Vs. 11, “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” Question: Why would turning water to wine be Jesus’ first miracle (vs. 1-11)? First off, remember that this was a wedding (vs. 1). Just like in our society today, weddings were huge celebrations! And don’t forget, the picture of a wedding relationship is how Yahweh and Israel were and now how we the church and Jesus are. Some believe Mary might have been the host of the wedding and therefore that was why she was concerned. Other believe Nathaniel was the one who invited them. Jesus’ response to Mary was not referring to the wedding, but to the time when He would fulfill the prophecies through the cross. Notice how many at the wedding did not know where this new wine came from (vs. 9). It was for a select group of people to help them realize who Jesus really was. We then proceed to the first temple clearing (vs. 12-16). Question: Why did Jesus clear the temple out? Greed. The priests were corrupt and rejecting animal sacrifices by the people because of declared blemishes and then selling supposed unblemished animals at outrageous prices. And then lastly, Jesus refers to the temple being destroyed and rebuilt in three days (vs. 18-22).
Regarding application…Calling Others Out. Vs. 16, “To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” That’s what I’m talking about! Whoo-rah! Go Jesus! We build up this misconception about Jesus. Jesus is not to be pushed around, but Jesus isn’t in some unrighteous rage either. There is such a thing as Godly anger. The application for us today is not to sit idly by with no care about how others act in the fellowship of God’s people. We build up this attitude that it’s not our place to say anything. Brothers & Sisters, we are to sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17) and have a certain accountability in respecting God. Stand up for what is right. Stand up for giving respect to our God, especially in the church! Question: Will you have the courage to stand up and not be like others? Will you have the courage to call others out? And remember, we do so out of love and respect for God and others. So, let’s be more sensitive to a world that makes us desensitized.
Vs. 2, “Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?” First off…Merry Christmas!!!!! It’s only natural for us to look around at the injustices in the world and ask, “Why God?” (vs. 1-5). Instead of focusing on those who died, Jesus zeros in on those who are alive (vs. 6-9). The crippled woman is a perfect example of someone who could have easily blamed God in her circumstances, but she still faithfully went to the temple (vs. 10-17). Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed and yeast to address the fact that the church is growing and will continue (vs. 18-21). Though it’s growing, we are also reminded that many will choose to reject the message of the cross (vs. 22-30). And lastly, we see Jesus not allowing others to threaten or bully him (vs. 31-35).
Regarding application… Caring for Others. Vs. 14, “Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” I would like to think this doesn’t apply to me. I think it’s more common than we realize in the church. I recall reading about how a Pastor decided to not take a shower all week, lived like a homeless person, and then proceeded to go to his church the following Sunday. The church was going to have his associate preach that day. So, he carefully planned on checking the pulse of his church by how they responded to him. He laid out by the church building, all dirty and smelly. He wore a hoodie and let his beard grow, so no one recognized him. He noticed how church members either purposely avoided him or heard voices speaking harshly about him. He sauntered in during the service and sat in the back, he noticed no one greeted him. He proceeded to walk up the aisle allowing the stench to spread as people were dreading the thought of him sitting next to them. To their astonishment he started towards the pulpit. Voices were audibly heard as people started muttering who does this guy think he is, interrupting our church service? To their shock and shame, he took off his hoodie and overcoat to reveal his true identity. Needless to say, they were ashamed of how they treated him and he preached that day on loving others!
Vs. 6, “So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.” This is a timely reminder that the enemy is always at work. There would be four (Shephatiah, Gedaliah, Jehucal, & Pashhur) who would conspire to persuade King Zedekiah to basically have Jeremiah killed by lowering him into a cistern (like a well) and be left there to die! Zedekiah was a pawn. A weak king who tried to please people rather than God. Fortunately, a foreigner and good samaritan would come along in Ebed-Melech. Knowing Zedekiah’s weakness, he would come to the king and persuade him to save Jeremiah. The last weak evil king of Judah would attempt once again to solicit favor from Jeremiah and hear a better outcome. But, Jeremiah would stick to his courage and would deliver a message from God that would give Zedekiah one more chance to repent and turn back.
Regarding application…Helping Others. Vs. 9, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.” This is our Old Testament reminder of the value of taking the time to be a good samaritan…to help others in need. Ebed-Melech was no one special, even a foreigner and outsider…but when he saw the injustice going on, he took the time to help. So often we think the things we do in this life can’t make a difference. But this chapter reminds us otherwise. As we live each day this week, I’m pretty sure there are people who are in the very “pit” of life. They could be in your schools, in your workplaces, etc. Pray to the Lord that your eyes and heart would be open to find a way that you can “help another” this week. God has done so much for us and now it is our turn to do what unto others!
Vs. 19, “We love because he first loved us.” True believers will love each other…it’s that simple folks. John goes on to mention about testing spirits….remember that the New Testament had not yet been completeted…so these young Christians would know if someone was false by what they claimed regarding Jesus. But the true sheep will recoginze the loving voice of their Shepherd. John also reminds us of the fact that we should never forget…Jesus died for us (vs. 9-11). When we remember this fact,God’s Holy Spirit can reside in us and His love fills us (Vs. 12-16). And when we live this kind of love, we need to never fear the final day of judgment…because love drives out fear (Vs. 18-19).
Regarding application…Loving Others = Command. Vs. 21, “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” This is not God pleading or hoping that we love. God is not politely asking us to love others. God is commanding us to love. It is shameful to bear the name of Christ in our lives if we are discriminately choosing who we love and who we ignore or even hate in our lives. People may say, “I tried…I just can’t love him or her because of what they did to me.” And the key word to that comment is “I”. When we try to love, it is impossible to love others. But when we surrender our lives over to the Lord, His love is so powerful and great that it will overflow in our lives. If Jesus thought the same way so many of us have…then none of us would be alive today. Question: Who do you need to show God’s love to? Go forth and love deeply in the name of Jesus!
Vs. 8, “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” While there are several ending thoughts James gives, the key thought is once again the second coming of Christ. When Christians honestly look for the return of Christ, they can’t help but show the evidence of hope in their lives! While there were a few good rich people, God does not pull any punches when it comes to the rich. The rich often live very selfish lives and God warns us time and time again not to love money because James outlines a little bit of what might happen if you do (Vs. 1-6). We also see that we must be careful with swearing by an oath (like putting your hand on a Bible and swearing you are telling the truth). The way we live our lives should be enough of a testimony of our promises. And of course, when trials inevitably enter our lives…Question: What must a Christian do? Pray, Pray & Pray!
Regarding application…How We Pray For Others. Vs. 16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” S.A.G. (Student Accountability Group)…this is one of the inspirations of why we have S.A.G’s! We can’t make it on our own if we do not learn to pray for each other! In order to pray, we must break the dividing walls and humble ourselves so that through prayer we can truly be healed. Whether you are in the Youth group are you are at your own church…we must learn to depend upon each other! “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17). I’m looking forward to our first Corona Prayer Night tonight!