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Jan 15 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 13, 2019 – Mark 2:13-22 and John 2:1-11


Weddings and Wines

[Jesus] went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow Me.” And he rose and followed him. Mark 2:13-14
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” John 2:1-3

Intro: Last week I suggested that John’s gospel is like a spiritual commentary on the Synoptics
(Matthew, Mark and Luke)

Much of Jesus’ teaching remained a mystery for his disciples
– during the time they were with him, they did not understand him
• but after his resurrection, it all began to come together
◦ what the Scriptures said about Jesus and what he taught them (Lk. 24:44-45)
◦ and it all came pretty quickly (cf. Acts 2:16-21, 25-28, 34-35, etc.)
• John wrote in two time-frames:
◦ first, within the period of Jesus’ ministry
◦ and then years later, when he had eyes to see and ears to hear (Mk. 8:17-21)

With that in mind, what revelations will we receive from John today?

Matthew’s response to Jesus’ invitation is unique and beautiful

Matthew, who was also called Levi, was an outcast
– he was rejected by the religious community, and disliked by everyone else
• the only people who would associate with him were other tax collectors and sinners
• it was unheard of that a person in his position,
◦ would be accepted into the discipline of a godly teacher like Jesus
– after joining Jesus, Matthew’s first impulse was to introduce his friends to him
• so he hosted a dinner for people like himself
• this disturbed religious folk, and they asked,
“Why would Jesus attend a party with lowlifes and sinners?”
◦ the Lord’s answer was,

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick

◦ then he explained what he meant by that statement

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Mk. 2:17)

Mark then swings from feasting to fasting
– why were Jesus’ disciples not fasting like the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees?
• Jesus answered with an example of people at a wedding
◦ fasting is an expression of grief, and appropriate at a funeral
◦ but a wedding is a joyful event
• this was not the time for Jesus’ disciples to be sad
◦ in this analogy, Jesus is the bridegroom who brings joy to the party
– there were other times Jesus used an analogy of a bridegroom or wedding feast:

  • a king prepared wedding feast for his son (Mt. 22:1-14)
  • ten virgins were waiting for the bridegroom to arrive (Mt. 25:1-13)
  • Jesus’ followers were to be prepared, like servants waiting their master’s arrival from wedding (Lk. 12:36)
    ◦ “bridegroom” has reference to the specific context of a wedding
    ◦ rite-of-passage that celebrates the union of two lives

Jesus made two other statements regarding why his disciples did not fast

No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the from the old, and a worse tear is made.
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins But new wine is for fresh wineskins 
(Mk. 2:21-22)

• notice that earlier Jesus had explained what he meant by Those who are well do not need a physician . . .
◦ but he did not explain what he meant by the new patch or the new wine
• these statements would not be news to those present
◦ they would think, “Of course you would sew a new patch on old clothes. Everyone knows that!”
◦ it would be like one of us saying, “Look both ways before you cross the street”
◦ like many of Jesus’ parables, the meaning would not be immediately clear
(sort of like a riddle)

John’s story of wedding in Cana is a classic

What I mean is:
– it used to be that every every teenager and alcoholic knew Jesus turned water into wine
– but that is not the point of John’s story

The wedding reception would have been literally ruined had they run out of wine
– John says, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine”
• John never mentions Mary by name
◦ even at that serious moment when she stood near Jesus’ cross
◦ however, he does mention two other Mary’s by name
• John and Mary remained close after Jesus’ death
◦ I wonder if John discussed with her the book he was writing about her son
◦ perhaps they both decided that they did not want any attention on themselves
◦ maybe he agreed that neither one of their names would appear in his book
◦ at any rate, Mary is always the mother of Jesus and John is the disciple whom Jesus loved
– Mary decided to put Jesus in charge of fixing the wine problem
• she assumed one way or another he could do something to save the day
◦ she did not realize, she was overstepping her bounds
◦ once Jesus began his ministry, their relationship changed (cf. Mk. 3:31-35)
• “Woman” is not disrespectful or dismissive,
◦ but it does create a distance between Jesus and his mother
◦ “My hour” refers to his hour to take the stage, to be revealed (cf. Jn. 7:1-8; 12:12-16, 23)
◦ more specifically, it referred to his death and resurrection (Jn. 17:1-3)
• for this reason, where wine came from remained a secret

It is important that we read this story with the one that follows
– Jesus went to Jerusalem for Passover
• and when he saw merchandising and money-changing in the temple, he cleared it out
◦ the same story is told in Synoptics,
◦ but John’s version is different

  • in the Synoptics this story comes near the end of Jesus’ ministry
    ◦ John places it near the beginning
    (John not interested in chronology, but meaning)
  • in the Synoptics Jesus is asked, By what authority do you do these things?
    ◦ in John he is asked, What sign do you show us for doing these things?
    ◦ the challenge is similar–i.e., “Show us Your credentials!”
    ◦ but asking it in a different way required a different answer

– Jesus gave them one of his typical double-meaning answers:

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (Jn. 2:19)

their response:

It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?

◦ this may be read as skepticism
◦ or it could have been a request for him to clarify what he meant
• to rebuild temple in three days would certainly be a “sign”
◦ but while the temple stood, it would be impossible to verify
◦ but because he did not explain his meaning, it left his disciples as confused as anyone
• and they remained befuddled until after his resurrection (Jn. 1:21-22)

What spiritual meaning hidden in the Synoptics does John provides in his gospel?

The Synoptics tell of Jesus’ “miracles,” but John emphasizes the Lord’s “signs”
– a sign says something – it points to something else
• in chapter 6, people ask Jesus for a sign comparable to Moses providing manna in the wilderness
◦ Jesus offered them the true bread from heaven
• there is a similar comparison with Moses here at the wedding at Cana
◦ Moses had turned water into blood
◦ Jesus turned water into wine

Remember, the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:17)

– John refers to this as Jesus first sign, and says that through it he manifested his glory
• as a result, his disciples believed in him
• the signs pointed to who Jesus was,
◦ but with the specific purpose of inspiring faith in him

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (Jn. 20:30-31)

◦ the signs point us to Jesus as the one whom we can trust
◦ when we do, the life of God enters us
◦ God’s spirit becomes like a fountain of living water within us

What about the new patch and the new wine?
– John puts these two stories together (the wedding in Cana and clearing out the temple) to show us what was happening
• that is to say, where God was at work and where he was not
• God’s work was not going on in the current religious system
◦ not in the institution, with the temple and its representatives
◦ not in the paradigms or practices of religious people
◦ and not even among the disciples of John
• those were the old patch, the old wineskins
– God’s work was going on in everyday places and events
• in places like weddings and parties like the one in Matthew’s home
◦ God’s work was going on even among sinners
◦ but it wasn’t happening in places that were controlled by religious rule-makers and bullies
• Jesus’ ministry was not a new patch on an old garment
◦ by equating the temple with his body,
◦ Jesus not only cleared out the temple, he replaced it
• Jesus’ ministry is the new wine
◦ the old institution could not accommodate it
◦ everything Jesus did was new
◦ everything he did was God

Conclusion: We’ve seen in the Synoptics analogies of a wedding and bridegroom

There is an instance of the bridegroom John’s gospel also

You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mind is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease (Jn. 3:28-30)

– what is complete joy?
• the first time I visited the hermitage, I asked two monks the same question,
“Has the hunger that brought you here been satisfied?”
◦ they both answered in the affirmative
• the radical nature of Jesus’ ministry brings a complete joy

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (Jn. 15:11)

◦ joy is not happiness — you can lose happiness, you can be robbed of it
◦ joy is deeper, it finds a place within us and lodges there
– think about this: these analogies a bridegroom and his wedding
• think also of the ultimate wedding feast

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9)

◦ all these references are used of a man who never married
◦ who apparently never met his one true love – his soul mate
• but the fact he didn’t find that one person,
◦ means that his true love can become is all of his followers
◦ all together and individually as well

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with teh word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. . . . For no one ever hated their own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is prfound, and I am saying that it referst to Christ and the church (Ep. 5:25-32)

Okay, so what do we do now?
Like the servants at the wedding in Cana,
we follow the instructions Mary gave to them
when she said:
Do whatever he tells you

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