More Than More - Transformation in Abundance
September 22, 2019
water cooler conversation:
Would you rather have skin that changes color based on your emotions or tattoos appear all over your body depicting what you did yesterday?
How would you define the word “miracle?” Do you think they exist?
did you know…
Jesus turning the water into wine was His first public miracle.
When Jesus changes the water into wine, He demonstrates His power over creation on an atomic level. Water - H20 - comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, is changed into wine - a liquid comprised of oxygen and hydrogen as well as sugar, yeast, water, carbon, and nitrogen. With a simple command, Jesus transforms water into a substance comprised of over 1000 different compounds.
This miracle was more than a chemical change of rearranging existing atoms into different molecules. It involved creating new atoms or changing some of the existing atoms into completely different elements, making it a large-scale nuclear event.
There’s no mention in Scripture of the guests being aware of anything amiss. Jesus performs this miracle with no physical exertion, demonstrating His mastery of natural law far beyond what we can begin to comprehend.
Jesus also demonstrates His mastery over time itself. It takes time for grape juice to ferment and to age into wine yet there is no lapse in time in this miracle.
unpack the message:
When John chapter two opens, we are very early in the narrative of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He has only called five disciples thus far: John and Andrew (John 1:35-39), Peter (also called Simon or Simon Peter, verses 40-42), Philip (verses 43-44) and Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew - verse 45).
Bartholomew is one of the lesser-known disciples. Can you name all twelve?
Jesus and His disciples, and His mother Mary have been invited to a wedding. Archeologists believe Cana was close to the city of Nazareth, so it’s likely the host was a family or a friend of His family. The pinnacle of the Jewish wedding was the joyful celebration of the marriage supper - a picture of the wedding supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:7-9. It was more than just a sit-down dinner for all the guests and included seven full days of food, music, dance, and celebration.
Mary approaches Jesus and tells Him the host has run out of wine. This is a disaster - the family would be shamed for such a significant social faux pas. Jesus’ response, as recorded in verse four, seems disrespectful and misogynistic if taken at first glance. “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?” However, if we refer to the ancient Greek, what he’s actually saying could be better translated as “Dear woman.” “Woman” in this context does not carry the negative, condescending tone it might today.
How have verses containing language like this been taken out of context and used as a weapon of control over women in the church? Do you think that’s a fair question? Do you feel the church has marginalized women?
What does the Bible say about how men should treat women?
Do you think we’ve become too politically correct and #triggered at the slightest perceived offense?
Read Luke 7:36-50 for context and insight into how Jesus treated even marginalized women with respect and dignity.
What risks do we take by taking interpreting Scripture from a westernized, contemporary viewpoint, separate from the original text? How does that spill over into the way we consume and assimilate information in the internet age?
He questions her, “What concern is that to you and to me?” This question can be taken in two ways. First, He could be saying, “How is that my problem?” It could also be interpreted as “That’s not a problem for Me.” There is a vast distance between those two responses, but putting them in the context of what we know to be true about Jesus’ character, it’s evident the second interpretation is the intent of the statement. Jesus is not dismissing His mother and her concern. He’s reassuring her there’s nothing to be concerned about.
He follows with, “My hour has not yet come.” Again, out of context, Jesus’ words seem to imply disrespect and impatience. “This isn’t my responsibility. My time hasn’t come yet.” Throughout the book of John, when Jesus refers to “his time,” he is referring to his death on the cross, the hour He will fully glorify His Father. What Jesus is saying is that turning water to wine is a small thing for Him. He has time to demonstrate His glory and power as His ministry is just beginning.
After Mary speaks with Jesus, she believes that Jesus is going to do something about it. Although this is His first recorded miracle, it’s not a stretch to assume Mary was fully cognizant of Jesus' power and ability to rectify the situation. Notice she comes to Him, not the chief steward or the Master of the house. She knew that once Jesus was aware, He would take the situation in hand, and all would be well. She tells the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Before Jesus has acted, before He has demonstrated his deity and His power, Mary, much like John the Baptist, is preparing people for Jesus' ministry - “Do whatever He tells you.” Unlike Catholocism’s extreme veneration of Mary, Mary herself points to Jesus.
Stop to consider the amount of work it would have taken to fill these jars. There was no running water in homes during this era. Water would need to be collected from a nearby well or cistern, supplied in part by a system of aqueducts. It would have taken considerable labor.
Jesus then says, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
Put yourself in the position of these servants, some of which were likely little more than slaves. How would you have felt being asked to bring this dirty water and serve it to your master, knowing it put you at risk of punishment? The water was unclean until Jesus transformed it into a completely new creation.
How does this illustration parallel 2 Corinthians 5:17?
The servants obey Jesus and take the water to the master of the banquet. He tastes the water that had been turned into wine. Of course, he had no idea Jesus had performed a miracle, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.
The master of the banquet then calls the bridegroom aside and says, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink, but you have saved the best till now.”
Traditionally, a host will serve the best wine first and serve wine of lesser quality later once tastebuds have been dulled by food and wine. Jesus, however, transforms dirty, ceremonial handwashing water into a vintage that surpasses what has been served to the guests. He doesn’t just make wine, He makes excellent wine, again, going beyond anything we could ask or think.
Miracles often follow obedience and obedience is hard.
Stop to consider that it is the servants who witness this miracle - not the honored guests, not the master of the house, not even the bride and groom. It’s the lowly servants, those toiling in the background, away from the splendor of this feast, out of the spotlight, who get to see Jesus’s miracle firsthand.
If you want to see Jesus do a miracle in your life, the answer is simple: start following Him. How will you ever see His hand at work in your life if you have no relationship with Him? The servants had done nothing to deserve the honor of witnessing this miracle, but it is a natural consequence of being close to Jesus.
The bridegroom, who along with his bride is the center of attention at this event, had no idea Jesus has performed this miracle and spared him the shame of running out of wine. He is off doing his own thing, completely unaware, and fails to see the hand of God at work. He wasn’t the one obeying.
List examples from Scripture where God chooses someone that others would overlook, or elevates an individual others looked down upon.
How do you define a miracle?
In Scripture, the disciples, Mary, and individuals like the servants in this story saw Jesus do many miracles. Where do we see Jesus doing miracles today? Has He ever performed a miracle in your life?
Jesus not only challenges the servants on a physical level - collecting that much water was a strenuous, monumental task - He challenges them on an emotional and spiritual level by pulling them out of their comfort zone by asking them to bring the wine to their master. When has Jesus asked you to obey and step out in obedience?
Servants do what Jesus says and disciples believe in who He is.
Verse 11 says, “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.”
To be a servant of Christ is to do what He says. To be a disciple of Christ is to believe in who He is. It goes beyond obedience. It is the disciples - not the servants - who believe and recognize who Jesus is.
Life is full of distractions. Family, work, friends, relationships, world events, and a host of other things are constantly vying for our attention. They all take our eyes off who God is.
To be a disciple is to be a disciplined follower of Christ. It is intentional, not accidental. It is not a matter of cognitive awareness - e.g., I know who the last three U.S. presidents are - it is deeper than that. Discipleship involves knowing Jesus on a deeper, personal, intimate level.
Sometimes we need to be reminded who God is.
Jesus brings transformation in abundance.
When Mary comes to Jesus for help, she’s asking him to spare the family from the social faux pas of running out of wine. Jesus does exponentially more than she asks. The amount of water turned into wine equates to roughly 2000 glasses/50 cases of wine, far more than what was needed. Furthermore, in Jesus’ time, it was not uncommon to dilute wine with water - three parts water to one part wine - so that brings the number of servings to nearly 8000 glasses.
Why did Jesus do this? Was it just an example of his compassion, sparing His host the embarrassment of running out of wine?
No. This directly ties to Jesus’ statement in verse four. “Woman, why do you involve me?” In other, words, “This is nothing in light of my power.”
Jesus’ ministry is all about transformation and transformation in abundance. Throughout His earthly ministry, He never does things halfway; He doesn’t leave any room for doubt. The pots were filled up to the brim and He transforms that water into thousands of glasses of the finest vintage. See Ephesians 1:6-8. God is never stingy. Don’t be afraid to ask big things of God, even miracles. Don’t have low expectations. God wants to lavish His blessings on us.
How does Ephesians 1:6-8 demonstrate God’s promise of abundance?
Where else in Scripture does Jesus demonstrate that He is all about abundance?
Who in your life needs to know that Jesus brings life in abundance?
Ultimately, God wants to give you an abundant life. It’s not about what we receive from Him, but to live knowing we are stewards of these blessings.
make a move:
Choose an action step based on what you’ve learned this week.
The key to abundant transformation is to get close to Jesus. Commit to daily prayer and Bible study. Ask one of the pastors or eGroup leaders for recommendations or use an app like YouVersion, Life.Church, or Bible.is.
In what ways is God waiting to bless you in abundance? Your finances? Start tithing. A stressed-out schedule? Ask God for wisdom in prioritizing what is best over what is simply good. Health? Commit to exercising and healthy food choices.
Consider God’s abundant blessings in your life. Are you sharing those gifts with others? Talk to one of the pastors or ministry leaders about where you can begin serving at Expectation Church on Sundays.
Look for ways to share God’s goodness, mercy, and life-giving transformation with those in your community. Volunteer at a shelter, a school, or a community organization.
Ask God to show you how you can be a good steward of His abundant blessings in your life.
Ask Him to reveal areas He has blessed you above others and then share that abundance with others.
Ask God to help you become a disciplined follower - a disciple - walking closely with Him.
Pray for the Operation Christmas Child initiative. Pray for the children who receive these boxes and for their families. Pray that this small demonstration of kindness transforms your heart and teaches your children that no act of kindness is too small.
If you haven’t decided to follow Christ, what’s holding you back? Salvation is as simple as acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Right now, you can pray this simple prayer, believing the words not only in your mind but in your heart, and be saved. “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I recognize that I can never be good enough to work my way into heaven on my own. I believe that there’s only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ who died to save me from my sins and give me a home in heaven with Him. Right now, at this moment, I repent of my sins and ask you to forgive me. My faith now is small, but I ask You to help it grow. Thank you that your promises are true, and especially for the assurance that I am now your child. I thank you that no matter what lies ahead, you will walk with me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you prayed that prayer, share your decision with one of the pastors or staff who can help you with resources and encourage your newfound faith.
Pray for your pastors by name: Christian Gaffney, Roy Dowdy, Lucas Johnson, Mike Zizolfo, and Austin Parkhurst.
Consider how you can serve at Expectation Church to make disciples. eKids? Production? Connections? Talk to any of the pastors or ministry leaders about opportunities.
Pray for the George Mason students who have been blessed by our donation to the Patriot Pantry. Pray that God will continue to open doors for us to minister to these students and that those efforts will translate into meeting their needs on both spiritual and practical levels. Pray that they’ll start attending our services now that we’ve moved to our Braddock Road campus.
Pray about the upcoming season of eGroups. Ask God to show you how and where you can serve in this vital ministry, and who in the congregation is looking for a friend or a mentor like you. eGroups is a great way to connect with someone.
Ask for a list of missionaries we support and commit to praying for them regularly.
Pray for 7SF and Exponential Church, our church plants in San Francisco and Port St. Lucie, that they will continue to live out the Great Commission in their communities.
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