First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, September 22, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Hosea 10:12-15; John 2:1-11
A preacher was finishing up his sermon on a Sunday morning and with great expression he said, “If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.” With even greater emphasis, he said, “And if I had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.” And then finally, he said, “And if I had all the whisky in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.” He sat down after he finished his sermon, the worship leader then stood very cautiously and announced with a smile, “For our closing song, let us sing hymn #365: “Shall We Gather at the River.”
We have been looking at the “Seven Signs” recoded to us in the gospel of John. You may remember from last week that the four gospels recorded thirty-six miracles that Jesus performed. John’s gospel mentioned only seven. Obviously, Jesus did more miracles than what is recoded in the gospels. Listen to these words from John 20:30-31 “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Miracles or Signs?
As I mentioned last week, John never calls the mighty acts Jesus did “miracles” but “signs.” The thing about “a sign” is that it points to something beyond itself. John is more than a story-teller—John had a theological motive behind everything he said! Signs in John’s gospel are pointers. They point from themselves to a deeper, more spiritual meaning. Therefore, through these signs, John is showing us that what Jesus did in the physical realm is also able to do in the spiritual realm. For example, when Jesus heals a blind, it is a reminder that He can heal our spiritual blindness. When He fed the five thousand with very little, this is a reminder that He is the Manna that came down from heaven to fill our lives.
The seven signs recorded to us in John are: 1. Changing water to wine (2:1-11); 2. Healing the nobleman’s son (4:46-54); 3. Healing the lame man at Bethesda (5:1-18); 4. Feeding 5,000 (6:5-14); 5. Walking on water (6:16-21); 6. Healing the blind man (9:1-7); and 7. Raising Lazarus (11:1-45).
The Wedding at Cana
So, we are still with Jesus and His disciples at Cana in Galilee; just about 4 miles north of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. Jesus was invited along with His disciples and Mary, His Mom, to a wedding. May be the bride or the groom was a relative to Mary or one of the disciples. At a certain point, Mary finds out that they have run out of wine. This is a big embarrassment to the family. Mary goes to her son, Jesus, and asks Him if He can do anything about this. Jesus addresses the situation of the need for more wine at the party, and–poof! – there, He makes some! So Jesus turns water into wine, and, there you go, no more wine shortage. What we see is that Jesus clearly has power from heaven to do this mighty miracle. No one else could do this.
This first sign is loaded with lessons. So, how is this sign relevant for us today? Last week I highlighted one short thought. It had to do with the fact that God meets us where we have run out. God meets us in the place of our need. A couple more thoughts for this morning.
First: We All Need Jesus
Jesus is not a crutch for the weak. The beauty of this sign, however, comes from the fact that it tells us in a very direct way that we all need Jesus. In our best we need Jesus! In our worst, we need Jesus. In our ups and downs we need Jesus. The “sign” took place at a wedding! We all know how long and how hard it takes to plan for a wedding. We spend countless hours planning hoping that everything will be just right! In the same manner we plan for weddings, we also plan for our future, for the future of our families, and for the future of our children. But you know what? You never know what is going to happen. Right?
Surprises come all the time. The bridegroom never expected that he would run out of wine. One of the most embarrassing situations that could ever happen on that particular day! It is great to plan for a great wedding, a secure future, but do not forget to invite Jesus into the center of all of that. When Jesus is invited, miracles take place. It is important to make room for Jesus in our lives. The Prophet Hosea chapter 10:12 reminds us that “It is time to seek the Lord until He comes and showers righteousness on us.” I believe that our homes, our culture today need Jesus more than ever.
Second: An Invitation Leads to Transformation
This first sign in John’s gospel tells that in the face of such need, Jesus turns six empty stone water jars into wine. What a difference Jesus makes in the house He dwells. What a difference Jesus makes in a heart that seeks His will. What a difference He makes in a ministry of a congregation that abides to His Word! What a difference Jesus makes when we make a room for Him in the busyness of our lives.
Jesus came to transform the world. We often think of transformation in terms of opposites. We think of the ugly turned beautiful, the weak turned strong. Sometimes we think of transformation as a change to something unrecognizable like the caterpillar transformed into a winged butterfly or the transformer toys where a boat becomes a robot. And it is true that God can and does transform people in those ways. In fact, the gospel writers recorded the transformation of Zacchaeus, a despised tax collector; of Nicodemus, a respected Pharisee; of the woman who caught in adultery, a ruined woman. Jesus transformed the destiny of the thief on the cross, and so many others.
But there is another type of transformation that is modeled at Cana. At Cana, the object of transformation is something that is already good and pure and necessary. There is nothing that needs fixing in the water. Water is good. The message of transformation at Cana is not about making the bad good, but about making the good even better. Transformation happens when we trust and obey. In John 2:5, Mary urged the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Friends, I believe that God’s intention is to fill the emptiness of our lives. When we perceive our emptiness, we should turn to Jesus. God wants to bring us the top quality as we submit to the Lordship of Christ. Friends, God still has so much in store for us. Let’s take hold of it. So, come to the party! You are invited. It’s the wedding feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom, which will have no end. Not just for a week, but for an eternity, this party will go on. Jesus saves the best for last. He gives it free of charge. And always more than we can measure. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit! Amen!