Friday, February 16, 2007

New wine to strengthen us...


Last night my family and I enjoyed great fellowship at the home of one of our church members. They served a delightful Merlot with an excellent meal. Later that evening my middle son, Nico, asked me about Jesus' turning water to wine. We had a great conversation about this being Jesus' first public miracle and other various features of the narrative in John. I communicated to Nico (who is only 5, so I don't know how much he "caught"), the importance of this first recorded miracle. I think this act was very personal and focused on His new disciples more than anyone else who might have observed. Christ did an amazing, miraculous, thing, with a narrow focus on who it would truly effect. The only "outsider" who seemed to notice what Jesus had done is the "master of the feast" (the caterer):

John 2:9-10 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast 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."

The master of the feast was amazed at the quality of the wine that was now being introduced. We observe him noting the usual custom for wedding feasts. The best wine is served first for a couple of reasons- First, the initial guests would often drink enough to make their tastes dull. Why waste good wine on people who won’t appreciate it? Second, as the celebration moved in to the second and third days, new people would arrive, it was simply too expensive to keep up a fresh supply of high quality, high denarii wine. It just wasn’t practical. He immediately goes to the bridegroom to commend him for such a gracious act. It was as if he had never seen someone do such a thing. Interestingly, the servants did not reveal what they had seen and the miracle goes largely unnoticed.

So why? What was the real intention of this “sign”? The answer comes in verse 11-

John 2:11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Jesus did this sign for his newly chosen disciples. They transferred allegiance from John the Baptist to Jesus. They believed the word of John about Christ and they believed Christ. It was this occasion that Jesus used to build their trust in Him. What a marvelous miracle, yet only the reaction of the disciples is revealed. It is very probable that the newly married couple and the great crowd that was celebrating never heard about the shortage of wine or the solution to the problem. No, the miracle was done for the express purpose of teaching his disciples so they could trust Him going forward.

The other signs Jesus does are clearly accompanied by detailed explanation as to what is to be learned from the sign. In this case, the only clue we have is this simple phrase in v. 11- and his disciples believed in Him. No comment about Mary, the servants, the master of the feast, or the bridegroom. The focus is on the building of His disciples faith in Him.

Here's the point of my wandering thoughts (sorry)- While the Lord clearly works on a sovereign, "macro", providential level with His mighty works and constant oversight of all creation, He also works in a "micro", personally providential way to build my trust in Him. I'm so grateful for this! He blesses my family and I in so many neat "little" ways which serve to strengthen our daily trust in him.

Jesus could have made a big spectacle of Himself- a real 'Grand Opening' to His public ministry with the water to wine miracle. Instead, all textual indicators point to this being a relatively private, pointed, miracle. His intention was to give the newly called disciples confidence to follow Him in the challenging days to follow. I would suggest, while not usually through miracles (the suspension of natural law), the Lord directs specific events in our lives in order to manifest his Lordship to us personally and build our confidence. Why? So that we might serve Him more faithfully.

Note the two reactions to Christ's miracle:
1. The Master of the Feast thought it was amazing, but never linked it with the Savior.
2.The Disciples saw and their trust in Christ was strengthened for service.

I definitely want to emulate the second reaction. Perhaps it's time for each of us to reconsider the many events in our lives. Those trials and pains we have dealt with (or are dealing with)- God can turn them in to wine by strengthening our trust in Him through them. Those accomplishments, blessings, and victories…do you see them as part of God’s pouring new wine out for you?

6 comments:

The Presbyteer said...

Well put.

I'd never before considered the point about the better wine for the latecomers. Makes me wonder if there's something there about Israel/Church -- the latecomer Gentiles get the best stuff.

AJF said...

Interesting consideration. It very well could be so.

M. Jay Bennett said...

Tony,

Thanks for this post. It is very encouraging to my soul.

There are many areas in my own walk and circumstances that I pray the Lord might turn into wine as he has so faithfully done in the past.

I enjoy a good glass of wine, usually a Cabernet, so I will take this image and meditate on it. I'll try to hear the wine gurgle into the glass, see the deep reds, smell the aromas, and taste the complex flavors. Good stuff.

MJB

remudamom said...

Granting the request of certain parishioners.

For The Second Time

Into the Laundry room the Pastors they came,
They came to try and regain their lost fame,
At their positions they grinned cross the table,
As if their defeat was in naught but a fable,

They teased and they taunted,
We would not be daunted,
Though they kept on trying.
They soon would be dying.

The "K"s got uneasy
They felt kinda queasy,
But wouldn't go under
For lightning or thunder.

So onward they played
And finally flayed
The Pastors in fooseball.
Making it their second fall.

AJF said...

Regarding this last comment...I cannot decipher this cryptic message. It seems to speak of a fantasaical, yea imaginary victory of sorts, but I cannot be sure.

Frontier Forest said...

By Biblical accounts, we know so little about Mary, the mother of Jesus. And by God’s divine providence, most of her thoughts and words remain a mystery. But we do have the infancy narratives, the episode when 12 year old Jesus, left the crowds to be “about His Father’s business,” Mary, at the foot of the Cross, then Mary, in the upper-room after the ascension. But her thoughts, exalted at the wedding of Cana, are by far, some of the most profound words ever revealed in Scripture! From this John 2:1-11 narrative, in just a few simple words, this quiet, humble, self-controlled, wise women, who “kept many things in her heart,” (Luke 2:51) spoke volumes to a few servants back then, and speaks volumes for all of Christ’s servants today. When she boldly proclaimed to the servants in charge of the wedding, the father of the bride, as well as the bewildered disciples, ALL who listened, heard her profoundly probing words go forth! In John 2:5, we read, “His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever HE says to you, DO IT!’” What profound words for all of us to listen to and follow today. These words are indeed, “New wine to strengthen us..."!