I’ve known this story as long as I can remember. I’m sure it’s not new to you either, but if you don’t know it, you can check it out here in Matthew 14 starting at verse 22. It follows the feeding of the 5,000. You could also check out my retelling of this story from Peter’s perspective here, in one of my Encounters with Jesus.
I don’t want to comment on the whole story right now, just one thing that caught my attention.
When I read this story, I’m always impressed with Peter. When the boys in the boat first see Jesus walking toward them they think He’s a ghost. I’ve thought stranger things when I’ve been sleep deprived, toiling through the night on some project. I can see being scared out of my shorts, if I were in their shorts, seeing a figure walking out of the storm to the boat in the middle of the night in the middle of the lake. Right?
Jesus says “Be brave, and don’t be afraid. I am here.” (Matthew 14:27, The Passion Translation)
Peter jumps right up and wants to get out on the water with Jesus.
Jesus calls Him to come and off he goes, on to the water. Peter walks on the water. For the record, he gets slammed for falling in the drink, but he walks on the water most of the way to Jesus and he and Jesus walk back together to the boat. Or do you picture Jesus dragging Peter through the water and letting the others haul him over the gunwale?
On the way back Jesus gives Peter the talk, “You should have trusted…” but I wonder if Jesus wasn’t also thinking, ‘way to go, Peter, you got out there.’ I don’t want to put words in His mouth but it does play out that way in my mental theater.
Once in the boat, the disciples worship Jesus.
This whole thing brought to mind the verse in the Sermon on the Mount:
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 5:16 NASB
Peter gets out there and exercises his little bit of faith. Everyone in the boat sees Peters act, but in the end, Jesus is the one who gets the worship.
Maybe they would have worshiped Him even if Peter had not just pulled a “Peter,” but I like to think that seeing Jesus save Peter as Peter stuck his neck out there to be like Jesus added to the worship Jesus received. Certainly, Peter’s worship exploded.
Lord, help us get out there in the faith realm today, so people can see us trust You and give You the glory you’re due.
I ran into some red letters this morning—no big surprise there. It was right at the top of Matthew 11. You may be familiar with this moment in Jesus’ life. John the Baptist is in prison, and, OK, that may not have been in the vision he had for his own life.
He sends his disciples to Jesus with a burning question. Did I miss it? Did I point to the wrong guy. Are you Messiah or should I look for someone else?
Jesus’ reply is what struck me this morning.
"Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me." - Matthew 11:4-6 NASB
I was reading in the new Passion Translation, and where my trusty old NASB saysPOOR, the Passion renders it “poor and broken.”
How did Jesus communicate to John that He was indeed Messiah, and John’s own plight was a worthy sacrifice?
By pointing out that the poor and broken were hearing the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
What’s your barometer? I confess. I tend to think about what impact I’m having in different terms. Do you?
“I’m killing it on social media!” “My facebook page is blowing up!” “I’m received by all the great preachers of the day!”
From His earliest days, Kings wanted to kill Jesus. The religious leaders of the day hated Him. The political leaders of the day just shrugged their shoulders and didn’t know what to do with Him.
But the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the poor and broken flocked to Him.
All this leaves me with a simple thought.
I need to place myself in the lives of the poor and broken. I need to be around the blind, lame, leperous, deaf, and dead. And then I need to open my mouth and set my hands free to touch, and love, and heal.
We come today, to the pool of Bethesda. Here we see something that, by today’s standards—western standards at least—seems bizarre. Our story is in John 5:1-9
This pool—the name means House of Loving Kindness—had five porches surrounding it. Daily, hundreds of lame, sick, blind and paralyzed people gathered here hoping for a miracle.
John tells us the people were waiting for an angel to come down and stir up the water. When the water stirred, the first one in the pool won a free trip to physical health.
Some Bibles mark this angel part as a later addition to the text. It all feels a little superstitious doesn’t it?
Was it really an angel? What it one of God’s? Perhaps a demon? Perhaps some strange sort of witchcraft?
But you know what—Jesus didn’t comment on it. So—I’ve already said too much I suppose.
I'm also struck by Jesus's choice to heal one man this day. So often in the gospels we read the story of Jesus healing them all. For instance, the evening after the Sabbath when He healed Peter’s Mother-In-Law. That night He came out after sunset and healed everyone in the city. But not here at the pool of Loving Kindness. At least it’s not recorded. Again—just one of those things to notice.
Jesus approaches one man.
Why this man? Maybe he was wearing his thirty-eight year perfect attendance pin. Maybe he was the sickest, or most hopeless. More likely (and at least this one is scriptural,) He saw His Father healing this man. (See John 5:19 - just down the page.)
Whatever the reason, Jesus approaches this man who has been sick for some thirty-eight years.
Let’s talk about this interchange for a minute.
Jesus asks him a simple and seemingly obvious question.
He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" - John 5:6
This is a great place to start.
Our churches and gatherings draw a great many folks who never quite get into the water. They sit in church, and sings the songs, but never set their affections on the One Whose name they take. They sit under the sound of good preaching, but the Word of God never finds good soil in their hearts. For these reasons, and other, they bear no fruit.
It’s time to put the question to them, and to ourselves…
Do you wish to get well?
Though to me anyway, the answer seemed obvious—the man actually makes excuses.
The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." - John 5:7
It strikes me that this man’s answer has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ question.
I wonder if he was answering the question he had heard a thousand times before—the question he expected this mild-mannered man to ask. The question his family and friends had asked him over and over. Even his pool-side companions would ask him this question. It was the question he could not face.
“Why do you sit here, day after day?”
But that’s not what Jesus asked.
In our last installment we met a man who asked the wrong question. The Royal Official asked Jesus to come to his son’s bedside.
This time Jesus asks the question and the sick man gives the wrong answer.
But there' some good news here. His non-answer didn't drive Jesus away. Jesus opens the healing door for him, no matter how bad his answer was.
Are you thinking, "Jesus didn’t offer healing, He simply healed the man?"
But did He?
He gave the man an imperative—a command.
Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." - John 5:8
What would have happened if this man gave excuses now? Was he healed and didn’t know it, or did the healing take place as he obeyed the Master’s command?
I think sometimes we consider ourselves people of faith all the while sitting at the side of the pool making excuses. Perhaps, like the man, we believe in healing. We believe God does miracles. We believe God wants to save the lost. We know Jesus mends broken hearts. But we sit and make excuses.
But this pool-sitter obeyed!
He got up and took up his bed and walked, and everything changed.
Thirty-eight years of going through the motions, over in an instant.
It’s time to “Get up” friends. It’s time to receive the life God has for us. It's time to step out of our pool-side life and step into a life in the Spirit. Jesus promised a river of living water flowing through us, and we sit beside stagnant waters making excuses. [Tweet This]
I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I know it’s right on the other side of obedience. Think back to the last thing He spoke into your life.
Now, get up and do it!
Lord, would you bring to our memory that last Word. Would you give us opportunity to obey and step into the life to which You’re calling us? I know You have more for us. Give us the courage to get up and walk!
I fell in love with this song at the Voice of the Apostles conference a few weeks back. There was a team from Bethel Church leading worship in the evenings and this was a new song to me. Written by Cory Asbury, this song paints the picture of our Great Shepherd.
I confess, I struggled with the adjective "reckless" when applied to Jesus. Most dictionaries I searched spin it with a negative carelessness. In the end, I saw that from the world's point of view, or from any natural standpoint, the love that YHWH lavishes on us is reckless, and irresponsible. What could be more careless than giving your love to a pack of wretches like us? How irresponsible, the one who doesn't hold trespasses against hardened sinners and careless fools?
Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me.
You have been so, so good to me.
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me.
You have been so, so kind to me.
Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'till I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine.
I couldn't earn it. I don't deserve it. Still, You give yourself away.
Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me.
You have been so, so good to me.
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me.
You have been so, so kind to me.
[Bridge] repeat - building
There's no shadow You won't light up, mountain You won't climb up, coming after me.
There's no wall You won't kick down, no lie You won't tear down, coming after me.
Thanks for coming by,
Please don't forget to shine where you're screwed in!
“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” my wife said when she realized Jesus was our only hope.
My son was sick—dying really—and the doctors gave us no hope. They couldn’t even give a name to his malady. He couldn’t keep his food down, and breathing caused such pain it made him shudder. For the last week, he’d had no more than a few cups of milk. He was dying. My little Marcus would leave this life as a twelve-year-old, and leave his mother and me broken.
It came on him suddenly, just three months ago. At first, we thought he had the flu. There were times we thought he would melt from the heat his body produced. Food was harder and harder for him to hold down. The doctors tried everything. I called in doctors from all the neighboring towns. Each one had the same advice. “Try to keep him comfortable.”
I’m a Roman, noble by birth. I’m part of Rome’s occupying force here in Galilee. I’m not military. There are many of Rome’s military forces spread over the region, but I’m here to create Roman culture. My counterparts and I come to these satellite conquests and live Roman lives. This way the people of our new territories can see what Roman life looks like. We live in relative luxury when compared to the rest of Capernaum. This luxury includes the servants we brought with us from Rome. I miss my homeland, though, and have wondered more than once if Roman doctors could heal my son.
My butler brought his family with him from Rome when we moved here four years back. They lived together in a suite of rooms in the servants quarters, off the main house. He is my most trusted confidant. I speak with him about things I would not even share with my wife.
Three days back, my butler mentioned that Jesus, the healer, was back in Galilee—in Cana. We had talked about taking my son to him a few weeks ago, but the reports had him in Jerusalem and around Judea. My son was too sick to travel that far. But Cana—Cana is only a few hours from here.
We first heard of this healer a few months back, when my butler took his wife to find him. It was one Saturday night after the Jew’s Sabbath was over, right here in Capernaum. He told me, the next day, there had been dozens of people waiting outside the home where Jesus spent his Sabbath. When He emerged He healed every one of them. Not one person went home without a touch from this healer, including my butler’s wife. She had been suffering from vision loss since he came into my service. In any practical sense, she was blind. But when he came back in that night, there was a ruckus in the servants quarters. I went to see what was going on and found a full-blown party going on. When he saw me, he didn’t even apologize for the noise or seem concerned. He ran over and gave me a hug. His eyes were wet with tears.
“She can see,” he said through his tears.
I looked at her across the room and our eyes met, and she was nodding. It was true. She was completely healed. She could see.
So when he told me Jesus was back in the area, I told him to get my horse and carriage ready. Then I ran to my son’s bedside. I found my wife holding him, tears running down her cheeks.
“What is it?” I asked.
“He’s gone,” she said.
“Dead?” I asked.
“No,” she answered, “but close. He’s not responding to anything anymore.”
“I want to take him to see the healer—up in Cana,” I said.
“He can’t travel. He’ll be dead before you get him in the carriage.” She said.
“But the healer is back in Cana. He can save him, I’m sure of it.” I urged.
“No. I won’t let you take him,” she insisted.
“Well, I’m going anyway,” I told her.
I threw on my cloak and rushed for the door.
“You’re leaving now?” she asked. “It will be nightfall by the time you reach Cana.”
“Look at him,” I said. “He’s at death’s door. I must see this man as soon as possible.”
“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” she finally agreed.
I ran out the door and found the horse and carriage ready for me in front of the house. I briefly explained I was going alone. We separated horse and carriage and saddled him. I was off for Cana.
My last look at my son panicked me. His body seemed limp, his color, gray. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I had to find this healer and all I knew of his whereabouts was Cana.
When I got to the town, I headed toward the magistrates building near the town center. But before I got there, I saw a crowd gathered in the square. In the center was a man who seemed to have everyone’s attention. As I approached I began to understand why. His words drew me like a bee to a blossom. The sound of His voice seemed to exude peace if that’s even possible. After two hours riding in panic, a calm from without began to press its way into my soul.
When the crowd saw the royal insignia on my horse, they made room for me. I dismounted and walked through the assembly to Jesus.
He stood before me in silence.
“My son is at the point of death,” I began. “He may be dead already, but I’m sure if you will come with me to Capernaum, you can make him well.”
Jesus turned from me to address the crowd.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”
“Sir,” I almost barked, feeling the panic rising again. I gathered myself and started again, this time with a forced calm. “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said, “Go; your son lives.”
The confidence in His tone—in His words—banished my fear and I believed Him. Three words turned my fear—panic—into peace. I turned and headed back toward my horse. I stopped. I realized I hadn't thanked Him. I turned to go back but He had His back facing me, holding another man in the crowd who knelt before Him.
As the evening hurried toward night, I found an inn at the side of the road. I slept well all night long, and that surprised me. I hadn’t slept that well since before my son fell ill.
I started awake, disoriented, forgetting where I was. For a split second, worry pressed upward from the depths. Then I saw my cloak and gear and remembered everything.
Only minutes after I left the inn, my butler and I met in the way.
“Master, master, your son lives!” he was calling as he ran to meet me.
We rejoiced for no short time, and then I asked, “When? When did things change?”
“Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him,” came his answer.
“It was Jesus!” I said with confidence. "That’s when He spoke the words."
“Words?” he asked.
“Your son lives,” I answered. “Those three words saved Marcus’ life. Three little words. Your son lives.”
We would be a few more hours on the road, but there was no gap in our talk of this fellow, Jesus. My servant told me of the things he had seen in Capernaum, and I told him my story again, and again, and once more.
“Your son lives.” His words resound in my mind.
When we arrived at home, my son greeted me at the end of the walk. He started telling me what happened at home, while I tried to tell him what Jesus had done. In the end, I told my story to everyone in the household. I told my son, my wife, my other children. I called all the servants together and told them to bring their families. I then recounted the miracle for them as well.
All who heard believed in this Healer from Nazareth.
To read the original story, see John 4:46-54.
Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017
If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more like it in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes you, as you read, from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.
A royal official hears that Jesus is back in Cana. Perhaps he had been at the wedding, or met someone who had been. In any case, he comes to Jesus because his son is sick and near death.
Not only had he likely heard of Jesus’ turning the water to wine, by now, news was spreading across all Galilee that Jesus was healing the sick.
A man’s love for his son makes him so some things that he might no normally do. In this case, we can assume that the man has exhausted his natural resources to save the life of his son. Hearing that this miracle worker is in town, he heads to Cana. From the way the story is told, it seems he may have had to travel a day’s journey.
At first Jesus makes a comment that might put many off.
So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." - John 4:48
It seems as though Jesus is bemoaning the fact that people want to see signs, and other wise will never believe. But is that wrong? Is it a bad thing? Isn’t that the premise for John’s gospel?
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:30-31
And, in fact, Jesus doesn’t begrudge this man his sign. Those standing by would not see this one, but the royal official would experience God’s power and glory first hand. Not only that, we would get an understanding of the power of the kingdom of God over space and time.
But, as I mentioned in the first installment of this series, Mary told us to do whatever He tell us. So let’s check out the imperative in the story.
The royal official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. - John 4:49-50
Just before we look at the red letters, notice that the man’s request pulled on Jesus to work in a way the man could understand. How often do our prayers try to pull God into the box we’ve created for Him?
He says, “Sir, come…” In this royal officials mind, Jesus needed to be present in the flesh to “fix” his problem, to deal with his issue.
What was he expecting? He wanted Jesus to come to his son’s bedside and pray, or touch him, or speak words of life, or perhaps like Elisha did lay on the child, mouth to mouth, eye to eye and hand to hand.
I’m not sure what he was expecting, but Jesus didn’t even pray. The truth is, you never see Jesus pray for the sick. You see him heal the sick. But, that’s a message for a different day.
What did Jesus do? No matter how you search you’ll be hard pressed to find him doing anything in this story. He just tells the man to go.
Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." - John 4:50
At this point we see some remarkable faith in the royal officials life. I want you to get this. Jesus is the truth. When He said “your sone lives,” that was not a wish, or a hope, it was true. Jesus, said it and the royal official believed the word.
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. - John 4:50
This Word from Jesus was a seed, and the man’s heart was good soil, prepared to receive the word with gladness, and move in faith at that moment.
He did not come back with any BUTs.
I might have. How about you?
Jesus, are you sure you can’t come with me. I want you to touch my son, I want you to pray for my son, lay hands on him, cast his demons out, hold him, coddle him. Why won’t you come?
We learn the mans son was healed right then, at that moment. With the word spoken and received, the healing, a days’ journey away, was already manifest. “Your son lives!”
What Jesus speaks comes to pass.
What has Jesus spoken life to in your world?
What have you laid before Jesus hoping for Him to come and touch and heal?
Have you heard Him say, “Go?” Has He already released the answer?
I can still remember the day—the day my suspicions about Jesus shifted to confidence—the day the light dawned in my heart and I knew that I knew God’s chosen Messiah stood before me.
My name is Andrew and I’d been following Jesus for a few weeks. One morning He woke us early and told us we were going to a wedding. It was before Matthew joined our group so there were only six of us then. It was early in the spring. I remember how crisp the air seemed as we packed up and headed to Cana. Mary, Jesus' mother, had some family in Cana. She told Jesus there was room for all of us to stay for the full week to enjoy the festivities.
That was a particularly rainy spring. When we arrived in Cana, we were a mess. At Mary's urging we found the stone pots set aside for washing. They were massive stone tubs filled with water. When we found them, there was a line at each one. Many others arrived as we did all caked with dust and mud from their travels. Each of us took care to get the mud and filth off our feet, hands and faces. Then Jesus led us off to present ourselves to the wedding party.
On the second day of the wedding celebration, John and I began wondering why we were spending the week here. Usually our days consisted of gathering groups to hear Jesus teach. Sometimes we’d go to a synagogue in a small town. Afterwards, Jesus would walk us through the passages they read in the meeting and share His amazing insights. It always seemed to me that He knew the scriptures far better than the local rabbi. He wouldn’t talk about some ancient rabbi’s thoughts, like they do in the gatherings. He would compare scripture to scripture. He’d point out the similarities in the messages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, or the final outcome for Nineveh in Nahum. I could never keep all those prophets straight in my mind, but it was as though He knew them—personally. For Him the history of our people, Israel, seemed to be recent memory, as if He lived through it with them. When I learned those old stories as a boy growing up, it all seemed so long ago and far away—like a story-book. When He taught us, it played out like He was in the middle of each event. He would bring the scriptures to life for us.
It is was mid-afternoon that second day when John said, “I thought He wanted us to see something. So far He hasn’t even done one of His—Let’s talk about…—things in the evenings. He just seems to be enjoying the wedding.
That’s when things started to get interesting.
One of Mary’s relatives and I sat not far from the cooking tent as she told me her story. She and Mary had been pregnant at the same time. I came to find out later that this was, in fact, the mother of John the Baptizer. He mentored me before Jesus came on the scene.
That’s when one of the waiters approached Mary. He looked nervous. I couldn’t hear what he said, but she went right over to Jesus. She started talking with Him, gesturing toward the waiter.
She seemed agitated when she approached Him. At first He turned away, as if ignoring her panic. She turned to some waiters who stood with her. At this point she was facing us, and I could hear her say, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” They followed Him.
That’s when He gathered us together and said, “They’ve run out of wine.”
Peter started right in. “What can we do about it? Do any of you know Cana? Is this even our problem?”
Jesus silenced Him with a turn of His hand and went on, “Help the waiters. They’re filling those stone washing tubs we used when we arrived. That should be plenty.”
Nathaniel, a little confused, asked him, “Plenty of what? What are you going to do with those filthy pots?”
Jesus moved on as if He hadn’t heard him.
In short order we brought Jesus over to 6 of those basins, full to the brim. These water pots—tubs, really—were used for the ceremonial washing before each meal and as a place to clean up after a journey as we had done. This washing was more than a practical cleanse. It indicated setting aside the spiritual filth we’d been walking in. We Jews like to keep short accounts with God. We wash before every meal to remind us of our need to stay in good standing with God. It keeps the corrupting nature of the world in the foreground of our hearts and minds.
There we all stood looking at those filthy tanks of water. I didn’t know what to expect next. Would He have us scrub them out, or dump them. What was He thinking.
But He didn’t do anything. He stood there quietly looking into one of the pots, and then looked up and said to one of the waiters, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
The two waiters who were there with us looked at each other, as if to ask why. Nothing had changed. We were still looking at one hundred eighty gallons of water sitting in six filthy tubs.
They stood there for a few beats. Jesus gave a sharp nod toward the water, and the server to the right reached over for ladle. He filled it with the water, and two of them turned and started walking toward the headwaiter. They went about three steps and paused to look back at Jesus. He motioned them on with a gesture. They again started toward their employer. One of them sniffed at the liquid in the ladle, hoping for something more, but disappointed. He shrugged and went on.
From where I was standing, I couldn’t see what was in the spoon. What I could see was the two men look at each other with a start, just as they reached their master. Then they held the ladle up to him, and pointed back to the water pots. That’s when I realized the pots that stood before us no longer contained water. They were brim full of deep rich wine, gallons and gallons of beautiful red liquid.
The headwaiter took a sniff, then a sip, then he swallowed the rest of the wine in the spoon. He started back toward us. It was then I realized the father of the bride, our host, stood beside one of the tubs. The waiter came to him and said, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”
The waiters began to fill bottles from the tubs so this new wine could take its place at the tables.
When I finally got a taste of the miracle wine, tears came to my eyes. Standing in the midst of these festivities I saw the picture He had painted for us, for me. Most of the guests enjoyed this good wine, but I saw the source. I knew this wonderful vintage, transformed from that vile water, looked a lot like my life. If He could make this water, contaminated with the offscouring of life’s filth, into this fine wine, couldn't He transform my life too? Couldn't he take the filthy water of my sin crusted past, and turn it into something beautiful and full of joy?
I wanted to tell everyone that it was Jesus, my mentor, my friend, who made this wine, but He pulled us aside. He did not want to make a big deal of this with the people.
I knew then. Jesus is the Messiah for whom we've waited.
To read the original story, see John 2:1-11.
Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017 all rights reserved.
If you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Jesus, you might enjoy my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.
John records several signs with the intention of leading us to faith in Jesus.
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:30-31 NASB
I’ve heard many say there are seven signs in John’s gospel, but I count nine. We’re going to look at the first seven over the next few weeks.
Turning Water to Wine The Royal Official’s Son Healing at the Pool of Bethesda Feeding of the Five Thousand Walking on the Water Healing the Blind Man Raising of Lazarus
Now, look at this list. If you were Jesus, and you were planning your ministry strategy, where would you start? Let’s assume you know how much power you have at your fingertips, where would you start. Ok - maybe not with raising the dead, we all like a good climax. But how about one of those times Jesus healed everyone in town or fed the masses. Don’t you want to come onto the scene with a big splash?
But John starts his account of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with a miracle Jesus Himself didn’t even want to do. Even the venue was regrettable, a little family wedding in a tiny town in Galilee. Not in the Temple in Jerusalem, or in the courts of the king, but He starts His ministry in a little nothing town.
And then we have the nature of the miracle. Many of the miracles Jesus did brought relief to suffering, or clear glory to God.
But John starts with this very strange story.
Jesus and His disciples find themselves invited to a wedding. At this point, we know He’s got at least five followers. I’m guessing there were seven by this time.* Mary, the mother of Jesus is also there.
You know the story. They run out of wine at this wedding party. Weddings could last up to a week in the tradition of the day, but do you know what they called a wedding with no wine?
I’m not sure how Mary learned of this or why she felt responsible to do something about it. I guess all moms know everything. She found out and takes the news to Jesus. “They have no wine.”
Jesus’s isn’t impressed. He says, “Mama, Why are you telling me? My time has not come.”
He’s not scolding her, but He didn't feel the pull of the Spirit to do anything about this particular issue.
So why this story?
Remember when Jesus started speaking in parables? The first parable is the model. He uses that model to teach not only the lesson but how to interpret all the other parables.
So it is here.
Mary is going to give us a key to all John’s signs.
Jesus blows it off, but Mary does not accept His pass.
This is what’s going to open up every solution in your life.
You know the rest of the story. Jesus has them grab the nasty tanks of water where people have been washing off the filth from their live’s journeys. They fill these tanks up to the brim and then Jesus tells them to ladle some out and take it to the boss. Jesus makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 gallons of wine.
The waiters carry this ugly water to their boss, all the while smelling dirty water in the ladle. Right up till the head waiter puts it to his lips. Suddenly, he’s tasting wine. And not just any wine. This is fine wine, good wine, the best wine.
Guess what—the party is on!
You know, for thirty years, I’ve heard this preached as “Jesus saved the best wine for last,” but that is not what the text says.
It says you’ve saved the best for “NOW.”
Not for the last generation, not for the last days, not for the day before the 2nd coming. I suppose that could be us. But even is Jesus tarries, this word is for us.
He made the “BEST” wine for “NOW.”
I love this.
Bring the water pot of your life, filled with the filthy water of your past, and place it in front of Jesus. Allow Him to fill you with the living water—the Holy Spirit. As He ladles you out to this thirsty world, what they will experience is the best wine, NOW. And not just a communion cup half full, but abundant wine. Enough to bring joy into every circumstance.
So what now? What about us?
Go and do whatever He tells you to do.
That’s going to require you to listen for His words daily. That’s going to demand ears willing to hear and a heart willing to believe and follow no matter where He leads.
Are you in?
Let’s do this.
Hey, thanks for coming by.
Come back again soon.
*We’re told the two of John the Baptists followers left John and began following Jesus. One of them was Andrew, Peter’s brother. Andrew went and got Peter. Then Jesus met Philip who brought Him to Nathanael. So that’s five we know of for sure. I’m thinking James and John are in the group too, but I can't prove it.
I mentioned in my introduction that Bishop Joseph Garlington preached a message at the Voice of the Apostles Conference last week, in Lancaster, PA. His sermon inspired this series of messages. In it, he highlighted the imperatives Jesus spoke for each of these signs. I am going to take some time to look at these signs and those imperatives in this blog.
Jesus, in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) tells us to teach those we touch to obey everything He commanded. In simplest of terms, Jesus’ commands us to love God with all we have and all we are and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. But in these Jesus encounters, we’ll see Jesus giving clear instructions to those around Him. Let’s look together at these commands and see what they have for us today.
If you missed any part of this series, I’m collecting the links on the intro article here.
I spent this last week at Global Awakening’s Voice of the Apostles conference in Lancaster PA. By our best reckoning, this was the 8th or 9th time Corinne (my wife) and I have attended the VOA conference. The level of teaching and ministry, and the sheer revelation, always blow us away during these 4 days.
The opening evening was with Bishop Joseph Garlington. If you’ve never heard him preach, you really must experience it. He speaks with the accompaniment of his keyboard player and dear friend Clarance. You never know when he might break into song, with his beautiful tenor voice.
I can remember back to when I was courting my wife in the 70’s her mom, my dear mother-in-law Barbara, used to tell stories of his preaching over forty years ago. Back then, my Father-in-law, Don Hayhurst ran a tape ministry which recorded the preaching from the Full Gospel Business Men’s ministry in Bergen County, New Jersey. Bishop Garlington was a regular preacher in that venue.
This week, his opening message was from the book of John. He spoke about the signs of John. I’ve studied these signs before and heard many sermon series teaching on them. But Bishop Garlington brought new light to them. I’ve decided I will take the next few weeks and press through them and share some of what he brought, and press into the life in these beautiful accounts of encounters with Jesus.
So keep your eyes open for new posts. If you’re not subscribed here, drop your email address in the box to the right (near the top of the page) and you’ll receive emails as these installments are published. As I post to this series I'll add links to below so you can grab it all here eventually.
Thanks for stopping by, and get ready for a great ride.