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Dear Friends in Christ,
I saw an article this week that made me so sad. It was entitled, “Why I am raising my children without God.” It was written by a young woman who said that when her son was three years old he began to ask questions about heaven. She said at first she lied to him and made up all kinds of answers. After a while she said it was only right to be honest with him. She said, “I am a non-believer, and for years I’ve been on the fringe in my community. As a blogger, though, I’ve found that there are many other parents out there like me. We are creating the next generation of kids, and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up through the ranks who will, hopefully, lower our nation’s religious fever.” That makes me sad; that makes me sick.
She seems to think that if there is a God, he ought to control people like puppets with strings that control every move and action. She would blame God for everything rather than the evil heart of people. She listed her complaints against the thought of having a God: “1) If God is our father, then he is not a good parent. 2) God is not logical; 3) God is not fair; 4) God does not protect the innocent; 5) God is not present; 6) God does not teach children to be good; 7) God teaches narcissism.” She gives reasons for why she believes these things, but as I read these complaints she has some very serious misunderstandings of who she thinks God should be and our God as he reveals himself in the Scripture. She seems to think that people believe in a generic God who is interested in wanting good and punishing evil. She does not does not understand that God is a God of grace and mercy who forgives iniquities, transgression and sin.
To close her article she says, “I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.” God forbid that they adopt Mom’s views for the rest of their lives. If they do I can’t imagine the anger they will show for each other in hell.
Today, let’s get an accurate look at our God in this story of Jesus’ first public miracle. As we do we see “The Value the Lord Has for You! 1) He values the gift of your marriage; 2) He values your soul.
John begins, “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.” It was early in Jesus’ ministry. It had been the third day since Jesus had called Nathaniel, Philip’s friend, as an apostle. Jesus, along with his apostles and Jesus’ mother, were invited to a wedding. There is no mention of Joseph, Jesus’ foster father. Perhaps he had died.
What does it mean when you go to a wedding? Is it just a free meal and party time? I don’t think so! I hope it isn’t so! You are there because you want to be there and praise God who brought them together. You are there to ask God to keep the couple together and grow in love for each other and the Lord. You are there to share in the joy of one of the great blessings God gives us in life – the sealing of vows promising to be a lifetime partner. Jesus was there for the same reasons. In fact, he was there at the first marriage of the first couple. He instituted the blessing of marriage.
Marriages in Bible times were done a little differently. There were two parts to the marriage. There was the engagement ceremony. People gathered to hear the couple make their vows to be faithful to each other, but the bride and groom would return to their separate homes to await the day when the groom would come to take his bride into his house. Remember the Parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins in Matthew 25? They were awaiting the time when the groom would come for his bride. When that would happen there would be a great celebration. That celebration would often last for days. How would you plan for something like that? How much food and drink would a couple need? Actually, the couple here had their first problem. They didn’t even get out of the starting blocks. They ran out of wine.
Judy and I attended a wedding where the bride’s parents didn’t have enough food for the people there. Judy and I saw it coming. We hung back to the end of the line. The mother of the bride was in tears. Judy and I had a forkful of Cole slaw. It was embarrassing for our friends. Can we run to Kroger’s or something? A better solution for this couple was the fact that Jesus was there.
Mom Mary came to where she needed to – to Jesus. “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” What Jesus said, as recorded in the original, is a little hard to understand what exactly he meant. The original says literally, “What to me and to you?” Different translations translate this differently. Let me give you a couple of examples:
“Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?” (ASV)
Woman, what have I to do with thee?” (King James)
“Woman, why do you involve me?” (NIV 2011)
“Woman, what does that have to do with us?” (NASB)
I prefer the last translation from the NASB - “Woman, what does that have to do with us?” But this is how I understand what he said. Mom, I love you but I don’t get why you keep saying this problem has to do with you and me? Isn’t this a matter for me? Isn’t this a matter that I must take care of? It seems very clear that she understands that when she says to the servants, “You do whatever she says.” What a valuable lesson. Sometimes only Jesus can help.
Not only does he bless marriage with his presence, he blesses marriage with the power necessary to get it through the bumps and grinds. Sometimes he even provides his miraculous power to keep a marriage on track.
Compared to the problems people have in marriage, running out of wine at the wedding seems pretty trite and trivial. Yet the Lord says that whether the problems are big or small, bring them all to the Lord. Whether there might be something physical like help through a period of sickness or a new work place, or dealing with the big problems like a hateful heart or a heart that needs forgiveness, the Lord is there with his divine solutions.
Remember he solves problems in his own way and time. “My time has not yet come,” he said to his mother. A pastor once said that he felt that forgiveness comes too easy. The pastor didn’t mean he should withhold it. After all, forgiveness is free and full. It was earned by the blood of Jesus. He just meant that we should let it sink in. He said in his counseling he took people on a trip back to Good Friday to understand more fully what Jesus did instead of simply saying, “I forgive you for the sake of Christ.” He took people to theGarden ofGethsemane where Jesus prayed agonizingly and was taken prisoner by the mob. He took people to thepalace ofAnnas and Caiaphas and reminds his counselees of the slaps and beating the Son of God endured for them. He took people to the Judgment Hall and the trail of Pilate and the injustice he endured. He took them to place of scourging where Jesus’ back was turned into hamburger for us all. Slowly, step by step, he trudged through the city ofJerusalem on that torturous journey toCalvary. On spike at a time he told of Jesus’ agony as he was nailed to the cross. That’s what he meant when he said that he didn’t want to give away forgiveness too easily and quickly.
When Jesus said that his time had not yet come, Jesus was letting that problem percolate a bit. He impressed upon the people at the wedding and upon us the solutions are found, not within us, but within him. Whether the problem we have is found in our family or our marriage, or whether we face a million other challenges daily, let Jesus help. Consult with his Word; pray for his power. Jesus wants to help. He values you; he values your marriages and families. He also values your soul.
I have spent a lot of time thus far demonstrating to you that God values your marriages and families. That makes a lot of sense since he created marriage for our good. Yet this story of the Wedding at Canahas a greater purpose than that. It proves that Jesus is God. It proves that God came to earth to rescue you as only God could. “Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
A miracle took place. Only God can set aside the laws of nature and do miracles. Only God can turn water into wine.
The Devil hates miracles. He wants to discredit miracles. He wants to convince people that if you can’t count on miracles happening today, the same thing applied to Jesus’ time. He wants to discredit Jesus’ miracles because those miracles keep proving that Jesus is more than just a man. Unfortunately he has convinced a whole lot of folks. He has convinced people that if people believe the miracles of Jesus they are some kind of unintelligent creature that has no brain in their head and are out of touch with reality. Remember the lady I told you about in the beginning of the sermon, “I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.”
I ask this question. If you were God and wanted people to know that you were God, how would you go about it? What would set him apart from other human beings? It seems to me there is an obvious answer! The very thing that Jesus did at the wedding that day inCanaand so many other times as the Scripture says.
At the end of the Gospel of John the apostle writes, “Jesus did many other miracles that are not recorded in this book, but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you have life in his name.” The miracles, beginning with the changing of the water into wine, prove who he is. Because they prove who he is, he can save you.