Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Wedding at Cana - Part 3

I'm back to the wedding at Cana. Can you believe it? A story that John describes in only twelve verses has now warranted three, THREE, blog posts! Why? Because I keep finding such good stuff. God's word truly is the living word!

Instead of focusing on the water turning to wine, like I did in my two previous posts, I want to talk about the jars. Those empty stone jars that were sitting around, useless.

The Bible states in John 2:6 that there were "six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons" (NLT). These are large stone jars, not dinky little clay pots.  They are cumbersome and heavy, without anything in them. To put it in perspective, try picking up a five gallon bucket of paint at a paint supply store some time. It's only five gallons and the bucket is only plastic, but that bucket will be pretty heavy. Now imagine trying to move something that can hold six times that amount!

So these are big containers, meant to hold a large quantity of water. However, they are special containers, set apart from all other water containers and used for ceremonial washing only. They don't mingle with the other, common water jars. No, these ones sit off to the side until it's time for a religious ceremony. I will jokingly refer to these jars as the Pharisees of water jars.

During a Wednesday night Bible study/prayer meeting I was attending, my pastor made the point that the jars are like the church of Christ. It was a concept I hadn't considered, but as we examine the verses I began to see that it made sense.

The jars are large containers and are purposely created to hold water. In the Bible, water represents the masses of people. If the jars are Christ's church, then they are meant to be filled with large numbers of people. Therefore, they are not meant to sit around empty and unused. What purpose does a church serve if it is empty? None. What purpose does a church serve when it is filled? To bring people to Christ and salvation. To baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. To "ceremonially cleanse" those who enter in, so they can be presented to Father.

"This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth" 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT). 

Now, let's really unpack the verses describing the miracle of water to wine!

Jesus tells his servants to fill the water jars. Who are the servants? We are. We are told to fill the water jars (Christ's church) and fill them to the brim. Not a drop more can be contained. The churches should be filled to standing room only! Even spilling out on to the streets! 

Thousands baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church, Papua New Guinea (2012)

Can you imagine what that would look like, if all of our churches were filled to capacity with people wanting to know God? In 2012, the Seventh-day Adventist church (of which I am a proud member) was blessed to baptize between 4,500 and 5,000 people in Papua New Guinea. I have provided a link to the fully story here.

This is what Christ desires and so this is what he commands the servants to do. And they do it, without a single question or argument. Once the jars are filled, Jesus tell them to take some of the water out and present it to the Master of Ceremonies.

So if the water represents people and the jars are the churches, a sample of the people now filling the church is presented to the master of ceremonies (God the Father). When the water, which represents ordinary people who have been ceremonially cleansed (or baptized), are presented to the master of ceremonies (God the Father), they have become changed. But changed in to what?

Well, in the Bible, wine represents Biblical doctrine. What doctrine exactly? That the blood of Jesus was shed for all mankind and whosoever believes in him will find salvation from their sins. 

Now for my favorite part! "When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. "A host always serves the best wine first," he said. "Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!" (John 2:9-10, NLT). 

Normally, when a church goes out to spread the Good News of Jesus to a new audience, they send pastors and speakers who know their Bible and are enthusiastic about the Word of God. It's very important to use your best so that no one develops erroneous beliefs about what God's word says. Then, after the church has been established for a little while, those pastors and speakers can leave, letting the church come under the care of local laymen or elders. 

However, this is not what Jesus chooses to do. This is the end of the wedding feast. Everyone has been filled up on the "cheap" stuff; a Christianity that doesn't do justice to the Son of God. So here, at the end of everything, Jesus pulls out all the stops and sends in his best. Why at the end? Because the end of the feast is when the Bride (Christ's church) and the Bridegroom leave and begin their new lives together as one. 

This miracle of water to wine was done to let us know that just before Jesus comes to gather his church for the new life that awaits his people, he's going to pull out all the stops. He's going to send in his best, so that everyone will have a chance to experience salvation. 

Friends, we are in the last days of this earth. That means we are about to see God's church become transformed from ordinary people to those on fire with the message of salvation through Christ and Christ alone. God is wanting us to know that it is time to fill up the churches, to pack every seat and every pew to capacity. It is time for us to repent of our sins and be cleansed with blood of Christ. 

Don't hold yourself back now because very soon God will give his very best to ensure that the work of saving lost men is done.     

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