I recently did a devotion on a local radio station and talked about the story in John’s Gospel, Chapter 2, where Jesus took water and turned it into wine.
It’s a fun story, really. A wedding, a party ... In those days the festivities went on for days.
Well, they ran out of wine and Jesus’ Mom asked him to do something about it and he is like, “Not yet, Mom.”
Even if you have never read the Bible, you probably know the story and how Jesus turned the water into wine -- really good wine.
And if you have been around the church for very long you know that ever since the miracle at the wedding in Cana we evangelicals have been arguing over one thing: Was it Welch’s or was it Mogen David? Was the wine Jesus served or made fermented, or was it actually grape juice?
Pages and pages have been written over this one thing. Commentaries are filled with pages on this one item. Important, huh?
I had a large Bible filled with commentary on everything and it had pages on this topic, while the Gospel story itself was only a couple of paragraphs. I won’t tell you where the scholars’ commentaries fell ... or even where I fall on this issue, because to me it is not relevant to what Jesus was doing here! Not at all!
So often now in our culture, the church is seen as not being relevant to the needs of people.
We ask ourselves why, then we try to be more cool. Now we serve coffee at church ... dress casual ... have drums and electric guitars ... Lights, camera, action!
And yet the church is not very effective reaching those Jesus loves.
People flocked to Jesus -- strange people, rejected people, sick people, and, might I add, sinful people. Why aren’t they flocking to us, his body? If they do flock to us, why do we have to entertain them rather than touch their hurt?
I ask these questions of myself, not just others. I am part of the problem. Can I be part of the solution? Why aren’t we relevant to our culture? Maybe because, like our Bible scholars trying to define fermented or unfermented, we miss the point of the story -- the Bible story.
We are part of an incredible story -- God’s story -- and it is a love story.
For God so loved the world, he came. We love John 3:16. We wave it at sporting events, tattoo it on our bodies (maybe), quote it all the time.
Do we know John 3:17? Goes like this: “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
It seems to me that everyone knows what we, the church, is against, but what are we for?
Jesus took a lot of flack in his day from the religious leaders for hanging out with (gasp) sinners!
The leaders brought condemnation; Jesus brought reconciliation. Religion has rules; Jesus has relationship.
Have we focused so closely on some issue or point that we have missed the point?
I can hear some already accusing me of being soft on sin and sinful issues, and Jesus was never soft in that area. He could look at a person and see the person and all their stuff, and he wanted them free from their stuff.
He touched people he should not have touched and he let people touch him whom he should never have let touch him ... and they came to him.
On many occasions Jesus would close with, “Stop sinning.” But he never started there.
Going back to the story in John, I think John slips the point of the story in very subtly. At least it’s what I think the point is, and I am the one writing here. Verse 9 says, “He (this is the master of the banquet) did not realize where it had come from, though the servants knew.”
All the important people at the celebration had no clue what had just happened. Not a clue! But the servants did, those who were there only to serve and wait on others. They knew exactly what had happened because they had participated. They had served others and in that they witnessed a miracle.
I think this is the point of this story -- at least a good teaching point!
What if our position as the church was one of a servant over one of being served? What if we served our neighbors instead of condemning them? What if we served our schools ... our leaders? What if our position in our communities was one of a servant?
Two things stand out to me if we would assume this posture.
One, I think we would see God do miraculous things and it would be even more fun to participate in them. How fun could it be to feed a multitude on very little ... or to walk on water ... or to see water turn to wine?
Jesus said, “I only do what I see the Father doing ...” Well, I think we would see what the Father is doing more often if we weren’t always asking him to help what we are doing.
Two, we would become more like Jesus.
Philippians, Chapter 2, Verses 5-7, say, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
If Jesus himself took on the very nature of a servant, what should our position be? Most of us who call ourselves Christians or followers of Jesus would say we all want to become more like him. So here it is: serve and you will be.
One last shot -- I mean thought.
I think too often in the church we have taken the position of pointing to ourselves and saying, “See how wonderful we are,” when our real position should be one of pointing to him, Jesus, saying, “See how wonderful he is.”
I am not a theologian and have never claimed to be one, but, come on now ... fermented or unfermented?
The servants knew. I want to know.