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The Reason For Your Miracle Part 2 Do What He Says

Jesus and His disciples are there at the wedding. They’re having a good time. They're making conversation. Now to understand what's happening here you have to understand that first century Jewish weddings lasted for more than a week, sometimes up to nine days. So don’t think of a wedding reception in the 21st-century that's over after a few hours and then everybody goes home. But think of an ongoing continuous feast. Then all of a sudden in the midst of all the celebration, a problem arises. We pick up the story in verse three…

John 2:3-8

And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.

Now notice that had the servants not done what Jesus asked them to do there would have been no miracle in Cana that day! And this is where a lot of us struggle. Oh yes, we have invited Jesus into our lives, but we don't want to do what He says. If some of us were those servants in Cana, we would've had all kinds of objections for Jesus. So here it is friends. If you need a miracle in your life you’ve got to...

 Do What He Says

Francis Chan, the author of Crazy Love, tells the story of his daughter and his instructions to her to clean her room. He simply asks his little daughter to go upstairs and clean her room. Then he says what if she comes back down stairs after a few minutes and tells him that she memorized everything he told her. She says, "Daddy, I memorized what you said. You said for me to go upstairs and clean my room." Perturbed, he looks at her and asks her if she cleaned her room, but she says no. Yet this is what we do with God. We read His word and even memorize parts of it, but still do not do what it says! Francis then thanks her for memorizing what he said, but sends her right back up stairs to clean her room. He then poses another scenerio. What if she comes back later and says that she got some of her friends together and they got in a room and discussed what her life would look like if she actually cleaned her room. Sounds silly doesn't it? But this is what we do with God. We get together in small groups at home or at church and study the Bible, but never actually apply what it says to our lives. Or here is something else we do. We go to hear someone speak or buy the book of someone who actually did what God said in His word and get all inspired, but still never do what He said ourselves!

Jesus' mother was also at this wedding. And based on the statement she makes to Jesus the text seems to suggest that she was apart of the coordination of what was happening behind-the-scenes at the wedding. You also get this sense based on the fact that the servants at the wedding listened to her instructions to do what Jesus said, when at that time women were considered second-class citizens. Notice that Mary does not come to Jesus, telling them how He needs to fix the situation. She simply comes to Him with the problem. “They have no more wine.” Some of us would do well to follow the example of the mother of Jesus and simply come to Him with our problems, instead of telling Him how to fix the problem. It reminds me of when Lazarus was sick, in John 11, and the message came to Jesus and His disciples from Mary and Martha that the one whom He loved was sick. There were no instructions on how or when He was to heal His friend Lazarus. In both instances there was something about the relationship that they had with Jesus that they felt it was enough to simply come to Him with the problem and they knew that He would do something. 

Now, some of you may be tempted to think that the way Jesus responded to His mother was a little abrasive or even rude. But we need to remember that Jesus is the same One that wrote the commandment with His own finger to honor your mother and your father. He was simply keeping with the Eastern custom of honoring a lady by referring to her  as woman, which was a term of endearment. It would sound something like this, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?”  I love this statement from Ellen in the Desire of Ages… “On the cross, in His last act of tenderness toward His mother, Jesus again addressed her in the same way, as He committed her to the care of His best-loved disciple. Both at the marriage feast and upon the cross, the love expressed in tone and look and manner interpreted His words.”

Now at this wedding Mary reminds me very much of my mother at my wedding. She had such maternal pride that her eldest son was getting married that she was in her glory. God bless her. She had her view of how everything in the wedding should be. She wanted not one but two limousines. She wanted two flower girls. At the wedding rehearsal she almost started to coordinate the wedding. We just simply wanted her to come and relax and enjoy the wedding ceremony. We already had a wedding coordinator. Jesus' mother was no different. She knew that He had just started His public ministry and wanted Him to do something at the wedding that would reveal His mission and who He really was. Jesus' response was simply telling her though he loved her dearly, that He must now receive His instructions from His Father alone. Jesus knew that the time had not yet come for the fullest revelation of who He was and what He came to do. One of the main themes of the Gospel of John is the theme of “the hour.” Whenever you read the Gospel of John and you come across “the hour” it is referring to the hour of the cross. All throughout the story in the Gospel of John Jesus says "My hour has not yet come", "My hour has not yet come", and then towards the end He says "My hour has come." We will come back to the significance of this hour in a moment. However Mary’s faith is not shaken by her Son’s response. She must now exercise faith in Him as her Messiah. It is then that she tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. Maybe there was something in Jesus tone or facial expression that made her believe that though this was not the hour, He would still do something. And it's to this faith that Jesus responds.

At this wedding feast are six water pots of stone. Last summer I had the privilege of going to Cana of Galilee on the New Testament tour. Now you need to understand that each one of these water pots contained 20 to 30 gallons apiece, or about 80 - 120 liters. They were too heavy to carry. They were used for the Jewish ritual cleansing. They were used for ceremonial and ritual purification. Jesus asking the servants to get water from these to serve the wedding guests would've made absolutely no sense to the servants. Yet they didn't make any excuses or ask any questions. Now you know with some of us it would've been a full on conversation about why we are messing with water when the guests need wine. But do you know that sometimes Jesus will ask you to do something that makes no sense. And many of you are not receiving the miracles that you're seeking from God because your still trying to figure out how God's going to workout His miracle in your life, instead of simply doing what He's asked you to do. No obedience, no miracle! Some of you reading might be thinking that sounds awfully legalistic, but it's not. There is a difference between legalistic obedience and loving obedience. Legalistic obedience is trying to earn God’s favor by merely checking off a list of rules and requirements. Loving obedience is when God has already granted you this favor, He has already saved you, you're in right relationship with Him, and you love Him because He first loved you by dying on the cross for you. Therefore out of the heart of pure love for Jesus and through the infilling empowerment of the Holy Spirit you do what Jesus says.  So watch this, notice what Jesus was saying by asking the servants to take water from the waterpots and turning it into the pure wine of the grape juice. He was saying that you use this mere ceremonial ritual to receive cleansing, but only My blood as symbolized by the wine can cleanse you from your sin!.  Listen to this beautiful statement by Ellen, “The gift of Christ to the marriage feast was a symbol. The water represented baptism into His death; the wine, the shedding of His blood for the sins of the world. The water to fill the jars was brought by human hands, but the word of Christ alone could impart to it life-giving virtue. So with the rites which point to the Saviour's death. It is only by the power of Christ, working through faith, that they have efficacy to nourish the soul.” The washing rituals are inferior to the wine of the blood of Jesus! But had they not done what Jesus said, they would've never experienced participating in this first miracle of Jesus.

Many of you are not experiencing all that God has for you because you’re not willing to do what He says. And in order for you to do what God says you need to be spending time, daily with Jesus, in His word, listening to His voice. you can't do what He's asking you to do if you don't know what He said. To do what He says, you got to know what He says in His word. Some of you, you know God says to surrender your heart to Jesus and be baptized and join the church, but you just want to come "get your praise on" and leave. God says to get in His word and join a small group bible study, but you’ve got other commitments. God says get off the pew and join a ministry, but! God says talk to that friend and share your testimony with them, but! Come on friends, let’s stop giving excuses and raise the bar of our commitment to Christ! Let’s do what Christ is asking us to do in this community and be about His mission and last day movement! Then watch God begin to pour out His miracles in your life.

The Reason For Your Miracle Part 1 Invite Jesus

Well it must be wedding season, because every time I go on Facebook I see one of my friends either getting married, participating in the marriage or officiating a marriage (if it's one of my pastor friends). So it got me thinking about when I proposed to Deedre. It was early 2006 on the front steps of the Temple in Jerusalem, in Orlando Florida at the Holy Land Experience. Then a few months later we got married on October 29th 2006. Now my life is full in Jesus and my wife, who I have now been married to for 8 years, is a constant reminder of God's love for me. Has it ever ocurred to you that Jesus loves weddings? Why shouldn’t He, He performed the first one in the garden of Eden. Between a male and female. He also loves weddings because, marriage reflects the oneness, unity and love within the Godhead. Hebrews 13:4 says marriage is honorable and the marriage bed undefiled. It is so honorable that God likens His relationship to us like a marriage. He calls us His bride and He is the Bride Groom. That’s why it hurts God so much when we cheat on Him. As a matter of fact, before you ever cheat on somebody in a relationship, you’ve got to first cheat on God. Nevertheless, God loves weddings. And it was a setting like this that Jesus chose to perform His first miracle. Now you may be reading this and your like, " That's nice, but I’ve got some real issues in my life." "If anybody needs a miracle its me." And maybe your tempted to think that this kind of stuff only happened in Bible times or if its happening around you in the lives of others, you may be thinking that it won’t happen to you. Today, Jesus confronts you with three ways to get your miracle and why He gives them in the first place. This will be a three part blog post under the subject The Reason For Your Miracle. Let's pick up the story in John chapter 2:1-2...

"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding."

Now when we read this it is so easy to gloss over the fact that Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the living God was invited to the wedding. If you are married you know what it's like when you're putting together your guest list for your wedding ceremony and especially the costly reception. When Deedre and I were putting together our guest list I wanted a medium to large size wedding. And Deedre wanted more of a small intimate wedding. So you know what it's like when you get to that place of compromise  and you have to start narrowing down your list to the key people you're going to invite. Well the couple and their family in Cana started going down their guest list. And they begin to add uncles, aunts and close friends and then they start to eliminate some names. Then they come across the name Jesus and somebody says “You know we have to have Jesus at the wedding!” Friends, Jesus was invited to the wedding! Jesus was a social person. We often overlook this fact because we’re focused on the preaching, teaching, healing and the casting out of demons in His public ministry, that we miss the fact that a lot of His ministry was just simply about being social. He wasn't too holy to hang out, nor was He too pious to party. If you need a miracle in your life you’ve got to…

Invite Jesus 

The miracle would have never happened if someone didn’t invite Jesus! It's like when I ask Deedre to come with me to the local grocery store to get groceries. We get the groceries and pull back up to the parking lot of our apartment. Now I must confess that I have a bit of a "superman complex," so I feel I can handle carrying all the groceries myself. So I'll get out of the car and go to the truck and attempt to carry all of the bags myself. Now, I just love my wife, because she's watching this and she knows what's going to happen. She'll look on with a patient smile as I try to pick up all the bags myself. Things start falling out of the bags. I'll stand there looking a "hot mess" and try to convince her that I have it under control and all she needs to do is just go open the door. If only I would just invite her into the mess of a situation I was creating things wouldn't be so difficult. And this is what some of our lives look like. Jesus is there ready to offer assistance, ready to carry all the bags we accumulate in life, but we insist on handling the bags (issues, addictions, sins, family/relationship issues, career/professional, etc.) all by ourselves. And all we are creating is one big mess!

Well someone at the wedding in Cana decided to invite Jesus and His recently recruited disciples. It had been less than 50 days since Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist at the Jordan River. So He and His new disciples made the journey from the Jordan to the small town of Cana which is the neighboring town beside Nazareth, where Jesus  grew up. One of the new disciples on "team Jesus" was Nathaniel. It just so happens that Nathaniel is from Cana. So this would've been a homecoming for him. He would've probably been known by the couple that was getting married and their families. So it's quite possible that they heard that Nathaniel was following this new young rabbi, who John the Baptist pointed to as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. And since Jesus was from the neighboring city of Nazareth these recent developments may have created some buzz and excitement in these two towns and therefore they decided to invite Jesus to the wedding. Now notice that they invited Jesus to the wedding before He ever performed a miracle. They weren't inviting Someone who just got through feeding 5000 people. They simply invited Jesus, the Person, to the wedding. Some of us won’t invite Jesus into our situation unless He's going to do something for us. As if He’s some kind of a genie in a bottle or a divine pimp in the sky ready to give us what we want when we want it. But that's not what happened here at the wedding in Cana. They simply invited Jesus to come. And as a result of simply asking Jesus, the Person, to their wedding, into their situation, they received a miracle. Some of us only want the miracle working power of God, not God the Person. Oh, but if you seek God just for who He is, then you will receive your miracle as a byproduct of the relationship!

Notice the two disciples on the road to Emmaus on the Sunday of Jesus resurrection in Luke 24:28-29. If they didn’t invite Jesus in, to abide with them, He would have kept on going! They could have missed the miracle. If you don’t invite Jesus, You could miss your miracle! He will not force His way into your life. Consider the church of Laodecia, God's last day church, in Revelation 3:20. Here Jesus is pictured knocking on the door of His church, knocking at your heart’s door and wanting to come in. Do you know that Jesus is a gentleman and will not come in to abide with you unless you invite Him. Notice this verse describes the scene very much like the scene with Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He's knocking at the hearts door of a church that thinks they have it all together and are in need of nothing. They feel like they don't need His help. Just like the "bags" that we try to carry! 

He's knocking. Are you going to invite Him in? Or are you going to try to handle your situation by yourself and make a bigger mess than what you're currently dealing with? The miracle won't happen unless you invite Him in. Invite Him into your marriage! Invite Him into your job! Pray that His presence goes before you into the workplace. Fall on your knees and invite Him into your family. Are you struggling with addiction or some seemingly unbreakable bad habit? Invite Jesus into your mess and watch Him turn it into a miracle!

Love Letters

Do you remember when you were in school and you got one of these from someone you liked? Every day you would wait in anticipation to receive that love letter from that special someone. I remember getting them in middle school and high school. And I know this may sound a little sentimental, but I used to keep them all and put them in a binder. Hey, you know you probably did the same thing too. Today we get these kinds of letters through Facebook, an email or a text message. As I would read each letter, I got to know the person who wrote it and it was almost as if that person was right there, speaking to me. Did you know that God speaks to us through the Bible today? They are His collection of love letters written for us. The Holy Scriptures are 66 books written over a period of 1500 years. They are inspired by the Holy Spirit and through it God, Himself speaks directly to us. How do I know this? Because every morning I spend quality time with God listening to Him speak to me as I read the Bible. In these sacred love letters I get to know what God is like. I see in them His character of love and I discover the story of His wonderful plan of salvation. But the best thing of all about the Bible, God’s Love Letters, is I have come to know Jesus Christ personally. And friend, my prayer is that you will read the Bible and get to know Him too.