Generous Jesus – John 2
This message is a part of our series on the Gospel of John.
Find the rest of the messages in this series here.
I kind of hate the news. It’s not really the news I dislike, its the handling of the stories that I don’t like. I don’t like that as soon as some catastrophe happens there are talking heads who come on a split screen to talk about why this should move us to advance their political party’s agenda… We don’t have a lot of empathy as a culture right now…
I’ll be honest with you, for the same reason I’ve kind of dislike this story about Jesus. This story of Jesus turning the water into wine at a wedding feast is a passage that people bring up to me all the time, not to talk about Jesus doing something incredible, not to talk about Jesus’s status as the Son of God, not to talk about Jesus demonstrating that he’s here to do a new thing…
Why do you think? It’s because Jesus made wine they feel justified in drinking. A few things about that…
The wine that they drank in Jesus’ day is nothing like what you can go buy at the liquor store. The potency and strength is far less strong. The purpose of the wine in Jesus day was the purification of the water, they would use it to clean the bacteria from the water. There’s a passage where Paul is writing to his apprentice in the faith because he’s been sick and he tells him to add some wine to his water and diet- he’s ministering in a new city and the water is different and his system isn’t accustomed to it… The potency was different, the purpose was different, and lastly the phrasing was different. There is no distinction in the greek between what we would call wine and what we would call juice. We have to call it something different because you don’t give your kids wine boxes, you give them juice boxes. You can get some apple juice without being carded. You have to carry your id to get some wine. Because the distinction was so slight, they didn’t have to use these clear lines… It’s like for us when we refer to a soda, coke, or a pop. Some people use the term coke for any kind of soda, and the distinction is not so great that it really matters. The point of this passage is not the wine. I want to clear that up because I think if you see the point it’s going to be a such a blessing to you, I know it has been to me this week. To get there, I want to quickly take a journey through the context, a conversation, and the conversion.
We’ll journey through John 2:1-12 by looking at the context, a conversation, and the conversion.
First of all, the context.
Where is Jesus at? He’s at a wedding. With his disciples. They were invited. They weren’t crashing this party. They were invited. This matters because I’m afraid that many people have this picture in their head that Jesus was this monk type guy, this priestly figure who never had any fun, didn’t laugh at jokes, but always had his nose in a book, was always back in the wilderness somewhere praying, and then every once in a while he would come out to give some sermon and then disappear back into the woods or something. What you will see throughout John’s gospel is that while Jesus made time to be alone in prayer, He spent most of His time surrounded by a crowd.
Jesus spent most of his life surrounded by a crowd.
Why does that matter? Why does it matter that Jesus was at a wedding when this first miracle takes place? He was a person that others enjoyed being around. He was constantly being invited to parties and surrounded by crowds. Often he was surrounded by people who’s lives were an absolute mess. He was often surrounded by people that made his disciples a little uncomfortable. He was constantly surrounded by people that the religious elite used to discredit him.
Jesus was life giving in person.
Jesus was constantly surrounded by people. I like what Bruner said:
“Jesus was clearly not a recluse, a hermit, or an unnaturally religious person…He was invited to meals and parties, and he came to a number of them.” – Bruner
Sadly, in the church we’ve become known for what we are against and no one knows what we are for… There is much for us to be against, and Jesus definitely stood against sin, with courage and fierceness, this week’s message is Generous Jesus, next weeks message is Savage Jesus. We’ve become known for what we are against and no one knows what we are for- I think that as we become more and more like Jesus, we become more pleasant to be around. We become life giving.
Regardless of the response of others, becoming like Jesus will have a positive impact on our relationships.
Not saying that everyone will like us… Not everyone like Jesus. But we can become life giving- let me show you how. Let’s look at the conversation Jesus has with Mary.
3And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
4Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
5His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
I don’t know where you grew up, but I can tell you that if I spoke to my mother this way, my father would have showed up and corrected me. I remember when Kevin and Beth were trying to train their daughter to show respect… Some people have tried to explain this away with cultural setting… that’s not it at all. You can only speak to your mother this way if you’re Jesus. If you’re not Jesus, don’t speak to your mother this way. John wants us to see this conversation so it’s clear, Jesus didn’t do this miracle because Mary told Him to, Jesus was not obligated to any person, not even His mother. So Jesus did not do this out of compulsion or because he had to- John wants us to see that Jesus didn’t do this like you take out the trash because your wife asked you to 3 times…
Jesus turns the water into wine out of generosity. Not because He has to, but because He can.
Paul would say this about Jesus, he would say,
4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
We are slaves to no man, but servants to all.
We are not merely in Chandler, we are for Chandler.
So Jesus is generous in this transformation of the water to the wine, but then you’ve got to see how he does it. John says in John 2
6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
“After the manner of purifying of the Jews.” Most people reading this in the day and age where John wrote this would immediately picture what John was speaking of, these large stone basins that could be filled with water and used for the ceremonial cleansing… In the Jewish culture everything centered around clean and unclean. If you participated in some sin, you were considered unclean and had to be ceremonially cleansed before you could have access to the temple, or to the party, or to the wedding… So the people would have gone through a ceremonial cleansing as they entered the wedding. It was a way of showing, I’m among the clean. You can admit me to your feast because I’m clean. What Jesus does is use the ceremonial cleansing basins to create something new… The culture had centered on clean and unclean, and you were constantly going back and forth… Jesus has come to make all things NEW!
In Christ, the old has passed away and all things become new!
17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
Jesus not only makes you clean, He makes you new!
We are not cleansed in the water of Baptism, we are not cleansed through the ceremony of tradition, we are washed in the blood of Jesus! There’s nothing special about that baptistry- it’s just full of Chandler water! What makes that step meaningful is that those people identified with Jesus who has made them new!