HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, February 6, 2022
Youtube link... https://youtu.be/O1SCSceqjjo
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Jesus’ First Miracles”
Texts – John 2:1-12; Luke 5:1-11
When it comes to putting Jesus’ miracles into any sort of chronological order, I confess to some confusion. Each of the gospel writers provides a number of accounts of Jesus doing miracles but they are not consistent. In fact, the only miracle that is recorded by all four—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—is the feeding of the 5,000 men plus women and children. Why? Because each writer had different purposes for recording his account.
Matthew wants to convince the Jewish people that the Messiah has arrived so includes many prophetic quotations and stories that demonstrate that Jesus is the long-ago promised Rescuer. Mark wants to demonstrate that Jesus is the Kingdom of God come…a new era has begun—his death was not a regrettable event, but was the fulfillment of God’s plan. Luke’s writings are his attempt to provide an historically accurate story detailing the life and teachings of Jesus and of the early church for ‘Theophilus.’ John on the other hand wanted people to know that Jesus was the Son of God and eternal life was available to any who would believe.
Each of the gospel writers provide a unique picture of Jesus and so it should not surprise us that the events they record can be a little difficult to put into a timeline…it was not their intent to provide a day-by-day journal entry like one might in a diary. However, there are clues. Today, we’re going to examine two of Jesus’ earliest miracles. Let’s begin with the miracle that John identifies as the first of Jesus’ miracles.
John 2:1-12 – “The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” 5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, 8 he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.
9 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. 10 “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!”
11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 12 After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.”
Jesus performed his first miracle as the result of a request. Would it have been the end of the world if the party had run out of wine? No, but it would have resulted in considerable embarrassment for the friends of Jesus who were hosting the wedding. Did it matter that it was his mother doing the asking? I don’t think so, though I do wonder, as this is his first public miracle, if her asking wasn’t God’s way of telling him it was time. We don’t know for certain, because the Bible does not tell us implicitly, but there was a reason for Jesus’ change of mind. He went from telling his mother that his ‘time had not yet come’ to accommodating her request. What happened in between? We don’t know exactly; however, we do know that Jesus never did anything outside the will of God the Father, so it was about more than simply giving his mother what she asked for.
Sitting nearby are six 20-30 gallon jars and Jesus instructs the servants to fill them with water. Now in case you aren’t familiar, twenty gallons is 70 litres and thirty is 136 litres. That means that Jesus produced a minimum of 420 litres of the best wine that the Master of Ceremonies had ever tasted. So, Jesus gifted the wedding party with over 560 standard (750mL) bottles of wine…they went from having none to having an abundance!
Now I have heard, especially in my growing-up years from those who believed that the consumption of any alcohol as a rule was wrong, that what Jesus converted the water into was grape juice…or at the very least a less potent wine. I don’t buy that. The Master of Ceremonies knew the difference between wine and juice and comments that the wine that is served later in the night is usually of a poorer quality, because by that point everyone has had enough to drink and they can no longer tell the difference. So, yes, Jesus did change water to wine…and it was the ‘good stuff.’
What warning can we take from this? One thing I have learned from this miracle is that we should never try to force our understanding of the Bible into our preferred ideas and convictions. For many years, the Christian Church in some areas of the world condemned all consumption of alcohol and attempted to use the Bible as its proof text; but in so doing committed injury to our understanding of Scripture. They were right to teach individuals to be careful of their consumption of alcohol, but they had to change the Bible to support their demands for prohibition. Their attempt to enforce abstinence from all alcoholic beverages on society as a whole, rather than dealing with some of the underlying attitudes and societal problems that encouraged alcoholism, caused them to teach a water downed and inaccurate version of this miracle.
We may shake our heads in smug superiority…such silly old-fashioned notions…but, we would do well to pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal to us any ways that we do similar injury to the biblical texts on different topics. Just because it doesn’t say what we want it to, doesn’t mean we have any right to change it. Who are we to discard any portion of Scripture just because we don’t like it or change with a flick of a pen parts that we deem need revising? Something to consider…
But back to the miracle itself. It is interesting to note the location of this miracle. Jesus changed the water to wine in a backroom and so the miracle would have been observed by few but the servants. So, was it just to help out and give his mother what she asked for? In part, yes, but not entirely. It also had the effect of causing a deepening of belief in Jesus’ disciples, which brings us to Jesus’ next set of miracles.
At the end of Luke chapter four, Jesus is traveling in the area of Capernaum. After healing a demon possessed man at the synagogue, he goes to Simon’s home for the day. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever and at the request of her family members, Jesus heals her. This is followed by an evening filled with people being brought to Jesus from all around at sunset after the Sabbath day had officially ended.
You might think that this would be enough to convince Simon of who Jesus was, but Jesus has one more surprise for him.
“CATCH OF FISH”
Luke 5:1-11– “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”
If when reading this story you have thought that Jesus just got into some random stranger’s boat, you are mistaken. It might sound like it, but only if you read chapter five on its own; by reading the previous chapters, you realize this was just one of a set of events meant to convince Simon, who became Peter, that he should follow Jesus as his disciple. After all, Simon Peter couldn’t just leave everything behind…he was a married man with obligations to his family; but Jesus wanted Peter. Luke tells us that Simon had already witnessed a miracle—the healing of his mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39) followed by an evening of healings in the town.
Now on this new day, the fishermen had spent a depressing night fishing and had caught nothing. As they cleaned their nets on shore, I’m sure that they were more than just a little eager for a good sleep. But it is in this moment that Jesus interrupts their plans. While they work, he taught the people on shore from the boat…everyone was eager to have a front row seat and this was a great solution to provide Jesus with a little needed room.
I am sure that Simon was willing to extend this favour to Jesus…after all, he had witnessed Jesus heal his mother-in-law not so very long before…he owed him one. But Jesus’ next suggestion was a bit harder to swallow, ‘Put your boat out into deeper water for a catch.” Simon does comply after an initial protest, because he has come to respect Jesus on a certain level. Why else would a seasoned fisherman deign to take the advice of a fishing nube when he already knew better? So he humours him.
What happens next can only be explained as a miracle…so many fish fill the net that it begins to break. Simon may be stubborn, but he knows the impossible when he sees it. He has worked these waters all his life…the only explanation for what has just happened is a miracle! He knows there is more to this man Jesus than he had earlier presumed and cowers before this One who has command over the fish of the sea. Jesus tells Simon not to fear, that he has a new job for him to do. Jesus provided this miracle simply to convince Simon once and for all to come and follow. And he did. The miraculous catch of fish is left on shore for someone else to deal with as not only Simon, but Andrew, James and John leave their boats behind to become full-time disciples of Jesus.
Now, before we move on, I have a question for us to contemplate. What would have happened if Simon had refused to follow Jesus’ instructions? And if he had, who would have blamed him? Who was the fisherman in this story? Who had spent the frustrating night on the lake? Who had just finished cleaning the nets for the next night’s work? Who had been up all night and was now just looking forward to a good sleep? What would have happened if Simon had responded, ‘Not now Jesus.’ He would have missed out! The Church could have potentially missed out.
Do we ever tell Jesus, ‘Not now!’ Oh, I’m sure we’ve got good reasons…we know best, right? ‘We’ve already tried that. We’re tired. We’ve got other things to do. That plan makes no sense. It’s impossible.’ But what if by saying ‘no,’ we are shutting ourselves off from a miracle that God wants to perform in our lives or through us for another? Will we agree to allow our Master to interrupt our plans? If we refuse, we may never know his purpose for our lives. And make no mistake; there is always a purpose for everything that God does.
So, what was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles?
“PURPOSE OF JESUS’ MIRACLES”
John 20:30-31 – “The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”
John tells us that one of the main purposes for Jesus to perform miracles was to authenticate who he was and to cause others to recognize who he was—the promised Messiah, sent from God. The catch of fish certainly proved once and for all to Peter who it was he should follow and how he should be spending his time. No ordinary man could do the things that Jesus did. He was fully man, but he was also fully God.
We also saw Jesus perform his very first miracle in response to a need of friends and a request made by his mother. If she hadn’t asked, I don’t know that a miracle would have happened that day. The same is true for us. We should not be afraid to ask God to miraculously intervene in our lives or in the life of another. Our request may be the very thing that causes God to act.
When it comes to the purpose of Jesus’ miracles, another thought comes from Greg Robbins, pastor of Heath Church of Christ. He quotes author Tim Keller before adding his own comments, ‘“We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.”
The miracles of Jesus serve as a glimpse and foretaste of what God will accomplish on a grand, universal scale when Jesus comes to establish the New Heaven and the New Earth. The miracles of Jesus offer a preview of that glorious day. The miracles offer a glimpse of Heaven on earth.” 1
Does God still do miracles today? Of course he does! What miracles have you seen and/or experienced in your life?
God still does miracles. The real question is whether or not we will obey his instructions so that his miraculous work will become manifest? And, when we do witness a miracle, how will we respond? Like Simon or like those who refused to believe even in the face of his irrefutable proof?
References and for further study / inspiration…
1https://www.newarkadvocate.com/story/life/2017/02/11/jesus-perform-miracles-earth/97665618/ Retrieved Friday, February 4, 2022
Sunday, February 13, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Rejection” – In-person and Online
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!