“Wedding Fail Averted” – John 2:1-12

February 2nd, 2020

John 2:1-12

“Wedding Fail Averted”

Aux Text: Joel 2:21-27 & Revelation 19:4-10

Call to Worship: Psalm  4

 

Service Orientation: The glory of Jesus is seen in the joy He brings to the world through His submission to authority, abundant provision for his Bride and increasingly superior standard of life for His children.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  (John 10:10)  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

Background Information:

  • Jesus’ signs were not simply powerful displays of compassion, but were designed to reveal who He really was, since they unmistakably manifest God at work (cf. 2:23; 3:2; 4:54; 6:2, 14; 7:31; 9:16; 20:30; Acts 2:22). Signs, miracles, and wonders nevertheless do not necessarily convince people to believe in the Lord and the gospel (2:23-25; 12:37; 15:24; Mt 11:20-24; 13:58; Lk 16:31).  There is no record that any of the servants who witnessed Jesus’ turning the water into wine followed Him (cf. 2:12).  Amazingly, Jesus seems to have left Cana with only the disciples who came there with Him, despite having performed a miracle, the likes of which had not happened since God created flour and oil in the days of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kgs 17:8-16; 2 Kgs 4:1-7).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 83)
  • What a strange contrast there is between the simple gladness of the rustic village wedding and the tremendous scene of the Temptation in the wilderness, which preceded it only by a few days! What a strange contrast there is between the sublime heights of the first chapter and the homely incident which opens the ministry!  What a contrast between the rigid asceticism of the Forerunner, “who came neither eating nor drinking,” and the Son of Man, who enters thus freely and cheerfully into the common joys and relationships of human nature!  How unlike the scene at the marriage-feast must have been to the anticipations of the half-dozen disciples that had gathered round Him, all a-tingling with expectation as to what would be the first manifestation of His Messianic power!  The last thing they would have dreamed of would have been to find Him in the humble home in Cana of Galilee.  Some people say “this miracle is unworthy of Him, for it was wrought upon such a trivial occasion.  And was it a trivial occasion that prompted him thus to commence His career, not by some high and strained and remote exhibition of more than human saintliness or power, but by entering like a Brother into the midst of common, homespun, earthly joys, and showing how His presence ennobled and sanctified these?  Surely the world has gained from him, among the many gifts of more sacred sweetness and blessedness than is opened in that fact that the first manifestation of His glory had for its result the hallowing of the marriage tie.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 117-8)
  • According to the chronology that John gives us for these opening chapters, this was the last of the seven original and eventful days of Christ’s ministry. The first was the day on which John the Baptist confronted the Jewish delegation from Jerusalem.  The second was the day on which John identified Jesus for the first time as “the Lamb of God.”  On the third day Andrew and an unnamed disciple (probably John the evangelist) followed Jesus.  The fourth day contained the events connected with Andrew’s call of his brother Peter.  On the fifth day Jesus called Nathaniel. The sixth day was spent in traveling.  On the seventh day Jesus arrived in Cana and was invited with his disciples to the wedding.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 163)
  • The Gospels record thirty-five miracles, or signs performed by Jesus. In the Gospel of John, each miracle was a sign intended to point people to the truth that Jesus is the divine Son of God come down from heaven.  These signs were remarkable actions that displayed the presence and power of God.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 35-7)
  • Almost every miracle Jesus did was a renewal of fallen creation–restoring sight, making the lame walk, even restoring life to the dead. We are to believe in Christ, not because he is a superman, but because he is the God who continues his creation, even in those of us who are poor, weak, crippled, orphaned, blind, deaf, or with some other desperate need for re-creation.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 38)
  • We could say that the miracles are also, in addition to being literal events, symbolic. (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 167)
  • Wine was the staple drink in the ancient Near East. Due to the warm climate and the lack of any means of refrigeration or purification, fruit juice tended to ferment.  The result was an alcoholic beverage with the capability of inducing drunkenness.  To help avoid the risk of inebriation, wine was commonly diluted with water to one-third to one-tenth of its strength.  Though the Bible does not forbid drinking wine, and in some cases commends it (e.g., Ps 104:14-15; Prv 31:6; Jer 31:12; 1 Tm 5:23), it strongly condemns drunkenness (Gn 9:20-27; Dt 21:20-21; Prv 20:1; 23:29-35; Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 5:11; 6:10; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1 Tm 3:3, 8; Ti 1:7; 2:3; 1 Pt 4:3).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 79)
  • (v. 1) John counts from the day (1:43) when Philip and Nathanael became his disciples. The third day after that day means that two nights intervened.  (R.C. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, 183)
  • (v. 1) The author is consistent in not mentioning the name of the lady who was probably his aunt (the sister of his mother Salome). Throughout the Gospel he leaves himself and his close relatives anonymous.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John, 114)
  • (v. 3) In the ancient Near East there was a strong element of reciprocity about weddings, and that, for example, it was possible to take legal action in certain circumstances against a man who had failed to provide the appropriate wedding gift. This is quite foreign to our wedding customs and we are apt to overlook such possibilities.  But it means that when the supply of wine failed more than social embarrassment was involved.  The bridegroom and his family may well have become involved in a heavy pecuniary liability.  The gift made by Jesus was thus doubly important.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 156)
  • (v. 3) Mary may well have had some responsibility for the catering; at any rate she knew that in such a crisis she could not do better than call upon her Son’s resourcefulness. Probably she had learned by experience that to draw his attention to a need was a sure way of getting something done.  (F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, 69)
  • (v. 3) I consider her words to be expressive of earnest compassion; for the holy woman, perceiving that those who had been invited were likely to consider themselves as having been treated with disrespect, and to murmur against the bridegroom, and that the entertainment might in that way be disturbed, wished that some means of soothing them could be adopted. (Calvin’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, 83)
  • (v. 3) She had something to do with the arrangements, for she was worried when the wine ran done; and she had authority enough to order the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Some of the later gospels which never got into the NT add certain details to this story.  One of the Coptic gospels tells us that Mary was a sister of the bridegroom’s mother.  There is an early set of Prefaces to the books of the NT called the Monarchian Prefaces which tell us that the bridegroom was no other than John himself, and that his mother was Salome, the sister of Mary.  We do not know whether these extra details are true or not, but the story is vividly told that it is clearly an eye-witness account.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 96)
  • (v. 3) It is more likely that Mary turned to Jesus because she had learned to rely upon his resourcefulness. The traditions that make her a widow by this period are plausible enough: Joseph does not appear on the scene after the episode in the temple when Jesus was twelve years of age (Lk 2:41-52; though cf. Jn 6:42 and notes there), and Jesus himself was known not only as the carpenter’s son (Mt 13:55) but as the carpenter (Mk 6;3).  Apparently the family fortunes had, up to this point, depended on Jesus’ manual labor.  Like any widow, Mary had leaned hard on her firstborn son.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 169-70)
  • (v. 4) The word Woman (gunaí) is also misleading. It sounds to us very rough and abrupt.  But it is the same word as Jesus used on the Cross to address Mary as he left her to the care of John (Jn 19:26).  In Homer it is the title by which Odysseus addresses Penelope, his well-loved wife.  It is the title by which Augustus, the Roman Emperor, addressed Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian queen.  So far from being a rough and discourteous way of address, it was a title of respect.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 98)
  • (v. 4) The Greek wording may mean either “what have I to do with thee?” (RV) or “what have you to do with me?” (RSV). Which alternative is to be preferred must be decided by the context, and the present context points to the latter alternative.  (F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, 69)
  • (v. 4) The Greek expression, rendered “What have I to do with thee,” would be translated literally, “What to Me and thee?” It is an elliptical expression, of which the full meaning probably is, “What is there in common to Me and thee?”  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 98)
  • (v. 4) The Son of God is appointed our Advocate with the Father; but the mother of our Lord was never designed to be our advocate with the Son. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Vol. V, 872)
  • (v. 4) Certainly it was here anticipated, and hence His solemn reference to His “hour” yet to come. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 85)
  • (v. 6) The six stone water jars were normally used for the ceremonial washing of hands as part of the Jewish purification rites before and after meals (see Mt 15:1-2). According to the Jews’ ceremonial law, people became symbolically unclean by touching objects of everyday life.  Before eating, the Jews would pour water over their hands to cleanse themselves of any bad influences associated with what they had touched.  When full, each jar would hold twenty to thirty gallons.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 33-4)
  • (v. 6) The six pots of wine which Jesus created correspond in a striking way to the six disciples with whom he appeared at this wedding and recall the miracle of the loaves when twelve baskets of fragments were left over, one for each of the twelve disciples with Jesus, Mt 14:15-21. (R.C. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, 193-4)
  • (v. 8) That which was poured in was water. That which was drawn out was wine.  To Him who created the vine, and made it bear grapes at the first, the change was perfectly easy.  He who could create matter out of nothing, could much more easily change one kind of matter into another.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 100)
  • (v. 9) One of my bright students once calculated that this amounts to nine hundred fifths of wine, which, at an average cost of thirty dollars a bottle, amounts to twenty-seven thousand dollars’ worth of wine! (Michael Card, The Parable of Joy, 26-7)
  • (v. 9) Unlike modern weddings, which are traditionally paid for by the bride’s family, the groom was responsible for the expenses of the celebration. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 77)
  • (v. 10) The verb methusk (drunk freely) literally means “to become drunk,” and is so translated in its only other appearances in the NT (Lk 12:45; Eph 5:18; 1 Thes 5:7; Rv 17:2).  That does not mean, however, that this particular banquet had become a drunken orgy; the headwaiter was speaking from his own experience.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 82)
  • (v. 11) What is a sign? Something that points beyond itself to something greater.  It was not enough for people to believe in Jesus’ works; they had to believe in Him and in the Father who sent Him (Jn 5:14-24).  This explains why Jesus often added a sermon to the miracle and in that sermon interpreted the sign.  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 38-9)
  • (v. 11) The glory or Shekinah of God shines through Jesus Christ as anticipated for the reader in 1:18 where Jesus is said to be “full of grace and truth.” (George Allen Turner, The Evangelical Commentary: John, 81)
  • (v. 11) These words cannot of course mean that Andrew, and John, and Peter, and Philip, and Nathanael now believe on Jesus for the first time. The probable meaning is, that from this time forth they believed more confidently, more implicitly, and more unhesitatingly.  From this time they felt thoroughly convinced, in spite of much remaining ignorance, that He whom they were following was the Messiah.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 102)
  • (v. 12) The allusion to Jesus’ brothers recurs also in the synoptic Gospels. According to Mk 6:3, Jesus had four brothers and some sisters.  Little is said about them in the Gospels:  and only James appears later in the Book of Acts, as the moderator of the church in Jerusalem.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 43)
  • His act of turning the water into wine would alter the whole course of His life. Hitherto He had lived in quiet seclusion in Nazareth, but from this time on He would become a public and marked character.  From henceforth he would scarcely have leisure to eat, and His opportunity for retired communion with the Father would be only when others slept.  If He performed this miracle, and manifested forth His glory, He would become the gazing stock of every eye, and the common talk of every tongue.  He would be followed about from place to place, thronged and jostled by vulgar crowds.  This would provoke the jealousy of religious leaders, and He would be spied upon and regarded as a public menace.  Later, this would eventuate in His being seized as a notorious criminal, falsely accused, and sentenced to be crucified.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 84)
  • If our Lord Jesus Christ actually worked a miracle in order to supply wine at a marriage feast, it seems to me impossible, by any ingenuity, to prove that drinking wine is sinful. Temperance in all things is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  An intemperate man is an unconverted man.  Total abstinence from fermented liquors is in many cases most useful and desirable.  But to say, as many do say, that to drink any fermented liquor at all is “a sin,” is taking up ground that cannot be maintained in the face of the passage before us, without wresting the plain meaning of Scripture, and charging Christ with abetting sin.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 101)
  • Jesus’ first sign took place in the obscure village of Cana in Galilee. We might have expected him to begin in Jerusalem.  At the time, the sign was meant primarily for his disciples.  Apparently only they, the servants, and Jesus’ mother knew Jesus did it.  We might have expected a huge crowd of witnesses led by important dignitaries of the day.  Instead, without fanfare, Jesus did what God had set before him to do.

It worked.  “He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.”  They had new evidence that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  They saw the glory of God (1:14) through his miracle.  They believed more firmly in Jesus than they had before.  (Gary P. Baumler, The People’s Bible: John, 42)

  • Interestingly Moses’ first miracle was a plague–turning water into blood (Ex 7:19ff.), which speaks of judgment. Our Lord’s first miracle spoke of grace.  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 39)
  • Out of the vast amount of material available to the Evangelist John, he has carefully chosen his material as an eyewitness of all Jesus did and said. In his writing he has a clear, guiding purpose, “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” (Jn 20:31).  Then which earthly, daily incidents will best reveal who Jesus is and quicken a living faith among His readers?  (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 65)

 

The question to be answered is . . . How is the glory of Jesus revealed in His first miracle?

 

Answer:  The glory of Jesus is seen in the joy He brings to the world through His submission to authority, abundant provision for his Bride and increasingly superior standard of life for His children.

 

Glory defined:  divine mode of being, divine and heavenly radiance, loftiness and majesty of God, the being of God reflected, divine honor, divine splendor (Gerhard Kittel; Theological Dictionary of the Nt: Vol II, 237-8; 247-9).  Significant scriptures pertaining to glory: Ps 19:1; 29:1-3, 9; 96:6-8; 97:6; 115:1; Isa 6:3; Ezek 10:1-19; Mt 24:30; Mk 13:26; Lk 2:9-14; 19:38; 21:27; Jn 1:14; 11:4, 40; 15:8; 17:4-5; Acts 7:55; Rom 1:23; 3:23; 8:17-18; 1 Cor 10:31; 15:43; 2 Cor 3:7-11; 4:4-17; Phil 3:19; Heb 1:3; 1 Pt 1:24

 

Life without Christ is a life without wine.  The Scriptures use wine as a symbol for joy, as in Ps 104:15, “Wine gladdens the heart of man,” and in Isa 55:1, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat.  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”  There is also a beautiful passage in Jdg 9:13 where the vine says, “Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to go waving over the trees?”  To the Jewish mind, wine symbolized joy.  In fact, the rabbis had a contemporary saying:  “Without wine, there is no joy.”  We could very well translate Mary’s words, “They have no joy.”  At this precious time of life that should be filled with everything good, joy had run out.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 59)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Glory

 

We bring glory to God whenever we reflect the character and attributes of God in our behavior.  We especially bring glory to God when our actions are counter-intuitive to the natural man and his flesh.  — PK

 

Joy in the NT is not merely an emotion, but a characteristic of the Christian.  It is a fruit produced by the inner working of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22), being dynamic rather than static.  It is not affected by circumstances however adverse and painful; in fact, joy may be the outcome of suffering for Chris’s sake (Col 1:24).

Jesus was characterized by joy in the task and goal set before Him (Heb 12:2).  (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: vol. 3, 714-5)

 

How is the glory of Jesus revealed in this His first miracle?:

I-  Jesus’ glory is promoted by His tactful, sensitive, submission to authority.  (Jn 2:2-5, 8 see also: the life of Joseph {Gen}, Daniel, Jesus, Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16; Mt 15:4; 19:19; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20; Acts 5:29; Rom 13:1-7; Eph 6:2-3)

 

Jesus is no longer under her roof.  The time of her authority has passed, so her concern has no final claim on Him.  Jesus has moved out in obedience to His Father, and all His times are set by the higher Authority.  He must await the hour fixed by His Father.  (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 69)

 

His public ministry had begun, and earthly relationships would not determine His actions.  Mary was to relate to Him no longer as her son, but as her Messiah, the Son of God, and her Savior (cf. Mt 12:47-50; Mk 3:31-35; Lk 11:27-28).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 80)

 

She acknowledged that he should act independently, and she confidently told the servants to follow his orders.  She fully expected that he would take appropriate action.  He did indicate that he was no longer under her authority but that he was living by a new pattern timed by the purpose of God.  Jesus had begun his miracles, not at the request of earthly parents whom he still respected, but according to the purpose of his heavenly Father.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 42)

 

Seven times in John, reference is made to this “hour.”  Each time if refers to His death.  She gets the message.  She understands she is facing her Messiah.  The next words indicate she passes the test of faith.  (C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on John, 38)

 

The phrase, “What have I to do with thee?” was a common conversational phrase.  When it was uttered angrily and sharply it did indicate complete disagreement and reproach, but when it was spoken gently it indicated not so much reproach but misunderstanding.  It means” “Don’t worry; you don’t quite understand what is going on; leave things to me, and I will settle them in my own way.”  Jesus was simply telling Mary to leave things to him, that he would have his own way of dealing with the situation.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 97-8)

 

Like the Canaanite woman who was rebuked for her presumptuous approach, but who persevered and was praised for her faith (Mt 15:21-28), so Mary is rebuked for presuming on the family tie, yet displays faith that is perfectly content to leave the matter in Jesus’ hands.  This sort of pattern occurs elsewhere in John: Jesus initially refuses a request for assistance, then proceeds to help in his own way, often in response to a further demonstration of faith (4:47-50; cf. 11:21-44).  In short, in 2:3 Mary approaches Jesus as his mother, and is reproached; in 2:5, she responds as a believer, and her faith is honored.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 173)

 

Our Lord did not tell Mary that He would not work a miracle; but He would have her know that she must not expect Him to do mighty works to please His relatives after the flesh.  He would only work a miracle, upon this or any other occasion, when the fitting season for it, the time appointed in God’s counsel, had arrived.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 98)

 

The words before us were meant to remind her that she must henceforth leave our Lord to choose His own times and modes of acting.  The season of subjection to her and Joseph was over.  The season of His public ministry had at length begun.  In carrying on that ministry, she must not presume to suggest to Him.  The utter contrariety of this verse to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church about the Virgin Mary, is too palpable to be explained away.  She was not without error and sin, as Romish writers have dared to assert, and was not meant to be prayed to and adored.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 98)

 

This must have been extremely difficult for Mary.  She had borne him, nursed him, taught his baby fingers elementary skills, watched him fall over as he learned to walk; apparently she had also come to rely on him as the family provider.  But now that he had entered into the purpose of his coming, everything, even family ties, had to be subordinated to his divine mission.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 171)

 

That Jesus calls Mary “Woman” and not “Mother” probably indicates that there is a new relationship between them as he enters his public ministry.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 158)

 

To have addressed her as “mother” would have called attention to human relationships; but calling her “woman” showed that God was speaking to her.  We may add that it is significant that the two times Christ addressed His mother as “woman” are both recorded in the Gospel of John which sets forth His Deity.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 83)

 

II-  As our Bridegroom, Jesus’ agenda for humanity is joy and the abundant life.  (Jn 2:10 see also Ps 16:11; 19:8; 21:6; 23:6; 27:6; 32:11; 33:1, 3; 35:27; 67:4; 68:3; 92:4, 12-14; 95:1; ch 100; 104:14-15; 119:111, 171; 126:2-6; 145:7-8; Sg of Sol; Isa 12:6; 25:6; 33:6; 49:13; 51:3, 11; 52:8-9; 66:10-12; Jer 31:12-14; 33:9; Joel 2:21-27; Mt 7:11; Jn 1:16; 6:35; 10:10; Acts 2:28; 13:52; Rom 10:12; 15:13; 1 Cor 2:9; 7:1-7,  32-35; 2 Cor 8:9; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 1:7-8, 18-23; 2:7; 3:8, 16-21; 4:13; 5:21-33; Phil 4:19; Col 1:27; 2:2, 9-10; 1 Tm 6:17-18; Rv 19:4-10)

 

God created humankind to enjoy his grace.  (David Platt, Radical, 65)

 

Wine symbolizes joy in God.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 85)

 

So Jesus says, “I came in order that they (i.e., people; here the sheep) may have life (see on 3:16) and may have abundance (of grace, 1:16; cf. Rom 5:17, 20; Eph 1:7, 8; of joy, 2 Cor 8:2; or peace, Jer 33:6).  See also 2:6, 7; 4:14; 6:13, 35.  These passages show that Jesus always provides an overflowing measure, a surplus. (William Hendriksen; New Testament Commentary: John, 110)

 

There were six waterpots; each held between twenty and thirty gallons of water; Jesus turned the water into wine.  That would give anything up to one hundred and eighty gallons of wine.  Simply to state that fact is to show that John did not mean the story to be taken with crude literalness.  What John did mean to say is that when the grace of Jesus comes to men there is enough and to spare for all.  No wedding party on earth could drink one hundred and eighty gallons of wine.  No need on earth can exhaust the grace of Christ; there is a glorious superabundance in it.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 103)

 

Although Mary probably laid out the need for wine in mundane terms, it is typical of Jesus to detect more symbolism in various utterances than the speaker envisaged.  Mary wants the wedding to end without embarrassment; Jesus remembers that the prophets characterized the messianic age as a time when wine would flow liberally (e.g. Jer 31:12; Hos 14:7; Am 9:13-14; cf. 2 Baruch 29:5; 1 Enoch 10:19).  Elsewhere he himself adapts the wedding as a symbol for the consummation of the messianic age (e.g. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13).  Treating the developing circumstances as an acted parable, Jesus is entirely correct to say that the hour of great wine, the hour of his glorification, has not yet come.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 172)

 

The six jars had a total capacity of between 100 and 150 gallons!  But why is this fact stated?  Obviously, in order to emphasize the greatness of Christ’s gift!  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John, 116)

 

It is just possible that the Evangelist sees a connection with 3:27-30, where Jesus, Jesus alone, is emphatically identified as the messianic bridegroom.  As such, he will supply all the “wine” that is needed for the messianic banquet, but his hour has not yet come.  As this story unfolds, he graciously makes good the deficiencies of the unknown bridegroom of John 2, in anticipation of the perfect way he himself will fill the role of the messianic bridegroom.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 172-3)

 

Listen to the angel’s song, all you who have a troubled heart!  “I bring you good tidings of great joy!”  Jesus did not come to condemn you.  If you want to define Christ rightly, then pay heed to how the angel defines Him, namely, “a great joy!”  — Martin Luther

 

The first time you hear of John the Baptist, you hear of his strict diet, and so the first time you hear of Christ in His public ministry, you hear of Him at a marriage feast.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 102)

 

When John told this story he was remembering what life with Jesus was like; and he said, “Wherever Jesus went and whenever he came into life it was like water turning into wine.”  This story is John saying to us: “If you want the new exhilaration, become a follower of Jesus Christ, and there will come a change in your life which will be like water turning into wine.”  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 105)

 

Jesus provided as much as 180 gallons of choice wine.  The lavish supply of wine was a picture of the salvation he came to offer, and a revelation of who he was.  What God gives is given in abundance.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 34)

 

The combined capacity of the waterpots was about 150 gallons.  Reckoning a half pint to a glass, these vessels would contain about 2400 servings of wine–certainly enough to supply a large number of people for several days.  In quality and quantity the new-made wine more than satisfied the needs and taste of those who attended the feast.  (Merrill C. Tenney, John:  The Gospel of Belief, 83)

 

The Bible uses an abundance of wine as a symbol of blessing from God (Gn 27:28, 37).  The grape harvest and wine making were times of joyous celebration (cf. Isa 16:10; Jer 48:33), and the filling and overflowing of the wine vats represented the epitome of rich blessing (Joel 2:24). The fullness of blessing connected with the return from the Babylonian exile was symbolized by the possibility for everyone to “buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isa 55:1).  In Canticles the sweetness of love is said to be better than wine (1:2, 4; 4:10; 7:9).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, 1072)

 

And is it not in accordance with the whole meaning and spirit of His words that “forasmuch as the brethren were partakers of” anything, “He Himself likewise should take part of the same,” and sanctify every incident of life by His sharing of it?  So He protests against that faithless and wicked division of life into sacred and secular, which has wrought such harm both in the sacred and in the secular regions.  So with another world rather than with this.  So He protests against the narrowing conception of His work which would remove from its influence anything that interests humanity.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 118)

 

III-  Jesus’ glory is demonstrated by His turning disasters into triumphs.  (Jn 2:3, 10 see also: Gn chpts 38-50; 45:5-7; 50:20; 2 Kgs 4:1-7; Bks of Ruth, Esther, Job;  Ps 14:7; 30:11; 50:14-15; 51:12; 53:6; 94:19; Eccl 7:14; Isa 35:1-10; 44:23; 61:1-3; Jer 31:7-34; Lam 5:15; Amos 9:13-14; Zech 8:19; Mt 5:3-12; the cross; Acts 3:13-21; 16:16-34; Rom 8:17-25, 28; Phil 2:17-18; Heb 12:2; Jam 1:2-4; 1 Pt 1:3-9; 4:13-14)

 

The Christ who transforms the water of earthly gladness into the wine of heavenly blessedness, can do the same thing for the bitter waters of sorrow, and can make them the occasions of solemn joy.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 121)

 

We must not overlook the context of all this.  It was a wedding.  By implication, we see that all these joys come through the blessing of betrothal to Christ.  We must understand that the wine of carnal life does run out, or perhaps has already.  The sensual, visual, and intellectual joys of life will not endure.  But Christ can change everything.  Isaiah says our Lord gives “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning” (61:3).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 63)

 

It is this joy while suffering that most clearly distinguishes NT joy from that in the OT.  First, there is joy in (or in spite of) suffering because of the great reward in heaven (Mt 5:12; Lk 6:23), the “inheritance” kept for us in heaven (1 Pt 1:4, 6), the “better possession” (Heb 10:34).  We are to look to Jesus who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross (Heb 12:2).  Furthermore, we should rejoice that we share the sufferings of Christ, so that we may be glad and rejoice when His glory is revealed (1 Pt 4:13).  Second, there is joy in suffering because suffering produces character (Rom 5:3) and steadfastness (Jam 1:2).  But third, there is joy in suffering simply because it is for the sake of Christ and His body, the Church (Acts 5:41; Phil 2:17f.; Col 1:24; 1 Pt 4:13).  Thus Paul can write: “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor 6:10).  Here is the paradox of Christian faith, that our very human grief may be turned into and overcome by joy in the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 7:4).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 1141)

 

The Lord does not take away the natural joys of life but lifts them up and ennobles them and makes them far more enjoyable.  That is exactly what is suggested by the broader picture in our story.  We have here a wedding–something of the earth, primal, basic.  But what does Jesus do?  He attends the wedding, participates in the happiness, averts disaster, and then supplies the joy!  Admittedly, life has its sorrows.  The Scriptures say our Savior was “a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering” (Isa 53:3).  He knew all about sorrow, but the overall tenor of his life was joy!  We, too, will have many sorrows.  There will be times when the grace of God will seem distant, but overall our lives can be lives of joy.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 62)

 

The rabbis said, “Without wine there is no joy.”  So, to run out of wine would almost have been the equivalent of admitting that neither the guests nor the bride and groom were happy.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 165)

 

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God”; “Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God”; and “Joy is the flag that is flown o’er the castle of our hearts when the King is in residence there.”  All three sentences stress the same point: because God is with us, we can continually rejoice.  His presence makes possible our hope–hope for how he will create good from even the negative elements in our lives (Rom 8:28) and hope for how we will discover that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the fulfillment of God’s promises as they will be revealed to us (8:18).  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 193)

 

To fail in providing adequately for the guests would involve social disgrace.  In the closely knit communities of Jesus’ day, such an error would never be forgotten and would haunt the newly married couple all their lives.  The situation prompted Mary’s urgency when she informed Jesus of the emergency.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 42)

 

I do not think we can overemphasize the distress in Mary’s words in verse 3:  “They have no more wine.”  In the Jewish wedding feast, wine was essential, not so the guests could drink to excess, but because it was a symbol of exhilaration and celebration.  It was of such great importance that a lawsuit could be instituted if no wine was provided!  Those who were behind the scenes at that little wedding in Cana were shattered by this breakdown in hospitality.  Childhood dreams of the ideal wedding were about to dissolve in a nightmare.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 58-9)

 

Not only can this Master transform the water at the marriage feast into the wine of gladness, but the cups that we all carry, into which our tears have dropped–upon these too He can lay His hand and change them into cups of blessing and of salvation.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 121)

 

Is not this the signature of divinity, that without means the mere forth-putting of the will is all that is wanted to mold matter as plastic to His command?  It is not even, “He spake and it was done,” but silently He willed, and “the conscious water knew its Lord, and blushed.”  This is the glory of the Incarnate Word.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 116)

 

Wine, in the OT especially, is the symbol of gladness, and though it received a deeper and a more sacred meaning in the NT as being the emblem of His blood shed for us, it is the OT point of view that prevails here.  And therefore, I say, we may read in the incident the symbol of His transforming power.  He comes, the Man of Sorrows, with the gift of joy in His hand.  It is not an unworthy object–not unworthy, I mean, of a divine sacrifice–to make men glad.  It is worth His while to come from Heaven to agonize and to die, in order that He may sprinkle some drops of incorruptible and everlasting joy over the weary and sorrowful hearts of earth.  We do not always give its true importance to gladness in the economy of our lives, because we are so accustomed to draw our joys from ignoble sources that in most of our joys there is something not altogether creditable or lofty.  But Christ came to bring gladness, and to transform its earthly sources into heavenly fountains; and so to change all the less sweet, satisfying, and potent draughts which we take from earth’s cisterns into the wine of the Kingdom; the new wine, strong and invigorating, “making glad the heart of man.”  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 119-20)

 

The nature of the miracle is very plain.  Jesus had come to bring about conversion:  water to wine, sinners to saints.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 43)

 

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be. —William Hazlitt

 

This is one of only two occasions we meet Jesus’ mother in this gospel, the other being at the foot of the cross (chapter 19).  This is important, because Jesus’ strange remark in verse 4, “My time hasn’t come yet,” looks on, through many other references to his “time,” until at last the time does come, and the glory is revealed fully, as he dies on the cross.  That event, for John, is the ultimate moment when heaven and earth meet.  That is when it takes all the faith in the world to see the glory hidden in the shame: the creative Word present as a weak, dying human being.

But events like this one point on to that moment.  The wedding is a foretaste of the great heavenly feast in store for God’s people (see Rv 21:2).  The water-jars, used for Jewish purification rites, are a sign that God is doing a new thing from within the old Jewish system, bringing purification to Israel and the world in a whole new way.  (N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part One, 22)

 

The times of the Jewish dispensation were times of deficiency and dim light.  The coming of Christ supplied all that was lacking.  Revealed religion before Christ was like water.  Christ coming into the world turned the water of the old dispensation into wine.  The good wine was reserved until the time of Christ.  The first miracle wrought by Moses was turning water into blood.  The first wrought by Christ was turning water into wine.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 102-3)

 

We must note that the pots were not destroyed, but employed; Jesus arose from among God’s people, not as an enemy against them.  The whole thought may have been expressed earlier:  “From the fullness of his grace we have all received. . . For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:16-17).  (Joseph Dongell, John, A Commentary for Bible Students, 60)

 

IV-  Jesus promotes joy as our submitted life to Jesus gets better and better (in contrast to the second law of thermodynamics and earthly life)(Jn 2:5, 10 see also: Prov 4:18; Isa 64:4; 65:17; Joel 3:17-21; Mt 13:12, 44; Lk 12:15; Jn 1:16; 14:13; 15:8; 16:14, 24; 17:10, 13, 24; 1 Cor 2:9)  

 

This illustrates the ways of men and the ways of God.  The world (and Satan also) gives its best first, and keeps the worst for the last.  First the pleasures of sin–for a season–and then the wages of sin.  But with God it is the very opposite.  He brings His people into the wilderness before He brings them into the promised inheritance.  First the Cross then the crown.  Fellow believer, for us, the best wine is yet to be: “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prv 4:18).  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 88)

 

Joy is the natural outcome of the Christian’s obedience to the revealed will of God. (Simon J. Kistemaker; New Testament Commentary: Acts, 606)

 

We would do well to follow Mary’s command to the servants to “Do whatever he tells you” every moment of our lives.  No one could have guessed what Jesus was about to do.  But Mary’s willingness to obey was settled beforehand.  We, too, must decide that our first reaction will be to obey rather than to question what God directs us to do.  Like the servants, we will rarely be told beforehand all the details of what God plans to do.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 33)

 

This is why so many moderns have no kingdom power.  You cannot enjoy a kingdom unless you are submitted to the king.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 158)

 

The world gives its best things, like the best wine, first, and its worst things last.  The longer we serve the world, the more disappointing, unsatisfactory, and unsavory will its gifts prove.  Christ, on the other hand, gives His servants their best things last.  They have first the cross, the race, and the battle, and then the rest, the glory, and the crown.  Specially will it be found true at His second advent.  Then will believers say emphatically, “Thou hast kept the good wine until now.”   (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 101)

 

In our addresses to Christ, we must not prescribe to him, but humbly spread our case before him, and then refer ourselves to him to do as he pleases.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Vol. V, 872)

 

The ways of God all lead in the end to joy.  Even that which seems hard for the moment, the way of sacrifice, self-control, and righteousness. . . in the long run it all leads to joy.  God’s calendar ends with the Feast of Tabernacles, and those who walk in His ways end up altogether joyful.  For the ways of God all lead to joy.  And the best is saved for last.  (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 71)

 

Itching for glory from other people makes faith impossible.  Why?  Because faith is being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus; and if you are bent on getting the satisfaction of your itch from the scratch of others’ acclaim, you will turn away from Jesus.  But if you would turn from self as the source of satisfaction (=repentance), and come to Jesus for the enjoyment of all that God is for us in him (=faith), then the itch would be replaced by a well of water springing up to eternal life (Jn 4:14).  (John Piper, Future Grace, 94)

 

Laughter and irony are at heart reminders that we are not prisoners in this world, but voyagers through it.  (Eben Alexander, M.D., Proof of Heaven, 157)

 

People look everywhere but to God for excitement and meaning.  For some reason, they expect God to be dull and lifeless.  Just as the wine Jesus made was the best, so life in him is better than life on our own.  Why wait until everything else runs out before trying God?  Don’t save the best until last.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 35)

 

It was customary to give the best wine first and the poorer wine last because people’s taste buds grow less sensitive with more and more drinks.  The water turned into wine was of such quality that the master of the banquet made a point of mentioning this to the bridegroom, who also probably reacted in surprise.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 35)

The water, provided for purification as laid down by Jewish law and custom, stands for the whole ancient order of Jewish ceremonial, which Christ was to replace by something better. . . .  The filling of the jars to the brim indicates that the appointed time for the ceremonial observances of the Jewish law had run its full course; these observances had so completely fulfilled their purpose that nothing of the old order remained to be accomplished.  The time had come therefore for the new order to be inaugurated.  The wine symbolizes the new order as the water in the jars symbolized the old order.  (F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, 71)

 

This Evangelist is fond of quoting words which have deeper meanings than the speakers dreamed, and with his mystically contemplative eye he sees hints and symbols of the spiritual in very common things.  So we are not forcing higher meanings into the ruler’s jest, but catching one intention of John’s quotation of it, when we see in it an unconscious utterance of the great truth that Jesus keeps His best wine till the last.  How many poor deluded souls are ever finding that the world does the very opposite, luring men on to be its slaves and victims by brilliant promises and short-lived delights which sooner or later lose their deceitful luster and become stale, and often positively bitter!  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 113)

 

Do with me whatever it shall please thee.  For it can not be anything but good, whatever thou shalt do with me.  If it be thy will I should be in darkness, be thou blessed; and if it be thy will I should be in light, be thou again blessed.  If thou grant me comfort, be thou blessed; and if thou will have me afflicted, be thou still equally blessed.  My son, such as this ought to be thy state, if thou desire to walk with Me.  Thou must be as ready to suffer as to rejoice.  Thou must cheerfully be as destitute and poor, as full and rich.  (Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, III:17:1-2)

 

It is said of this superabundant glory that it has been given to believers in order that they may be recognizable as a community where the love of God is actually tested and known (Jn 17:20-23).  This is what makes the church a place of joy, of praise, of surprises, and of laughter–a place where there is a foretaste of the endless surprises of heaven.  (Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 149)

 

Christ began to work miracles in an obscure corner of the country, remote from Jerusalem, which was the public scene of action, to show that he sought not honor from men (5:41), but would put honor upon the lowly.  His doctrine and miracles would not be so much opposed by the plain and honest Galileans as they would be by the proud and prejudiced rabbis, politicians, and grandees, at Jerusalem.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Vol. V, 871)

 

Worship Point: Worship the God of the Universe Who loves us far too much to allow us to stay as we are in this pedestrian life we have here on planet earth.  (Jn 10:10; Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22-23 )

 

God is a Spirit infinitely happy, therefore we must approach to Him with cheerfulness; He is a Spirit of infinite majesty, therefore we must come before him with reverence; He is a Spirit infinitely high, therefore we must offer up our sacrifices with the deepest humility; He is a Spirit infinitely holy, therefore we must address Him with purity; He is a Spirit infinitely glorious, we must therefore acknowledge His excellency in all that we do, and in our measures contribute to His glory, by having the highest aims in His worship; He is a spirit infinitely provoked by us, therefore we must offer up our worship in the name of a pacifying Mediator and Intercessor.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 371)

 

To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people.  Or, to put it positively:  the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue.  That is, The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever.  (John Piper; Desiring God, 23)

 

Gospel Application:  The ultimate hour of Jesus’s glory was on the cross.  We cannot enter the Kingdom of God by our merits and work but only by the work and merits of Jesus.   Life is ours to enjoy as Jesus bestows upon us grace upon grace.  (2 Cor 5:21; 8:9)

 

His glory would be revealed in greatest measure in his cross, resurrection and exaltation, but every step along the course of his ministry was an adumbration of that glory.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 175)

 

Salvation does not bring Joy – It makes it possible. — Steve Brown

 

Something is wrong if you can’t serve the Lord with gladness.  I can understand why the person who serves God only out of obligation doesn’t serve with gladness.  I can understand why the person who serves God in an attempt to earn his way to Heaven doesn’t serve with gladness.  But the Christian who gratefully acknowledges what God has done for him for eternity should be able to serve God cheerfully and with joy.  (Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 113-4)

 

This “hour” was the hour of His humiliation.  It was the “hour” of His suffering.  But why should Christ refer to this “hour” when Mary was seeking to dictate to Him?  Ah, surely the answer is not far to seek.  That awful “hour” to which he looked forward, was the time when He would be subject to man’s will, for then He would be delivered up into the hands of sinners.  But until then, He was not to be ordered by man; instead, He was about His Father’s business, seeking only to do His will.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 83-4)

 

Spiritual Challenge: A real, healthy, faith-based relationship with the God of the Universe should glorify God by producing a life that is constantly adding joy upon joy and grace upon grace. (Psa 32:11; 16:11; Jn 1:16; 15:11)    

 

We carry our religion as if it were a headache.  There is neither joy nor power nor inspiration in it, none of the grandeur of the unsearchable riches of Christ about it, none of the passion of hilarious confidence in God.”  —Oswald Chambers

 

We must have a decisive conviction that we are going to face trials with a joyful attitude.  It is the joy of one who counts it a privilege to have his faith tested because he knows the testing will draw him closer to the Savior.  (John MacArthur as quoted by John Ragsdale, How Do I Deal with Anxiety and Fear?, 35)

 

Grace is God’s giving us sovereign joy in God that triumphs over joy in sin. —St. Augustine

 

A Christian has superficial sorrow and central gladness; a nonbeliever has superficial gladness and central sorrow.  (David Jeremiah; Jesus’ Final Warning, 184)

 

“Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipline, it is a consequence.”  (Eugene Peterson; A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 92)

 

Get all you can out of life!  Live it with gusto!  But do it God’s way.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 62)

 

“Joy does not mean the absence of sorrow, but the capacity to rejoice in the midst of it.”  Gordon Fee; Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, p. 280)

 

Jesus and His disciples knew the excitement of anticipating a feast.  In fact, whenever He was not preaching or teaching, you would most likely find Jesus at a party, a banquet, a feast, or some kind of get-together.  It could be said that He was preoccupied with parties.  What seemed to annoy the Pharisees most was not that Jesus went to so many parties, but that He seemed to enjoy Himself so much.  Perhaps that is the real reason they called Him a winebibber.  He was just having too much fun.  (Michael Card, The Parable of Joy, 25-6)

 

. . . don’t jump to the conclusion that there is no joy in things that are “harsh and dreadful.”  There are mountain climbers who have spent sleepless nights on the faces of cliffs, have lost fingers and toes in sub-zero temperatures, and have gone through horrible misery to reach a peak.  They say, “It was harsh and dreadful.”  But if you ask them why they do it, the answer will come back in various forms: “There is an exhilaration in the soul that feels so good it is worth all of the pain.” (John Piper;Desiring God, 116)

 

“What causes the weight lifter to grow stronger?  Resistance.  And what is it that makes you stronger in these things?  Resistance.  When you exercise the qualities of God against resistance, it causes you to grow stronger.”

“But with what weights?”

“The weights are whatever goes against the motion of what must grow stronger.  So that which goes against love is the weight, the resistance that enables love to grow stronger.  When it’s hardest to love, and you love regardless, your love grows stronger.  When your circumstances are not conducive to joy, but you rejoice anyway, your joy increases.  When it’s hardest to do what is right, but you do it anyway, when it’s hardest to hope, but you hope anyway, when it’s hardest to be holy, but you turn down what is not holy, when you feel like giving up, but you keep going, and when all hell comes against you but you shine with the light of heaven, that’s when you grow stronger in God and in all these things.  So don’t despise the resistance, but give thanks for it. . . and make the most of it.  Use every measure of resistance to exercise the good.  They are the weights of your training that you might become one of the mighty.”  (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 212)

 

We ought to conform to God’s will in poverty and all the inconveniences poverty brings in its train.  It is not too hard to do so if we fully realize that God watches over us as a father over his children and puts us in that condition because it is of most value to us.  Poverty then takes on a different aspect in our eyes, for by looking on the privations it imposes as salutary remedies we even cease to think of ourselves as poor.

If a rich man has a son in bad health and prescribes a strict diet for him, does the son think he has to eat small amounts of plain or tasteless food because his father cannot afford better?  Does he begin to worry about how he will exist in the future?  Will other people think that because of his diet he has become poor?  Everybody knows how well off his father is and that he shares in his father’s wealth and he will again have what is now forbidden him as soon as his health is restored.

Are we not the children of God of riches, the co-heirs of Christ?  Being so, is there anything we can lack?  Let it be said boldly:  whoever responds to his divine adoption with the feelings of love and trust that the position of being children of God demands has a right, here and now, to all that God Himself possesses.  Everything then is ours.  But it is not expedient we should enjoy everything.  It is often necessary we should be deprived of many things.  Let us be careful not to conclude from the privations imposed on us only as remedies that we may ever be in want of anything that is to our advantage.  Let us firmly believe that if anything is necessary or really useful for us, our all-powerful Father will give it to us without fail.  To those gathered round to him our Savior said:  If you evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father. . .?  (Father Jean Baptiste; Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, 58-9)

 

The NT has lots to say about self-denial,  but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.  (C.S. Lewis; The Weight of Glory)

 

First, we must say that joy is part of your duty.  The Bible says, “Rejoice always” (1 Thes 5:16).  And in regard to the duty of giving, it says, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).  In regard to the duty of service, it says, “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Ps 100:2).  In regard to the duty of mercy it says do it “with cheerfulness” (Rom 12:8).  In regard to the duty of afflictions, it says, “Count it all joy” (Jam 1:2).  We simply water down the divine command when we call someone to half their duty.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 220-1)

 

It is astonishing that in this Psalm {51}, David never prays directly about sex.  His corruption all started with sex, leading to deceit, leading to murder…or did it?  I don’t think so.  Why isn’t he crying out for sexual restraint?  Why isn’t he praying for men to hold him accountable?  Why isn’t he praying for protected eyes and lust-free thoughts?  The reason is that David knows that sexual sin is a symptom, not the disease.  People give way to sexual sin because they don’t have fullness of joy and gladness in Jesus.  Their spirits are not steadfast and firm and established.  They waver.  They are enticed, and they give way because God does not have the proper place in their feelings and thoughts. (John Piper, Shaped By God, 37)

No matter who you are, no matter what wines you have tested, there comes a time when the exhilarations and excitements of life wear out.  For some it comes sooner, for others later.  Often it is when life is at its very best that the wine gives out.  We are full of health; money increases; friends multiply; we have an abundance to eat, plenty to drink, and a warm place to sleep.  But somehow the wine fails, and life loses its sparkle.  It can happen in the teenage years.  It is epidemic in the college years.  It is endemic to the middle years.  And ultimately it catches everyone.  That is what makes this miracle so important.  Every one of us will find that if the exhilarations of life are our focus, failure is inevitable.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 60)

 

This is foundational to everything.  Being a Christian means being broken and contrite.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you get beyond that in this life.  Brokenness marks the life of God’s happy children until they die.  We are broken and contrite all the way home–unless sin gets the proud upper hand.  Being broken and contrite is not against joy and praise and witness.  It is the flavor of Christian joy and praise and witness.  Jonathan Edwards says it best: All gracious affections [feelings, emotions] that are a sweet [aroma] to Christ…are brokenhearted affections.  A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble brokenhearted love.  The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires:  their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble brokenhearted joy.  (John Piper, Shaped By God, 38-9)

 

Spiritual Challenge Questions:

  1. Is life getting better and better as you get to know Jesus more and more? If not, why not?

 

  1. In what ways does God reveal that our lives should be getting better and better? Money and health are not guaranteed to us.  What does God promise to give us that would make life increasingly more joy filled?

 

  1. Jonathan Cahn’s quote (p. 212) is insightful in giving clarity to James 1:2-4. How does understanding both Cahn’s quote and James 1:2-4 help us to rejoice in our suffering, trials, troubles and tribulations?

 

  1. Is God gloried through you? Is there any limit to how we might glorify God? (1 Cor 10:31)

 

In different parts of Burundi we often go through periods of drought.  Farmers who plant corn can never rest on their laurels, even when there are good rains.  Their crop is always vulnerable, because the plants don’t push their roots deep down in search for water when there are abundant rains.  The roots remain near the surface, so a sudden drought can kill them off very quickly.

It can be remarkably similar with us followers of Jesus.  With the abundance of “rains” of freedom to worship, access to great teaching, peace, and prosperity, we could easily settle for shallow roots instead of becoming “rooted and built up in him,” as the Col 2:6, 7 says.  If that’s the case, then when droughts come, in the form of financial, relational, or health problems or whatever else, we’re ill equipped to maintain faith in God.  We suddenly doubt his faithfulness, power, and sovereignty.  We just haven’t gone deep enough.  (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 7/21)

 

So What?:  We will never enjoy a life that is getting better and better unless or until we know Jesus better and better.  As followers of Jesus we should be looking for ways to glorify God by bringing joy to everyone.

You have as much laughter as you have faith!Martin Luther

 

There is an odd notion these days that you cannot serve Christ in a factory, or the like.  Why?  The NT believes that one can do it even as a slave, obscene system though slavery is.  And indeed most of us can work for him in the main by little more than by the honesty and thoroughness and cheerfulness with which we carry out our daily tasks, serving no man, but the Lord Christ.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 8, 493)

 

Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God. — Barbara Johnson

 

J.O.Y.:  J = Jesus . . . Y = you . . .  and 0 = nothing in between.  Therefore, Joy means Jesus and you with nothing in between.

 

The only way in which we shall win the world for Christ is by convincing those outside that we have something infinitely valuable that they lack.  Then of themselves they will come running for a share in it.  And that we do possess such a unique thing is the truth set down with vividness in this telling frontispiece.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 8, 494)

 

In spite of circumstances, joy should be a prominent characteristic of the Church, through which the kingdom of God is made manifest.  Paul commands the Philippian church:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4; cf. 3:1; 1 Thess 5:16).  Christians should rejoice that they have received the word and believed in Christ (! Thess 1:6; 1 Pt 1:8; cf. Acts 8:39; 16:34).  Even the superficial believer does this much (cf. Mt 13:20).  They should rejoice that Christ is proclaimed (cf. Phil 1:18) and that people are being won to Christ (Mt 18:10-14; Lk 15:3-10; Jn 4:36; Acts 15:3; cf. Acts 8:8).  Furthermore, those responsible for the “progress and joy in the faith” of the Church (Phil 1:25; cf. 2 Cor 1:24) may rejoice in the various evidences of maturity in other Christians:  their following the truth (2 Jn 4; 3 Jn 4), their repentance from wrong (2 Cor 7:9), their obedience (Rom 16:19), their good order and firmness of faith (Col 2:5), their unity and harmony with the brothers (Phil 2:2), and their partnership in the gospel mission (Phil 1:4f.).  In fact, Paul rejoices in his Christian friends; they are his joy and his crown (Phil 4:1; 1 Thess 2:19f.).  Among believers, one person’s joy should be another’s joy as well (Rom 12:15; 1 Cor 12:26; 2 Cor 2:3; 7:13; Phil 2:17f.).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 1142)

 

These six disciples (learners) had already believed in Jesus as the Messiah (1:35-51).  Now their faith was greatly strengthened.  So it will be all through this Gospel.  Jesus will increasingly reveal himself while the disciples will grow in knowledge and trust and the Jews will become increasingly hostile till the culmination.  (Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the NT, Vol. V, 37)

 

Intellectual pursuits are like a double-edged sword. They can bring great joys, but they can also bring an early end to the wine.  Sensate wines also run out.  Even Disneyland can get old!  Visit enough times and the Magic Kingdom becomes tiresome.  Lobster and steak are terrific, but not 365 days a year!  It is an axiom of life that the greater the sensual focus, the greater the tendency to boredom.  This has been the testimony of thousands down through the years.  That is what makes the story in John 2 so wonderful!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 61)

 

That is the characteristic note of the NT.  Always its people keep bursting in on us, their eyes shining, their hearts on fire, crying, “We’ve found it!  The thing for which the whole world has been seeking, and it works!  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 8, 494)

 

This was what was said of St. Teresa by those who knew her:  Nowhere was she better than in little things.  “She was never idle,” says one, “and never at a loss for work to do.”  “She is very fond of engaging in the lowliest and humblest duties; and her companions assure me that, when it is her week to do the cooking, they never lack for anything.”  And how could they?  For, said Teresa,. . . “the Lord walks among the pots and pans,” just as much as in the Garden of Eden, “and He will help you in the tasks of the inward life and of the outward life too.”  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 8, 493)

 

Our Lord assures us that on the Day of Judgment everybody will be taken aback by the verdict passed upon them.  And some who were much in prayer and prominent in public service, but who were, if not churlish and illhumored, at least thoughtless and self-centered and unhelpful at home, will be for that cast out.  Here too our Lord gives us an example that we should follow in his steps.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 8, 493)

 

They had “believed” already, or they would not have been disciples (Jn 1:50), but their faith was deepened as well as called forth afresh.  Our faith ought to be continuously and increasingly responsive to His continuous manifestations of Himself which we can all find in our own experience.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 113-4)

 

Jesus’ attendance and his actions at this wedding indicate his approval of the celebration.  (See Jesus’ comments about marriage in Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9.)  Images of Jesus as a dour-faced Messiah, passing judgment on all in his path simply fail to account for the biblical evidence that he was completely at home in festive occasions.  In fact, part of his rejection by religious leaders was based on their perception that he enjoyed being with sinners more than was appropriate (see Mk 2:15-16 and Lk 5:30).  Jesus’ life is the most profound statement ever made against joyless spirituality.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 31)

 

If a prince shares for a few moments in the festivities of his gathered people on some great occasion, how ennobled the feast seems!  If he joins in their sports or in their occupations for a while as an act of condescension, how they return to them with renewed vigor!  And so we.  We have had our King in the midst of all our family life, in the midst of all our common duties; therefore are they consecrated.  Let us learn that all things done with the consciousness of His presence are sacred.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: John, 119)

You have as much laughter as you have faith!

 — Martin Luther

 

JESUS:

THE GLORY OF GOD

 

 

 

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