October 2014


We had look at the purpose of Jesus performing miracles in the previous post. We have looked at the glory of God that is manifested in that miracle.

Now let us consider another  question that some of us may be wondering about the First Miracle Performed by Jesus in Canna

What can we learn from this miracle >

Let us consider the dialog between the Lord and Mary

Mary:  “They have no wine.”
Jesus : “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?
                My hour has not yet come.”
Mary: “Whatever he says to you, do it”

Running Out Of Wine

This is important for one day, our own wine will deplete as well

We know that wine is an important drink during wedding feast, I am sure that the master must have prepare a lot of wine, but yet there were so many guest. As the result, they finish up all the wine that was prepared. Most of us will find it disappointing

The same thing can happen to our lives as well. There are times where we enjoy peace and joy, and accidents occur. We tried very hard to prevent the problem from happen, but our ability is limited. So the wine we prepare may be used up.

That is when we need Jesus to be with us, to help us with our limitation. We need Jesus to be with us in our home, so that even if our wine ran out, Jesus will be there to help us.

Luckily, the couple invited Jesus to their house for the feast, if not they would have been helpless when the wine had run out. This is a problem that cannot be resolved even with money. There are no 24 hour convenient stores and supermarkets  during the time of Christ and they cannot buy wine even if they had the money.

But because Jesus is with them, he can turn water into wine. That is why we need Jesus in our lives and to allow him to rule over us and our house, we  need to rely on him in time of difficulties and mishaps.

Being Willing To Ask God For Help

Whenever we encounter situation when our wine is used up,  we need to tell our problems to Jesus just like Mary coming to Jesus with the problem.  God is always willing to help us through our difficulties

Sometimes the storms in life can distress us and make us anxious. But we need to rely on God and we need to tell him our suffering and our troubles. But often we choose to share them with friends instead of trusting Jesus.

Indeed friends can sometimes offer us help and advices, but there are many times they can only helplessly watch us in our problems. Perhaps they can make wine, but such processes require time, for no one can turn water into wine like Jesus

But often we find it hard to do so for we often hear comments like “Yes I trust him, but he ignored me in my prayers”

But let us notice what Jesus said to Mary 

“Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? 
  My hour has not yet come.”- Jesus (Jn 2:4)

Jesus did not immediately say “Alright, lets turn some water into wine” but he rejected saying “my hour has not come”. Sometimes we wonder why God does not grant our request now, and when is this “Good time” coming,

It appears as if Jesus did not listen and our problems are still left unsolved .

The Importance Of Following Instructions From The Lord

“Whatever he says to you, do it” –Mary (Jn 2:5)

This is the most important part of the solution is written here. For Mary did not know how or when the Lord will solve the problem, but she believe that God had his time to help. She is willing to believe and wait until Jesus tells them what to do.

So now we hear the instruction so of Jesus

1. Fill the water pots with water
2. Draw some out, bring it to the master of the feast

Step 1 can be followed without consequences, but the second instruction sounds dangerous. Even though others may not know that this was water, but the servants knew. So if we are the servants, can we follow the command of Jesus?

But these servants followed the command and this require both courage and faith. Instead of just putting our focus on the wine, let us look at the faith of these workers. They follow the instructions fully, and the result was that everyone can enjoy the wine.

We all believe in Jesus, but how many of us will be willing to obey his command?  We need to believe in Jesus so that we can receive eternal life, but will we follow all his instructions?

Obedience And Salvation

Jesus once warned us

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
  shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he
  who does the will of My Father in heaven.

   Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord,
  have we not prophesied in Your name, cast
   out demons in Your name, and done many
  wonders in Your name?’

  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew
  you; depart from Me, you who practice 
  lawlessness!’” – Jesus (Matt 7:21-23)

The instruction of Jesus are given according to the commands of the father. These command concern salvation, and how can we disobey them if we believe in Jesus and calls him Lord?

Today many Christians called Jesus Lord, but yet the many things they chose to do is not according to his instruction. Some people mock at us wondering why we place so much emphasis in how to perform sacraments such as baptism and holy communion. They accuse us of being legalistic and just following blindly. They often say that as long as we understand the significance and the teaching behind it , it would have been sufficient.

We tell ourselves that because we are under the grace of God, we do not need to adhere to Gods standards in the 10 commandments and man only need to keep coming to Jesus for forgiveness. We unknowing turn the grace of God into a license to disobey him without consequences.

We say that the grace of God is with us, and there are still miracles where demons are being cast out and people healed and that means God is please with us everything is fine.

But the disciple of Jesus did not do that, they believed and followed all the teachings of the Lord. The told people to be baptised for the forgiveness of their sin and told them to follow God.

Today many Christians feel that these do not matter, but  is that what Jesus says?

Jesus mentioned it one more time in Luke saying

Conclusion

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?  Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:  He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” – Jesus (Lk 6:47-49)

When the day of judgement comes, the faith that we build will be flooded. That is the time we can test if our faith could withstand the flood.  At that time, those who choose to follow their own ways will find that their faith collapsing in face of the flood of Gods judgement

From the miracle at Cana we learn that it is important to follow the instruction of Jesus. Perhaps we may think that we have unlimited wine and we do not need the help of Jesus. But we know that even if our wine is unlimited, our life is definitely limited.  All man , be it a king or a beggar, will use up his life

If we run out of wine, Jesus can turn water into wine, and if we run out of life, Jesus can give us everlasting life.

John recorded this miracles so that you would believe that Jesus is the Christ, by believing in him, we can receive everlasting life.

Let us keep this message deep within our lives.

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Introduction

We have covered the first two lessons that Christians ought to know in life, in the previous blog post, we understand that Christians ought to learn to fear God first and foremost.

Let us continue with the third lesson.

Lesson 3: To Learn Righteousness

Prophet Isaiah once said

“With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;
For when Your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
   Let grace be shown to the wicked,
  Yet he will not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the Lord.” – Isaiah (Is 26:9-10)

God executes judgment so that people will see and learn righteousness. In fact God is watching over all that we do. So we must all be mindful that God is watching. God is not watching us like a cosmic policeman ready to give you a citation whenever you make a mistake. But he watches like a father to ensure that his children does not sin and loses their salvation.

We all have experience being a child. Sometimes children takes pleasure in disobeying their parents. They start by disobeying subtlety, intently observing the reaction of the parents.  They begin by being disobedient in small things, eventually their disobedience will grow greater.

Sin works in the same way, we will not want others to know when we sin in the beginning. That is because we feel ashamed by it,  therefore we take our time and sin quietly at the background. But once we notice that there are no retribution, our actions get bolder and bolder
The Case For Delayed Judgment

Sometimes we feel that God choose not to take action because he loves us.  But we only understand the pain and fear when God judges us later on for the sin.

In fact, our God is not one that will repay evil for evil immediately . God often show patient to sinners and treat evil with good. Sadly, modern man did not see it as a chance given by God for man to repent. Worst still when there are some who view this mercy and grace as God being afraid of them. As the result they continue to sin and they lose that chance for repentance

It is ironic that when God decided to execute his judgement, man then  accused God of cruelty. We often fail to consider if the punishment a result of Gods cruelty or mans disobedience

That is why Christians ought to know the righteousness of God as well as his love. for man For God will judge us according to his righteousness eventually .

How do we learn the righteousness God? This is a very broad topic and could lead to many blog posts. So let us look at some of the points raise by Jesus to scale down the discussion.
Lesson No 1 : To Let Your ‘Yes’ Be ‘Yes’ and Your ‘No’, ‘No’

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’
For whatever is more than these is from the
evil one.” – Jesus (Matt 5:37)

Jesus wanted his disciples to be righteous, and he wanted righteousness to begin at their speech. A righteous man is one who could discern between right and wrong. It is true that many of us can discern between right and wrong, it is just that we refrain from judging often.

Judging here is not about being mean and rude to the offender. It does not require us to hurt or bring bodily harm to anyone. It requires us to be open to about the fact that the action committed is sin. Our purpose is not to condemn people to hell but to turn them from their wrong.

Courage is needed to judge for no one likes to be called a sinner. Indeed no man would want to hear messages that point out their sin and wrong doing. People who had the courage to judge are often faced with threats and accusation of things that they did not do.

It is these thoughts of repercussion which tend to silence us. It make us ask ourselves “Why should I be bothered to speak out against this ? The person sinning is not my child or my brother, I should look out for my own interest instead.”

As the result we hide behind the banner of  “Not being judgmental” , “Not showing partiality” and “being a man of peace”. So we choose not to bring up the matter of sin and we push that responsibility to God.  We believe that by not being judgemental we bring harmony to the house of God.

That may be good in the eyes of men, But have we understood what it really meant to be a peacemaker?

What is a True Peacemaker?

Being a peacemaker is not about  being a “Goody two shoes” before man. Peace can only be found within the church when the church is able to discern between right and wrong, sin and righteousness. The work of a peace maker is to lead people so that they can be reconciled with God.

It is necessary for him to point out the areas in which one needs to repent.  A peacemakers must do this not in a self righteous “holier than thou” attitude  but in a humble, sincere way. His purpose is to lead the person back to God and his job is to point out where sin is lurking so that one could repent before God.

True peace arrives when God forgives the sins of the sinner.

A peacemaker is not one who sweep sins under the carpet. Even if the sin is hidden from the eyes, the stench can never be hidden. Others will smell the stench and look under the carpet.

A peacemaker is one who teaches right and wrong and leads people to repent and be renewed in their lives. He is one who discern good and evil.  That will mean that he cannot remain a “Mr Nice Guy” forever.

There is a popular quote that we often hear

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph
is for good men to do nothing” – Lee Tolstoy / Edmund Burke

It will be hard for one to learn righteousness if everyone choose to remain silent about sins.

To Speak Responsibly Without Idle Words

Even though it is a Christian duty to be open  about sin and to preach righteousness. Jesus also gave us a word of caution

“But I say to you that for every idle word
men may speak, they will give account
of it in the day of judgment.  For by your
words you will be justified, and by your
words you will be condemned.”- Jesus (Matt 12:36-37)

There are times we speak idle words without thinking of its consequences. We think that our words will disappear once it leaves our mouth. But we need to account for everything we speak. God place emphasis on it as words can either make or break a person.

Let us remember the time when the Israelites left Egypt, during that time not all who followed are the people of God.

“A mixed multitude went up with them also,
and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock” – Moses (Ex 12:38)

Among them are people who knows nothing of the promises of God. They did not seem to care for they only wanted to fulfil their lust and to gain benefits. As Israel journeyed in the wilderness they started many troubles among the people, they crave for meat and were sick of manna, they incited the people of God and influenced them to follow their craving, they speak idle words and in the end they were faced with the judgment of God.

Let us learn righteousness and the words of God, let us learn righteousness from the words of God. Let us be able to discern between right and wrong and to lead a simple life before God.

Lesson No 2 : To Be Fair and Not Show Partiality

Paul reminded masters to be fair to workers

“Masters, give your bondservants what is
just and fair, knowing that you also have
a Master in heaven.” – Paul (Col 4:1)

In those days, only the rich have servants. But today  many families have domestic maids who help in the house . Sometimes we tend to neglect these people, we are good to everyone else accept our maids and workers who work for us. We think that it is alright  since we are paying them for the work. We felt that it is only fair.

We fail to consider that they are also human beings, they are created by God just like you an I. They too have one master which is God. Sometimes we forget and we ill treat our subordinates and workers. As the result, we bring shame onto the name of God.

Elder James once rebuked the church leaders for showing partiality to the rich man and mistreating the poorer members in the church by telling them to sit at their feet. He claim that such partiality is evil before God and is sin.

But the question is, do we still regard this as sin?

Many Christians will declare that partiality is a bad thing, but they will not dare to call it a sin. But is that what the bible teaches?

“but if you show partiality, you commit sin,
and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” – James (Jas 2:9)

The Truth About Partiality Within Men

Therefore let us learn to treat others fairly, and to show no partiality. For that is important in the eyes of God.Just as Moses who once instructed the judges of Israel

“Then I commanded your judges at that time,
saying, ‘Hear the cases between your brethren,
and judge righteously between a man and his
brother or the stranger who is with him.
You shall not show partiality in judgment; you
shall hear the small as well as the great; you
shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for
the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard
for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.’” –Moses (Deut 1:16-17)

As human beings, we tend to refrain from rebuking a the rich and powerful. But when we see the poor committing the same wrong, we tend to openly persecute him. What is worst is that we claim to be judging base on righteousness.

Perhaps we can fool the eyes of man, but there will be some who will think otherwise.

We may not be guilty for great misdeeds, but sometimes we show favouritism in the little things that we do.

For example some parents show favouritism to the child that could perform well in school. We allow them to go scot free when they make a mistake, but we reprimand the other children when they commit the same mistake.

We are often guilty of making judgment base on appearance. Let take a look at one more example

When we find two children in the fight, and one of them crying, we will assume that the child who is crying is the victim and the one that is not crying is the aggressor. But we need to be fair and realize that the one that is crying may not necessary be the victim.

In Conclusion

We have discussed two aspect of learning righteousness. We have discussed 2 aspect of learning righteousness

1. Let our yes be yes and our no , no
a. To be a peacemaker between man and God requires us to discern good from evil.
b. We have to speak responsibly and not with idle words
2. We have to learn not to show partiality
a. To be fair to everyone
b. Not to allow appearance to determine our judgment

Let us learn to practice them in our daily lives

Introduction

“And truly Jesus did many other signs
  in the presence of His disciples, which
  are not written in this book;  but these
  are written that you may believe that
  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and
  that believing you may have life
  in His name.”- John (Jn 20:30-31)

There were about 35 miracles recorded within the gospel, 8 of these miracles are recorded in the gospel of John. Out of the 8, 7 were performed when Jesus is alive and 1 was performed after his resurrection.

But John gave 2 reasons for recording the miracles.

Firstly He hope that by reading them the audience will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. Jesus is the king that was promised by God in the Old Testament, he came so that those who believe in him can enter into the kingdom of God

For Isaiah once prophesied

“For unto us a Child is born,
  Unto us a Son is given;
  And the government will be upon His shoulder.
  And His name will be called
  Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
   Of the increase of His government and peace
  There will be no end,
  Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
  To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
  From that time forward, even forever.
  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”- Isaiah (Is 9:6-7)

God will come in the form of flesh to establish this kingdom of God, and Jesus is that child, the true God in the flesh.

Secondly, John hope that by reading it we too can believe in him and receive eternal life through his name.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.”-Jesus (Jn 5:24-25)

The Importance Of Knowing Christ

We know that it is appointed for man to die once and after to face judgement (Heb 9:27). Everyone who sins will be judged and be sentence to everlasting death. Those who had their sin forgiven can enter into the kingdom of God. To Christians,  Eternal life is about staying forever with the Lord and to be at peace with him.

For we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23-27). Even though a man can choose to stop sinning , he can choose to do good and be charitable in all that he does, he cannot atone for the sins he had already committed  For his past mistakes cannot  be wipe off just because he is now good and charitable.

Perhaps he may be rewarded for the good that he had done, but he still need to pay for the sins he had committed.

That is why sin can only be forgiven through Jesus, God chose to come in the form of flesh to suffer and be punished for our sin. That is why Jesus need to sacrifice so that those who believe can be forgiven and not come to judgement.

But the question is “How do we know that Jesus is indeed that God who came in the flesh, how can we be sure that he is the Christ?”

That is why John decided to share these miracles, proving that Jesus is indeed Christ.

The First Miracle At Cana


  
An Example Of A Stone Jug Used During The Jesus Time

The first miracle of Jesus is performed in Cana, it is recorded in Jn 2:7-11. In this miracle, Jesus turn water into wine. And John shared the effect that this miracle had on the disciples

“This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee,
  and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed
  in Him “- John (Jn 2:11)

I wonder what reaction we would have upon hearing this. For most marketing department will tell us that first impression last forever. That is why many would expect that the first miracle must be important, special and great.

But strangely, we regard changing water into wine as something insignificant and there is nothing special about it. We tend to see this as small comparing to healing the lame, the blind or raising the dead.

Even though a marriage feast that ran out of wine is a spoiler . But we have read that the guest had already drank much wine and it appears that the first miracle is pointless, insignificant and unnecessary. Yet we wonder, why did Jesus use his great power to deal with such a small issue.

But the answer to this lies in the question “Do we truly understand why are miracles performed in the first place?”

Why Is Miracles Performed In the First place?

John understood the purpose of Jesus turning water into wine, he said that Jesus “manifested His glory”. The purpose of Jesus performing miracles is not for the purpose of bringing benefits to man. Even though benefits did come alongside with the miracle.

The real purpose of Jesus miracles is that through the power demonstrated from the miracle one can know God. It is so that others will know that Jesus is indeed sent by God. God uses miracles as a channel for someone to know God and receive eternal life. 

But sadly, man often wanted to see miracles as a way to get benefits from God. They hope to reap physical benefit through miracles. They downgraded God to a miracle healer that provides mere physical benefits.

These people became uninterested in knowing Jesus nor do they want to worship him. Eternal life has no value to them, and the immediate benefits outweighs the need for eternal life.

Jesus once corrected the attitude of the Jews who followed him

“Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw
  the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

   Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which
   endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you,
   because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”- Jesus (Jn 6:26-27)

These people followed Jesus after he fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. These people even wanted to make Jesus king. For a king that can produce food will be useful. For his kingdom will never have to worry about famine, economy collapse.  Everyone will have food to eat for he can just create them out of thin air.

But Jesus simply said that he is not hear to make bread for everyone to eat, he wanted to give them eternal life.

So did we follow Christ so that we can reap physical benefits? Jesus wanted us to reconsider for he had eternal life that he wanted to give us

The Glory Of God In The Miracle At Cana

We recall the effect of that miracle on the disciple of Je sus

“This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee,
  and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed
  in Him “- John (Jn 2:11)

We know that the disciples believe that Jesus is the Christ through the glory of Christ manifested in the miracle. So what is that Glory?

We know that man can make wine from grapes, and Chinese could make wine from rice, but we are all aware that the process takes time and cannot occur instantly. This goes to show that this is supernatural power and one need to have the power to create in order for this to be done.

Man is a result of Gods creation (Gen 2:7) and God created man out of dust. Dust and human being are 2 different things with unique characteristic. So How can dust be made into a man?

In the eyes of man it is impossible, but with God everything is possible. For God has the power to create and he can make man out from dust. The idea of God making man out of dust seems crazy , and most man find it hard to believe, that is why many chose to believe that they evolved from apes and monkeys. Which they feel is more reasonable and possible.

But if we bring this idea into this miracle, we will find a lot of similarity . Water and wine is just as different as dust and man. Man had the power to make wine, but no one can turn water into wine immediately. For humans power of innovation and invention is limited by what God has already created.

Assuming that one day, man also claim that he had the ability to create man out from dust, they are still unable to create dust from nothing. Human beings are only capable to invent and modify things that God had already created, and they are not able to create something out of nothing.

This is why the first miracle manifested the glory of God. It allow the disciples to see the ability of Jesus to create things out of nothing. That is the glory of God, i tis the power of the creator and the power of God.

This is why the disciple saw this miracle and they believe   

Today as we read of this miracle in Cana let us choose to look beyond the wine that is created, let us open our eyes to the ability of Jesus to create things, for Jesus had the power to turn water into wine.

Jesus perform this miracle  to manifest his glory, Let us believe that he is God.