The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Water to Wine

 “You have kept the good wine until now!”- John 2:10b


What can we learn from Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine? Does it mean we can indulge in drinking wine, drunkenness? Is there something deeper to receive from this first of Jesus miraculous signs? I believe there is and that is what this study will aim at addressing.


When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (John 2:9-11)


The first miraculous sign of Jesus happened with no real fanfare though it became one of the best known miracles of Jesus. The wine provided to the master of the feast didn’t come with a tag that read “Miracle Wine.” Only Mary and the servants knew what Jesus had done. Jesus didn’t draw attention to what He had done. Jesus was discreet. He was humble and revealed Himself first to servants.


The first lesson to be learned here is that what we do for and in the name of Jesus doesn’t need artificial promotion. If the Spirit is in something, the Spirit will get the word out. We can announce ministry and invite people to it, but it is the Spirit who draws people to Jesus. If the Spirit is not in something all the advertising in the world isn’t going to work.


 Jesus can be trusted; He will not take advantage of you. Normally the diluted or lesser wine would be brought out last because the guests would already have been drinking wine and likely have become inebriated dulling their senses so that they would not be able to know the difference between good wine or the watered down variety. The usual practice would be to use people’s wine produced dulled senses as a deceptive advantage.  Jesus does nothing by way of deception; He does not take advantage of those who are vulnerable. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:43-44). Jesus is light, grace and truth (John 1). Saving the best wine for last tells us Jesus is straightforward with us and He can be trusted.


Jesus produces joy when He is made the center of attention. If you want joy in life (and at a wedding) make Jesus the center of attention. Usually the central focus of a wedding is the bride. Maybe the groom gets some attention, but the main attraction is the bride: her gown, her hair, her nails, her makeup, her choice of wedding intro music. But interestingly at this wedding the bride is not even mentioned! What does this tell us? It tells us that Jesus should be the center of attention at a wedding. Contrary to popular wedding protocol it’s not about the groom or even the bride, it’s about Jesus. John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). That is the key to joy. That is the key to abundant life. The further away from self and the closer to Jesus we come the greater our joy will be. If we want joy to flow at a wedding and in life, we need to go to Jesus and make Him the center of attention.


Wine is a type of joy; the fruit of the earth. Wine comes from grapes. But how is wine made from grapes? Wine is made from crushed grapes. The joy symbolized by wine necessitates crushing. Self must be crushed if we want God’s joy. The things of this world must be crushed and removed as obstacles, distractions and impediments to our walk with God if His joy is to flow freely and abundantly.


Wine is produced from crushed grapes that are waited on to ferment. There is a certain amount of waiting that precedes God’s joy. We don’t want to wait for God’s plan to develop. But if we act on impulse lunging ahead of God’s plan the wine of His joy will be bitter and spoil. We need to wait on the Lord for His joy to be made full (Psalm 16:11). Jesus has a plan, a plan that is abundant and full of joy; it is worth waiting for.


Jesus produces the best. The wine Jesus produced from the water was the best wine. If we want what is best, we will go to Jesus. If we want what is best, we will seek what Jesus has for us. Jesus is the best and He makes the best. Jesus knows exactly what we need and He provides it for us.


Jesus can turn the water of the word into the wine of redemption. Water is a symbol of the word of God (Eph. 5:26). Wine is used to symbolize a number of things in scripture: Wine is used in sacrifice to symbolize God producing joy from the fruit of the ground (Exodus 29:40). Wine can be abused and become a dangerous as snake venom (Leviticus 10:1-11; Deuteronomy 32:33; Habakkuk 2:5). Wine is something leaders are advised to abstain from because it impairs thinking (Proverbs 31:4-5). Wine can be an object of dedication to God when abstained from (Numbers 6:3-4). Wine can be a symbol of joy (Psalm 104:15; Isaiah 25:6; 55:1; Joel 2:19).Too much wine is not good; loving wine is not good (Proverbs 21:17). God’s love is better than wine (Song of Solomon 4:10). Wine can be a symbol of the confusion produced by sin (Psalm 60:3; 75:8; Jeremiah 51:7). Wine can be a symbol of lust and closely associated with it (Proverbs 9:2, 5; Revelation 18:3). Wine can be a symbol of God’s judgment and wrath on sin (Jeremiah 25:15; Revelation 14:8; 16:19). Wine is a symbol of Jesus redemptive atoning blood; He drank from the cup of the wine of God’s wrath so that we would not have to (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:23, 24; Luke 22:20; John 6:53–56; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:27).


All of these things can be associated with the wine at a wedding. But they all culminate in the blood of Jesus. Jesus takes the water of the word and turns us toward the wine of His redemptive blood. He is able to show us the righteous wrathful judgment of God on abominable sinful practices associated with wine. He is able to counsel us against sin that has been encouraged  with wine. Jesus shows us the alternative abundant life we can have in Him. We don’t need the wine of this world to produce His joy in us. He drinks the wine of the cup of God’s wrath on sin for us that we might be forgiven and cleansed from sin. He does this with His blood shed on the cross symbolized by the wine of the communion cup.  When we drink the communion cup together in the presence of the Lord Jesus at the Lord’s Table we are filled with His joy. We remember our redemption, forgiveness of sin and the just death penalty for sin that has been paid for us by Jesus. Those who believe in Jesus accept that truth and rejoice in His provision. That is the greatest aspect of the water turned to wine by Jesus.


Jesus is an example of God saving the best for last. The chronology of this miraculous sign testifies that God saves the best until last. The New Covenant of Jesus and His grace and truth supersede the Old Covenant of the Law. God always does exceedingly abundantly beyond what we ask or think (Eph. 3:20-21). If you are waiting on God and hope seems to be running out, just trust Him, He saves the best for last.


There are some common (as opposed to holy) questions that arise from the account of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Those questions are, “Does Jesus turning water into wine justify people drinking wine or other alcoholic drink; at least at weddings? Does it establish weddings as an acceptable time to get drunk?” In response to those questions and others like it I share a comment from a fellow pastor-teacher, Jon Courson:


Throughout history, there have been those who use this story as justification for drinking alcohol. “Jesus made wine. Jesus drank wine. So don’t talk to me about not drinking,” they insist. “If your argument is sincerely based upon the example of Jesus, you will never drink again,” I answer. “Look at Luke 22:18 where Jesus says He will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come. Even if Jesus was drinking fermented wine—a viewpoint to which I don’t personally subscribe—since He as your role model will not drink again until the kingdom comes, neither should you.”


As a pastor, I’m tired of seeing the damage alcohol inflicts upon our children, our families, and our society as a whole. Everyone who has ever begun to drink has done so thinking they would be careful, that they would remain in control. . . . Eighteen million Americans are known alcoholics prove otherwise. [1]


The problem is that people don’t tend to “remain in control” once they indulge wine. Look at some of the figures:“15% of the people living in the United States are considered ‘problem drinkers.’ . . . There are more than three million teenagers who are alcoholics. . . . There are an estimated 140 million alcoholics around the world.” . . . 1 in 25 deaths around the world can be attributed to alcohol. . . . Today’s stats show that nearly 2 million Americans suffer from alcohol related liver disease. . . . Research has shown that alcoholism plays a major role in aggression with as many as 40% of all aggressive incidents involving alcohol in one way or another. 22% of police’s time is spent on cases involving alcohol. . . . Drinking and driving is one of the most serious problems on our roads today. Recent data shows that nearly 40% of all traffic-related deaths are related to alcohol. . . . Drunk drivers are costing the United States approximately 50 billion dollars every year. Alcohol costs so many so much; their health, family, friends and their community.”[2]


The pastor Jon goes on to comment:


“Solomon declares, “It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink, lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that are of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more” (Proverbs 31:4–7). If you’re perishing, which literally means “damned,” or if you’re depressed to the point where you cannot bear life, you have Solomon’s permission to partake of alcohol.


But if you want to be a leader, he warns you to stay away from it lest you short-circuit your thinking process. Solomon was right, for science has since proven that every ounce of alcohol consumed permanently destroys ten thousand dendrites, or filaments, in the nerve cells of the brain. While it is true that each of us has millions of dendrites, I think it is fair to say that none of us has any to spare. If you’re like me, you need all the dendrites you can get! Be wise, precious people, and consider very seriously the effects of alcohol upon your spiritual and physical well-being, your family stability, and the health of our society.[3]


Really, we shouldn’t be looking for loopholes to indulge our flesh. I won’t go so far as to condemn those who do partake in alcoholic consumption as being in sin. Drunkenness is sin. Some Christians do drink wine and do so without sin. But I would simply say instead of indulging in alcohol and risking not only drunkenness but causing others to stumble because of our drinking alcohol, we should focus on and seek to be continually filled with the Spirit. That’s what Paul is inspired to tell us. He says, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). When we get drunk our sense are impaired and confused, dissipated. How much alcohol does it take to impair a person? Not much. Instead we should be seeking to have our senses intensified and empowered by the filling and refilling of the Holy Spirit. Be filled continually with the Spirit.


John goes on to conclude the account saying, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). The first miracle of Moses the law giver was to turn the water of the Nile to blood; a sign of judgment. The first miracle of Jesus the grace-Giver was turning water into wine; a type of joy. If you approach the water of the word legalistically you’ll find judgment; harshness. But if you approach the water of the word with grace, you’ll find the joy of Jesus. Be careful with your approach.

Jesus worked His first miraculous sign at a wedding in Cana. The marriage relationship is second only to our individual personal relationship with God in Christ. For our marriages to be fruitful and enduring we need the intervention of Jesus. We need Jesus to infuse washed up or watered down marriage with His joy. When a marriage is running low on what it needs, go to Jesus and do what He tells you to do.

We are like earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). And we need to fill our stone waterpots up to the brim with the water of Jesus’ word (e.g. Eph. 5:26). Then as we’re filled with the word, drink in and absorb what each of us as spouses need to do to bring sweetness to each other. As we serve each other in Christ, as we share in the water of the word of Jesus, He will put His joy in us as couples. Jesus can fill up the empty. He can use the vessels willing to be filled with His word. He can and will turn water into wine.

[1]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 450
[3]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 450

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Who Will We Wed, Frankenstein or Jesus?


His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” – John 2:5



The setting for Jesus’ first miraculous sign was a wedding. Weddings and marriage are God’s creation. They are important to Him. They are important to His Son Jesus. Weddings are times of great joy. Jesus spoke of abundant life and what better place to introduce the prospect of abundant life than a wedding? But weddings and marriages as a conduit of abundant life are being stopped up. Weddings today are known more for debauchery and drunkenness than holy unions. The presence of Jesus and outpouring of His joy are nowhere to be found in them.


The pure white gown of weddings and marriage are being dragged through mud. That which is holy is being desecrated. Marriage is being redefined so broadly that it is being robbed of meaning. Same-sex “marriage” unions and no doubt soon to be legislated polygamous marriage arrangements are creating a mutation. Like Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein opponents of traditional marriage are trying to replicate a creation of God. Body parts of immoral lifestyles are being sewn together. The lightening of unrepresentative legislation is giving this mutation life. And, . . . “It is alive!” The question we face now is, who will we wed, Frankenstein or Jesus?


Yes, “It is alive!” But like Dr. Frankenstein those playing with God’s creation fail to see the ramifications of what they are fabricating. This concoction of dead parts can’t produce new life. The parts don’t fit right. They can be sewn together like a patchwork quilt but they’ll never be as smooth and beautiful and intricately glorious as the original of God. Same-sex proponents and others can look at the statistically supposed mess heterosexuals have made of traditional marriage and claim, “We can’t do any worse!” But the truth is that things can get a lot worse. Marriage is being destroyed. When humans try to make something from dead cadaver parts of our modern day “new morality” it’s not pretty. Only Jesus can raise the dead. Fallen human efforts to create life lead to death. Mutations cannot reproduce. That “death” may walk and it may talk, but it is dead. Like the Frankenstein monster, it can think but it has no spirit.  Death produces death.


Yes, “It is alive!” Something new is being introduced. It seems to have life. But like another grotesque image, the psychopath in Silence of the Lambs, who murders victims, flays them and sews their skin to fit him with a perverse alternate gender body image, you can’t cover up the wicked reality. You can murder marriage, skin it, and try to cover yourself with it, but you won’t hide what you are underneath. “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths. His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray” (Proverbs 5:21-23).


Yes, “It is alive!” But it’s a poor piecemeal human alteration of a beautiful gift of God. Like Frankenstein’s monster, this new mutant marriage will roam the earth looking for fulfillment and meaning and all it will find is emptiness. It’s separate from and devoid of God’s presence and joy. The travesty of this marriage mutation is that this ugly product of human engineering is being stamped with Jesus’ approval by false teaching clergy. A warped “love” has been kidnapped from scripture and reprogrammed to condone something the God of love never intended. It’s a human tragedy all around.   In the end Jesus will say something similar to what He said to the church in Sardis, “I know your works, . . . you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1).


It’s questionable if we will ever be able to get this mutated horse back in the barn. We are at the point where there really is only one hope. If we respond on merely an earthly level through reason and politics we will continue down the road of despair. Our only pure hope is a heaven sent revival; a revival of God that gets to the core of the problem, the human heart. “Repent, and turn from all your transgression, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die . . . ?” (Ezek. 18:30-31). So I ask you, who will you wed, Frankenstein or Jesus?


Jesus waits at His altar, looking down to us, calling to us, inviting us, outstretched arms, love in His eyes, yearning for us to join the bride of Christ. He says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezek. 36:26-27). Jesus offers a new heart and new beginning; true life change.


The Holy Spirit regularly and in various ways convicts people about their sin. God graciously reaches out to those living in darkness. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). God hasn’t given up on the lost . . . yet. There’s still time to choose Jesus.


Each time the conviction of the Spirit is resisted or ignored the resistant heart gets a little harder; people drift and drive further from the Lord. There is a limit; a point of no return; a state of heart that people reach through persistent rejection of God where they are no longer able to respond to God (cf. John 12:39). The Spirit will not always strive with those who rebel against God (Gen. 6:3). I believe we are fast approaching that final state of darkness. Our only hope is one last holy wave of the Spirit that washes upon us like a giant tsunami of holy reality, truth and grace. God still desires none perish (2 Pet. 3:9). But a time of His judgment will eventually come. Will you walk the aisle with Frankenstein, really?


We live in a world addicted to pleasure. People are searching for happiness, fulfillment, meaning, and purpose. Their search implies they are at a loss for these things. They are empty. If they ever had a modicum of these things they have now run out of them. There’s no joy in life. The counterfeit “joy” they have settled for is as tasteless as water. What’s the solution? Jesus is the solution.


Come with me to that wedding in Cana where Jesus performed His first sign. The wedding was going as planned, until something changed. They ran out of wine. No more wine meant no more joy. It meant the wedding would likely end; it wouldn’t get where it needed to go; it would be anticlimactic. Wine is a type, a symbol of joy in the Bible. What could be done? How could the joy be replenished, refreshed?

And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” (John 2:3). Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew exactly what to do and where to go when there was a need. That’s a good example to follow. Whenever there is something missing, go to Jesus. Whenever we are at a loss, go to Jesus. Whenever we don’t measure up or we run out of whatever we need, go to Jesus. When you run out of God’s best, don’t try and substitute a watered down alternative, go to Him. Will you take His hand and walk the aisle with Jesus?

The presence of wine at the wedding should not be taken to endorse drunkenness or debauchery. Nowadays the wedding ceremony is brief and the reception long. People are married in the church and then indulge in wild reckless worldly partying that is anything but welcoming to Jesus. (Just listen to the lyrics of the music played at some wedding receptions; yes, “Christian” weddings too!). Wine was simply an acceptable beverage to consume at weddings. The wine had run out. You can walk the aisle with “another Jesus,” a counterfeit that cares little of holiness (2 Cor. 11:3-4). That leads to emptiness too. They needed more. We need more, more of Jesus.


Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4). Jesus gently rebukes His mother and tells her His hour had not yet come. What did He mean? Maybe Jesus was alluding to Mary’s motive not being pure. Maybe she wanted her Son Jesus to finally lay to rest any thought that He was the product of fornication. Since His birth whispers of illegitimacy were likely circulated by cynics of the incarnation account of Mary. Illegitimacy is not such a big deal in our day. It’s a pretty common practice for people to have children outside of marriage in our day. It was a big deal in Jesus day. It was a sin, a disgrace. It still is a sin. It’s no big deal in our day because society is moving away from God and His word and restraints on passion have been thrown off. What God thinks or whether or not a sin is being committed is not that important.


The dark shadow of illegitimacy appears to have been the accusation of those who rejected Mary’s incarnation account. Over thirty years after His birth the specter of immoral beginnings were being brought up to Jesus Himself by His detractors (John 8:41). Maybe Mary had had enough of such shameful allegations. Maybe she thought this was the perfect public setting to show by a miraculous sign of her Son that there really was something to His holy beginnings. But Jesus wasn’t concerned with what people thought about Him. We shouldn’t  walk the aisle with Jesus just to justify ourselves.


The “hour” of Jesus is the time of glorifying fulfillment of His redemptive mission. Jesus came to be the sacrificial Lamb; our substitute on the cross to pay our death-debt for sin (John 1:29). He came to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He’s a perfect example of what marriage is meant to illustrate. Loving selfless sacrifice and service is what keeps marriages together. He came to provide a death blow to sin and death by His atoning death on the cross and victorious resurrection from the dead. He came to give new life, abundant life (John 10:10). He came to complete His mission and be able to say, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). When we walk the aisle with Jesus, following in His steps, we learn from fellowship with Him and with each other in marriage, just what true love is.


There’s no evidence that Mary took offense at anything Jesus said or the way He said it. She simply received His words and then gave some direction to those serving at the wedding. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.(John 2:5). Good advice to be gleaned from Mary’s words here – “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Obedience and following the instructions of Jesus always lead to blessing. These are the last recorded words of Mary in the New Testament. Last words are always significant, they are culminating, climaxing, concluding. The last words of Mary, her conclusion to who she was and what she would be remembered by, were, “Whatever He [my Son Jesus] says to you, do it.” There aren’t many better last words! It’s as though Mary asks, “Who will you wed Frankenstein or my Son Jesus?”


Later in John’s gospel Jesus will connect love with obedience (John 14:15 and 21). He says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. . . . He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” It’s not enough to pay lip service to our love of the Lord. It’s not enough to merely say we love Jesus. Our love needs to be validated in action; it needs to be real. If we say we love Jesus, and disobey Him, we are liars (e.g. Mat. 7:21-24). Love and God’s word are wed. We speak God’s truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Love and disobedience are a divorce from God (1 John 3). And yet that is the new “love” that the world has created and that unfortunately parts of the church have adopted. Love always implies accountability and responsibility. Love obeys. Don’t settle for walking the aisle with a cardboard cutout of Jesus that silently approves your every whim and sinful way. If you love Jesus, you will obey Jesus. To wed Jesus is to obey Him.


If we say we love Jesus and want Him to come to our wedding and yet we indulge in sex before marriage (i.e. fornication) then our “love” isn’t worth too much. If we say we love Jesus and want Him to be central in our marriage and yet we are unfaithful to our spouse and commit  adultery in mind or actual act our love isn’t worth too much. If we say we love Jesus and want Him to attend our same-sex wedding and bless our same-sex marriage even though His word calls such relationships sinful, what does that really say about our “love”? The Bible defines such sexually related sins very clearly and calls believers out of it (e.g. 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Really, who are you going to wed, who will you walk the aisle with, Frankenstein’s mutation or Jesus?


If we say we love Jesus and disregard His word and don’t do, “Whatever He says,” then we are hypocrites, the truth is not in us, and we are living a lie. When we deny the sin that the Spirit points out to us, we are self-deceived and in reality call God a liar (1 John 1:8, 10). That’s of the enemy. In the end and in every life situation the solution is really quite simple yet profound. It boils down to, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Just do it! Just do what Jesus tells you to do.  In the power of the Spirit, do it! Walk the aisle with Jesus!


6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. (John 2:6-8). Those used by Jesus to work this miraculous sign demonstrate three characteristics which those who want to be used by Jesus to do great things should also follow. We need a great work of God in our day. Saving marriage and seeing revival requires some heavy lifting. We must make ourselves available to Jesus. We need to stop saying one thing and living another. Our marriages must become example of God’s best. We need to get right with Jesus. We need to walk the aisle with Jesus and make Him the center of our weddings and our marriages. If we truly want to experience and help others to share in the greatness of Jesus joy, happiness, fulfillment, meaning, and purpose, we need to start serving our Lord. 


If you want to be used by Jesus to do great things obey Him don’t argue with Him. Jesus told the servants to fill the waterpots and they obediently filled the waterpots. They didn’t argue with Jesus. They didn’t ask, “Why do we have to fill the waterpots with water, aren’t we looking for more wine?” They simply trusted and obeyed Jesus command. We have to submit our will and even our understanding or lack thereof to Jesus. Yes, we have to prepare a reasoned and revelatory response to the purveyors of the corruption of marriage. But we shouldn’t try to argue and persuade Jesus to accept or condone their alterations of marriage. There really isn’t room for compromise with corruption. “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Their argument is not with us, it is with Jesus. They have to decide whether or not they will walk the aisle with Jesus. They have to choose to wed either Frankenstein or Jesus. We need only to point these people to Jesus. He can handle the questions. Our duty is to simply obey Him. Then He will use us to work His work.


If you want to be used by Jesus to do great things obey Him to the full extent. “They filled them up to the brim.” They filled the waterpots as full as they could. They didn’t understand what Jesus would do, but they did as much as He asked them to do and to the fullest extent of what He asked them to do. We have to be wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus if He is going to use us. When the enemy comes in like a flood the Spirit of God raises up a standard against that enemy (Isaiah 59:19). We are that standard, that banner, that line of defense in the hand of the Holy Spirit. Let’s commit fully to our Commander in Chief. Let’s walk the aisle with Jesus with all our heart! We wed Jesus for life. We throw the little black book of alternative loves away.


In the Book of Acts Jesus speaks of an infilling of the Spirit, the baptism with the Holy Spirit that goes beyond mere filling to the brim. He speaks of an overflowing experience with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8 Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples. He said when this happened they would be empowered to serve and witness for Jesus. That word “upon” is a translation of the Greek preposition epi and refers to an overflowing, a flowing over of something. The baptism with the Holy Spirit is that superabundant overflowing relationship with the Spirit where we have more than enough of Him and He has all of us to use as He pleases. Does Jesus have all of you? Are you filled to the brim and overflowing with Jesus? If so, get ready to be greatly used by Him.


If you want to be used by Jesus to do great things you have to trust Jesus one step at a time. Jesus didn’t lay out a detailed plan or strategy for the servants. Jesus simply told them step by step what to do: see those waterpots; fill those waterpots with water; draw out some of the liquid out and give it to the master of the feast. They simply obeyed each step of the way until the miracle happened. A wedding marks a beginning. Marriage is a lifetime of ups and downs, good days and bade days, growth and persevering, of growing in true love. The state of marriage today is not going to revert to what it should be overnight. It is going to take a persistent, persevering step by step obedience to the Lord. Walking the aisle with Jesus is only the beginning. We need to go on with Jesus.


The miracle of Jesus happened when the servants fully obeyed and did their best entrusting the rest to Jesus.  It’s going to take a miracle of God to change our world. It’s going to take a revival from heaven. God is willing, I believe, and He is looking for people through whom He can work. He is scanning the earth looking for those whose heart is loyal to Him (2 Chron. 16:9). He’s looking for those willing to obey Him without argument, obey Him fully, and to obey Him one step at a time by faith. God still wants to do great things. Our part is, “Just do what Jesus tells us to do.” Who will you wed, Frankenstein or Jesus? Come walk the aisle with Jesus.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is Jesus Invited to Your Wedding?

Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. – John 2:2



It’s not an accident that the context for Jesus’ first miraculous sign was a wedding. Weddings and marriage are important to the LORD. God invented marriage (Gen. 2:24). Weddings begin marriage and weddings are a big part of society today. Statistics bear this out:


  • 2.3 million Couples are married every year in the United States; 6200 weddings per day.
  • The average number of guests invited to a wedding is 178
  • $72 billion per year is spent on weddings
  • The average wedding budget is $20,000
  • The average spent on wedding rings is $1,016
  • $19 billion is spent per year on wedding registries
  • $8 billion per year is spent on honeymoons
  • Average honeymoon budget is $3,657
  • Most wedding guests spend between $70-$100 on a gift
  • 80% of weddings take place in churches or synagogues
  • One third of those married each year have been married before[1]


That last statistic leads us to ask about the state of marriage. Weddings and marriage are important to God. He invented this covenant relationship. That 80% of weddings take place in a house of worship is evidence that people still see the connection between God and weddings and marriages. People still value committing themselves to each other in the sight of God. But it should not be a surprise that whatever is important or valued by God will be attacked by the enemy Satan. Statistics bear this out; marriage is under fire:


  • While some dispute the numbers it is generally accepted that 50% of marriages end in divorce – God “hates” divorce (Malachi 3:10-17).
  • While there are 6200 weddings per day, there are 6,646 divorces per day; 46,523 per week. People are ending their marriages faster than they are starting them.
  • The top five reasons for divorce are: poor communication; finances; abuse; no longer attracted to one another; and infidelity
  • The more you are divorced, the more you are likely to be divorced: 41% of first marriages end in divorce; 60% of second marriages end in divorce; 73% of third marriages end in divorce
  • The most expensive divorce to date is Mel Gibson’s divorce. He paid his ex-wife $425 million in their divorce settlement.
  • The most divorces on record by one person is Zsa Zsa Gabor who was married 9 times. Her present marriage has lasted over 27 years.
  • Lowest rates of divorce occur among jobs/careers related to: Ministry – approximately 6%; transit police – 5.26%; optometrists – 4.01%; agricultural engineers – 1.78%.
  • Highest rates of divorce occur among jobs/careers related to: Dancers or choreographers – 43.05%; bartenders – 38.43%; massage therapists – 38.22%; gaming cage workers – 34.66%; and extruding machine operators – 32.74%
  • Children from divorced families are 2 times as likely to drop out of high school
  • Children of divorce frequently have lower academic achievement
  • 25% of adolescents who experienced divorce become disengaged from families
  • Statistics show children of divorce are more likely to have academic, behavioral and psychological problems
  • 1/3 of divorces are caused by online affairs
  • 54% of men do not believe online affairs are adultery
  • 75% of men surveyed think it’s okay to visit adult websites
  • 30% of cyber affairs escalate from e-mail to telephone calls to personal contacts


Wedding, marriage and family were created by God and are important to God. Marriage is the glue that holds society together. As marriage and family goes, so goes society. Whether or not your marriage is one of abundant life is greatly impacted by your relationship with God. For instance, those who attend church regularly are 35% less likely to divorce than those who do not or who don’t attend church at all.[2] That means if 50% of marriages end in divorce for the general public, that the number for those who regularly attend church is about 17.5%. That’s a big difference, but still too high I’m sure for God.


We invest a lot of time and money on weddings and marriages. But the divorce rate demonstrates that marriages are faltering at an alarming rate and the cost in terms of family dysfunction, pain and finances is exorbitant. What is the solution? The better rate of healthy marriages among those who regularly attend church points us in the right direction. The more of God we have in our lives the healthier our marriages and families will be. The closer we come to Jesus the better our marriages and families will be. Having Jesus at the center of our marriages and families doesn’t mean we won’t have problems. It does mean we will be more likely to weather the storms of life. I encourage you from the start, invite Jesus to your wedding and keep Him at the center of your marriage and family. That is a strong message that comes through in John 2.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

People weren’t able to afford to regularly plan a few weeks’ personal vacation during the year in Jesus’ day. If they did that, they might not eat or some other pressing need would go undone that would have dire consequences. There were feast days and holy times of worshipping the Lord. But taking a weak off for a family vacation was not practical.

But there was one time in life when allowances were made to afford a week’s break from work – The wedding celebration. A Jewish wedding lasted one week. And while it was a time for the bride and groom to take off from work, it wasn’t like our modern day honeymoon. During this week family and friends would come and stay in the home of the bride and groom. As part of the wedding arrangement the groom would have built a house for his bride. This home was usually attached to his father’s house.

The Jewish wedding celebration was a honeymoon, family reunion, bachelor party, wedding shower and wedding all rolled into seven days of celebration. It was a glorious time in their life. In John 14 it is believed Jesus alludes to this wedding practice when He says, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). These words, when coupled with the reference to the “marriage of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7) present a beautiful illustration of Jesus and the church.

In Jesus’ day marriages were arranged by families. Two people would be betrothed to one another as children. This betrothal was binding. To get out of a betrothal required a divorce. When those betrothed to one another were ready to marry they would enter into the engagement. During this time the groom would go away and prepare the living quarters he and his bride would move into. The bride to be would wait patiently, alertly, not knowing the exact time her groom would finish his building and come to get her. It could be any time of the night or day!

Once he was ready the groom would come and take the bride. They would enter into marriage with a ceremony and a week’s wedding celebration. During this week, with all the family and friends assembled in their home to celebrate, the bride would be kept secluded in a separate room. Her and the groom would spend intimate time together. At the end of the week the groom and bride would emerge from the honeymoon room with their bed sheet as proof of the bride’s virginity and consummation of their marriage. They were then officially married and they would celebrate with a reception and gigantic culminating meal.

In the same way Jesus has gone away to prepare a place for His bride the church. When He is ready He will come unannounced and unexpectedly for His bride. He will rapture her to heaven where for a week of seven years there will be a wedding celebration. At the end of the seven years He and the bride the church will emerge, their marriage complete, and will return to earth for all to see and to reign. Will you be ready for your Groom when He returns for you? “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:9).

2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

The world is in the process of redefining marriage. While many have opted for the stance that morality cannot be legislated, others have pursued legislating immorality. Our nation and much of the world has legislated the immorality of same-sex marriage. Polygamy won’t be far behind. Age of consent is being legislated away to allow for and approve what would previously have been pedophilia. Marriage between humans and animals will no doubt one day be acceptable. With all this foolish worldly trending away from God one has to wonder if Jesus is even invited to weddings anymore.

If you are planning a wedding have you made plans to invite Jesus to your wedding? Think about that. You may respond “Of course!” but if you were really mindful of inviting Jesus to your wedding would anything you promote or allow at your wedding be a source of embarrassment in the presence of Jesus? If you really have invited Jesus to your wedding, will you honor your most honorable Guest?

The very first thing to keep in mind and heart when a wedding is being planned is to prayerfully send out invitations to Jesus and His disciples to attend. Every facet and part of a wedding should be planned with Jesus in mind. The ceremony, the reception, the music, the dancing, food and beverages, everything at the wedding should be to the glory of Jesus; to the glory of God. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Is this how you intend to plan your wedding? Are Jesus and His disciples invited to your wedding? A wedding isn’t really what a wedding is meant to be without the presence of Jesus in attendance.

Another important even more basic foundational point to be seen here is that, the setting for Jesus first miraculous sign was a wedding; Jesus gave approval and made His presence known with a wedding. Weddings are important! Jesus makes His presence known with weddings. A wedding and marriage illustrates an important aspect of Jesus’ personal relationship with His bride the church as well as with individuals who make up that church (e.g. Eph. 5:21-33).

Bible teacher and Pastor Jon Courson points this out well when he comments:


Jesus’ presence at this particular wedding signals His stamp of approval upon all aspects of the institution of marriage—civil, legal, and religious. A wedding ceremony itself has an effect that is not often understood. Couples find a commitment made to each other in a public ceremony harder to break when the going gets tough. Perhaps that is why statistics show that those who live together before marriage have a substantially higher divorce rate than those who don’t. I continue to be amazed at the large number of couples who say, “What does a piece of paper matter? Why can’t we just make a private commitment to God and to each other without all of the legal and religious procedures?” Here in John 2, at the very outset of His public ministry, Jesus honored and elevated the institution of marriage.[3]

Jesus felt and feels weddings are important. He chose a wedding as the setting to introduce His ministry. Weddings should be holy events that we invite Jesus to attend. Marriage is holy and sacred and worth standing up for. Does your wedding and marriage announce the presence of Jesus? Is Jesus invited to your wedding?


[3]Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 447