1 John 2:1-11 - Water into Wine - The Glory of Christ
Suppose a child said to his father, “Dad, do I have to fall in love?” Or suppose a husband said to his wife, “Do i have to kiss you?” Or, “It is my duty to buy you flowers - I don’t really want to - but here they are, I have fulfilled my duty” … I think you will all agree that these are the wrong responses. The child will want to fall in love; the husband will want to kiss his wife and buy her flowers. You see, when we see the beauty of our beloved, it’s not that difficult to come up with a proper response - a response born out of love and gratitude and respect. And so it is with the glory of Christ. When we see him as he is, when we see how wonderful, how beautiful, how amazing, how worthy he is, then faith will rise. We will commit ourselves to getting to know this glorious Lord. Ot will not be irksome or dutiful - but a delight, for “his service is perfect freedom.” By contrast, according to a recent poll, British couples have stopped talking to each other. 1 in 4 speak to each other less than 10 minutes a day, and the same proportion cannot remember the last time they sat down for a meal together. It is ‘duty’ that apparently keeps such couples together. Churches are full of people who are very dutiful in their relationship with Jesus. Jesus turned water into wine. The church has done something far worse: we have taken the wine of the gospel and made it as stale and uninviting as ditch water. Let’s turn to the account of the wedding in Cana of Galilee, the first of Jesus’ signs in John’s gospel, and let’s see how our hearts warm up, let’s see if we are not more and more inclined to put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. AS John says at the end of his gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book; but these 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.” (20;30,31) The passage begins: “on the third day”. As we read John we should have our spiritual antennae twitching, for he never wastes a word, and what he says he says deliberately and carefully, using themes that run throughout his writing, and suggesting cross references. He revels in the symbolic. SO when we read “on the third day” we are meant to see a deliberate reference to resurrection and new life. It is as if John is saying, ‘Prepare yourselves - you are about to see life from the dead, a new beginning is about to erupt on the earth.’ Bear all that in mind and you will see how Jesus’ first sign takes on a whole new significance. Weddings are huge in the Bible. Scripture begins with the first married couple (Adam and Eve) and ends with a wedding feast like none other (when Christ marries his bride.) Surprisingly perhaps the clue is given in the meaning behind the word “wine”. “They have no more wine”. (You see, don’t you, that - if I may extract a generalisation - when the party’s on and the wine is flowing none of us bothers much with Jesus; but as soon as the wine runs out, and the party begins to grow stale, we run to Jesus for help. And of his great mercy, though it is rude of us only to run to him when our resources run out, yet he accepts and meets us where we are and offers grace and mercy to help us in our time of need. Praise him!) In Isaiah 25:6-8 we read, “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine - the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.The Lord has spoken.” Now combine this with these words from Amos 9:13, “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains.” Put these two together: in the OT the promised land flowed with milk and honey. By contrast, Jesus will bring in a new creation overflowing with wine. Hold on to those thoughts. Mary goes to her son and, in effect says to him, “Jesus, reveal your glory!” But Jesus replies, “my hour has not yet come.” In John’s gospel these two themes are connected - “glory” and “hour”, for Jesus reveals his glory when his hour (or time) comes. Supremely, when his hour comes, he will chiefly reveal his glory by dying on the cross - he will be lifted up from the earth and draw all peoples to him, and he will endure God’s judgement on sin. Let’s see by way of illustration if I can explain this better. Suppose Jesus and his glory is like a very powerful car parked at the top of a very steep hill. In effect, what Mary asks him to do is to let the handbrake off and charge off, gathering speed all the time, till at the bottom of the hill, he reaches the cross. And thus Jesus reveals his glory and splendour, and we are drawn to him. Back to the wine… When Jesus comes there shall be celebration like no other; there shall be eternal and everlasting festivities; with him and in him shall be glad hearts, overflowing carnivals and jamborees - an abundance of juice and joy, because of the reality of God’s grace, shown to us throughout our lives, but chiefly in his glorious death on the cross. Remember how under his rule, “new wine will drip from the mountains”? There shall be no shame, no disgrace, with all tears and mourning gone! Well at this wedding in Cana (which culturally could have lasted anytime from 7-10 days), there were 6 giant water pots/jars, filled to the brim for ritual cleansing. But, you see, all the water in the world won’t wash away your shame; all the scrubbing and cleansing won’t rub out the stains of sin upon your soul. So Mary says to Jesus, ‘reveal your glory.’ And Jesus looks around and and he may well have noted with concern the emptiness of many at the feast, despite all the fun going on. And what he does next says, ‘without me you are making do with water - but what’s on offer with me is a sumptuous banquet and here is wine to toast the abundance of the new creation I am bringing.’ And with that 150-180 gallons of water were made into wine - enough for over 750 bottles of wine. One more thing about wine - in the Bible it is described as the “blood of the grape.” Surely you get the picture now. Oh, we can use any amount of water to wash, but only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from our sins. And there is more than enough to go round! This sign abounds in grace. You see, for no other reason than to save someone’s social embarrassment, Christ revealed his glory. That’s just like him in his endless grace! We have nothing to commend ourselves; we have much to be embarrassed about - and yet God in Christ covers our dismay, makes up for our feeling wretched with an embarrassment of riches. We look at what he pours out on us and we can’t help it: WE SEE HIS GLORY; WE BEHOLD HIS MIGHTY MAJESTY; AND WE ARE CAPTURED BY HIS BEAUTY AND WE FALL DOWN IN ADORATION AND FAITH AND WORSHIPFUL TRUST. Truly he does all things well! “But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us…”
1. Do you have to love Jesus? Well, what do you think? we receive so much at his hands.
2. Religion cannot give me what religion doesn’t have - it’s far too cold and calculating measured against this super abundance. Paul says in one of his letters that we “have tasted the powers of the age to come” - Jesus’ age is marked by exuberance and joy unconfined - 750 bottles of wine for the sheer heaven of it!
3. The grace of God abounds. The grace of God covers all our sins and shame. The gospel is indeed great good news that gladdens the hearts of everyone.
4. The grace of God covers and makes up for all our efforts to get clean - they are all doomed to failure. Man has forever been in search of God. But all the time, God has been on the lookout for us, longing to reveal his glory, flinging his arms wide upon the cross, within which all are most welcome.
5. God is the great transformer. he takes water and makes it wine. He takes our broken tasteless lives and charges them with meaning and purpose. This is the essence of Renewal he wants us all to enjoy. God brings life: bucketloads of it! Gallons of life! The enlivening, quickening, changing grace through the power of the Holy Spirit removes our insipidness, transforms our weak-as-water-witness and makes us people of impact and life changers! [Prayer - Come Holy Spirit, have Your way in us]