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Life of Christ (2007-2009)

First Miracle

John 1:29 - 2:12

Lesson audio

We may see the beginnings of much in this passage.

Joh 1:29-51 NIV The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' (31) I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." (32) Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. (33) I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' (34) I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."

Jesus' First Disciples

(35) The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. (36) When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" (37) When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. (38) Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"

They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" (39) "Come," he replied, "and you will see."

So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. (40) Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. (41) The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). (42) And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter[10]).

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

(43) The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." (44) Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. (45) Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (46) "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.

"Come and see," said Philip. (47) When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." (48) "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." (49) Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." (50) Jesus said, "You believe[11] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." (51) He then added, "I tell you[12] the truth, you[13] shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

The Names of Christ

One of the little gems of this passage is the list of names given to our Savior. We must remember that names in this culture meant far more than they do in ours.

  • A name often set expectations. You will recall Nabal (which means “fool”) in the Old Testament. Many names ended in –el, which is one of the names of God. Daniel, for example, means “God is my judge.”
  • A name might also honor a relative, though we rarely find father and son with the same name.
  • Perhaps most important, names and titles are more blurred together at this time. A similar thing happened with English names when we began to use surnames. John the butler became John Butler; Joe the iron smith became Joe Smith.

While this is by no means a complete list of the titles of Christ,[1] it does provide us with a clear vision of who Jesus is:

  • Lamb of God – John sees our Lord as the sacrifice which will bring redemption to mankind. From this we may know that Jesus ministry must come through the Cross.
  • Son of God – a practical title, given the incarnation, but also one which correctly reflects the relationship between Christ and the Father. Christ is the obedient son, who does his Father’s will.
  • Rabbi – the word here is difficult to translate correctly. It is more than “teacher” in the English. Teachers in those days did not have students, they made disciples. A teacher poured into his students both his knowledge and his love for the subject.
  • Messiah, or Christ – Meaning, “the anointed one,” it carries with it the idea that this is the one selected by God. Jesus did not appoint himself as the Christ; god the Father sent him on that mission.
  • King of Israel – It is the claim of Jesus of Nazareth that he is, by right of inheritance as well as divine appointment, the King of Israel, in direct line of succession from David. A man may be the rightful king without being recognized as such.
  • Son of Man – Christ’s favorite title, it contains within it a prophetic sense.[2] It means not only that Christ is completely human, it also means that he was prophesied to come and establish his eternal kingdom.

Evangelism

It is instructive to go back through this passage again – gleaning some thoughts on evangelism, person by person.

Andrew

Andrew is a disciple of John, and it is John’s testimony which convinces him to follow Jesus. Now, John is no miracle worker, but one who calls to repentance. We may therefore presume that Andrew has so repented, and is being instructed by John. His change of leadership is therefore somewhat surprising. He exchanges John – whose ministry tells you that he is from God – for Jesus. John’s testimony must, therefore, have been very compelling. Andrew must also have been free of the “my guru is better than your guru” style of thought.

He logically follows up on this. He goes to get Peter. Once convinced, he is in 100%. He will share the good news without hesitation. The thrust of his message can be found in three words:

  • We have found… it’s a group effort, not a solo flight. Christianity requires a group, called the church.
  • We have found … We did not create him, or anoint him – we found him. It is not our doing but our discovery.
  • We have found the Messiah … There is only one.
Philip

Philip is directly called by Christ. What made him respond to such a call? His knowledge of the Scriptures, knowing the Law and the Prophets. The virtue of reading the Scriptures is herein proclaimed.

Nathanael

P. T. Barnum would have had no use for this man. As Barnum said, “You cannot cheat an honest man.” That’s just what Nathanael was: a man with no element of dishonesty, scheming or deception in him. What you saw was what you got.

This does not mean, however, that the man was naïve. Indeed, his first reaction is that this Jesus is from Nazareth, which is not a very reputable town, evidently. (Picture a great evangelist coming out of Las Vegas.) He also knows that the Christ is to be born in Bethlehem. So this fellow seems very unlikely.

Philip’s reply – “come and see” – says a great deal about Philip’s character. He is seen as a reliable witness, so Nathanael tries it. Christ is the one who convinces him.

Summary

These few observations pose questions for us as disciples:

·         Are we students of the Scripture, knowing that in them we find eternal life?

·         Do we bring others to Christ?

·         Is our character such that others can rely on us?

·         Are we honest enough to “come and see?”

·         Are we honest enough to “come and be seen?”

First Miracle

Joh 2:1-12 NIV Jesus Changes Water to Wine

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. (3) When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." (4) "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." (5) His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." (6) Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[1] (7) Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. (8) Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, (9) and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside (10) and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." (11) This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Jesus Clears the Temple

(12) After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

Definition

Permit me a definition: a miracle is

  • A contravention of natural law (think physics here),
  • But in the divine style (water becomes wine, stones don’t become bread)
  • In a significant religious context
  • For the purposes of God.

The first is evident, as is the second. The disciples provide the context – so we may now ask, for what purposes?

Witnesses

If you want to convince people, it helps to have impartial witnesses who will testify on your behalf.

  • First, the servants. They are likely enough to be sober, and they know for a fact how heavy those jars were when they filled them to the brim.[3]
  • The caterer[4]. He’d better be sober; and it’s clear from his reaction to the wine that he knows the good stuff from the cheap.
  • Strangely, the bridegroom likewise. He’s plastered, of course. He also is paying for the wedding, and it now appears he failed to be prudent about his wine cellar. He’ll never live it down. His only defense is the miracle.
The example of Mary

This might just be the main purpose. Mary has provided Christ’s disciples with a “teachable moment.” It should be clear to them that Mary knows him better than anyone else. So he permits them to see, if you will, “how Mary does it” in the hope that it will rub off on them.

  • First, she knows his response to obedience. When she tells the servants to “do whatever he tells you,” she is inviting God in the flesh to honor that obedience. She is confident of his response.
  • Next, she relies on Him to decide the method. She does not order Christ to do it in any particular way; she sets forth the problem and provides such resources as are available. It is “faith and means,” not “means and ways.”
  • In all this, she trusts his arrangements, not her own. She trusts him.
Impact on the new disciples

The disciples have walked with him to Cana of Galilee; now they will walk with him to Capernaum. It has confirmed their desire to be with him. But this instance has also “revealed his glory” to the disciples – and then they trusted him.

It is an example to follow: grant him obedience, follow where he leads and see his glory revealed.


[1] The inquisitive reader may inquire further using Nave’s Topical Bible, under Names, appellations, and titles of Jesus

[2] Daniel 7:13-14

[3] Apparently 20-30 gallons, weighing about 160-240 pounds. If you’re on the metric system, that’s 75-115 liters.

[4] Per Chrysostom. English language sources debate this.

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