Tuesday, August 20, 2013

John Community Chapter 2: Believe Him

John 2:11 is where I became enthralled. Jesus was at a wedding with likely a lot of people, which is why the celebration ran out of wine. I love what Jesus had the disciples go fill with water. They were not random empty jars lying around; these were ceremonial washing jars! Jesus was not afraid to challenge protocol, to shake things up. He was more than aware of what these jars were used for--ceremonial cleansing, which was a source of boasting and status imposing in the city. I'd call this part of the story "Pride and Procedure." I am hoping one of you will expand on this very comical miracle that Jesus performed because I'm going to focus on the scripture following it.

Verse 11 says in the NIV: "What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."

Do you know what it feels like, how it sounds, what it smells like to see a sign from God? I thought I had. I thought I had surely at some point in my young life witnessed a direct prodding from God.

Until May 20.

I am quite certain that it is impossible for me to forget that very moment when my brain did a soaring recap of several events from the past few months and realized that they were signs from my God. They led me to that very moment in time--just after 3 pm, May 20, 2013.

I stood in the front yard at a dear friend's house, staring into a sky I no longer understood, but somehow talking to the God I suddenly knew more intimately than ever before. My mind bounded repeatedly between shock and indescribable thankfulness.

God had talked to me.

Me--a nobody from Oklahoma! And it had saved our lives.

And I could with clarity recall each instance. The bicycle ride to the school, the sermon where Matt felt Him confirm in his heart the decision concerning school for our children, the day before when I sat under the maple tree writing to Him and asking to be made different--to be rattled, the night before when Matt felt the urge that we should not be home all day on Monday, the morning of when I seemed to watch myself from the sidelines doing strange, out of the ordinary things that I could not explain.

I hit the ground several times in that moment of revelation. Because I could not stand where this God who was so holy had just tread.

My shock that day was not as much what had happened to our family, to our home; it was what could have happened to our family that didn't because of all those sacred moments where God had whispered to us. Just writing this today makes my heart feel like it's in a seizure; I cannot make it calm down. Because I know I'm speaking of something far greater, much holier, and immeasurably more sacred than I have ever witnessed before.

And I feel like maybe I can relate to the disciples in this moment where they sat and soaked in what their eyes had watched. A miracle. Jesus's first miracle.

Holy. Sacred.

I imagine they were etching every frame into their memories. I don't want to forget that one.

And they believed in Him. If they were like me at all, it truly did take all of those things to culminate into the deep belief I now have of Him. Of course, I believed in Him before May 20. I loved Him before, and I served Him before.

But now? Now I believe in Him. Maybe even more so is that I believe Him. Because what He whispered to me is what He really did. He was faithful. He proved Himself true and trustworthy and worthy of my every praise--and all this wrapped up like a recap of a television series in that very moment as my knees buckled in my friend's front yard.

Later after Jesus was raised from the dead, the disciples had a similar moment. Verse 22 says that they "recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."

Truly, if I could pray anything for my sisters and brothers in Christ, it would be that you would have a time lapse moment--in your living room, on your back porch, in your bed in the solitude and the quiet, at the grocery store--where you recall what He has said and what He has done, and you would realize in that moment that He has spoken to you. That you would believe in Him. Even better, that you would believe Him.

I can't wait to hear again from you ladies. I'm enjoying this sharing of what we are finding in scripture! Thank you each for reading, for sharing, for praying. Even if you're quietly reading along with us and too afraid to post, I'm praying for you and I want you to keep reading. God brought you here for a reason. Maybe your Believe Him moment is right around the corner.

Peace of Christ to you,

26 comments:

  1. I loved this post. It brought out some things I hadn't thought about before concerning the ceremonial jars. What I loved about this chapter was the fact that when the wine was gone and everything seemed hopeless, that is when Jesus acted. It seems like it is when we have finally emptied ourselves of ourselves that that is when the Lord steps in and says, "Now, let ME take this." And the thing that stuck out to me was the comment made about the wine itself. He commented on how it was the best! When we truly let go and let God, it is amazing what He brings to pass. I've noticed this in others' lives but also in my own. It's just so hard to reach that point sometimes. I know with me, I keep saying, "Now, Lord?" and He says, "Not yet." "Now?", "Not yet." and when it feels like the hope is gone that is when He comes in and says, "Now" and showers me with blessings I could never imagine. And the thing I would have compromised on repeatedly, if I had been given my choice, is beyond anything I could have imagined. Truly God is amazing! And, much to my shame, how often I forget. Great post this week. I really needed to read that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a great comment here, Nikki. My favorite part is about what we compromise on repeatedly and if we'd just wait for God, what He can give is so much better in the end! And emptying ourselves like the empty ceremonial jars. Wow, I didn't see it that way and I'm so glad you did! He really does step in when our strength is exhausted because in our weakness He is strong.
      Thank you for sharing this. :)

      Delete
  2. This chapter of John plays like a movie in my mind.
    Jesus, His mother, and His students are guests at a wedding celebration. If you have done any research on the chronology of ancient Jewish weddings you'd know that this was probably one heck of a party given that it's a long road to get to the celebration part of a wedding. So, setting the stage: the party gets going and somehow Mary becomes aware that the wine is almost gone --a major embarrassment for the newlyweds and their respective families! Jesus' mother turned to Him for help: "And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine" (v3).

    Mary acted in an official capacity when she tried to solve the problem of too little wine, and in the same breath she also displayed her faith in her son's ability - she KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt that He had the power to fix this problem. There are also some hardcore theologians that believe Mary was the groom's aunt which kind of makes sense to me (although not supported in scripture)because it's not typically the guests' place to troubleshoot when something goes wrong. The fact that the servants obeyed her command also shows she had a perceived authority. She said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." (v5)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cont'd.
    Jesus told the servants to fill the six big stone waterpots with water. The scripture said they were used for the Jewish custom of purification. When the guests arrived, they used this water source to clean the dust and road grime off of their feet and to cleanse their dirty hands. There was duality in these waterpots as they were meant as tools of hospitality and good hygiene, but they also served a religious (and ridiculous, in my opinion) purpose. A few years later, Pilate, familiar with the custom of the Jews, would ceremonially wash his hands proclaiming his innocence of the blood of Jesus, even though he wasn't a Jew and this wasn't a custom of the Romans. After the ceremonial washing, the Jew considered himself "clean".

    Notice that there were six waterpots. Scripturally SEVEN symbolizes completeness, whereas six represents incompleteness. Jesus is sending a message by selecting these six waterpots as the source of water. What's His message? Think about it. When we take the Lord's Supper, the fruit of the vine is symbolic of what? Listen to the words of Jesus: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (1 Cor. 11v25)

    What was Jesus saying by turning Jewish purification water into wine? What can wash away my sins? (Nothing but the blood of Jesus.) What can make me whole again? (Nothing but the blood of Jesus.) Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

    The waterpots may have washed away the funk from the road, but ceremonial washings could not wash away our sins. Nothing can. Nothing, except the blood of Jesus.

    When Jesus turned the Jewish purification water into wine he was making a bold statement about His mission. That's why John gave this miracle such a prominent place in his gospel and the other 3 (Matthew, Mark, & Luke) did not. Jesus was announcing His mission here.

    Jesus knew it, and John - being His best friend - came to understand it, but what about these wedding servants? Did they have a clue? I seriously doubt that they thought for a moment about what Jesus' request symbolized, they were too bogged down in details. "What in the world is this guy thinking?!" would be what I imagine was going through their minds. Details like the condition of the water in the pots.

    What kind of shape do you think the water was in? Today we drive to church in our cars on paved roads. But what if we walked on dusty roads wearing open-toed sandals and we all washed our feet in the same pot, and then washed our hands with the same water? I just gagged. What kind of condition would the water be in? Would you want to drink out of it? I'm a clean water kind of girl myself, so my vote is no.

    Jesus told the servants to fill up the pots to the top. Notice that he didn't instruct them to empty what was already in them. Pouring more water would stir the road-funk, bringing the dirt up from the bottom. It was more cloudy when they finished pouring than when they started. Look at what Jesus tells them to do next: "Draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter." (v8). They didn't argue with Him. They didn't question Him. They accepted His authority and did it. They believed that Jesus knew what He was doing, even if they didn't understand it. I LOVE this part: Jesus didn't disappoint them. According to the headwaiter, this was the best wine saved for last. Christ's blood is the best "wine". Nothing compares. Nothing satisfies. Nothing cleanses. Nothing saves. Only Him.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the second part of Jn 2, but given that I've already pulled my symbology-nerd card and written y'all a novel I'll stop where I'm at. At least I didn't pull out my lexicon for this one, LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WOW, Amanda. Where do I begin? This was really great to soak in; thank you for sharing with us! The thing I had never heard before or thought of myself that you mentioned is that Mary could have possibly been the groom's aunt. I had never thought of why she rose up to the position of fixing the catering problems! Interesting to think about, though, like you said--it's not clear in scripture and isn't a backbone issue. Just cool to ponder! I loved your illustrations on how dirty the feet were. True story. We have very little way of identifying with the manner in which they traveled then, so I think it's good to consciously think about how it must have been.

      My very favorite part is about what Jesus wanted to say to everyone concerning the purification jars: that they can't wash away our sins. I also have always adored that hymn, so that helps, too! ;) Thank you for sharing with us, Amanda. I'm always blessed by your nerd cards! Keep them coming!

      Delete
    2. I will say what Cara and Hillary said... Wow! Those are some amazing insights into this passage. I keep thinking about when you mentioned the water jars and "what was in them". Having been to a country where I had to wear sandals, walked along not only dusty but incredibly filthy roads (seriously, to keep the dust from flying too much, they take water from their "ditches" and throw it onto the 'street' to keep the dust at a minimum. Want to know what's in those ditches? I'll just say it was their version of a sewer system and leave it at that.), and then get my feet washed by the servants of some of the locals... well... I never have forgotten how humbled I felt, knowing what was on my feet and hating that someone was having to wash them for me. I thought of Jesus and His willingness to do so for his disciples (or any of us). Considering what those jars were intended for and would've been filled from a nearby water-source, most likely a village well or something, I would've guessed the water would be some of the cleanest one could come by in that area. When I had my hands and feet washed, they poured the water onto them into a basin of some kind to catch the water below. My brain says, this is so it won't make a mess... but now you have me wondering if it was to save the water for later use. I don't know. Thankfully, as you said, Jesus cleanses and washes away everything filthy. God did give them many laws (so incredibly specific) for hygienic purposes. But the practice of many of those laws became simply that, practices... traditions. When Jesus used those jars I like to think he was saying, "I'm going to change you how perceive everything".

      Delete
    3. I just learned so much from this post. Thank you so much Amanda!!! Now I am curious what it is that you hold inside from the second half. I do have one thought of my own to add to this if I may, slightly off the subject.

      I love how when Mary tells Him they are out of wine He says "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." and she basically ignores him and tells the servants to do as He says. And Jesus, JESUS!, obeys His mother. It is not His time, He has expressed this. But he does it anyway. Ephesians 6:1 :-)

      Delete
  4. Wow! Thank you for your insights, Amanda! Please keep your thoughts coming!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Although I love the first recorded miracle, I think you ladies have done an excellent job discussing it.

    I was struck this time reading the passage on Jesus in the Temple that it was around Passover time. I know that detail is not included by accident or to fill space. It hit me that even though I think Jesus would have responded this way regardless of the time of the year, that this would be similar to us making excuses for easier sacrifices around Easter and Christmas, just to be able to draw in higher numbers. This passage is a tricky one to compare with modern-day church buildings, so I think the place that we should always search is our hearts. I wondered, "How am I abusing God's house? Do I have the passion to keep the Lord's house sacred?" I then went on to realize that since my body is God's Temple, this is much more applicable than I have ever thought. I am convicted that I go about my business so often unaware of God's presence and ability to intercede. I am so consumed with what is next on my list that I forget how close to me he really is. That his ultimate sacrifice has made him completely accessible to me at any hour and any place.

    I don't have scripture backing up some of these thoughts, so please take these as food for thought. I just had some new perspectives on an age-old story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So convicting, Hillary. Thank you for sharing that.

      Delete
  6. Well, most of you may not know me, but Cara truly does. I am an "avid talker" lol seriously as of late I have been speechless with the overwhelming awe of GOD, I tell him so quit often.The MANY blessings HE has given to my children, the protection, etc.
    I am not much of a writer however, and I may not comment each week, but I do enjoy reading what others say, thank you.
    This week, I was praying and saying to GOD that I really don't have anything to say. But I re read the chapter for the 3rd or 4th time today and it popped out at me! Chapter 2 vs. 1 "On the third day...." WOW! Jesus' first miracle and the resurrection!!
    I suppose that is little compared to other comments but I told ya I'm not much for putting things into words like some of you. =D

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Gwen, you really encouraged me tonight,love ya =D

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was trucking right along in ch 2 and then bam on come the brakes when I get to v18. I am sitting there thinking about the Jewish leaders "Come on guys! Really? Why does it always have to be about a big, miraculous sign?" And then it was humble pie time. Bc how many times in my own way have I demanded much the same out of my own skepticism? See I am rediscovering my relationship with the Lord and am being reminded that so often it is in the small things that He reminds us of who he truly is. In the every day seemingly mundane that he reminds me that he is powerful yet gentle. That he is able and trustworthy and that he not only cares but even better he loves me so very deeply. I am being reminded that I need to ask him to show me not huge signs but small signposts on the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this, Lindsay. I'm so glad you and Gwen both have pondered this point. I've been terribly guilty of demanding from God that He show me a sign without realizing He does every single morning. Thanks for this reminder! :)

      Delete
  9. Sorry you all! The above blurb is from Lindsay. Nuthman. Forgot to mention that at the start. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, Lindsay! That was the verse I was going to point out... if my internet will stay active long enough to post something! Haha! To reiterate what Lindsay said, verse 18 says, "Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?""

    I've recently been going back over some of the passages about Israel wondering around in the desert. Why did they roam around for 40+ years? Oh yeah... it was because, even though God had continually given them miraculous signs and wonders, they doubted His ability - and the authority He bestowed upon Moses - to give them all that He had promised. They seemed to want a miracle every day... but I don't think even THAT would've pacified them.

    Seeing how they never really gave up this practice when stuck in the mundane of everyday life, having to keep all those laws God gave to Moses, it's no wonder Jesus responds with a kind of riddle they don't understand - and yet will be the greatest miracle anyone has ever known!

    We do like signs and miracles to remind us that God is God. I guess it's our fickle nature. But instead of seeing the universe with it's billions and billions of stars all the way through our galaxy and solar system to our tiny planet that "happens" to have all we need to survive - don't even get me started on the complex way every life-form is made - instead of seeing even those things as "miracles", we wait for more. We look at the Oceans and think, "That's a lot of water." We look at the Rockies and think, "Wow, those are beautiful... and really, really high!" We see people come together and help others who are in need or hurting... and yet we view none of those things as miraculous. The thing most people will deem miraculous is when a baby is born, which is, indeed, miraculous.

    Why do we have to have signs and wonders? I'm just as guilty. I have lived a lot of my days watching for signs... 'fleecing' God, 'waiting for lighting', etc. instead of simply asking for wisdom to know what He would have me do.

    "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything form the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." James 1:5-8

    God is gracious. Sometimes, He gives us those signs… usually when we least expect it. But sometimes, I think, He just wants us to listen for His response instead of watching for it. After all, a conversation with God should be just that… a conversation. Not us simply asking, demanding things of Him, but listening for what He has to say as well.

    Wow… sorry for the rant. I’m sorry if I got way off track there. It’s late and my brain is starting to shut down. =/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just completely loved every bit of this, Gwen! :) I think you've nailed it. God doesn't owe us anything. He's already given exceedingly and abundantly. We need to open our eyes and see what He's already put in front of us. I'm glad you brought up the Israelites...Lord love 'em. We like to poke fun at them, but goodness, I am just like them! I feel so confident one moment and then the next, I'm whining and begging for something better, something more. Good post, Gwen!

      Delete
  11. Hello everyone. Just a tiny bit about me before you start reading my posts so you have an idea where I'm coming from. I am a believer in Christ and he has had his hands full with me. :) I haven't REALLY been in the bible in a long time studying it or reflecting on it much so I'm excited about this group. It's giving me a little more structure and incentive to dive in more!

    The story about Jesus clearing the temple was what really stood out to me in this chapter. I can relate it to so much in life. So the Jews were taking this holy place of worship and turning it into a market and Jesus was like, NO WAY! You aren't going to do that! I love that Jesus shows us this side of him!!!! He was flipping tables and raising his voice! Seeing Jesus like this makes me think two things; one, he can be our big, bad defender - personal body guard if you will - and give us that inner strength to do what's necessary, and two, he can be that scary ticked-off father that is correcting us saying, 'what the heck are you doing?!?!?!' I mean lets face it, we need both in our life!
    I am thinking to myself right now that my body is Jesus' temple.....so what is he screaming about on the inside of me - is he praising me or is he saying I need to clean some stuff up in here???? I'm going to think on this one a bit. :)
    I also like seeing where things that were talked about in the old testament play out in the new testament. And believe me, I wouldn't have known this had it not been for a note in my bible that told me where to refer to!! LOL So what I'm talking about is vs. 17 when the disciples remember that it had been written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." and in my bible, which is an NIV it points me to Psalms 69:9. I didn't really want to elaborate on that I just think its pretty cool! :) Have a wonderful day, y'all!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jana, I love that you and Hillary are relating Jesus' throw down in the temple to our bodies! I'm not sure I ever connected that before! Great thought. What are we doing with our temples that disgusts Jesus? I'm guessing that bowl of lime sherbet at 10:30 pm last night to "fix" my bad day was probably not the greatest stewardship! ;) Thank goodness for grace, huh?! Also, I'm like you in that I like seeing the old and new testaments tie together. I love seeing the instances where Jesus quoted the OT. It was the law, and He knew scripture. That shows me how important it is for us to know scripture. Thanks, Jana! Love having you join in here!

      Delete
  12. The mother of Jesus speaks to Jesus, " They have no more wine."
    His response, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? .....my time has not yet come." The truth here is Mary TRUSTED Jesus and his answer. At first someone might take offense at his response "why do you involve me?" It was Jesus, he had the power to take care of this situation and take care of immediately. Yet his response is "...my time has not yet come." TRUST, is not easy. Especially when life isn't what we thought it would be. All of us have been through circumstances we didn't choose yet we found ourselves in the middle of chaos. TRUST, there is the word again. It is easy to trust when things are going smoothly. A verse we all know well is Prove 3:5-6, "TRUST in the Lord with ALL thine heart, and LEAN not on your own understanding...." When the waves crash into our lives we think, if I could only understand. These verses have been ones many of us have memorized as children. Yet, have we really taken the time to let them sink into our hearts? TRUST WITH ALL OUR HEARTS, and LEAN NOT ON OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING. Many times we have to trust without understanding. Yet we can get caught up in in thinking, If I only understood.

    In 2004, my husband of 26 years came home and said the following, "I made a decision, I am leaving you." Eight simple words when put together would change my life forever. After the initial shock I tried to make sense of what was happening. I tried to understand. There was no understanding to be found. I had to TRUST GOD ALONE. He was my constant even if understanding didn't come.

    I Cor. 6:19-20, "Do you not not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body." When Jesus saw what was going on in the temple he was angry. John 2:16- "How dare you turn my Fathers house into a market." Thinking about those two concepts one is visual as we picture Jesus going into the temple destroying that which was an offense to his Father. Have you thought about our bodies being the temple of God? If we know Christ he dwells within us. I must examine my heart, (which is God's temple) to see what is offensive to him. It is humbling to me to think that my body is the temple of God. What is in my heart and mind that needs to be purged?

    In 2003 a friend and I decided to go to a monastery for a weekend. An entire weekend with God without any noise. I would be lying if I said it was an easy time away. Even though it was not an easy two days what I took from those hours of silence has stayed with me since. As I left God had laid on my heart a question, What clutter is in your heart that prevents you from hearing my voice?

    AM I TRUSTING EVEN IF I DON"T UNDERSTAND?
    WHAT CLUTTER IS IN MY HEART THAT PREVENTS ME FROM HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD?
    AM I TAKING CARE OF MY TEMPLE WHERE CHRIST RESIDES?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, thank you for sharing, Debby. OUCH! I have so much clutter in my mind on a daily basis, and I know better! Thank you for the kick in the pants to get that under control. I love how many of you are seeing the relation between the temple and our bodies as temples, and what do we have in them that is unholy? Again, OUCH. I have so far to go on this. Thank you for being honest and transparent also. I love hearing your faith ring out in your writing.

      Delete
  13. Cara, you are not alone. We are all there with you. the beauty of this study and forum is that we can share what we learn and it spurs others on, helps us know we aren't alone and is a community where we can express what God is teaching us.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Am loving all the comments and how God is using them to speak to my heart!! I too was drawn to Jesus' zeal for his Father's house. The temple had become a common place instead of a place of worship. A note in my Bible describes that the money changers and merchants in the outer court of the temple came from a need to provide the animal sacrifices to those who had traveled for Passover (they had to have temple money and pure unblemished animals). Something that was a "need" was turned into something dishonoring. The question that came to my heart and mind is, how many times do I allow something that was a "need" become something dishonoring to God's temple (my body)?

    Thank you Debby for providing probing questions. I need to ask myself if there is too much clutter in my heart keeping me from hearing God? Heard yesterday that God speaks in a gentle whisper and in order to hear a whisper one has to be in close proximity. If I am in close proximity with God then I have left the clutter (or distractions) behind. I am so thankful for His long-suffering with me. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Close proximity--I like that a lot, Reba! So glad you shared that!

      Delete
  15. John 2:17 Has been my go to verse this week.
    I have asked myself several times this week have I lost my "zeal" for Christ, for His Word, for His will and direction for my life at this appointed time, for Fellowship with other believers?
    A footnote I have in John 2 refers back to Psalm 69:9 and Matthew 21:13.
    In Psalm "Zeal", "reflects the intensity of His devotion and service. The thought of anyone dishonoring God or God's house is terrible to Him."
    In Matthew it talks about the temple was made to worship God. Not to be used for personal gain.
    How often I easily lose my zeal and it can happen before I even realize it.
    Things don't go right at work.
    Family is needing my attention.
    My home and my husband should definitely come before these two.
    Or maybe I have a selfish moment where I want it to be all about me. Just for one brief moment.
    It is so easy to lose our "Zeal" for Christ when the world comes knocking and we stress out over the things that should have no meaning at all vs the things that really matter.
    I want to my body(The Holy Temple of Christ)to reflect with great "zeal" my love for Him no matter what is going on around me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tonya. I think we really do need to continually ask ourselves these questions you raise. I find it is far too easy for me to lose my zeal. I wish I were more steadfast and this is my goal. I'm so glad we are showered with grace day after day!

      Delete