Water into Wine 


This sign of water into wine is the conclusion of a seven-day ministry, three days from when John baptised Jesus.
·       But water into wine doesn’t really fit with the other miracles? How do we explain it? I picture it a bit like this:
·       Mary and Jesus talking
– Mary: Where are you going?
– Jesus: I just thought I’d go for a walk down by the river, should be nice and cool. 
– Mary: Ok but don’t disappear off like you did last time, Oh and Jesus, don’t forget that we have been invited to that wedding in Cana, make sure you don’t miss it.  And see if you can bring a friend
– Jesus: Ok I’ll see what I can do.
·       So Jesus heads out and gets baptised and start collecting disciples, three days later Mary is sat there red faced at the wedding, hissing “I said a friend, A friend A, one!”.   With Jesus saying, uh yeah about that, I’ve, um, got twelve, yeah twelve, is that ok?  And Mary’s like “Well you’re telling them, not me!”
·       And hey… low and behold, the wine runs out and Mary storms up to Jesus “THE WINE HAS RUN OUT!”
·       “Don’t tell me what to do…”   And then, in an enormous leap of faith Mary grabs the stewards and says, (slowly) “Do whatever he tells you to do!“
·       Now the rest of the story is well known, but often not clearly understood.  John speaks about Jesus performing signs, and the miracles he describes are compiled to demonstrate the sign of Jesus purpose in coming. So in order to understand this story we need to appreciate that there is a sign implicit in the story.  
·       The sign is of the old being transformed to the new. New wine from old ceremonial jars
·       Symbolic meaning is derived from the ceremonial jars, the superiority of Christianity over Judaism, the Richness of the new life offered in Christ
·       A new covenant: the covenant of the kingdom of God, where the Spirit of God is poured out on everyone. Like it or not, as a Christian you are empowered by the Spirit of God, empowered to do the most extraordinary things.
·       It may not feel like it, because it relies on faith, and faith is always risky. It is not a slot machine where you put something in and get something back every time, it is a relationship, where you work at understanding the purposes and plans of God.
·       We are an extraordinary people in an extraordinary time.  As Peter declared in Acts 2:16-21 ‘Instead, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about: ‘This is what I will do in the last days, God says: I will pour out my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams. Yes, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will proclaim my message.’
·       The minimum requirement for you to be involved in ministry in the church is that you listen to the Holy Spirit
·       We are the recipients of the pouring out of the Spirit of God, on both young and old, male and female, there is no bar to your own ministry, there is no distinction, each of us is empowered to grow into our calling as advancers of the kingdom of God, of the new covenant. 
·       But this covenant is of a vastly different kind to its predecessor.  It is open to all, it is not a physical covenant, it does not reside in a piece of land, or in a unique group of people, but rather it combines both physical and spiritual, and occupies our lives. 
·       You will not find it unless you seek it out, but if you do you will become the happiest and most fulfilled person possible, not through the realisation of your own ambition, but through the realisation of God’s infinitely wiser ambition for you. 
·       As Corinthians tells us, God’s wisdom is of a different order to that of the world.
·       Do not me misled, we follow a foolish path in the eyes of the world: Why are you trying to do that? Nothing will come of it! Why bother, just look after yourself!
·       The two enemies of faith are fear and apathy.
·       But we believe in something greater, something deeper and more powerful, the God who wasn’t satisfied for us to come to him, but instead came to us in the exemplary self-sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
·       We are the guardians, the gatekeepers to the kingdom of God, not by virtue of anything we have done, but by virtue of what God has done for us. 
·       The question is, how are we to discharge this duty? We do not have to be wise, we do not have to perform miracles. In fact, Corinthians tells us that considering we are these things is counter-productive, a stumbling block, Jesus stands with the victim, the persecuted, the weak and humble
·       What we have to do is nurture our relationship with God and convey it to those around us in a passionate way.   God will put on our hearts the things he has for us, so if you find yourself daydreaming about being involved in ministry, then take a chance on it, follow it up, step out in faith.
·       All of us can get it wrong, we all make mistakes, but if we are listening to the spirit, we will be able to accept when we get it wrong, we will know to make amends.  Sometimes it takes putting a foot wrong for us to realise we are on the right path.
·       We are to be lights to those around us, lighting the path to God, no one person can fix the problems in the church or the world, but each of us has our part to play in establishing the new covenant, the new kingdom of God. 
·       We must listen to Mary’s words, do whatever he tells you to do!
 
Questions
·       How are we signposts, what do we point towards?
·       Can we think of any barriers to our own ministry? How can they be overcome?
·       Do we ever feel foolish when praying or talking to people about our experience of God? Should we be concerned about it?
·       Do we often take risks in our faith?
·       Is there something God is asking us to do that we are worried about?
 

Jon Foster, 29/01/2017