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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wedding at Cana – New Wine -- Part 4

      The beginning of John’s Gospel focuses on “newness.”  There is “new wine” in the wedding at Cana.  Then Jesus cleanses the temple in Jerusalem and talks about a “new temple” which is Him and in the hearts of those who follow Him.  Jesus then talks to Nicodemus about the “new birth” and “new life.”   He is the “new covenant” promised through Jeremiah and Isaiah.  Jesus said that He makes all things “new.”   The old brought death through disobedience.  The new in Christ brought spiritual life and that more abundantly through grace and truth.  Moses changed the water into blood indicating judgment, but Jesus changed the water into new, sweet wine indicating grace. Jesus made the bitterness of God's judgment sweet through grace and love.
      The wedding at Cana is full of symbolism.  Jesus used ordinary settings to reveal His supernatural power and to teach the ways of the Kingdom of God.

Water Pots for Cleansing
         Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from 20 to 30 gallons.  John 2:6 
                These stone water jars were used by the Jews to cleanse before sitting down at table to eat and between courses.  They were also used to wash the feet of the guests as they entered. If a Jew didn’t wash before eating, they were considered ceremonially unclean. (see Mark 7: 1-4)  In those days, people wore sandals.  Their feet would also get dirty from the desert sand.  This water would wash the dirt away just as the water of the Word and Holy Spirit wash our dirt away so we walk in the newness of life in Christ.
         The stone water jars were also the size of a 20 or 30 gallon garbage can in today’s world.  They were large and there were six of them.  Most of us know that 6 is the number of man because God created man on the 6th day.  6 x 20 is 120, the same number of disciples who were gathered in the Upper Room when the water of the Holy Spirit was poured out. Jesus is the 7th waterpot who is full of the water of the Spirit and Word.  His servants draw from His fullness.  The Law was incomplete.  It was merely a shadow of the reality who is Christ.  Only Jesus can complete/perfect a person because He is the Creator through whom all things were created.  The Law of Moses was to bear witness to Jesus.  This is how the Law has life -- in Christ -- because He is the Word and the Life.
           The size of the pots and the amount of water at an ancient Jewish wedding were proportioned to the number of guests, so this wedding had to be a large one with many guests. 
             These water jars were made of stone.  They were carved and shaped out of a rock!  The One shaping and forming would chip away at the rock until it was in the desired form.  Then he would hollow it out and fill it with water.  Stone jars would be more durable than regular clay jars. When we are shaped and formed by the Rock Jesus, we have a sure foundation. (see Luke 6:48-49)  Jesus has to empty us in order to fill us with the fullness that He desires for us.  As the unclean water in these stone jars had to be emptied out in order for the fresh water to be poured in, Jesus poured out the water of the Holy Spirit as our Helper to cleanse us so the wine of His abundant life could take root in us and pour out to others. Jesus will take our stony, fleshly hearts and chip away at them until He removes our uncleanness (sin). We must be empty pots – empty and open to the “new.” Jesus will fill us with the water of the Word and Holy Spirit which will cleanse us of all impurity and bring the new wine of His new life, blessing and abundance.  Only Jesus can supply the water that purifies and the wine that abundantly blesses. This water and wine (His blood) flowed out of the wound in His side at the cross.  Living water flows from Him and the Father.  (see Revelation 22:1-2)    
            At the wedding at Cana, Jesus transformed the water into a new creation—sweet and abundant wine symbolizing joy and blessing.  The water of His Word and Spirit transforms us from sinners into saints – new creations – if we are wedded to Jesus and do as Mary said, “Do what He tells you to do.”   2 Corinthians 5:17:  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 
            The Jewish religious leaders wanted to hold onto the old way of cleansing.  Cleansing by the blood of Jesus and the water of the Word and Spirit is superior wine!  It is not an outward cleansing but an inward one.  Jesus offers us more than religious ritual and strict rules and regulations.  He loves and accepts us in whatever condition we may be and offers us a transformed life that will bring joy and abundance even through the hardest of circumstances.  Jesus will replace the inferior wine that has run out with new superior wine.  It is a change for the better.  The purifying blood (wine) of Jesus and His Holy Spirit is far superior than ritual washings.  The old wine of the Law failed because it could not complete a person.  Completion can only come through Jesus. Jesus turned the Law into the perfection and completeness of Himself through grace and truth.
            Jesus didn’t improve the “old wine.” He fulfilled the Law and brought new, superior wine – a new beginning.  He transformed the old into the new!  No longer will our love be demanded through ritual and strict rules and regulations.  In the “new” in Christ, love must come from the heart.  Obedience will also be motivated by love, not works or ritual to earn our way into heaven. Jesus in His love did all for us.  He wants us to love Him in the same way.  Jesus said that our love for Him will be evident through our willing obedience to His Word. 

Fill the Waterpots

     Before the stone pots could be filled, they must first be emptied of the unclean water. The fresh water was not to be mixed with the old, dirty water.  Jesus told His servants “Fill the pots with water.” 2:7 His servants obeyed His Word and not only filled them with fresh, pure water, they filled them to the brim almost to overflowing.  There was no room for anything else in these pots except pure, fresh water.  These pots that were once empty and dry are now filled with fresh water.  They obeyed Jesus’ Word fully. Without Jesus, we are empty, spiritually dead vessels.
Abundance of life comes through vessels of Christ who are filled with the grace of God and the pure truth.  Jesus in His humanity was filled with the Holy Spirit and pure Truth.  We cannot be filled with His fullness without Him. We draw from His fullness and His fullness is inexhaustible.  There was room for Jesus to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit because He had no sin.  God didn’t give the Spirit by measure to Him!  The more sin we allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to remove in us, the more fully He and the Holy Spirit dwell in us. 

Lord, empty me of me so I can be filled with You.  Amen

                                  (to be continued)

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