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Whatís Your Problem?

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(2/6) Introduction. From the mid 1920ís to the mid 1960ís American highways were lined with sequences of 5 signs for Burma Shave shaving cream. Like, "Within this vale / of toil / and sin / your head grows bald / but not your chin Ė use / Burma-Shave" and "Half a pound / For / Half a dollar / At the drug store / Simply holler / Burma-Shave." "Shaving brushes / You'll soon see 'em / On a shelf / In some museum, Burma Shave," and another with the message, "A shave / That's real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel/ Burma Shave."

Iím not sure how this fits with the lesson, but I thought of them when I thought of Jesusí first recorded sign or miracle.

I will admit to you that this is a hard passage to preach. Hard, because most of us want to focus on the miracle instead of the purpose of the miracle. Its like driving. Do you focus on the signs or what the signs tell you? Jesus makes wine out of water.

As hard as a lot of people preach against drinking alcohol, the warnings in scripture against drunkenness, and what we know today of the damages from alcohol consumption, we wonder why in the world Jesus would do this.

Then, there are the people who want to high five Jesus and use this as an okay to drink wine or whatever. Both are missing the point of this portion of this sign. Letís dive in.

I. The Publicity (1:19ff)

Johnís gospel was among the last of the writings of the New Testament. Most of the rest of the writings of Peter, Paul, James, Luke, Matthew and Mark had been circulating for 20-50 years. 75% of Johnís gospel is new information not found in the other gospels. Likewise, there are things that John does not tell us about. For example, there is no record of His birth, childhood, baptism or temptation in the wilderness. It appears that John the Apostle picks up with Jesusí return from His testing and has John the Baptist pointing to Him as the Promised Messiah Ė the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Thatís a sermon in itself.

There are some things we are left to wonder about and perhaps use our imagination or assumptions as we try to understand the circumstances that surround what John is telling us. For example, we may assume that Joseph has died. That is an assumption. After the incident when Jesus was 12, there is never a mention of Joseph other than being assumed as Jesusí father. After this event, verse 12 tells us of Jesusí family with no mention of Joseph. But then there is no mention of Jesusí sisters either.

If that is true, then, for an unknown period of time, Jesus would have been the man of the house. The first born, the heir and patriarch of sorts. He would have been the chief provider and problem solver-the go-to guy. If that is true, do you think He ever had a bad idea on how to deal a with a problem?

But, the day came when the furniture maker, house builder, yoke mender, put down the hammer, and tool belt and told His mother it was time for Him to leave home. He had said, at the age of 12, that He had to be about His Fatherís business. He kissed her and left to find the Baptist and then the wilderness. Nearly 2 months have passed, when John picks up the story of the Baptist pointing to Jesus as the Lamb of God that had come to take away the sins of the world. And then Andrew and John left the Baptist to follow Jesus. Andrew told his brother Simon Peter, and these 3 partners in a fishing business, followed Jesus. Jesus then found Philip and told Him to follow Him, and Philip told his friend Nathaniel. And the public ministry of Jesus was beginning. John does not tell us of Jesusí preaching as Matthew 4, and Luke 4 does. It appears that the first few days were relatively quiet, which brings us to:

II. The Party (vv. 1-2)

3 days after Jesus met Nathaniel, He and his family and friends were invited to a wedding in Nathanielís home town. Cana was about 9 miles north of Nazareth. Perhaps the wedding of a relative, as Mary is involved.

Now weddings were a big deal. A marriage ceremony took a year. First was the legal marriage called a betrothal. For a year, there was no consummation, and no living together. For a year, the groom, yes, the groom, planned the wedding and the celebration party, and prepared a home for his bride. Weddings generally involved the community as the couple publicly pledged themselves to each other in a covenant. The covenant and the celebration would last up to a week, after which (a week) the groom would take his bride home and the honeymoon or consummation would begin.

Weddings were extremely important for the community. People did not take vacations and go to the beach or mountains. Weddings were a chance to relax, and celebrate life with singing and dancing and feasting. And that brings us to:

III. The Problem (v.3)

The wine was gone. Let me stop here and quote pastor John MacArthur. "What about the wine? Well, it was a staple drink in the ancient world, and they made it from all kinds of fruit, mostly grapes, but other fruit as well. And let me just remind you of the fact that wine and the juice of any of those fruits was subject to fermentation because there was no refrigeration. So, everything fermented and developed alcohol. To quench your thirst with water was dangerous because water was not purified. But to quench your thirst with fermented wine was dangerous because you could get drunk and that was a sin. You didnít want to be sick and you didnít want to sin. So, the way they dealt with that is that they diluted the water, or they diluted the wine with water, one to three to one to ten-ten parts water, one part wine, down to three parts water, one part wine. And they did that so they could drink the water because it had been purified, and they could drink the wine and it wouldnít make them drunk because it was diluted. So, this would have been prepared in the normal fashion and it ran out. This is a problem--big problem, big embarrassment."

When the wine ran out, this is a major catastrophe. This is a colossal social embarrassment because if there was anything that the bridegroom had spent a year trying to prove is that he could take care of his bride. He had to build her a house; he had to acquire everything that was necessary. He had to demonstrate his ability to take care of her for the rest of her life. Her father was handing her over to him. This is a problem. Maybe he canít plan. This is what all of you fathers who marry off your daughtersí fear. Is this guy going to be able to make a living? Is this guy going to be able to take care of you? Is this guy smoke ín mirrors here? Is there substance there? This is the same issue. They ran out of wine at the greatest celebration that they would have had."

Do you understand? This would have been a life-long humiliation; one that the groom would never escape from or live down. So, we have:

IV. The Predicament Ė (v.4)

I do not know how far into this weeklong celebration we are, but the unthinkable happens. It may have been the last day, I donít know, but the mother of our Lord approaches Jesus. Notice she doesnít ask anything. She just states the problem. He knows the predicament for the groom.

Notice, He calls her, "Woman." He will say it again from the cross in Cp. 19, and several times to others. It was not a disrespectful saying as we may suppose, but like our saying, "Maíam." But it seems it is also His reminder that her authority over Him and the relationship they had had for 30 years is now changed as He has started to be about His Fatherís business.

The next says, "What does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." I am not sure what he was asking. But I know that it has to do with His ministry that would culminate at the cross, which is what, "My hour," refers to. Several times He will say that line in Johnís gospel, "My hour has not yet come." And then in Ch. 12:23, He will say, "The hour has come, that the Son of Man should be Glorified." Again, this is a reminder of His Fatherís business. This is the Fatherís will, His Glory, and the taking away of the sins of the world. So, letís consider:

V. The Provision (vv. 5-10)

His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the water pots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"

Top off these 6 water pots, that contained water for washing hands. Ritual cleansing was a big deal. 120-180 gallons of water. Jesus does not say, "WINE!" or "abbra cadabra." He just said," draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." And, well, the rest you know. It was the best wine ever. Was it pure Welchís grape juice, or the best vintage wine? I donít know. Thatís not the point. The problem was solved. A New husband was not humiliated. And the party continued.

We should not read into this, the social evils of America. As I said earlier wine was diluted and is referred to as a blessing in the Bible to be enjoyed. Passages, like Lev. 23:3; Deut. 14:23-26; Psalm 104:15; Eccl. 10:19; Amos 9:13-14; and Isa. 25:6 refer to it as a blessing to be enjoyed.

VI. The Purpose (v.11) This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

John tells us in chapter 1:14, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. Remember from 20:31, that the purpose of Johnís Gospel is that you would believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and that by believing you would have life. How can water become wine without adding grapes, or any fruit? How does a miracle happen without a word spoken? Who can create something out of nothing? Only God. We donít know how this affected the servants, or who they told. We know that the first followers, the first of the Apostles, believed in Him.

This was the first sign, the first miracle Jesus did. The first time, the power of God was manifested by Him. This was the first miracle recorded since Elisha. Jesusí identity was confirmed primarily for the disciples.

Now the point of a sign is not the sign. Again, the point of a sign is to point out something with the sign. As we stated earlier, when you drive, do you keep your eyes on the signs of do you look at the signs so that you know what to expect on the road? "Wow, that is a cool yield sign, Wow, look at that curvy line sign!" No, that sign points to something else I need to focus on. And so, it is here. This first sign, one of 8 in Johns Gospel and over 30 in the 4 Gospels, is to point to who Jesus is, so you will believe and have life.

VII. The Point Ė

Now there are a lot of things we could draw from this; like Jesusís approval of public marriages, and His love to party at these marriages. We could also point ahead to the time in heaven when there will be a party to celebrate our union with Jesus. We refer to it as the marriage supper of the Lamb (Isa. 25; Rev. 19). But I feel led to go in a different direction.

A. Signs are no guarantee of faith. Prayers can be answered, blessings received without the recipient responding in faith. Jesusís brothers (v.12, cp. 7:5) did not believe in Him. In fact, they thought He was off in the head (Mark 3:21). Jesus said as much concerning the rich man in Hell (Luke 16) who wanted someone to rise from the dead and tell his brothers. But Jesus said, if they donít believe what is written they wonít believe the miracle.

B. Signs point to something greater than themselves. In this case and all of Johnís Gospel, it is that Jesus is God the Son, the invisible God made visible. He the Creator of all. He is the glue that holds all of creation together. He is the one who supplies us with what we need to live. He is the only source of life, both physical and eternal. He is God and you are not.

C. Solving Problems is Easier when Jesus is Obeyed.

  1. Problems may happen so Jesus can show Himself faithful (Heb. 2, 4)
  2. Problems are easier when we take them to Jesus (Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you 1 Peter 5:6)
  3. Problems may be for our growth (James 1:2-4) Less pride, more humility, less impatience, more endurance, less me, more Jesus.
  4. Problem solving is easier when we are prepared (Purpose of the ownerís manual- cp. Proverbs 1) Prepare-rather repair (a savings account for a rainy day
  5. Problem solving requires faith even when it makes no sense (Rom, 12:12ff) "Whatever, he says do it." Adopt!
  6. The impossible becomes possible when we trust and obey- (Water can become wine; Widows oil and flour {1 Kings 18}; feeding 5000 plus with one sack lunch (Jn. 6:9.) He can take what we have and make it more than enough.

Letís pray about it.

If this article has spoken to your heart, would you write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com and let me know or if you have any questions about following Jesus, I would be glad to try to answer them for you. May God bless you as you seek to do His will.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman