ďA Stoneís Throw From: The PartyĒ
Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn
††††† Thereís an old story about a skeptic who continually harassed the local pastor. His one delight in life seemed to be making the pastor appear inadequate intellectually. The pastor bore those challenges to his theology and faith with great restraint.
††††† One day the skeptic was heckling the pastor about his views on miracles. "Give me one concrete example of a miracle," the skeptic taunted. "One concrete example." This pastor hauled off and kicked the skeptic in the shin as hard as he could.
†††† The skeptic couldn't believe it! ďWhat did you do that for?Ē
†††† The pastor asked, "Did you feel that?"
†††† "Yes," the man said as he nursed his sore leg.
†††† "Well, if you hadnít," said the pastor, "it would have been a miracle!" (1)
††††† Iím not sure that was the best way to
explain miracles, but there have been times when Iíve wanted to explain things
that way. Today we look at the very first miracle performed by Jesus as
recorded in Johnís Gospel. John 2:1-11 (NRSV)
 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."
 And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come."
 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it.
 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom
 and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now."
 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
††††† Jesus and his mother, along with all the Disciples, were attending a wedding feast in Cana when the wine ran out. Mary turned to her son. "They have no wine," she said. There was something in the tone of her voice that told Jesus she expected him to do something.
†††† Jesus' response seems a little harsh. In the original Aramaic itís not nearly as abrupt or disrespectful as it seems to sound. "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
†††† Still, Jesus' heart went out to his hosts. He felt their embarrassment. He apparently knew the family and cared about their predicament and wanted to do something to help. So, he turned six stone jars (each holding 20-30 gallons each) filled with water, into wine. Thatís between 120 to 180 gallons of wine. Thatís 3 55 gallon barrels of wine. Or somewhere between 600 and 900 bottles of wine. Do you get the picture? Thatís a lot of wine. So, what do we learn from this miracle, other than to make sure Jesus is on your guest list when you have a party.
††††† I could talk about miracles in general and how over the past century of enlightenment weíve tried to explain miracles in a rational manner. For example, rather than believing that Jesus actually fed 5000 with two small barley loaves and five small fish, we explain it away by explaining that everyone gathered that day was so moved by that little boyís generosity, that they all shared everything they had brought with them. Basically, that says, Jesus blessed what the boy brought and everyone shared in a huge potluck luncheon.
††††† Iím not sure which would be the greater miracle, multiplying the bread and fish or getting 5000 people to share their lunch. Actually, Iím OK with miracles because our faith is based on the biggest miracle of all, the Resurrection. But thatís not what I want to talk about.
††††† A.† I could talk about the symbolism of the first miracle in John being tied up in all the wedding customs of the day and how that translates into Johnís understanding of Jesus being the Bridegroom and the Church being the Bride.
††††† You see a betrothal took place in this way. The young man, the future husband would go to the father with wine and a couple of glasses. The father would sit at the head of the table, the future son-in-law on the right and the daughter on his left. Discussion would take place about the dowry, and home and all those detail. But it all came down to one point where the groom to be poured a glass of wine and offered it to the bride to be. If the bride to be took the cup and drank from it, they were engaged or betrothed as they said back then.
††††† I could also point out how significant that is for Jesus at the Last Supper. You see, Jesus, the Bridegroom, offers the Cup of Redemption to those people who will become the early church. Jesus offers His bride, the cup of wine. By our accepting the cup every time we celebrate the Lordís Supper, reminds us that as the church, we are the Bride of Christ.
III. THE CHANGE:
††††† A.† But thatís not what I want to talk about either. What I think is significant for us today is how God in Christ can take something as ordinary as water and make it into something new and beautiful. The truth is, God in Christ does it every single day. God in Christ takes the ordinary events of our lives and redeems them. Jesus touches our lives and changes the ordinariness of our lives and transforms them into something beautiful.
††††† Chris Cox sent me a link to a video which expresses this in a unique way. It was titled ďCarboard TestimoniesĒ I wasnít able to get that version but Iíve made a version which I think will help you understand.
††††† B.†† We all have our own personal testimonies of what God has done in our life. I didnít grow up in the church. I accepted Christ when I was 22. My wife Mary had a great influence upon my life and faith. As a matter of fact, she likes to tell everybody she married a nothing and made a Methodist Preacher out of him.
††††† God can and does take whatever we are and whoever we are and changes us into something beautiful. God takes the ordinariness of our lives and changes it into delicious wine of being a child Godís Kingdom, and a brother or sister with Christ.
††††† Today, and everyday really, there is one simple question: ďIf Jesus can change ordinary water into delicious wine, what can He do in your life if you will just let Him?Ē
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1.††† About Miracles: a sermon by Norm Lawson
Other References Consulted