
out of oil, the wick burned dry, and the smoke made him cough.  He
immediately used the opportunity.

"Some of us here are like this wick," he said.  "We're trying to shine for
the glory of God, but we stink.  That's what happens when we use ourselves
as the fuel of our witness rather than the Holy Spirit."

He concluded, "Wicks can last indefinitely, burning brightly and without
irritating smoke, if the fuel, the Holy Spirit, is in constant supply."

-- Philip Yancey

 

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name UMH #154-155;


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