This week our devotional, and sermon, are done by a candidate for ordination here at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries: Bobby Langhorne! We are happy to give Pastor Kathy the week off to spend in retreat while Bobby man’s the Sunday post. Here are Bobby’s thoughts on this week’s theme and scripture:
John 2:1-12 (Common English Bible)
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there and 2 Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.”
4 Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold twenty or thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. 9 The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew.
The headwaiter called the groom 10 and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” 11 This was the first miraculous sign that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him,
12 After this, Jesus and his mother, his brothers and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there for a few days.
Notes on the Text
- The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) work slowly to the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, generally saving the reveal for the trial in front of Herod. John, on the other hand, is working off the premise that Jesus is the Messiah right from the word “Go” and sets out to prove it immediately.
- There are seven miracles in John that are not present in the Synoptic This is the first one.
- Scholars generally agree that John was written last among the Gospels – around 100 AD. John’s audience is therefore different from the Synoptic Gospels. He’s writing to Christians of a Gentile background who may not know the Jewish law or traditions at all. John tends to refer to any Jew as “the Jews” and explains Jewish customs, like he did here with the water jugs and the cleansing ritual. When John is speaking about the Pharisees and Sadducees, he refers to them collectively as “Jews.” This doesn’t mean he blames all the Jews for the death of Jesus, but the audience that John is writing for do not know what a Pharisee or Sadducee is. This habit, however, allowed medieval (and later) peoples to marginalize and sometime destroy Jewish people, because they could point to the Bible and show that the Jews were to blame.
Last week, the youth, the Richters and I went to snow camp at Suttle Lake. I feel that giving people the opportunity to go to camp is one of the best gifts you can give someone. Camp is really an amazing experience – I feel it is one of the only times where life is completely in harmony. There is a time to eat, and a time to rest, a time to play, a time to pray, a time to be in fellowship, a time to be in solitude. It has everything you need for a spiritually well-thought out life!
So, why can’t we live our lives like that all the time? The common answer is that the real world interferes. Things like bills, school, our children, jobs – they all get in the way of the harmonious spiritual life that a time away at camp can provide. This seems unfortunate to me and I can’t help but feel that we are missing the mark (Harmartia – that Greek archery word Jesus uses for sin literally means to miss the mark!). If camp is life in perfect harmony, why can’t life be life in perfect harmony?
Let’s put that question on hold for a minute and ask a different one. The Bible both extolls and censures what might be called the pleasures of the flesh. One verse tells the reader to drink wine heartily in the name of the Lord, while another chastises those who let the smallest sip of alcohol cross their lips. Romans tells us “It’s a good thing to not eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that trips your brother or your sister (14:21)” but the Word from John has Jesus creating wine for people to drink, including his own family and disciples. So, how is this possible? Is the Bible contradicting itself?
So, now we have two questions:
- Why do we have to escape our everyday life (by going to camp) in order to find perfect harmony?
- How can the Bible tell us to both indulge and abstain from the pleasures of life?
The answer to both of these questions is balance. Living out our faith is not just about self-denial and self-control, but also about pleasure. Our pleasure pleases God. Jesus commands us “Come, follow me in every word, thought and deed.” And if we are following Jesus in His journey of ministry, we see that His life is not all about self-denial either. Jesus eats and drinks with his friends, family and neighbors. Jesus has times where He is angry and times where He is loving. There are times where He is calm and times where he is exuberant. But it is all balanced inside Jesus as well-thought out parts of his ministry – his example to us on how to live in His world.
We are not Jesus – balance does not come easily for us, even with the example Jesus has given us. But, it is still possible to find ways in our life to balance the needs of the body and the needs of the Spirit. Jesus gave us several tools to do so – prayer, fellowship, and communion. It is up to us to be mindful of what we are trying to accomplish when we participate in these rituals. It is our responsibility to balance ourselves and please God.
- What does it mean to me to live my life in balance – in perfect harmony with the Spirit?
- How can I make time in my life and what steps do I need to take to find that balance?
- What other examples are there in the Bible that show Jesus as being not perfect but balanced?