As I promised, following are the questions that came in during the teaching on Sunday, January 7, 2018. I did answer over half of them while teaching. I didn’t say, “a question came in and it is…” and then give the answer. I simply read the question while teaching and included the answer as I continued. However, since the questions were all significant, I decided to give answers to each in this post.
If you didn’t hear Sunday’s teaching from John 2, watch/listen to it HERE. Then you can read through these questions to join the interaction with CM Church.
Let’s keep learning together so that we can think, love, serve, and live like Jesus!
- How do we proclaim God’s love and freedom to others in a society where people have left the church, often due to the cruel judging and acts by “Christians?”
Great question. This is often our reality in SW Michigan – a highly churched area. We encounter friends and family every day that have decided to give up on Christianity because of Christians.
In the midst of injury and in order to reveal the Church of Jesus as a community of His followers, we must exhibit a radically inclusive love that extends grace and healing. The best way to overcome past injury is with present and future care, comfort, and companionship, and wise counsel when asked.
- “In that day the mountains will drip new wine and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water.” Joel 3:18
I saw this verse come in as I was teaching. I almost paused to reference this prophecy but I was afraid it would get me on a tangent I wouldn’t recover from. Joel is foretelling the coming of Jesus and using wine, again, as a symbol of grace. Following the symbol of wine, a staple at every ancient table, is a fascinating way to see how God weaves the theme of restoration throughout the Holy Word. Thanks for sharing this verse!
- Can doctrine become Walls like a building? When it is really about relationship restored with the Father?
I believe doctrine can be a “wall.” The question is what beliefs are essential and what beliefs can we set aside for the sake of unity? For example, the doctrine of the virgin birth is clear in Scripture and essential. It is a principle of Christianity. However, the order used in church services or the liturgy practiced is preferential and not Biblical. There is liberty in this area. Let’s focus on intentionally finding unity and extending grace, not on focusing on differences and promoting religion.
- If Jesus came today what would he think of our church and the religion that exits? Would he say it’s old religion that needs to change?
We must ask that question every day. In many ways, each of us needs to answer that question from our own hearts. If Jesus observed my life and habits today, would He observe a life that seeks to receive and give grace or would he see a person who is following rules and insisting others do the same? Freedom or rigidity? Are we protecting or proclaiming the Gospel? Am I a consumer asking to be served or a commissioned follower of Jesus seeking to serve at every opportunity.
- Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” Wouldn’t that suggest that Jesus has performed some sort of miracle(s) before this one?
We don’t have any Biblical information that suggests he performed any miracles before this. Could have the He and the Holy Spirit not inspire the Biblical authors to record it? It is possible.
- Can grace be given if it hasn’t been received?
I don’t believe true, unselfish, complete grace, free of ulterior motives can be expressed if it is not experienced. Pseudo-grace, extended to avoid conflict or to passively manipulate, can be expressed. But grace that causes me to be willing to die to all I am and have so that you might have it? I can only give you that if I have received it, felt it, and experienced it from Jesus. Only God’s grace received causes me to feel safe enough to give it.
- Might there be other significance to this miracle? Like Jesus himself being the bridegroom, and the wine signifying his blood that would be shed for us?
Yes! The Word of God is rich and full and living. As we read Scripture daily, the Spirit reveals facets of the Word in the same way a diamond shines differently in different lighting.
Here are two guidelines. 1) The Text can’t mean now what it didn’t mean then. 2) Scripture interprets Scripture and agrees passage to passage.
- What is the significance of wine in that I can see it is important to the event but why? The same as us to keep the party going? More to it than this?
Wine, in the First Century, was a staple like water or bread. Like all things God creates, when used according His purpose, they are beneficial. But, when abused, are harmful. In the case of John 2, Jesus uses the need for more wine to save the groom embarrassment and to introduce the symbol of His blood as a substitute for the need to ceremonially wash ourselves.
- Perhaps humility is the “empty jar”?
Amen! Love it!
- Does Grace allow us to live our lives however we want?
Yes and No. The Apostle Paul addresses this twice in his first letter to the church at Corinth.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. (I Corinthians 6:12)
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. (I Corinthians 10:23)
God’s grace leads us to holiness because that leads us to wholeness and peace. There is forgiveness for EVERYTHING! Living like Jesus means saying “no” to behaviors that harm ourselves and others.
Read I Corinthians and your question will be fully answered.
- Was the reason Jesus used the jars used for cleaning …to show that He needs to cleanse us before He can make us the best?
- Servants like shepherds at His birth?
- Can water still turn to wine in this time?
Yes. God still does miracles every day. Watch for them!
- Because my dad was a severe alcoholic I’ve always had difficulty with this passage. In fact I don’t like it. What’s wrong with me?
There is nothing wrong with you! In fact, because of your injuries, you have a discernment others don’t have. You have seen the result of abusing something God created.
In the case of this miracle, strive to see the grace Jesus is revealing. He can, in time and in community, heal your heart and memories. In time and in community, Jesus can move you to a place where you can extend grace.
This verse is for you – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
- Was the wine “fermented” or an alcoholic drink? Just wondering….
The wine was fermented.
- Is there a significance to the number of containers?
Good question. I haven’t found any in my study but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. I have always been a bit cautious about over interpreting every detail in an account. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Jewish truism in the number of jars.
The Jewish Rabbis talk about the practice of Midrash. Midrash (מדרשׁ) is an interpretive act, seeking the answers to religious by plumbing the meaning of the words of the Torah. Midrash falls into two categories. When the subject is law and religious practice, it is called midrash halacha. Midrash aggadah, on the other hand, interprets biblical narrative, exploring questions of ethics or theology, or creating homilies and parables based on the text. (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/midrash-101/)
Your question and the following one reflect this Hebrew practice.
- The bridegroom may very well have been one of Jesus’ brothers – yes?
There is nothing telling us the bridegroom wasn’t, neither does it tell us it was. Midrash?
- Thank you for your teaching. The Church gives me hope for the future. What is a good verse to overcome fear of the future?
Great question – we all have fears. God’s word says …
I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:9-13, NIV)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid (afraid), but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)
- Why do you think they took the time to tell us that they filled the jars to the brim?
I love this question. No matter how hard we try to get ourselves cleaned up before God we can’t. We can try to use all the means possible – all the water a jar can hold. But, we can’t. Jesus CAN! Following Jesus is not a DO. Jesus makes is a DONE deal!
- How old was Jesus?
Jesus was between 30 and 31 years old in John 2.
- How does Mary know Jesus will help?
Honestly, we don’t know. It was highly unusual at that time in human history that a woman would speak like that. Here, we see Mary giving leadership to the Son of God. Could it be a subtle comment by God? Could he be leading those at the party and us to see that He values all genders? Could this be the first of many ways Jesus models equality?
- Is God so powerful, can he make a rock so big that he can’t lift it? Only kidding, I love this church.
Love it. Yes and no … and I love you!