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Changing the Water to Wine

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Changing the Water to Wine

Three is the number of abundant witness in the scripture (II Corinthians 13:1 In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established). This is the third day of Christ's ministry. He is in Cana of Galilee and for the third time witness is given as to His authority to be the Messiah. On the first occasion God the Father gives witness by declaring Him, through John the Baptist, the "Lamb of God upon who the Spirit of God rested" On the second day man gives witness to Christ's authority when Nathaniel acknowledges Him as "the Son of God the King of Israel." Now, on the third day, nature gives witness to His divinity.

Explain the action of dogmas.

Before we begin this message we need to clear the air concerning a dogma that has arisen in some churches across the land that is based on a term used in this passage. That term is wine and the dogma is the drinking of wine is a sin. Having grown up in a highly conservative Baptist church I had been taught from youth and have heard it preached from the pulpit that there are two different terms for the word wine in scripture. One supposedly refers to unfermented juice and the other fermented juice. Unfortunately this is not true. There is only one word that is translated wine in the New Testament and that is "oinos" and it refers to the naturally fermented juice of grapes. This word was used by John in this passage and it is the same one Paul used in Ephesians 5:18 were he tells us "do not be drunk with wine where in is access but be filled with the Holy Spirit. The wine therefore that John speaks of in this passage is the fermented juice of the grape.

There are those in the church today who frown on the consumption of wine and some go so far as to say drinking wine is a sin. Nowhere is this stated in scripture. We are told not to drink wine in excess and become drunk because it brings a false joy to our lives that only the Holy Spirit can truly fill. I myself do not drink wine, beer or any other alcoholic beverage simply because I cannot stand the taste of it.

We can look at many passages of scripture that support abstinence from wine as a symbol of our commitment to Christ but we must never come to the point in our lives where we judge a person's relationship to God by the food or drink they take into their mouths. Christ tells us Matthew 15:11 that it is not what goes into a person's mouth that defiles them but rather what comes out of their mouth. This disclaimer having been stated let us look at today's passage.  ********

Whenever you study God's word one of the best ways to glean truths from what the Lord is telling us is to ask the question why. In answering that question through study and comparison of scripture we are often given a better understanding of the work of our heavenly Father in this world. So as we go through the first miracle of Christ we will seek to answer the question why several times and perhaps gain new insight into a passage of scripture that is well known in the church.

The first why that we see as we begin this passage is this, why did Christ choose to perform this miracle as His first miracle? Christ and His disciples are called by His mother to attend a marriage feast as He begins His ministry on earth. When He began His ministry another call to a wedding was sent out by His Father which is also to be attended by Christ and His disciples.

We can draw some parallels between these two wedding feasts:

1.                          At the earthly invitation His work has just begun. Although the call to the heavenly wedding feast was initiated at the same time as His call to the earthy feast the heavenly feast began after His work on earth was completed.

2.                          His mother seems to be residing over the earthly wedding. His Father will reside over the heavenly wedding.

3.                          At the earthly wedding He and His disciples were just another face in the crowd. At the heavenly He and His disciples will be the guests of honor. At the heavenly feast Christ is the groom and his disciples are the bride.

4.                          At the earthly wedding He and His disciples are surrounded by His earthly creation. At the heavenly feast they will be surrounded by His heavenly creation.

5.                          The earthly feast is faulty and results in a lack of wine. The heavenly feast will be perfect and will lack nothing, which brings us back to the narrative.

We can assume that Mary was in a position of responsibility at the ceremony because she approaches Christ with the problem of the wine shortage and expects her eldest to deal with the problem. Christ's response reveals to us focus of His ministry on this earth.

First, He addresses Mary as "Woman" not Mother. In this one word he places her in the created order and shows that His relationship to her as her Savior has now preempted His relationship to her as a son. This position will carry to the cross when in His final breaths He says to Mary, "Woman behold thy son," and to John, "Behold thy mother."

His work on this earth was not temporal, physical one but an eternal, spiritual one. He says to Mary, "what have I to do with thee?" If stated in today's English the phrase would read, "what business is this of mine?" He did not come to this world to do the bidding of His creation (Mary), He came to do the bidding of His Father (God). It is true that He performed many miracles while on this earth but they were not the focus of His coming. They were merely picture lessons to show His disciples His objective in coming.

He miraculously changed the water to wine and fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes but those who ate and drank, became hungry and thirsty a few hours later. They were merely lessons that pointed to His true work, that of giving to His people an eternal life in which they would never hunger or thirst again. He healed the sick and raised the dead but each of those people got sick and died later on. Their miraculous healing was used as an object lesson for His disciples to see that His work on earth was to give a life to His children that extended beyond the grave.

Christ knew His work and He knew, at that wedding in Cana, the time had not yet come for Him to do it. That great work was three and one half years in the future when He would lay down His life for His people and miraculously provide eternal life for them.

Mary accepts Christ's response yet realizes He will still meet His creation on the physical level and commands the servants to do as He requests. Notice the absence of rebuttal in their exchange. Christ is not refusing to do His mother's bidding in this passage, He is simply reminding her, as he did at the temple nearly 20 years earlier that He must be about His Father's business. He will sustain us in this physical life, meeting our needs, sometimes miraculously, but His business is our eternal salvation. In order to understand the work of the Lord in our lives we need to look beyond the physical. When the hand of God reaches down to touch us in this life do not view it as an end unto itself. Accept it as Christ's perfect hand reaching down to a sin-cursed earth to give us a taste of the glory that awaits us.

We see such a picture in the miracle at the marriage feast. Jesus tells the servants to fill six water pots of stone. Not just any water pots but those which are used for the purification process. When Israelites touched something unclean they used jugs like these to wash themselves. They present to us a picture of the law, necessary for cleansing but bringing no joy to the user. The jars had to be filled with water (20 - 30  gallons apiece) so they were a burden to the bearer. The water in them was then defiled after the cleansing and had to be taken away and disposed of. There was no joy in this action just a burdensome chore brought about by the action of sin in the world.

Then Christ comes on the scene and the cleansing He gives is no longer drudgery to the recipient. The purification process is no longer a temporary cleansing of the outward man but it is something that takes place inside the child of God and is eternal. The Spirit warms us and purifies us from the inside out and our cleansing brings joy. There is no need to dispose of the filth. It has been miraculously changed into new life by the hand of our Savior and Lord. The old process of purification only affected the outward man. It cleansed the skin and the element which did the cleansing remained dirty and defiled to show the uncleanness of the user. I don't take baths anymore but I can remember times when our family lived in houses that had claw tubs with no showers and baths were the only way to keep clean. I would get into the tub and even though I had not had a dirty job that day, which was seldom since I was in the carpenter business at the time the bath water would be murky and dirty. On some days the grime left would be so bad that I had to clean out the tub but I felt clean for a while. The water cleansed me temporarily but very soon I began to get dirty again.

This was the action seen in the law's purification represented by 12 jugs of water. The cleansing was outward, often a bother, and had no lasting effect. But the wine which represented the work of Christ in grace had a different effect on the user. The cleansing was inward. The washing of Christ is forgiveness that does not leave an reminder of our filthiness that has to be disposed of it leaves behind a joy that we have been washed and made clean by His miraculous intervention.

Oh we still get dirty. The spiritual filth of this world still at times defiles us and makes us unclean but the mercy of Christ toward us in the outpouring of His Holy Spirit cleanses us from all sin and because it is an inward cleansing there is no filthy water left that we need to deal with. The question is, are you still working with the old covenant water pots? Are you trying to keep the laws of cleansing and depending on yourselves for purification and being reminded of your sin every time you look in the bath water? Or have you accepted the miracle of Christ? Has He changed the water into wine into your life so that purification brings joy and peace?

Notice something else in this passage. Christ could have just as easily spoken and the wine would have miraculously appeared but He chose to have the servants fill the jars with water which He then changed to wine. There were probably dignitaries at this wedding feast. There were places of honor set for the bride, the groom and the families of the bride and groom. Many came to the feast this is evident from the amount of wine consumed there. There were six pots each holding 20 to 30 gallons of wine which means there was between 120 - 180 gallons of wine made by Christ and this just supplemented the wine that they ran out of. So we can safely assume that the crowd numbered in the hundreds. All of these people were present to enjoy the festivities of the wedding ceremony. Yet only a few actually witnessed the miracle and those few were not there to enjoy the festivities they were there to work, the servants.

Each of us who knows Jesus as our Lord and Savior has been called to prepare for the wedding feast of the lamb. We are to go to the multitudes bearing with us the joy of salvation. Many will taste that new wine and will proclaim as the governor of the feast that the new is far better than the old. In our homes, at our work, in our neighborhoods people notice a difference between the joy we bear and the joy the world bears and sometimes they acknowledge it with words like "Your different", "Boy I wish I had your attitude" or "You certainly are a person of faith." They taste the joy of our salvation.

As servants of God we too have been called to work for Christ to bring the means of cleansing to the nations. Those who have been called to the marriage feast of the Lamb will partake of that cleansing and they will know a joy that is greater than any they had known before.

So bear the word of God to a lost and dying world and lift your voices in praise. Christ has come and He has changed the water into wine. Let us drink deeply of His salvation and bear it to the world so they too can know the joy of His grace and mercy.

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