Sunday January 20

Scriptures: Isaiah 62:1-5

62 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
    and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
    and her salvation like a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
    and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
    and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
    and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
    and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
    and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
    so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
    so shall your God rejoice over you.


John 2:1-11 The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

“The Best Wine”

Boy, those Ancient Mid-Eastern weddings were real “parties”.  They could last for more than a week.  A week filled with celebration, feastings, and, evidently, quite a bit of wine drinking.  By the time Mary figured out what was going on, the wedding party had run out of wine.  It would seem this meant two things in that culture.  First, “the party was over.”  There would be no more wine and therefore the fun was over.  There are many places in Scripture where wine is a symbol of JOY.  This does not mean the Ancient Jews were a bunch of drunks; this simply means that in that culture, wine was the drink of the day, much like we would be with tea or soda.  Besides, they watered their wine down to fit the occasion.  This is why the water jars were there in the first place.  It is my understanding that pure wine was almost undrinkable because it was stored and shipped in a syrup-like form and then mixed according to need.  Often for casual drinking, they would water it down to a 20:1 mixture.  Therefore, even though the wine flowed freely, it was not often even as strong as what we might drink today.  Even so, running out of wine at a wedding celebration would bring an abrupt end to the festivities.  Who would stay long at a party only serving water from a jar?
The second thing running out of wine would bring about was a level of shame for the host.  We’ve all been at or hosted parties where the food ran out before the night did.  It is embarrassing.  Think about how much more embarrassing it would be if you had planned a week-long celebration and the drinks or food ran out by day five.  This was especially true in Oriental cultural where pride was everything.  When Jesus performed this miracle, he not only saved the party, he saved the host a great deal of embarrassment.
Of course, this is Jesus we are talking about.  He never did anything half-way.  Notice what the Chief Steward says once he tasted this wine made by Jesus “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”  Jesus did not simply turn the water into wine; he turned it into the best wine they had had all week.  Because he was essentially God and has the power to do great works and the love to do them to in a special way.
Jesus does the same for us.  No, he does not turn our water into wine, no matter how much some of us would love to see that happen.   Jesus, does something even greater, he turns our broken lives into lives worth living.  He tells us in John 10:10, “I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”  This means that Jesus comes into our life to make it better and to save us from the many dead-end paths we might choose for ourselves.  Just as he did with the wine, making it the best, Jesus strives to do the same with us and makes us the best we can be.  Therefore, in a sense we are the best wine that can be made of the grapes we once were.  Sometimes we might water this down with worry, doubt, greed, etc.; in our pure form, we are better than we were before we met Jesus. 

Pastor Mark

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