No Wine

John 2:3. “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine.”

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Failure to have enough wine was a social disgrace for the families of the bride and groom. The people at this wedding all knew each other, and were involved in each other’s lives. This social faux pas would never be forgotten, and the story of their running out of wine at their wedding would follow them for the rest of their lives.

Also, for the Jews, wine was a symbol of joy. To run out would be like acknowledging that neither the guests nor the bridal couple were especially happy with their wedding. There was a lot of social reputation at stake here, and Mary’s heart was to find a way to help.

Why did Mary ask Jesus to do something about this situation?

There are a couple of possibilities. One, she knew He could if He so chose.

Two, she was looking forward to His public demonstration of Who He was, partly for her own vindication. The stories of her pregnancy prior to her marriage to Joseph still followed her, for the same reason that running out of wine at their wedding would follow the bride and groom. It was a closely-knit community, and all news was interesting.

When Jesus did finally prove His power, as Mary hoped He would, she thought it would prove her claim that she had never known a man, in the biblical sense; that Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit of God, and was God in the flesh.

Apparently the stories didn’t affect her social acceptance in their community. She was not an outcast, and she and Joseph went on to have children of their own. Still, there were those who liked to cast doubt on her story and on the paternity of Jesus.

In her mind, this would be a perfect opportunity for Jesus to prove Who He was.

First Public Miracle

John 2:1-2.

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

 And both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage.

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There is some debate about the mention of “The third day.” Is it a prediction of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day after His crucifixion? Is it the third day of the Hebrew week? Or perhaps the third day of Jesus’ public ministry?

Because of the way the Hebrews counted days, it could very well have been the third day of their week. The beginning of a new day was at twilight, or around 6 p.m., and continued to twilight of the next day. So, for example, the Hebrew Sabbath actually began around 6 on Friday evening and lasted until around 6 on Saturday. Counting this way, the third day would have been Monday evening through Tuesday evening.

No one seems to have proven which day this was to the general satisfaction of all those who study such things. I’m not sure it’s important or significant for our purposes. It is interesting, though, for people like me who like to dig into the “why’s and wherefore’s.”

In any case, the fact that Jesus was invited to the wedding is significant in that it shows Him as being welcomed among the people, and that He enjoyed such social gatherings. He was not some weird, mystical ascetic who spent most of his time sitting alone on top of a mountain. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, not to be a recluse. I think He sets a good example for believers. We don’t do much good if we remove ourselves from other people.

This could have been the wedding of a relative, but surely of people who had known each other for many years. Mary was there; Jesus’ disciples, chosen so far from His own general neighborhood, were there.

A wedding was a happy social gathering, and it was an honor to be invited.

In the light of later teachings of Jesus and the Apostles about the importance of marriage as a picture of Jesus as the bridegroom and all believers as the bride, I also think it is significant that He chose to perform His first public miracle at a wedding.

Thou art the Son of God!

John 1:49-51.

Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

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It didn’t take Nathanael long to leave his doubts behind. He knew that only the Son of God Himself could have seen him under the fig tree when He was no where in sight. Jesus asked Nathanael, “So, you believe in Me because I saw you without being there? I tell you that that you will see far greater things than this. You will see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on The Son of Man.”

What an amazing prophecy this must have been for Nathanael! Did he understand it? I don’t know. I tried putting myself in his place, without the added advantage of the entire New Testament available. I can’t really do that, of course, but I think perhaps it was a moment of great faith for Nathanael at that moment, to believe without further explanation what Jesus was saying.

Jesus’ description of the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man very likely connects with the dream of Jacob in Genesis 28:12, where Jacob saw a ladder from earth to heaven, and the angels ascending and descending upon it. Jesus averred that He was the ladder, the link, between heaven and earth, between God and man.

 Son of Man: The idea behind this phrase is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14, where the King of Glory who comes to judge the world was called the Son of Man. Jesus used that title to describe Himself because it emphasized His humanity, which made Him the perfect offering for sin. He came to die. He did not come to be a conquering military leader who would crush Rome and free the Jews.

These final verses of John are important as they describe the different ways these first disciples came to Jesus:

Andrew came to Jesus because of the preaching of John. Peter came to Jesus because of the witness of his brother. Phillip came to Jesus as a result of the direct call of Jesus. Nathanael came to Jesus as he overcame personal prejudices by a personal encounter with Jesus.

We also see four different witnesses testifying to the identity of Jesus. How much more testimony does anyone need?·

John the Baptist testified that Jesus is eternal, that He is the Man anointed with the Holy Spirit, that He is the Lamb of God, and that Jesus is the unique Son of God.

Andrew testified that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

Philip testified that Jesus is the One prophesied in the Old Testament.

Nathanael testified that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel.

(A final note: I will take the day off from blogging tomorrow while we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, my favorite holiday of the year. We do not shop. We probably won’t have the TV on. We will talk about how God has blessed us this past year. We will enjoy a traditional meal. We will play games, enjoy some music, enjoy each other. May all of you also have a blessed and peaceful day of remembering how God has blessed you this past year.)

Nathanael

And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

 Nathanael saith unto Him, Whence knowest Thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

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Nathanael is the first of Jesus’ chosen disciples to show some skepticism when he is told that Messiah had come, Jesus of Nazareth.

“What are you talking about? Nazareth? Come on, nothing good can come from that little podunk town. It’s a breeding ground for criminals, rebels, and religious fanatics!”

Philip didn’t debate, argue, or become impatient. I imagine him gazing at his friend with confidence, and then we hear that wonderful imperative again that Jesus said to John and Andrew.

“Come and see.”

Nathanael went with Philip, and Jesus was waiting. He greeted Nathanael with great respect, calling him an “Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.”

Nathanael responded to the compliment. Anyone would. To be called a true Israelite who was not guilty of any deceit was a high honor. But we do still see his skepticism.

“But–how do You know me?”

Jesus answer is simple and profound. “I saw you, sitting under the fig tree, before Philip found you and told you to come.”

Did Nathanael get goose bumps? I kind of think he did. I think he knew, at that moment, that this Man who seemed to look into his soul, was indeed something very special, Who would change all their lives.

Philip

Jon 1:43-45.

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

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Jesus began to gather His closest disciples, those who became the Apostles. First were Andrew and, we believe, the writer of this gospel, John.

Then Andrew went and told his brother, Simon Peter, that the Messiah had come.

The next day, Jesus walked in Galilee, and in the city of Bethsaida, to find Philip.

“Follow Me,” Jesus said.

And Philip did. Just like that. No questions asked. No excuses offered. Jesus said, “Come,” and they came.

Philip, in turn, went to Nathaneal. “We have found Him!” he said. “We have found Him of whom Moses and the prophets all spoke. He is Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Jesus’ Name was already familiar to many. As a 12-year-old boy, He had talked as an equal to the priests and Levites in the synagogue in Jerusalem. That sort of thing tends to stay in one’s memory, when the towns are small and close together. Remember, they didn’t have rock stars and movie and TV stars; nor did they have athletes who were propelled to fame by their physical prowess and their enormous paychecks. I suppose they had politicians, even in religious circles. They had Rome to deal with. But in these small fishing villages around the Sea of Galilee, there wasn’t a lot of exciting news.

I’m sure there were some who clearly remembered when Jesus was born. Talk about excitement! Angels appearing, a most unusual star shining over the place where Jesus was born; later, the Magi, and the little family’s flight into Egypt. The Roman slaughter, at Herod’s behest, of all little boys two years old and under, and the weeping of their mothers.

When the family returned and settled in Nazareth, they didn’t know they were fulfilling prophecy, They didn’t know that one day their Son would hang on a Roman cross under the sign, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” The sign was meant to be derisive. “Look at your king, all you Jewish fanatics. He’s not much good to you now, is He?”

So much had happened, so much still to come. Right now, though, Jesus is collecting His closest friends, His inner circle. And they aren’t questioning His command.

“Follow Me.”

At least, not so far. There’s always a skeptic or two, and we’ll see them in the next couple of days.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Age Changes Things

So we’re doing the Thanksgiving celebration here this year. Can’t remember what we did last year.

Another year added to my personal calendar has brought some relief from the chronic lower back pain, for which I am most thankful. I’ve learned, however, that I have to be careful if I want to maintain the improvement.

Last week, I think it was Thursday, I decided to do some deep cleaning in my bedroom. It looks much better! Cleaning off the dresser, finicky dusting, using my Swiffer under the bed, getting everything I could off the floor; then I put my Roomba, whom we have named “Bob,” into that room, closed the door, and let him clean the floor. I’d gotten under the dresser with my Swiffer duster, so there was a little pile of dust bunnies that I’m sure Bob enjoyed gobbling up. The room looks and feels more fresh.

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My aching back, however, let me know that I’d been less than intelligent. I’ve had to resort to taking a pain pill during the day, which I really haven’t had to do for at least three months. I was also relegated to my chair or my bed by the House Doctor, aka Terry, who was quite aggravated with me for not getting his help.

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“But I didn’t lift anything!” I tried to excuse myself.

“You were bending. I saw you. You know you can’t do that!”

Muttermumbleyeahyeahyeah.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing. Never mind.”

On Friday I had a couple of classes to teach, and when I came limping home he was waiting for me. Took my things out of my hands. Didn’t say, “I’m so happy to see you!” Oh, no. He said, “Why do you keep doing this to yourself?”

So the rest of Friday and all day yesterday, I developed a close relationship with my chair, which is just my size and backed up with pillows that support the lumbar area. Lazy me.

So this coming week, Terry will help me with some other cleaning, and he’ll lift Tom Turkey out of cold storage and help me in the kitchen. And he doesn’t mind doing any of that. I just feel bad about having to let him do it.

I remember when I could clean the whole house in a day and put a good meal on the table, do some laundry, maybe clean a drawer or window here and there. Not any more. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

And there’s something else that I never, ever had to worry about. I just had to go back and fix the spelling. I’d typed “the flesh is week.” Took me a second to realize what the problem was. I knew it looked funny, and finally got rid of that second “e.” Sigh. I’ve always been an excellent speller. Never mixed up to, too, two. Or there, they’re, their. Now? I’m proofreading as I type. Never used to have to do that, either.

So, Mrs. Doom and Gloom, is there an up side to any of this? Well, sure there is. I have more time to read. More time to write. I’ve written over 38,000 words on my book this month! More time to focus on my blogs. On going out for lunch. Yes, I’ve become one of those “ladies who do lunch.” Don’t knock it until you try it. It’s fun!

More time to be in the Word, to dig in and learn things I didn’t know. You never reach a point, in God’s Word, where you have nothing left to learn.

When one’s body slows down because of pain from something or the other—for me, degenerative bone disease, lumbar herniations, stenosis, and plain old arthritis–one has two choices. Sit and mope. (No thanks!) Or, focus on things you didn’t have time for when you could be physically active. Continue to learn, to grow, to enjoy God’s creation. Reconnect with friends, Do some Bible memory. Pray more.

Count each finished day as one step closer to heaven.

A Little Stone

John 1: 40-42.

One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

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Andrew left off following John the Baptist and began to follow Jesus. Andrew had a brother. The first thing he did after spending time with Jesus was to go and find his brother, Simon Peter, and bring him to Jesus. “Peter!” he must have been so excited as he shared his news. “We have found the Messiah! The Christ!”

Andrew brought his brother to Jesus.

Let that sink in for a moment. Andrew didn’t know it, but when he rounded up his brother and brought him to Jesus, he was doing a work that would have incredible shock waves in the known world for years to come.

He was a soul winner before that term was even created, and his first thought was to go get his brother and bring him to Jesus. Had there been conversations between them about the Messiah? Were they waiting and watching for His appearance? Had they been searching the scriptures about Messiah? Is that why they recognized Him right away?

What a dramatic moment it must have been when Jesus recognized Simon and gave him his new name, Cephas. In Greek, the word is Petros, and describes a piece of stone from a larger rock, or Petra. It was a foreshadowing of things to come in the lives of both Jesus and Peter.

It has also become a point of controversy over translation and meaning.

Going back to Andrew, he is often overlooked and overshadowed by his more outspoken brother, but Andrew had a wonderful ministry of his own. He preached to the Scythians and Thracians; was crucified and buried at Patrae (Greece).

This map show both Scythia and Thrace in the 700-600 B.C. time period. It was part of what we now know as Ukraine.

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