God’s Word Brings Light.


“He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” (Luke 4:17b-19, ESV)

After Jesus was baptized, he went out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. This tells us that His ministry is to do battle with the devil. Jesus overcame the temptations and then went to Nazareth to officially proclaim the start of His ministry. The words that He read from Isaiah and the words He spoke proclaimed that ministry: He has come to attack and destroy the works of the devil and the consequences of sin by preaching the good news of God’s love to the hurting and oppressed people and by healing the sick and giving sight to the blind, both literally and figuratively. 

Jesus was rejected there in His home town. People there were too familiar with Him, thought they knew all about Him, so they dismissed His words and lost a blessing. In fact, this response would be indicative of the response of His people the Jews. The Jews as a whole would dismiss His words and work and crucify Him. they would remain spiritually blind while the Gentiles, the people supposedly outside of God’s Kingdom, the ones who did not know about the one true God, who did not know of His promise and love would hear His word and enter into His favor. This then is why we preach the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, that those who are spiritually blind and oppressed will see and enter into God’s Kingdom.

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The Holy Spirit Brings Unity

“But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Cor. 12:24b-25, ESV)

Many churches love to focus on 1 Corinthians 12 whenever they teach about spiritual gifts. Yet Paul merely enumerates a list of the gifts without explaining in detail what they are, that is except for the gift of speaking in tongues. The inordinate emphasis on this gift seems to be the cause of most of the trouble and division at Corinth. Paul wanted to correct the problem of spiritual pride and self-aggrandizement which was destroying proper relationships within the body of Christ and providing a poor witness of Christ’s love to those outside the Church. The people of God needed to be humble enough to see that these gifts are provided by the Holy Spirit and that they function properly in community.

Paul words serve to warn us of the dangers of spiritual pride, selfishness, power plays and church politics. These have no place in the church for the Spirit desires to build community and unity so that all who are in the Lord worship Him not just with words but with humility and love toward one another. The members of the Body of Christ need each other to exercise their individual gifts as the spirit leads. Thus no one gift is more valuable than another and one person is indispensable. All of us are members of the Body of Christ and so one with each other. We all need each other and so we must work together for the common good of the Body, not for our own purposes, self-glory or our own agenda. 

God’s Word Brings Truth

“So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” (Nehemiah 8:2-3)
Ezra the scribe appears on the scene in this section of the book of Nehemiah. He is here to focus the people’s attention on the Word of God. Here the word is exalted as is it the center of Jewish life that for it calls on the people to serve, worship and obey Yahweh.
The people were celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles which commemorated the wilderness wanderings of Israel after she had left Egypt. At this time they hear the Word of God spoken, perhaps the first time for most of them, read by Ezra. The reading took several hours but the words were inspiring. The people responded with weeping because of their sins and those of their ancestors. Nehemiah encouraged them to celebrate together as God’s people with joy as the appropriate way to worship for this feast and the way to show praise to God for the Word which He has graciously spoken.
As we note the importance of the Word of God and the reverence it is shown here, we should take this as a model for our own worship service. The word of God is the central focus of the service as it is His Word and, therefore, carries His authority and holiness. We should show it as much honor and respect as we show God Himself. That means we should not misquote it, make fun of or ignore it, nor should we twist it to suit our own desires and whims. Instead we should listen to it read and explained by God’s chosen leaders who have studied it and made it their life’s work. They can help us to understand it and apply it so our lives may be living expressions of God’s word.

The Common Good.

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7, ESV)
The Corinthian Christians were proud of themselves and boasted in their spiritual maturity. They felt that they had already attained perfection. This pride and arrogance left them blind to their faults which included an elitist attitude, a lack of love, and serious theological misconceptions. Paul let them know that part of their problem was an overzealous concern for the gifts of the spirit notably prophecy and speaking in tongues. To the Corinthians these two gifts in particular were the signs that they were spirit-filled and above earthly concerns and problems. They maintained that all spiritually superior believers had to manifest such gifts (much as many contemporary Charismatic groups do today). Naturally this attitude led to factions, divisions and disagreements.

Their treatment of these gifts was no different from their previous behavior as pagans, before they came to the Lord, since such ecstatic utterances were part of some pagan rituals and cults (and still are). Yet as Christians they felt that the manifestation of these gifts of powerful utterance were true evidence of God’s presence with them. Paul points out that these gifts were given by God for mutual edification and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus, not the self. All the gifts are given by the Holy Spirit as He wills and they are not meant for personal glorification. Thus each believer needs every other one in the church so that as the church they may properly function as God’s Kingdom on earth. This requires different gifts and talents. Diversity of gifts is the indication of the Spirit’s presence. Pride and self-centeredness are not.

The Wine of Salvation.

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. (John 2:6-8, ESV)
As we contemplate the wedding of Cana we must note the presence of the 6 jars. The six pots (an incomplete and imperfect number) represent the Law which was unable to save or do away with sin. The water was not there to be drunk but to be used only for ritual purposes. The required washings demonstrated to the Jews that they were deeply sinful, unclean, and unfit to enter into God’s presence. These washings were laborious, and by the time of Jesus the legalistic Pharisees had added even more washings, making Judaism truly a burdensome religion, not a pleasure or an instrument to give glory to God. With this miracle Jesus showed that He had come to replace the law with the new covenant and with joy. 

Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water and they did. Jesus did not wave His hands over the water, nor touch the pots. He pronounced no audible words or prayer, merely told the servants to draw some off and bring it to the governor of the feast, the caterer. He pronounced it the best he has ever had. Somewhere in there, Jesus created wine out of water. And he created a considerable amount, about 150 gallons of choice vintage.

Jesus worked this miracle to symbolize that His time was near at hand. It was not that moment, but would come three years later. Then He would offer his blood to seal the covenant and provide salvation to mankind. The blood would seal the marriage between God and man. Thus this miracle was by no means unnecessary: it proclaimed the glory of the Lord and the arrival of the Messiah.

From this miracle we learn that God cares. God loves us. He is concerned about our normal everyday crises. He is involved in every aspect of life. He has freed us from the slavery of the Law and freed us to love Him. He has come to prepare us to be His bride, to have a deep, and intensely intimate relationship with Him that human marriages merely foreshadow. We ought to be thanking God for freeing us from this tyranny by working to free others, working out of love not with ill will, or self-righteous indignation or the desire to glorify self. Let us praise the Lord that Jesus came and perfectly fulfilled the law for us, meeting all of its requirements; that He alone was qualified to die for sinners on the cross of Calvary. The salvation He procured through His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary makes it possible for men to enter into the joy of His salvation. 

The Wine of Salvation.

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:6-11, ESV)

As we contemplate the wedding of Cana we must note the presence of the 6 jars. The six pots (an incomplete and imperfect number) represent the Law which was unable to save or do away with sin. The water was not there to be drunk but to be used only for ritual purposes. The required washings demonstrated to the Jews that they were deeply sinful, unclean, and unfit to enter into God’s presence. These washings were laborious, and by the time of Jesus the legalistic Pharisees had added even more washings, making Judaism truly a burdensome religion, not a pleasure or an instrument to give glory to God. With this miracle Jesus showed that He had come to replace the law with the new covenant and with joy.

Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water and they did. Jesus did not wave His hands over the water, nor touch the pots. He pronounced no audible words or prayer, merely told the servants to draw some off and bring it to the governor of the feast, the caterer. He pronounced it the best he has ever had. Somewhere in there, Jesus created wine out of water. And he created a considerable amount, about 150 gallons of choice vintage.

Jesus worked this miracle to symbolize that His time was near at hand. It was not that moment, but would come three years later. Then He would offer his blood to seal the covenant and provide salvation to mankind. The blood would seal the marriage between God and man. Thus this miracle was by no means unnecessary: it proclaimed the glory of the Lord and the arrival of the Messiah.

From this miracle we learn that God cares. God loves us. He is concerned about our normal everyday crises. He is involved in every aspect of life. He has freed us from the slavery of the Law and freed us to love Him. He has come to prepare us to be His bride, to have a deep, and intensely intimate relationship with Him that human marriages merely foreshadow. We ought to be thanking God for freeing us from this tyranny by working to free others, working out of love not with ill will, or self-righteous indignation or the desire to glorify self. Let us praise the Lord that Jesus came and perfectly fulfilled the law for us, meeting all of its requirements; that He alone was qualified to die for sinners on the cross of Calvary. The salvation He procured through His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary makes it possible for men to enter into the joy of His salvation.

Wine of the New Covenant.

“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’” (John 2:1-3, ESV)
A wedding was a great event in Jewish life for it was a reminder of God’s covenant relationship, a joyous celebration which recalled and celebrated the Lord’s love for His people. The Jewish wedding was a time of great joy, celebration and feasting which might last as long as a week. When Jesus arrived at Cana, the feast had been going on for a day or so. The wedding was probably that of a relative of His for His mother Mary is present, and her role seems to be more than that of a guest. She was the first to discover that the wine was running out.

Since wedding celebrations took place over a period of days, it was important to have sufficient supply of wine and food on hand for the guests. It would be a social disaster, a great catastrophe to have the wine run out for wine was a major factor of all Jewish celebrations. It was a sign of joy and prosperity. It was a sign of God’s covenant blessings and of the blessings of the Kingdom to come.

So Jesus performed a miracle to help out the couple but also as a sign that He has come to do away with the old law and by His blood seal the New covenant. The wine symbolized His blood. With this miracle Jesus was saying that He would supply the wine which would supply the need of all, the wine of His own blood. All the money in the world will never satisfy the spiritual blessings that come in such rich supply as does the blood of Jesus.