In today’s Bible reading, John tells us about Jesus’ first miracle. Jesus and His disciples have been invited to attend a multi-day wedding (as was common). Mary, Jesus’ mother tells Him that they ran out of wine. She doesn’t tell Him what to do. John doesn’t tell us what she expected Jesus to do. Jesus responds that this shouldn’t concern Him. He isn’t the groom. It isn’t His party. Today, He might respond, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys!”
Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. Jesus doesn’t “do” anything. He doesn’t say anything except to dip water out of the jars and take it to the master of the feast. The master of the feast calls aside the bridegroom and asks why the best wine wasn’t used first. John highlights the fact that the better wine is normally served first and then the cheaper wine is served later. But in this case, Jesus has turned water into the better wine.
Just this past Sunday, I preached on the Parable of the New Wine needs New Wineskins and I included a reference to today’s chapter. I pointed out the fact that until Louis Pasteur discovered Pasteurization in the 1800s, all grape juice was alcoholic. You couldn’t pick up a bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice at the grocery store because they didn’t have a way to keep the juice from fermenting. The implication is clear: Jesus didn’t turn water into juice. He turned water into the “good stuff”. And note: Each of the six jars contained 20-30 gallons of water. That’s 120-180 gallons of good wine!
Why would I highlight this today? Look at the context: Jesus is celebrating marriage with His family and friends. A need arises. And Jesus supplies above and beyond the need.
Just like He always does!
With today’s Bible reading, we begin reading Peter’s First Letter. Peter wrote his letter to Believers who were being persecuted for their faith. Like most other letters from the Apostles to the churches, Peter begins his with the standard greeting, “Grace to you”. But he does it a little differently than every other Apostle writes his greetings.
“Grace to you” was a typical greeting you would receive from a Greek friend in the First Century, regardless of whether or not your friend was a fellow Believer. It would sound like a “Howdy!” you’d hear on a Texas ranch today. But for Peter, grace was more than a “Howdy”. It was so much more!
Peter gets grace. He understands it intimately and wants everybody to get in on the grace that Jesus offers. In fact, he uses the word ten times in this letter, three of which appear in this first chapter!
Remember, Peter promised Jesus he would never deny Jesus (Matthew 26:35), yet in just a few hours, he denied knowing Jesus three times. He even called down curses on himself in his denial of knowing Jesus. A modern rendering of Matthew 26:74 might be, “I swear to God I don’t know the man.” Immediately, Peter heard a rooster’s crow, signaling a new day had begun.
Several days later, after Jesus’ Resurrection, when Peter saw Jesus for the first time, Jesus asked him three times if Peter loved Him. Three times: one “Do you love me?” question for each time he had denied knowing Jesus. (John 21:15–17)
Peter begins both of his letters the same way, and very differently than do Paul and James. It isn’t just “Grace to you!”, “Howdy!” It’s, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (1 Peter 1:2, 2 Peter 1:2)
It’s significant that Peter would begin his letters writing to persecuted believers who were “living as exiles”. (1 Peter 1:1 CSB) Peter’s “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” is very similar to the greeting King Nebuchadnezzar used in his proclamation (Daniel 4:1) after witnessing God’s miraculous protection of three devout Babylonian exiles. Just before Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation, he says, “I issue a decree that anyone of any people, nation, or language who says anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn limb from limb and his house made a garbage dump. For there is no other god who is able to deliver like this. (Daniel 3:29)
The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar witnessed first-hand that God protects His people in their persecution. He observed not only the three young exiles in the “fiery furnace”, but a fourth who looked “like a son of the gods”. (Daniel 3:25)
Peter subtly reminds his persecuted readers of another time — several hundred years earlier — when other persecuted Believers were dramatically and miraculously protected and delivered in their persecution.
Peter’s obvious implication is that, if God can deliver Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from a blazing furnace, He can do that and even more for his readers. Those young men didn’t know if God would deliver the way they expected (Daniel 3:16–18), but they knew that God is enough.
And the obvious application for you is that regardless of your situation, whether it’s religious persecution or just hard times, God is enough. God will deliver you. Not just God can deliver you, but God will deliver you.
God may not deliver you the way you expect, but just like with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, God is in control.
Whatever grace you need,
whatever peace you need,
may God’s grace and peace be multiplied to you.
John concludes his first letter in today’s Bible reading telling us that, “this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world.” (1 John 5:3-4 CSB)
The world was able to see this play out on their TV screens yesterday evening. On the previous day, former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger had been convicted of murdering Botham Jean when she entered his apartment thinking it was hers. Yesterday, Guyger was sentenced to ten years in prison. During the victim impact statement, Jean’s brother Brandt told Guyger that he forgave her and that he wanted only the best for her. At the end of speaking, Brandt Jean asked Judge Tammy Kemp if he could give Guyger a hug. Over the next minute of so, they embraced several times.
As good as that was, here’s some of the “rest of the story” that happened in the courtroom today, as reported on our local ABC affiliate WFAA.
After stepping off the bench to comfort the Jean family, the judge walked over to Guyger, still at the defense table. She bent low and spoke in the young woman’s ear. “You understand?” the judge said, barely audible.
The judge appeared to be overcome in the moment, and left the courtroom. She returned a moment later, a small Bible in her hand.
“You can have mine,” the judge said to Guyger. “I have three or four at home.”
She then began to counsel Guyger. The pair were talking low, barely audible, just the two of them. “This is your job,” the judge said, opening the book.
The judge mentioned John 3:16, saying this will strengthen her. Guyger nodded her head.
“You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith,” the judge said. “You start with this.”
“You haven’t done so much that you can’t be forgiven,” the judge told her. “You did something bad in one moment in time. What you do now matters.”
The judge told Guyger that she can take the Bible with her as deputies prepared to escort her to the prisoner holding cell connected to the courtroom.Source: WFAA (Click this link and watch the video on the page!)
This is what should be happening every single day in courtrooms, boardrooms, and washrooms across America as Believers, serious about their faith do what God tells them to do! We don’t know what Amber Guyger will do with what she experienced and heard in a Dallas courtroom yesterday. We can pray that the seed planted by Judge Tammy Kemp landed on good soil. (Mark 4:8)
Now, I have a quick question…. How easily and quickly could you provide someone a copy of a Bible if they didn’t have one of their own, in a translation they can easily read and understand?
If the Bible is our authority on God and His ways, shouldn’t we be ready to help hurting people find the help they need? If you don’t have a Bible or two that you could provide to someone in need, let me know. I’ll point you in a direction where you can get a few to keep on hand!
In today’s Bible reading, John says that our relationship with God doesn’t exist in a vacuum. How we live affects our relationship with God. And how we live with others affects our relationship with God.
Coming into a relationship with God is a free offer. There are no demands on us. We don’t have to (as if we could!) clean up before we come to Christ. God’s offer is to come as we are!
So we come as we are. But God doesn’t want us to stay as we are!
God wants to transform us from the inside-out, in ways we can’t change ourselves — ways that run far deeper than mere behavior change. But behavior change is part of the change He wants to work into our lives. And behavior change demonstrates the deeper, inward change. One of those behavior changes is the way we relate to other people.
How do you feel about other people? Is there anyone who you do everything you can to avoid being around? It’s understandable to want to avoid someone who has mistreated you. But I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about avoiding someone simply because of the way they look, the way they smell, the way they behave, where they live, their job (or their lack of a job), the language they speak, or the country they’re from. Is there anyone you wouldn’t want to spend eternity in heaven with? Anyone?
You are no more deserving of eternity in heaven than anyone else who ever walked on this planet. Anyone. Ever.
And no one is less deserving of spending eternity in heaven than you are. No one. We all come based on Jesus’ atoning sacrifice … alone.
If that’s true, why would you not want to tell someone — anyone — about the greatest news ever heard?
With today’s Bible reading, we begin reading 1 John. One thing that strikes me from the very beginning of the letter is that John says that he and the other Apostles aren’t just passing along folk tales. They aren’t just passing along what other people told them.
John says, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1–3 CSB)
John and the other Apostles are eyewitnesses of everything that’s been reported about Jesus. He says, it happened right in front of us! We heard it! We saw it! We touched it! This really happened!
He continues by saying that the reason the Apostles are telling what they experienced is so that people who hear their experiences can have a relationship with God just as they have relationships with the Apostles.
What a mind blowing thought: Mankind can have a relationship with the Creator of the universe! If it were possible to have a relationship with the Creator of the universe, what kind of hate would you have to have to not wtell other people?!
That’s the kind of motivation we should have when we think of telling people about the greatest news ever announced! You just tell people Who you know and what you’ve experienced because you think it’s worth sharing.
Unless you don’t.
And maybe that’s why more Christians don’t tell their family, friends, and coworkers. They don’t think it’s worth it.