Sermon on John 2:1-12 约翰福音 第2章 1至12节Sermon passage: (John 2:1-12) Spoken on: January 7, 2018
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Dr. Tan Hock Seng For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: John
This story is John’s record of Jesus’ first sign. The term “first sign” does not necessary mean the first miracle that Jesus performed in life. Jesus performed many miracles but John just selected seven of the many miracles to proclaim Jesus in his book.
In his writing, John called Jesus’ miracles “signs” [sēmion]. The usual term for miracle is “dunamis”. He purposely chose the term “sēmion” (sign) to depict Jesus’ miracles that he selected. The purpose of a sign is to reveal Jesus’ glory. “Glory” refers to “what God is like”. Jesus reveals the unseen God to the people. John also uses sign to guide readers to realize that Jesus is God.
To the Jewish people, a messiah, at most, is just a human being. A messiah is a man anointed by God to do His will. The messiah can be a king; or a prophet; or a priest.
Many people, including me, used to think that the Jewish people were anticipating the coming of one Messiah. Actually, according to a Dead Sea Scroll document [1QS 9:11] some Jewish people were expecting as many as three messiahs – one messianic king to sit on David’s empty throne; one anointed prophet like Moses [Deut 18:15], to deliver them from oppression; and one anointed high priest to reform the way they worship.
You may say, “This is complicated. I didn’t know some people were expecting three messiahs.” The Jesus we know today fulfills all three messianic offices – Prophet, King and Priest.
However, the “three-in-one” Messiah was way beyond the Jewish imagination. The messianic king must descend from the line of David; Jesus qualifies for this criterion. The prophet, like Moses, can be anyone whom God anointed. But usually a prophet is not a king. Jesus also qualifies to be the Prophet. But the messianic high priest must come from the tribe of Levites. But Jesus cannot qualify for this messianic role because He is from the tribe of Judah, not Levite. However, Jesus also qualifies for this priestly office. The Epistle to the Hebrews explains that Jesus’ priesthood is from a different order - the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7).
Jesus, indeed, is the King-Prophet-Priest Messiah. As Christians, we are accustomed to the “3-in-1” Messiah. But this “3-in-1” concept to the Jews is really complicated and confusing.
Since the evangelists Matthew, Mark & Luke, had already presented Jesus as the Messiah in their respective gospels, John will show his readers that this Messiah is God, so that they might believe that Jesus is both Messiah [Christ] and God.
If I were to tell you “The man living next door to me distributes food to the poor in my neighborhood; he prays for the sick and they got well. You may say “Praise God! You’ve a godly neighbor” But if I were to say, “My neighbor is God! We should worship him” You would probably say “Yeah, right. Go, see a psychiatrist!”
Similarly, this is the kind tension that John faced when proclaiming Jesus as God, especially to the Jews. The Jews believed in One God. They confessed this belief everyday, “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh alone.” The message of a crucified messiah is already a big stumbling block to the Jews. [We preach the Messiah crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews (1 Cor. 1:23)]. Proclaiming Jesus as God to the Jews is like persuading them to break the first commandment – “Thou shalt have no other God before me”. Thus, for the Jewish people to worship Jesus as God is idolatry.
So, John had to help His people understand, “Jesus is God, the LORD whom we knew since the time of the Exodus”. Accepting Jesus as God is not adding another god to worshipping Yahweh. I need to clarify that the name “Yahweh” is not restricted to God the Father. Yahweh is the Covenant-Name of the Triune God. Although the concept of the Trinity is present in the OT, it is only clearly defined much later by the Apostles. In his Gospel, John introduces Jesus as the Word of Yahweh.
The people knew that Yahweh is pre-existent. John told them that the Word was with Yahweh in the beginning. Thus, John was saying that Jesus is also pre-existent.
The Word was with God. He was with God in the beginning (John 1:2)
Q: If Jesus is pre-existent, did He also create the heaven and the earth, and the humankind?
John says, “Yes! Jesus is the Word of the LORD who created everything - Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).
Psalm 33 declares “By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made …”
But only Yahweh is the Life-Giver. In Genesis 2, Yahweh
breathed into Adam … and he became a living being.
In verse 4 John says that Jesus also gives life. “In Him was life” (v.4).
John, are you saying that Jesus is the Covenant-God?
Yes! that’s what I’m trying to tell you. Jesus is the Covenant-God. He is the Word of Yahweh, the Son sent by the Father. John’s Gospel introduces the concept of the Father and the Son in the Trinity.
Thus, as John writes his gospel, he employs “signs” to proclaim Jesus as God.
The Jewish people celebrate festivals that commemorate God’s deliverance of the Israelites and His provisions for them. So, John links Jesus to some key Exodus events to show that Jesus was there in Exodus time; and He is the same God who called Israel to be His people at Mt. Sinai.
Let us see some meaningful ways that John used sign to proclaim Jesus
First, John highlights the life context, which is usually a Jewish festival. Then he may either cites Jesus’ “I am” teaching followed by a miracle; or a miracle followed by a “I am” teaching.
Now, let us observe the first pattern …
When celebrating the Feast of the Tabernacle, the Jewish families would live in tents for 7 days to commemorate the time of the Israelites camping in the desert. On each night of the feast, the worshippers shall await the signal of the lighting of the lamps in the Temple’s court. The lamps remind the worshippers of God’s guidance at night by a pillar of fire. On one occasion when the lamps were being lit, Jesus proclaims “I am the Light of the world.” Then John tells the story of Jesus healing a blindman as a sign to support Jesus’ claim.
During the celebration of Hanukkah (festival of dedication), Jesus again claims to be the “Light of the world”. The same sign also supports this repeated claim. This “Light of the world” claim was outrageous to the Pharisees because they knew that the “Light” was Yahweh’s Presence. Jesus was saying, “I am that light that guided your forefathers; I am the Glory that filled the temple.
John tells us that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory when the prophet actually encountered LORD Almighty’s glory.
John identified Jesus with Yahweh, the LORD Almighty.
In the second pattern the sign of Jesus feeding the 5,000 was performed in the context of the Passover celebration. It was followed by the “I am the bread of life” claim.
For the third pattern we do not know the festive context when Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Then Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to substantiate His claim.
The fourth pattern has no festive context, no “I am” teaching, but just the sign. The miracle that Jesus performed at the wedding in Cana belongs to this category. Thus, it is not easy to grasp the meaning of the sign.
Now, Let us see what we can learn about Jesus from this first sign in John 2:1-11. Along the way, I shall explain some selected details in the story, so that you may answer your Bible-study groups with confidence.
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee …
Jesus grew up in Nazareth. The town of Nazareth is at a hilltop, and the village of Cana is located at the foot of the hill.
A Jewish couple got married on the third day.
* On the third day
The time-reference “third day” can either mean “two days after the call of Philip and Nathanael (1:45-50). Or it can mean the third day of the week. Some Jewish folks believed that the new couple would be doubly blessed if they were married on the 3rd day. Because on the third day of Creation, God commented, “It was good” two times, so the new couple might receive double blessings if they married on Tuesday (Gen. 1:10, 12).
* Jewish Wedding
The Jewish wedding can last as many as 7 days. A wedding is a happy occasion for the whole village. The farmers and craftsmen will stop work to celebrate with the new couple. Guests will present their gifts before the wedding day. Some would present donkey, goats or cow. The expensive gifts are usually on loan basis – 1-3 years of interest-free loan. In return, they expect proper reception, otherwise they can denounce the banquet as a fraud for soliciting gifts, and legal action can be against the host-family.
The Wedding story can be summarized by 7 lines of speeches:
The third line, “My time has not yet come” is Jesus’ teaching about Himself in this story.
“They have no more wine.”
Mary was the reception coordinator at the wedding. The servants reported to her.
Running out of wine is a critical matter for the family. The new couple can be black marked by the villagers. The people may not forgive them for as long as three years.
Q: Why did Mary approach Jesus?
Did she expect Jesus to go and buy wine and save the day? or
Did she expect Jesus to solve the problem by doing a miracle?
You would say “It’s obvious; Mary wants Jesus to perform a miracle.” However, Mary’s motive is not that simple.
Many readers feel uncomfortable hearing Jesus calling His mother “Woman”.
For Jesus to call his mother “Woman” is not rude in his time & culture.
The other time we hear Jesus calling Mary, “Woman” is when he was hanging on the cross. “Woman, behold your son [John]”. If Jesus were really disrespectful, then people would say “He deserves to die, so yah yah”.
The Greek word for “woman” is “gunē”. Some English versions translate “gunē” as “Madam” or “Dear woman” or “Mother”. The translators just want to remove the offence caused by the literal meaning. Actually, the meaning of “gunē” is determined by how the word is used.
The Chinese word “niang” like “gunē” denotes different meaning in different contexts.
“Naing” cab be used for “mother,” “wife” ir a “lady”. So, “gunē” can mean “mother”or “wife” “lady,” depending on who is talking to whom.
“What to you and to me?” (2:4b)
The next phrase poses a problem when different members in your Bible-study group use different English versions.
As you observe Jesus seems to say different things in the different English translations.
Q: What did Jesus actually say to Mary?
His actual words are:
“What to you and to me?”
This odd phrase is a Greek idiom that renders different meanings.
The idiom “what to you and to me” can mean:
“What have you against me?” (Judg 11:12; 1 Kgs 17:18);
“What have I to do with you?” (2 Kgs 3:13)
“What have we to do with each other” (2 Chr 35:21)
Those who remember that the O.T. was originally written in Hebrew may react, “Hey, don’t bluff lah! Where can you find Greek idioms in Hebrew books?”
You are so right! Hebrew is the OT’s language; but by the New Testament time, the OT had been translated into Greek. The Greek OT is called the Septuagint (LXX = Seventy).
The meaning of the “What to you and to me” is better understood with the next sentence, “My time has not yet come”
Jesus perceived his mother’s motive and told her, “What has my “time” to do with you?”
Mary was not wrong to approach Jesus, “They ran out of wine; [so do something]”.
Her hidden agenda was for this ‘Clark Kent” to become ‘Superman’. She thought it’s time for Jesus to showcase Himself and reveal His true identify. Obviously, Jesus knew what Mary was hinting at. He was reacting to Mary’s motive.
“My hour has not yet come” (2:4)
Let us pause at this point to understand John’s story-focus, “My time has not yet come”.
If we do not understand this statement, we will miss Jesus’ teaching.
Q: What does Jesus means, “My hour has not come yet”?
I use the term “hour” because the actual word in the text is hōra, “hour”. “Hour” is a key-word in the John Gospel.
The “hour” refers to Jesus’ hour to be glorified
In this Gospel John emphasizes this “hour” [the time] many times:
John 2:4 “My hour has not yet come.”
John 4:21 “The hour is coming …”
John 4:23 “The hour is coming, and is now here…”
John 12:23 “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
John 17:1 “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you”
The hour is Jesus’ time of glorification.
The hour of glorification is the time when Jesus accomplished the Father’s work.
Before He is glorified Jesus had to suffer and die as the “Lamb of God”.
In John 12, Jesus uses an illustration of a grain of wheat to explain why He must first die before He is glorified.
In John Gospel, Jesus’ last words on the cross are “It is finished!” The mission is achieved. Jesus’ ascension is the time when He is ultimately glorified with the glory that He once had.
Let us review Jesus’ understanding of the “hour” in John Gospel.
At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus told Mary,
My hour has not yet come (John 2:4)
During the “Passion Week” (The last week of His ministry), He told his disciples,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23)
On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus told His Father,
I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do (John 17:4).
As He anticipated the Cross, He asked His Father,
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began (John 17:5).
Jesus’ atoning death will bring glory to the Father; Through Jesus the Father’s love for the world is demonstrated
For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son (3:16).
Romans 5:8 also expresses this, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
When the Father has been glorified, only then shall Jesus be glorified.
Let’s return to the wedding at Cana …
When Jesus said, “What to me and to you?” He was not implying “It’s not my business?” He was reacting to Mary’s anxiety about His glorification. He meant “What has my hour to do with you?” His hour of glorification is determined only by the Father, and no one else.
Being a mother, Mary knew that Jesus’ words might sound as if He “boh chap,” but He was actually very caring. So, Mary instructed the servant, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons (2:6).
In the next scene we read that there were six stone water jars
John explains to his readers who are unfamiliar with Jewish custom that the stone jars are for purification rite.
What Jesus was about to do with these stone jars would be alarming to the Jewish people.
How do you feel if one weekday you come to church and you see one pastor using the Holy Communion cup to feed the birds? Then on a Sunday, like today, he uses the same cups to serve Holy Communion.
Likewise, Jesus was about to make wine with jars that are use for ceremonial cleansing.
John could be showing his readers, “This is what the Son of God is like …” “He also has a sense of humor, you know?”
Although the servants did not know who Jesus really was, they obeyed his instruction wholeheartedly.
You try shouting orders to other people’s servants, “Pour me six cups of water!” You will get some cups half-filled with water; some cups, quarter-filled; and some cups very full but with something extra added.
John observed that the servants filled the six jars to the brim.
This Son of God surely had a way with people. They did things so willingly for Him.
John already told us in the prologue “He was full of grace and truth” (1:14d)
On his way to the master of the banquet, the servant probably braced himself for scolding, “Why bring me water to taste?”
We read, “The head of the banquet tasted the water …”
and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.
Q: At which point did the water change into wine?
Some people think the change take place after the servant drew some water out.
Some think that the change took place along the way.
Some, when the banquet-master held the cup to his lips.
John did not say how or when the miracle took place. He just noted that the water became wine.
But now you have three camps of theology. Many times unnecessary theology is formulated when the Bible is silent.
The head of banquet complimented the bridegroom, “You have saved the best until now” (2:10c)
Q: What does this sign teach about Jesus?
The story has no festival context, and no “I am” teaching; the miracle is unintended.
Although there is no “I am” teaching, there is a revelation
John tells us, “Thus Jesus revealed His glory.”
Then the disciples said to one another, “Lai sin Ia-So˙ chin chia ho,” [It’s so sweet to trust in Jesus] and they “put their faith in Him”.
Q: What glory did Jesus reveal?
We usually think of “glory” as bright light; a glowing halo around Jesus’ head. The “Glory” in this story is God’s personality – What God is like.
John’s introduction in 1:18 tells us the glory Jesus came to reveal.
No one has ever seen God … (1:18a)
The Jewish people generally perceived God as remote. God is transcendent. God is way up high above, and beyond our reach. Unless God reveals Himself, we cannot know anything about Him.
Let us now watch a video clip that illustrates the concept of “Transcendence”
Can you pinpoint where our solar system is located in the Milky Way?
It’s like a speck of dust.
The psalmist says,
When I look at your heavens … the moon and the stars … what is man that you are mindful of him ?
Now we can see our Earth. Can you spot where you live? Our country is insignificantly small.
Now we can see a person with a smiling face.
The Psalmist says
You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.
Q: How may a transcendent God pay attention to each one of us?
John says that the transcendent God became immanent by becoming a man. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In Jesus, the transcendent God is now immanent to us.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… (1:14a)
The second part of John 1:18 tells us Jesus reveals His Father, the God whom no one has seen.
We have seen his glory … full of grace and truth.
John’s prologue of Jesus (1:1-18) is general, sounds very abstract. But he will use stories to clarify his abstract introduction. John will tell many stories about Jesus to shows us specifically how the “Word dwells among us.” The stories also portray Jesus’ “grace and truth” character.
In the wedding story we catch a glimpse of what God’s “grace and truth” is like.
John reminisces the time when God walked among them. He tells us, “One day the Lord attended a wedding with us at Cana. He sang, He danced He drank with us. His could sustain “Yam Sen” for very long. When the wine ran out, He had a good reason to walked away, because His “hour” had not yet come. But He quietly intervened. I could never forget the grace He showed everyone on that day.”
When we read story like this, we may respond “It’s a nice story but it’s all in the past now.” Or we may say “How I wish Jesus could also come to my house”; “I wish I can encounter the Son of God in my life”.
Encountering Jesus is not restricted to those people in the past. We can also encounter the living Christ in our lives now. The presence of God in our lives becomes a living reality when the Holy Spirit came to live within us.
The Holy Spirit bridges the time-space barrier. He brings us to where Jesus is, and He
brings Jesus and the Father to where we are.
Ephesians 2:18 says, “Through Jesus we have access to the Father by one Spirit”
Sometimes, we may feel “God is not real in my life”. “The problem could lie with us, not God. many Christians are suffering from a spiritual malady known as “The overcrowding of our souls.” You are probably familiar with the A.D.H.D. – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. In our relationship with God we can behave as though we have spiritual ADHD. When God says, “My child, come here, tell me about your day.” We find it very difficult to give attention to God. Praying for one minute may seem very long. When God says, “Be still! See what I am doing for you” we remain hyperactive. When we are always too busy for God, we can gradually become numb to His touch and insensitive to His Holy Presence.
When our activities seriously compete for our TIME with our Heavenly Father, we must evaluate them. We may have to reduce some activities that we love, or even drop them, in order to make time for God.
As I walk away from this pulpit, the worship leader will pray for us Psalm 139:2-7. As you listen, pray quietly that what the psalmist experienced will also be true in your life.
The Holy Spirit enables us to experience this kind of close relationship with God. By the God’s Spirit we are able to commune with the Father and the Son every moment and wherever we are. Do not allow anything to rob you from experiencing of the living reality of God’s Presence.