An Intro: Turning Water into Wine, Jn. 2:1-11

The Bible talks about miracles in a very specific way.  A miracle in the Bible is limited to only being action from God which surpasses the natural laws of creation, He originally placed in our world. God doesn’t call human procreation a miracle because God knows childbirth takes place within his natural laws of biology enacted since creation. However, the mystery of cell division and DNA is still partially mysterious and the wonder of it all, still leaves us referring to it as a type of miracle, but from God’s view it is not. Today in our society, we use the word miracle in a different way, such as, God working through prayer, sometimes providing strength to heal and extend physical life beyond our expectations, sometimes providing strength to grow in wisdom, faith and obedience beyond human expectations. Acts 12:5,13-16. Our usage of the word ‘miracle’ reflecting God’s activity in our lives, as being something He helped us do, that we could not do by our self, is truly stretching the Biblical definition of a miracle.  However, when we talk of God’s activity and strength, we need to let people know that God provided it. He is to be thanked and given the credit or glory for the activity or strength, see Eph. 3:14-20. Giving God the glory for any good blessing in our life is very important, however, we can do that without using the word “miracle”, perhaps better words are “grace, mercy, blessing, providence and gift” from God. Technically the first miracle of Jesus was not turning the water into wine, it was actually the miraculous perception of Jesus towards Nathaniel in John 1, understanding the character and identity of Nathaniel before even meeting him. The first “Sign” Christ performed was done almost in silence, John says “Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim” v7. In the next verse, it’s wine! The mere will of Christ in his command to “FILL”, together with the servants cooperation of “filled”, was all that was needed in order for God to turn the water into wine. Lesson one from the number one sign? God can actually do amazing things in our life, if we live in obedience to what he tells us to do. Not only was it wine, but it was good wine, as in better tasting than the wine at the beginning of the wedding, it is not a reference to higher alcohol content, but rather a reference to the higher power content of his love, which is better than wine, (SoS. 1:2).  He can turn (our love) water into wine (His Love) and within the context of a wedding, that would make clear to his disciples that human love is like water being turned into wine, in comparison to God’s love. That is what he does when we become a Christian, because he begins to pour his love into our hearts, Romans 5:5. The purpose of the miracle was to show his glory, v11, and obviously to save the wedded couple from embarrassment, which was directly connected to Mary’s real desire to solve this problem, v3-5. Another interesting note in this miracle is that it caused his disciples to believe in him, (perhaps as God’s Son or the King of Israel, see Jn. 1:49) but he was not publicly known for performing the miracle, because the ruler of the feast, spoke to the groom as if he had the best wine arranged to serve towards the latter part of the feast. This detail in the story must lead us to conclude that Jesus took the concerns of his mother and the bridal couple seriously, and so we should too. Would we go out of our way to save people the embarrassment of public indignity and save them in a humble way? If we do, it can cause us to help people to ask God for faith, because this was the effect it had on the disciples. It is God who gives us faith, and it is Christ that we should be asking to help our faith grow, v11, Mark 9:24 & Romans 12:3. The abundance of wine was superfluous to the guest’s needs, but six of these waterpots would have held (to the brim) at least 120 gallons! God’s love is always far & above all we need in order to help people grow in their faith. There is no end, nor limit to God’s love, Jeremiah 31:3. What a spectacular way to start the “signs” within the miracles of Jesus in his new ministry. God’s love is very much needed especially within Christian marriages, and it is a lack of faith & His love that causes such a high rate of divorce today.

Questions Answered

Contrasts in God’s Character, How can we help people understand that the God of the Old Testament is the same God in the Christ of the New Testament?

The same God who banished Adam & Eve from the garden and cursed Cain, Gen 4:11, is still the essence of love itself. The Old Testament records many instances when the God of Abraham sent countless of his children to their deaths in their rebellion, facing His wrath. But the prophet Micah proclaims “There is no other God like you! You forgive sin and pardon the rebellion of those who remain among your people. You do not remain angry forever, but delight in showing loyal love” Mic. 7:18. In order to help people understand that God in Jesus Christ is the same God as the God of Israel, is to clarify how Christ promised His wrathful judgment to come. The wrath of God in Old Testament times was temporary, but now we have been warned by Christ, that God’s wrath will become permanent! It is simply our responsibility to accept that God is God and his timing is not ours. Jesus said, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”, Luke 13:3-5

Discerning Between Spirit & Soul. Why does the Bible describe our humanity as being three-fold?

There are so many synonyms in the english language for the complexity of human behavior and our sentient being, that we are often confused about how to use all the different words. Hebrews 4:12 proclaims that there is a difference between the human soul and the human spirit and that the word of God discerns between the two parts of our humanity, which is tri-fold according to Paul in 1st Thessalonians 5:23. Both words “soul” which is PSUCHE (Mt. 12:18) in Greek, and “spirit” (Mt. 3:11) which is PNEUMA in Greek, are used interchangeably to refer to God and humanity. However in reference to humanity, soul usually refers to our life-force and mindset. Spirit usually refers to our motive & emotions.  One peculiar and unique trait of the New Testament Greek language is that only once is the word “PHANTASMA” used, and it is referring to what our imagination thinks is a visible ghost. Whereas, spirits and souls are never referred to as visible, regardless of their being evil or good.

Why do we struggle with forgiving ourselves when God forgives us?

Both factors of time and guilt, have a big role to play in being able to feel like we are forgiven when God’s word declares that God forgives us. This may be why the apostle Peter declared “times of refreshing will come”, Acts 3:19. Note the future tense plural word “times”. Perhaps one way of us understanding our own forgiveness is to have a keen sense of the difference in deliberate sin, and unintentional sin. “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries”. Hebrews 10:26-27. It is healthy to remember that “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life–to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 1st John 5:16-17