TURNING WATER INTO WINE

Jesus used the wedding ceremony in Cana to perform His first public miracle, even though, He said, His hour had not come to begin His ministry. Why did He then change the wash water into fine-tasking wine, and what lessons can we take from His act? Also, how has this miracle been twisted by some for their own sinful purpose?

  • JOHN 2:10b-11 (NKJV): “‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.”
  • PROVERBS 23:35 (NLT): “And you will say,  ‘They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?’”

MISSING THE WHOLE POINT

IN A RECENT NEWSPAPER COLUMN, someone asked (for a friend, of course) on what page the Bible relates the story of how Jesus, the Son of God, turned everyday plain water into delicious wine. 

The question was to be taken humorously, as if today, “We need our wine to help us through the day; even the Lord blessed the water and made it wine, so it must be okay to imbibe!”

Of course, people turn to something to cope, and the times are difficult. 

Alcohol is as easy a comfort as any. It’s plentiful, legal, and socially acceptable. Why, overindulging on occasion is cause for celebration. Friends will say, “Throw off the shackles and live a little!”

Forget for the moment that in Israel in that day, wine contained a very low alcohol content and was not considered strong drink, unless one imbibed in large quantities. 

However, in the minds of some scoffers, the idea remains that God endorsed revelry and drunkenness, when He most certainly did not.

For many people today, alcohol is used to fill the emptiness in their lives, to help them forget their troubles, or give them a “lift” in spirit.

DRILLING DEEPER

FOR THE COMMITTED CHRISTIAN, the comical question should serve as a time for sober reflection (pun intended). 

Let’s drill deeper into the story, found in John 2:1-11. Jesus, His mother Mary, and His disciples were attending a wedding in Cana, when the wine ran out. Mary said to Jesus the equivalent of, “Do something.” Then to the servants, she said, “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you to  do.”

He told the waiters to fill the purification jars with water and then serve a dipper to the master of the feast, who proclaimed the wine the best of the bunch.

Jesus appeared reluctant to step in but obeyed His mother and “did something.” 

Problem solved. The wedding master was spared the embarrassment of running out of wine, Jesus showed obedience to His mother, and, more importantly, Jesus gave us a lesson about His plan for our future.

GOD’S FUTURE KINGDOM

THE QUESTION THEN is WHY Jesus used this occasion to perform His first public miracle.

According to one reputable source, our Lord was illustrating the wonderful time of joy in His future Kingdom, when all sorrow and sadness will be banished. 

Some biblical support:

  • JOEL 3:18 (ESV): “And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Shittim.”
  • JEREMIAH 31:12 (NIV): “They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.
  • MATTHEW 26:29 (NASB2020): “But I say to you, ‘I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it with you, new, in My Father’s kingdom.’”

FILLING THE EMPTINESS

MANY OF US KNOW all too well the emptiness that fills our lives before we knew the Lord. In my testimony, I’m clear in admitting “that was me” for decades.

I lost two marriages, many relationships that I prized at the time and thought would lead to marriage, plus my drinking interfered with raising my two precious daughters in the loving manner — with wise insight and teaching — they deserved. I went through too many jobs, mostly by latching onto sinking ships just before disaster  struck. I had no self-esteem. I was lost. 

But, no problem! Relief was just a Martini away, and, boy, could I fix them fast! I chilled my glasses (plural) and the gin, and stored the vermouth and olives in the refrigerator. No need for measuring and stirring (James Bond, you had it wrong!). 

As time went on, and my drinking increased, I’d find myself sleeping on the living room floor where I had collapsed the night before. 

Then, I had to rouse myself, freshen up, and head off to a day’s work.

I do not say any of that with pride. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ in November 2010, His first act was to tell me what I knew all along He would: “You, son, must stop!”

It took three years of struggle to give up the Martinis, and I’ve been dry since January 2014. 

POSTSCRIPT 

THERE IS AN IMPORTANT lesson in Christ’s miracle that should not get lost. It is not about the sweetness of fermented grapes nor the intoxicating power of alchoholic beverages, nor a lecture on the addictive nature of strong drink.

The lesson is that deep within the human soul is an emptiness that God placed there so we would search for Him. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV): “He has placed eternity in their hearts.”)

When we short-circuit that search and land on alcohol instead of Jesus, we short-change ourselves and wind up with a poor substitute. (That’s equally true when the substitute is something else, like workaholism, gambling, sports, adultery — anything that takes the place of our Lord.)

The real gift is Jesus, Himself. 

In Ezekiel, He promised to change hard hearts into soft loving hearts (Ezekiel 36:26). In John, He changed water into wine (John 2:10). In 2 Corinthians and Ephesians, He tells us to change our old selves into our new selves (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:24).

While we are called to seek the Lord, in the end, our salvation rests in His hands. 

His message to us was at least twofold: (1) I am God, and I can change water into wine with just a word, just as a spoke the universe into being, and (2) The wine I  made was a symbolic representation of joy and fellowship, not an invitation to debauchery and drunkenness.

Don’t miss the point our Lord made because of the “cutesy” jocular question mentioned earlier. 

PSALMS 118:23 (ESV)“This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our sight.”

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PRAYER 

O LORD, OUR GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL HEAVENLY FATHER, we are so dependent on Your goodness for our lives, our safety, our health, our salvation! Without Your caring nature, we would be eternally lost. With Your caring nature, we who call on You are promised eternal life with You. O Lord, as the song says, “We scare can take it in.” Bless us, O Lord, can keep us safely by Your side. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, AMEN

IS IT FAITH … OR RELIGION?

Faith, the Bible tells us, is believing in things that are not seen, but when coupled with intelligence, is based on the strongest and most reliable inference as to what truth is. Jesus told us He came to “bear witness to the truth” and that He is the truth. Religion is a man-made construct of ritual and liturgy that too often substitutes for the personal relationship with our Lord that He desires. We are called to surrender to the truth by our faith. We don’t want the practice of religion to substitute for the real thing.

  • MARK 11:22 (ESV): “And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.’”
  • ROMANS 4:16a (NKJV): “Therefore, it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed.”
  • TITUS 2:1 (NIV): “You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.”

THE FORM OF RELIGION

EVERY SUNDAY MORNING in churches across America, the same rituals play out. In some churches, the faithful are praising the God of creation, while in many others, half-hearted “attendees” are simply  going through the motions.

 We know this because the Bible is clear that “you will know them by their fruits’ (Matt. 7:16 NKJV), and the fruit from churches where the Bible is cast aside, or updated to be “relevant,” leads to false witness.

Most of the errant churches fall into one of three categories: mainline Protestant churches, liberal Catholic churches, or “seeker-friendly” churches. 

Each is marked with its own apostasy, and while true believers may be found in each one, the churches as a whole are failing to proclaim God’s truth as contained in His revelation.

SOUND DOCTRINE

TODAY’S RELIGION is that of “syncretism,” or a blend of all religions. This falsehood is built on the flimsy foundation that “all religions” teach pretty much the same thing, which is how to live “a good life. 

Living a “good life,” by this world’s standards, is considered “good enough” to warrant eternal life post-death in “a better place.” That “better place” is ill-defined as to substance and location.

However, for today’s populace, governed by reason, which is the conclusion of their individual thought process and a melding of the zeitgeist, or spirit of the times. 

“Everyone” does it or thinks it or says it, is a common refrain, as if truth were something discovered by counting noses — the more people do something or believe something, the greater likelihood it is of being true.

Of course, the Holy Bible teaches the exact opposite.

BIBLICAL TRUTH

THE BIBLE TEACHES God’s eternal and universal  truth, good for all people in all places for all time. It is not subject to “updating” or “tinkering” to make it relevant to one’s time and place.

When the faithful are called to worship God each Lord’s Day, the question remains: How many are worshipping their Creator and Savior, with whom they have a personal saving relationship, versus how many are going through the motions, content to follow familiar ritual, as though that alone were sufficient to give them brownie points with “the Man upstairs.”

At the end, our Lord tells us the tares (or weeds) will be separated from the wheat, but meanwhile, the two sit side-by-side, singing the same hymns, mouthing the same prayers, and hearing the same preaching.

When the final “Amen” is said and the church doors open, the faithful depart to re-enter the world, some to shine a light into the darkness while others go to blend in with it.

POSTSCRIPT

WHICH GROUP IS WHICH?

It’s a fair bet that those moved to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords are eager to share their faith, both by how they act and what they say, while those content to observe the liturgy of religion will leave all that “God talk” in church as they re-enter the “real world.”

God will not be mocked, nor will He be fooled as to which is which. He reads our hearts and knows where we side. 

The Lord is clear in telling us we are to be a part of the world, to witness to the world, to pour salt and light into the world, but we are not to love the world or become absorbed or conformed by it.

Instead, we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. 

That renewal takes place via God’s grace through our faith, not the false piety of “religion,” which can mean almost anything but has this in common with all religions: It is man-made and reflects man’s hopes and desires, not God’s truth. 

God’s truth requires faith on our part because only with faith are we able to please Him.

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PRAYER

LORD, THANK YOU for Your love and  tender mercy, we thank You for sending Your Son to pay the price of our sin so that we wouldn’t have to and we could be freed from sin and enjoy eternal fellowship with You. Help us now, O Lord, to speak for You to others, to share our faith, as we enjoy Your promises. Let us not block a personal relationship with You by interposing mindless ritual and liturgy that often substitute for the real thing. In Jesus’ name we raise this prayer. AMEN

AND GOD CREATED EVE

Eve might well be God’s most glorious creation, an improvement over Adam, yet protected by Adam, the only one of God’s creatures to be fashioned out of living tissue (Adam was formed from dirt) and the only creature who was met by a similar being whose main function was to protect and provide for her. She was loved from the beginning, yet she disregarded God’s voice spoken through her husband for the devil’s voice spoken through a snake. The legacy of her curse, pain in childbearing and conflict with her husband, brings to this beautiful, vulnerable creature pain and suffering that only God can remove.

  • Genesis 2:18 (NKJV): “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’”
  • Genesis 2:22 (NKJV): “Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.”
  • Genesis 3:16 (ESV): “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.’”

GOD’S MOST GLORIOUS CREATION

WHEN GOD CREATED MANKIND, his first image was Adam. Adam was a man, a male, the first human being. Adam knew this: that the God who created him  was superior to him in every way. 

Then God brought the Parade of Critters before Adam to see what Adam would name them. God did so to make the point that they were inferior to Adam.

Then God told Adam He would make yet another creature. This one would be “comparable” to him, meaning “similar to,” or “equal to,” or “on the same level as,” but not “identical to.”

God placed Adam into a deep sleep and removed a rib bone and from that bone created Eve. She was the first woman, a female, the second human being.

Eve was created to be Adam’s companion, love interest, and helper. She was designed to complement Adam, not to duplicate him. 

Therefore, God gave her traits and characteristics that He denied Adam, while giving Adam traits and characteristics He denied Eve.

Now, here comes the interesting part: What does it mean that God created Eve second and Adam first, and what significance, if any, does that have for us today?

EVE IS PROTECTED

IF EVERY ONE OF GOD’S creations, except light, was superior to and dependent on a prior creation, then certainly Eve would be counted superior to, and dependent on, a prior creation.

That would be Adam.

All of God’s creations prior to Adam were fashioned from nothing. Adam was fashioned from dirt. Eve was  the lone creation fashioned from living tissue. 

She also was the only creation afforded a protector and provider. No other creation — from birds to wild animals to small animals to fish — was greeted by something similar to it that also was designed to care for it and keep it safe.

Only Eve was.

She was greeted by a husband who loved and adored her. 

She was never alone in creation the way Adam was. She began life with a home and a husband. Moreover, to make her life even sweeter, she was told she could bear children.

GOD’S HURTFUL CURSE

FAST-FORWARD TO SIN, and God is reprimanding Satan, Adam, and Eve for their conspiracy to deny  His truth regarding the “special tree” that God told them to avoid.

Satan and Adam were given their curses, and Eve was given hers. Although fewer words in Genesis were used to describe her curse than the other two, her curse might have hurt the most.

God told her that her punishment for defying Him was to suffer hardship in childbirth and estrangement from her husband. God placed Adam as a protective covering for her, but she would chaff under his headship.

The two greatest joys in any woman’s life — her husband and her children — would be associated with physical or emotional pain.

ENTER TODAY’S WOMAN

THAT BRINGS US to the modern era and today’s woman. She’s a self-confident college-educated take-no-prisoners hard-edged overachiever who doesn’t  want to waste her life — her life being a woman.

Her highest calling today is not marriage and family but earning her stripes on the partner track or landing a high-paying STEM job or shouldering arms and patrolling crime-infested neighborhoods during the day’s darkest hours.

Today, she is not a “woman” but a non-gendered “person.” She wants preferential hiring and promotion status at work while sanitizing the environment from male crudeness and sexual innuendo.

When she arrives home, she is thrust back to the traditional female role of homemaker — the pivotal centerpiece of the family — and, sadly, many find the  transition difficult and painful.

This is the most tragic part of the curse for Eve — her vulnerable heart, that sweet, lovely, nurturing, caring, beautiful heart — is broken, hurting, and suffering through life.

Meanwhile, the Adam in her life stands by her side, longing to help and protect her, without having any more clue on how to do that than the first Adam had.

Only Jesus, the perfect God-man, got it right

Yes, the curse against Adam and Eve lingers, but God promises us abundant life with Him to those who believe in Jesus, repent of their sin and seek forgiveness, and turn their lives over to His control.

PRAYER

OUR LORD AND CREATOR, thank You for creating us in Your image, as Your  most precious creatures in all of creation. We revel in being latter day Adams and Eves and feel Your glorious touch in making us husband and wife, to love and cherish one another. We pray grace on today’s Eves, that their vulnerable emotions, which make them so special, will be protected and cared for by today’s Adams, and that they will be the helpers, the companions, and the soulmates that God created them to be. In Jesus’ name we lift this prayer, giving thanks and praise to God Almighty. AMEN

GOD: CALLING ALL MEN

God’s plan for men is to protect their wives and children and provide for them. He is to lead them in spiritual matters. God commands it; the wives desire it; the children need it. God will hold the husband/father responsible for the family’s well-being. When men fail to exercise their proper role, their wives are forced to step in, striving to fill a role God did not design them to fill. The harm to the family can extend downward to future generations.

  • Ephesians 5:23-25 (NKJV): “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. … Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”
  • 1 Peter 3:7 (ESV): “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

GOD’S HOLY DESIGN

GOD DESIGNED MEN to care for their wives. Men are to provide for them, love them, protect them, and help them raise their children.

 They are to see that their homes are well managed, that their children are taught about God and moral virtue, and that discipline should be loving and not harmful to the self-confidence of their children.

Men are to submit their wills and temperament to Jesus Christ, who in turn submits His will and temperament to the Father. 

Whenever anything goes wrong in the home, God will come looking for the husband-father. God will hold him responsible, regardless of what either his wife or his children do. 

If the man does not treat his wife in the honorable way God demands, his prayers will be hindered. 

Each one of those statements is drawn from Scripture. 

PROTECTIVE UMBRELLA

MARRIAGE IS LIKE A BUG.

That doesn’t sound very appealing, does it, but it actually  forms a beautiful picture of protective and nurturing harmony.

Picture the bug having a hard outer shell for protection while the life blood, its soft essential being, is on the inside.

So, too, with marriage. The husband-father is the hard outer shell, protecting his wife and children, while the wife-mother is the nurturing life force of the family. The family unit revolves around her. She makes the decisions and sets the family tone.

When the man fails to do his part, to live up to God’s calling on his life, the woman is forced to step into that role herself, a role she has not been designed to fill nor can she fill adequately.

Every woman who understands this principle will pray to God that her husband will guide her and lead her and be “the man” in her life and — this is very important — that he will take his cues from Jesus Christ in perfect submission.

FAMILY SCORECARD

 STUDIES SHOW A REMARKABLE outcome that reinforces God’s call on a man’s life.

It goes to which family member carries the most influence in impacting how the family develops. 

Surprisingly, it’s not the mother, although her role in the family is pivotal. She is the hub of the wheel.

Instead, it’s the father. 

When the children influence their families in spiritual matters, they record a dismal 3.5 percent success rate. That jumps to 17 percent success when the mother influences the family spiritually.

But God called the father to influence the family, and He designed the man to carry out that role. 

Studies show that when the husband-father influences the family in spiritual matters, the success rate far outpaces the 3.5 percent from the child-led and the 17 percent from the wife-mother led.

When the husband-father leads, the influence rate skyrockets to 93 percent!

LOVE AND RESPECT

 WHEN WE’RE WILLING to look, we can see the wisdom of God’s planning and design.

In Ephesians Chapter 5, the apostle Paul tells men they are to “love” their wives, to make them feel secure and wanted, desired, treasured.  

He also tells the women to “respect” their husbands, to submit to their authority as to the Lord, and to be a helpmate. 

Think of the woman as the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, as the counselor, as the rudder on the ship, guiding and directing while desiring to follow her husband’s lead.

Think of the man as Jesus Christ in the Trinity, as the leader and the one God holds responsible. God will come looking for the man, as He did Adam in the Garden, even though Eve and Adam both failed to obey Him. 

APPLICATIONS FOR TODAY

IT OFTEN IS EASY for marriages to develop along a “Y” shape. They begin with husband and wife working and living together as one unit until, slowly and surely, they veer off, the wife to care for the family and the husband to pursue his career. 

One day they recognize they’re strangers to one another, even though each meant well.  When this happens, generally it’s Eve who triggers the alarm, but it is Adam who has to pivot, recognize his wife’s heart-cry, and respond to her in love and resolve.

Adam must recalibrate his path along the trail laid down by Jesus and lead his marriage to repair the damage. 

When he obeys the Lord’s lead, the results are worth the effort. When he disobeys, the consequences wreak havoc.

It’s God’s perfect design. He created us as man and woman to fulfill his plan for the human race. Women generally fulfill their nurturing role in caring for the children; it’s absolutely critical to society that men equally fulfill their role to lead — to protect, guide, and provide.


PRAYER

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, blessed be Your name. We are so grateful, Lord, for Your perfect design for men and women to become husbands and wives and together, fathers and mothers. We are to fit together, O Lord,  like the common bug, with the woman’s soft life blood nurturing, and the man’s hardened shell protecting and providing. Together, Lord, two equal but differently designed humans fulfill Your plan for raising Godly children and subduing the earth. We pray, O Lord, that as men, we will lead our families by submitting our authority to that of Jesus Christ; we pray, as women, that we will respect our husbands as to the Lord. Lord, help the men live up to the task you’ve assigned them. To you, O Lord, belong all the honor, praise, and glory. In the name of Jesus we pray. AMEN