The First Sign and All it Signifies: The Creator is Back at Work

The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 1

The short passage of John 2:1-11 recounts Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine and is significant on many levels. It portrays God as Creator, Christ as the fulfillment of the law, Mary as a figure to be admired, and the servants' actions as worthy of emulating. It even has significance in the debate about the apparent age of the Earth.

Todd WagnerDec 19, 2010John 2:1-11; John 2:4; John 2:4; John 11:3; John 2:9; John 2:10; John 2:6-8; John 21:25; John 2:1-3

Well, that is the miracle of Christmas: that God showed up and now God has a face. God has shown us so we don't have to try and figure out what truth is. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. […] And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…" The Word, to the secularist, to those who did not know truth, was this impersonal cosmic force that was the power behind beauty and morality and physics and math and law and rightness, but they didn't believe it was personal.

They weren't really sure all that was true of it. So John is saying, "Let me just tell you. It is not an impersonal force. It is a he. God is there. He loves you. He has entered into this world, and you can know him. He lived in time and space. He walked among us, and we beheld his glory, glory filled with grace and truth. There is no longer a need to try and seek him. He has come to us."

There's no longer a need to try and understand what the ultimate ideas of a philosopher are. The Wise One has spoken to us. If that is true, it is the greatest story ever told. It's the greatest miracle that ever happened. It is our only hope and everything that we should focus on. That is the story of John.

What a great time of year to be studying this book. We're now looking at this child who is coming into his own at 30. We're going to see the first of his sēmeion, his signs. John, in the genius of the book that he has crafted, gives us seven signs, seven statements, "I am." Seven words, if you will, discourses that reveal truth about who this God is so that we might know him.

The purpose of Christmas is being revealed. The person of Christ is being revealed. That's the book of John. Now let me just do this. I want to read John, chapter 2, verses 1 through 11, and I think you're going to find this story very familiar. It's the story of Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana. I want to read it, and then we're going to come back and we're going to look at it. Before we do, I'm just going to show you how simple it is to make basic observations to get discussions going out of Scripture.

Fifteen years ago, I was with a group of friends. I took this text, and I just wrote down some questions that are still as relevant today. You don't need any commentary, any formal training, or any great insight. I had none of that. I'm just opening my Bible and going, "Okay, here are some things that we can talk about with kids, with peers." Just like you're going to do a week from today with other topics that we'll talk bout Christmas Eve. Specifically, I want to show you how easy it is. Let's read John 2:1-11. Here's what it says.

"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine.' And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.' His mother said to the servants, 'Whatever He says to you, do it.'

Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, 'Fill the waterpots with water.' So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, 'Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.' So they took it to him.

When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, 'Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.' This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him."

Now look. Here's what I want to do. Let's just say you read that. All you were going to do is on a very periphery, a very surface-level, go, "Okay, what can I do with that?" I'm just going to show you how to have fun with God's Word. Then we're going to go back. I'm going to break this thing down, and I'm going to show you why there is infinitely more here than would appear to be present at first blush.

At a simple level, here's kind of what I did. The first thing I would do is if you're riding with kids or if you're with other friends, just go, "Hey, what's the funniest, the most unusual thing you've ever seen at a wedding? Let's just share some of those stories about stuff that you've watched." There are all kinds of stories that go down at weddings, right? So just share that.

If you're with your kids, why don't you talk about your wedding? The love that you had for one another. Breathe security into them. Remind yourselves why you came together in the first place. Just talk about the wedding. Then you might just do this. Ask them this. "If you were going to unveil a new ministry, if you were going to start revealing who you were and you were God on earth, what would be the very first miracle you would do? How would you have your coming out party? What would be your debutante ball? What dress would you wear for that moment?"

Just let that go around the circle. You get to know a lot about people's personality when you do that. Simple questions to ask. Then just say this. "Hey, how desperate must Mary have been to impose the divine nature which she knew was innate in her son? What was going on here that you think made Mary so uniquely involved?"

Then I would say this. "Why don't we all share an instance in our lives where if Jesus was your brother or your son, you would've pressed in on him for a special favor? I mean, look back over your life. If there was one moment that you would kind of say, 'Hey big boy, why don't we work some of this Messiah mojo right now?'"

Would it be when you were in sixth grade and you just shot your one allotment of a brother-in-law deal right there? "Make Sarah Lynn like me." What would you have done? I don't know. When would've been that moment? Maybe there's something recently. Think about the discipline of Mary that this is the very first record that we ever have her leaning over and going, "Hey, Son…"

Could you have waited 30 years? What is it in your life? When would you have said, "I need you to do this favor for me?" Do you think it's the first time that Mary ever asked for something like this? The Scriptures seem to indicate it kind of is. How about this? "What do you think of his response? Was it harsh? What does it tell you about Christ that he would not allow his natural relationships with his family to ultimately be that which influences what he does? What lessons can we draw from that?"

"How many of us are over-influenced by family and friends and don't do everything that God wants us to do on God's timetable because it seems inconvenient or unwanted by our family?" How about this? "Jesus is evidenced all throughout the Gospels accepting invitations to many social events while his cousin John the Baptist avoided such uses of his own time.

Does this mean that John the Baptist was kind of a killjoy, a socially awkward individual, or does it mean that Jesus was indiscriminate in his selection of friends and careless in his pursuit of fun? If neither one of those is the case, then as I wrote down, what does that tell us about how we should think of others who are different from us in areas of conscience and practice?"

How about this? "Does it mean that we should never ask questions about others' behavior or the motive behind their actions? Who should we ultimately allow to judge other people's motives and behaviors? What kind of questions can we ask or what kind of things do we look for in individual's life that helps us discern what the motives are behind those actions?" Just roll through these kinds of questions.

"Are we never to question a brother or sister for what they do? If so, what do we have that informs us?" What I did is I just wrote down all kinds of Scripture to push them to. Romans 14 would be one of the first places I would go. There's clear revelation about the certain practices that we have, but then we're all a little bit different. How does that tell us?

How about this? "What's it tell you about Jesus that Christ never worked a miracle for his own benefit? In fact, we know that he was in the wilderness being tempted before this, 40 days without food or water, and would not use his own divinity for his own benefit to meet his own legitimate needs and yet here he performs a miracle to supply a social blessing to help others that their wedding not go through an awkwardness. What's that tell you about Christ?

What does that mean for us? What resources and gifts do we have that we always ask, 'Well, how can I use those for me?' and not, 'How can I use those for others?' What do I need to learn from Christ here?" I would throw this out. "Hey, let's just discuss the following statement. Wise is the couple who invites Jesus to their wedding. True or false?"

How about more than that. "Did you invite him to your wedding? Have you kept him in your marriage?" How about, "Do you take him on your dates if you've never been married?" How about, "Do you walk into business meetings with him? Does he go with you on your business trips? What settings in your life would Jesus feel the most uncomfortable in?" You think that would get some conversations going? That's just John 2:1-11. I'm just having fun just firing off a bunch of stuff right there. We haven't even studied yet.

I'm going to tell you. When you just take Scripture, and doesn't that… Can you imagine doing that? Think about what you typically do. "What Disney movie are we going to watch for the forty-third time on the way to Colorado?" No, how about, "Let's read John 2:1-11, and then let's have some of these questions."

Your kids want to know what you think. They want to know about stuff like this. Simple questions. Put yourself in the story. Look what's around there. Teach. Learn. It's easy. Just apply yourself to it. God's Word is so rich. I'm going to tell you what. It's richer than you can imagine. Let me just show you.

All right. Now open your Bible to John, chapter 2. As you do, I'm going to remind you the very last verse of John. In John, chapter 21, verse 35, John says this. "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written."

In other words, John is saying, "I have just given you very selective information. I've done it for a purpose." What is his purpose? He has written these things so that you might know what happened at Christmas, so that you might believe, and in believing, have life in Christ. He wants you to know who this Jesus is. There are very specific reasons for the stories that he puts in there, the discourses that he puts in there, the "I am" statements that he puts in there, and the signs or the works that he puts in there. Let's pay attention. Let me show you one of them.

John, chapter 2, verse 1. "On the third day…" If you've been following with us these last number of weeks, I talk about how John is being very specific about what happened on what day. Just look back to your left over there in John, chapter 1, verse 19. Where it says, "This is the testimony of John [the Baptist] …" and it talks about a discourse that John the Baptist had with the religious leaders who came out to figure out who he was, why he was calling people away from the dead worship of Jerusalem to repent and to prepare themselves for a reckoning with God.

That was day one. Then if you go 10 verses later to verse 29, you have, "The next day…" written down right there. This is when John identifies publicly, "Hey, this is the Lamb of God. This is the one whose sandals I am not fit to untie. This is the long-expected one. This is the fulfillment of the patriarchal anticipation of the Lamb who would take away the judgment on the Promised One.

This is the fulfillment of the prophetic anticipation of one who would be led to slaughter for us. This is the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb, where because of the forbearance of God that the judgment of God passed over us in kindness and forbearance for a season until the perfect Lamb would come and abolish your need for sacrifice. This is the one."

Now after that, undoubtedly the disciples of John went and spent some time with him. As they spend time with him, John said, "Look, this is the guy who I've been telling you about. I have to decrease. He has to increase. You guys. This is the Messiah. I'm preparing the way for him. This is not about me."

The next day when he came back by and John said, "There's the Lamb of God," this time Andrew, and probably John, the author of this book, followed him. The third day, that is John, chapter 1, verse 35. First day: John's interaction with the religious leaders. Second day: John pointing out Jesus. Third day: Now the disciples of John following him. Fourth day: John, chapter 1, verse 43. "The next day…" Andrew goes and gets Peter.

Now we come to John, chapter 2, verse 1. Now this is important. Watch this. "On the third day…" There's a lot of discussion about what this means. I want to tell you what I think it means. If you have the first day, John with the religious leaders. Second day, John identifying Jesus. Third day, disciples of John following Jesus, became disciples of him. Fourth day, the disciples telling others to come and see. Then add three to four and you get seven. This is the seventh day.

I think John is being very specific in telling you that. On the seventh day, Genesis 2:1-3 tells us that the Lord did…what? He rested. One of the things that you're going to find that Christ does is that he purposely takes up some activities on the Sabbath that cause no small stir. In fact, one of them is in John, chapter 5. It's the healing of the man who had been lame for 38 years by the pool of Bethesda.

What happens is Jesus says to him, "…pick up your pallet and walk." Then in John, chapter 5, verse 12, when the religious leaders saw this man carrying a pallet, which they deemed a work, which was not at all what God intended, they said, "Who told you to carry that?" He said, "I really don't know."

Jesus later found that guy in the temple and said, "It was me. Let me tell you who I am." Then that guy went and told the religious leaders, "Hey, that's the guy who told me to carry my pallet." The rabbis were like, "Look, we make the rules around here. We tell people what's holy. We tell them what they can and can't do."

They came to him, and this is what happens. In John, chapter 5, verse 16, it says, "For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath." In verse 17, "But He answered them, 'My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.'" What did Jesus mean?

Why did Jesus, on the seventh day, go to work? Answer: We know that God created in six days. I'll talk to you about that in just a moment. On the seventh day, he rested. Then sin entered the world, and from that moment on, God went back to work to restore beauty, to restore life. Every single act of God since the fall has been a missionary act.

God is no longer resting. He is recreating. I think what John is doing right here, three days later on the seventh day, when men rest… God is not resting. He is active. He is at work. There is a new creation work about to happen, and you're about to meet the Creator. He is going to restore what has been lost.

He is going to go to the depths of the sea and the edges of the earth, everywhere that rebellion has tainted what God said should be beautiful, and there is going to be the one that can bring back the beauty that is lost and restore you to something even better than what was there the first time. There is a new creative work here, and like Father, like Son. "Just like the Father isn't resting, I'm not resting."

He goes to a "…wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding." I don't want to make too much out of this, but in John, chapter 12, it says this in verse 26. "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."

In other words, the wedding feast that the Son is invited to, that invitation will be given to you if you are part of his posse. If you are part of his flock, you get to go to the wedding feast the Son gets to go to. If you are his disciple and he is invited, then you are invited. Those men who were in the wilderness and lost in a way are now at the wedding feast with the Messiah.

Jesus knows exactly why he is here and what he is doing. He is letting those who are relating to him by faith benefit from the relationship to him. In fact, some people think this is one of the reasons that Mary later said to Jesus, "Hey, they're out of wine." Like, "You and your band of fraternity brothers who showed up here that we didn't know were coming have absolutely killed the buffet table and the keg. Tell them to go."

I'm not sure that was the full import right there, but I think what you get in John, chapter 2, is a reminder that where the Messiah is, his men are. If you serve him, you follow him. If you follow and serve him, the Father will honor you and you will get the invite to the wedding feast of the Lamb. That's a good thing. Verse 3: "When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine.'" Now look, again, understand this. What John is a master at doing is taking physical realities and showing you a transcendent spiritual truth.

"I'm thirsty."

"Woman, if you knew of the well that I drink from, you would drink of it, and you would never thirst again."

"Where is that well? Is your well better than the well of our Father Jacob? Give me some of this water that I may not thirst again."

Jesus fed them. They followed him because they wanted another bucket of chicken. He says, "No, that bread that I gave you, you're always going to be hungry again 24 hours later. You don't need physical food. You need the food that is the manna from God sent down from heaven. You need to eat of me. There is a greater truth behind this."

John is always teaching that. I think when Mary said, "They have no wine," one of the things that John would know, that folks who understood the intention of God would know, is that this was judgment. The nation of Israel was to have the early and latter rains. The early rains would bring forth the wheat and the barley and the latter rains would allow the vine and the grape to bring forth the abundance that would lead to a great vineyard and a great wine crop that would bring joy to the nation.

When there is no wine, it is a sign of judgment. Israel had been under judgment really for the last almost six centuries, from first Assyria in 722 BC and then Babylon in 586 and later Persia and then Greece and now Rome. There had been great judgment on Israel. They had been oppressed. There was no joy in the land. There was no abundance. It was a time of sadness. They had no wine.

In Amos, chapter 9, one of the marks of Messiah was that the sower would overtake the reaper. In other words, I would be out there… Actually what it says is, "…the plowman will overtake the reaper…" in Amos 9:13. What that means is the guy who is out there kicking up the dirt so he can lay his next seed, the guy who is picking all the fruit would still be out there, the harvest is so bountiful and plentiful that they can't even get all the apples out of the apple tree before it's time to lay the next seedlings.

They can't even get all the grapes off the vine before they're trying to cue it up and plant again. There is such tremendous abundance in the kingdom of God, in the city of the Messiah that the plowman overtakes the reaper. This is a time when Mary says, "There is no wine." Now look, did Mary know who Jesus was? She had a pretty good idea. We're going to find out that she didn't fully understand everything.

That's why Simeon said to her in Luke, chapter 2, "Your heart is going to be pierced deeply because you're going to be disappointed, Mama, when you see your Son, who is God, nailed to a cross." I don't think Mary saw the full picture. I think God in his grace held that back from her a bit. Let's just go back.

In Luke, chapter 1, you have Mary. It says that Gabriel came to her and said to her, "…favored one! The Lord is with you." Then we have that angel saying, "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…" Mary listens to this. We know a little bit later. In fact, I didn't read this first hour, and it's just a shame, because I'm not going to read it Christmas Eve, so I'm going to read it right now. I'm going to quote Linus…I mean Luke. Turn to Luke 2:8. I want to read it. This is what Mary knew. Watch this.

"In the same region…" In Bethlehem that night. "…there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.'

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, 'Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.' So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this…"

Check this out. In addition to what Mary knew from Gabriel, in addition to what Mary heard a little bit later from her relative Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant earlier when Mary went to visit her and the baby in her womb flipped and said, "He is filled with gladness…" Mary had not told anybody yet she was pregnant, and Elizabeth said, "Hey, this child is excited about your child."

Later, that child's name was called, by Zechariah, John, which means the gift of God. His daddy said, "This child is a forerunner who will anticipate the coming of the Messiah, Mary, that is in your womb." Now the shepherds show up on the night of his birth and they say, "Let me tell you what went down in the field. Let me tell you who this child is."

Verse 19: "But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart." A little bit later, she goes to the temple in Luke, chapter 2. There is Simeon, a man who is righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel. He shows up. He says, "Look Lord, you can now let me die in peace because I have seen the hope for the nations."

It says in verse 33, "And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, 'Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel…'" Luke 2, a little bit later. They go to the Passover Feast.

They're heading home in a large caravan. They look around. There is no Jesus. They go back to look for him. They find him in the temple. Mary says, " [Don't you know] Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You." He says, with all due respect, "Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house [about his business] ?" It says Mary meditated on these things.

Now we never hear, by the way, from Joseph again. That's about when Jesus is 12. He probably died somewhere in Jesus' teen years. He is not at this wedding. But Mary had an idea. She may have not known everything, but she had an idea that this was… Not only that, she never had to whup the boy, ground him, spank him, or correct him once. That is a big clue right there. One of these things is not like the other. Goofus and Gallant for you fans of Highlights magazine. There is something here that is not normal. This is Jesus.

So Mary didn't know, but she said, "Look, they have no wine." By the way, I mentioned Amos, chapter 9. Genesis 49 is when you have the prophecies of the sons of Israel, the sons of Jacob. When it gets to Judah, the lion tribe, the one that the other brothers will bow down and serve… He is the one that the lineage of the Messiah would come from, the Son of David, the Son of Judah. That's the line Jesus came from. It says that when he is King, "He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey's colt to the choice vine…"

Now why would you use a grapevine as a hitching post? Especially the vine that you're going to make your Avignonesi 50&50 from? The good stuff. Why would you do that? You tie up a pony to a tree with apples on it, and he is going to eat those apples. You tie him up to a grapevine, and he is going to pick that vine clean.

Here's why. Because there is such tremendous blessing in the presence of the King, the Messiah, the Creator, the one who makes Eden, Paradise, that you can let your donkey be tied right to your little golden goose. Let him eat it, because there's more than enough. That's why he says in heaven the streets are paved with gold.

I don't know if they're going to be gold or not, but the point is the things that we war over here on earth, the things we fight for here on earth are tread upon in heaven. You go ahead and hitch your donkey to the vine because the King is here and the plowman overtakes the reaper. There is no wine and if you are somebody, it might be a good time to do something.

I'll tell you what else I think possibly is going on here. This is pure conjecture, but think about this. Mary knew what was going on. Elizabeth had an inkling. Look, when you got married back in that day, the way it worked was two families would enter into a contractual agreement and you would be betrothed.

What that basically meant was that we would go, we would close the deal, and then the bridegroom and his family would leave. They would go back to his father's area, and he would build a house. When the house was done, roughly in about a year's time, he and all his attendants would go at whatever hour and surprise that family.

They would've prepared the wedding feast. They would get that woman and the family, and there would be a processional and a parade all the way back to the new house. When they got there, there'd be great feasting, and the marriage would be consummated. They would be betrothed. Now if something scandalous happened in that year, like let's just say a pregnancy while she was there and you were here, at times it would sever the contract and there would be no processional. There would be a mourning.

So Mary got word to Joseph that, "Hey Joe, I don't know how much I'm going to be showing, but there's a chance I'm going to need a bigger dress for the wedding." Joseph, as you can imagine, was not happy about this, but he had a dream that said, "Do not divorce that woman. Do not separate yourself from her, for what she says is true. Peace."

So Joseph, like Mary, a man of great faith, said, "Come here, Mary," and Joseph stuck up for Mary. Mary was this scandalous bride. I have to tell you. Very few people, probably… The family did all it could to cover up the reality, but don't you know that over the eggnog there were more than a few whispers.

Thirty years now Mary had put up with Aunt Esther and whoever else over there going, "Hi, Mary!" So where are you? Something going on here at this wedding that Mary is intimately involved. Many people believe that it was the wedding of the son of Mary's sister. She was intimately involved with the affairs because there was no other way she would know what was going on in the back rooms, and Mary was undoubtedly serving the family and was involved with making sure that everything was as it should be.

When you run out of wine, it's a great social disgrace. In fact, in Jewish law, you could even be fined for it if you don't have enough whatever it is you're drinking there at that little reception that's supposed to last a good long while. It was a great social disgrace and even legal offense to the family that entered into this contract with you, because this was their moment to celebrate their daughter.

I can just see Mary going, "Hey, you know they've been whispering for a long time about me, and we're out of wine. So you can help your aunt out by coming up with some wine, and that might make them realize that you might be who I said you were, which would really make the wedding a rather pleasant experience for me as well."

Can't you just see? You just have to put yourself in that situation. "For 30 years, I've lived with all this gossip and murmuring. It wouldn't be a bad time while we're all together to go ahead and reveal yourself. Sooner or later Son, I wouldn't mind." I don't know. But look at his response. "Woman, what does that have to do with us?"

Literally, "What does thee have to do with thou?" Now let me just say this. I have tried this before with my wife. I've called her this. I've said, "Woman," and she goes, "What did you say?" I go, "I said 'woman,'" She said, "Don't you ever call me woman." I go, "Jesus called his mom woman."

Let me just tell you this so you don't make the same mistake I did…once. Really, that translation is unfortunate. It really means madam or lady. In John, chapter 19, in fact when Jesus is on the cross, he uses this very affectionate term. It's not a disparaging term. There is a term that just does define the relationship in this way. He says, "Lady (or Madam)," "…behold, your son!" talking to John the disciple who wrote this. He says, " [Son,] Behold, your mother!"

In other words, "You take care of this lady. This is a precious woman to me." "Madam, this now is your caregiver." "Son, that's your mama." It's a very affectionate term right there. Don't be dropping woman on your wife and act like you're quoting Bible at her. I can give you some other verses that might help you more if you're looking to woo your Rose of Sharon.

He does say this. "What does thee have to do with thou?" It is the exact… Now look, this is a phrase that is used all throughout the Scripture, Old Testament and New. It was really a euphemism. It was really a statement that often had to do with… Well, how about this? In Matthew 8:29, the demons, when Jesus is coming to cast them out, say this exact same thing to Christ. "What business do we have with each other, Son of God?"

In other words, "We are not alike. Why are you messing with us? We don't tread on the same ground. Why are you here? This is our domain." "Have You come here to torment us before the time?" In other words, what Christ is saying to Mary is, "You are as unlike me as the demons were saying to Christ, your perfection is unlike their corruption."

Now watch this. Because I want to tell you, to quote a friend of mine, Mary got a bad rap. Here's why. Mary has been venerated by those in certain ideologies who have pushed her to a place she should not be so that sometimes those of us who are not trapped inside that false idea have a hard time speaking well of her, and we should speak well of Mary. This is a godly woman.

She is humble. When the angel appears to her and says, "Favored one," she just dips her little head and she says, "Not me." She is filled with faith. A little bit later when the angel said, "This is going to happen this way," she says, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word."

She is one who suffered greatly for God, as Simeon said. We looked at in Luke 2. "Your soul shall be pierced." This is a good woman. I'm going to show you one of the greatest statements Mary ever makes in the entire Bible here in just a second, but she didn't fully understand and know everything.

One of the things that's happened here is Jesus saying, "Let me just tell you something." He's not calling her Mom. "You need to know something, Madam. I am not like you. You are correct. There is the Messiah here. I don't do what moms want me to do, friends want me to do, or culture wants me to do. What have thee to do with thou? I am here on Daddy's business, not yours."

Christ says, " [Listen.] My hour has not yet come." Now this is interesting. John 2, John 7, John 8. Numerous times, Jesus keeps saying, "My hour has not yet come." What's he mean? What he means is… The hour for glorification is very specific to Christ. It first shows up in John 12, verse 23, where he says, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."

In verse 24, he says, "…unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone…" Jesus is saying the hour of his glorification in John 13, and John 17, and John 19, this is the hour. It is when he lays his life down. He becomes the sacrifice for his people, the expression of God's love to the world, and he takes his life back up again as a sign that he is that perfect Lamb and that he has accomplished his perfect work.

Note: Christianity is not the invention of men. It is not something the disciples came up with after the fact. "This guy who we're following, he is going down. What are we going to do? Let's make up the story of the resurrection." From the very beginning, remember what I said last week about Peter?

He said, "Peter, I'm going to call you rock, and you're going to be on this foundation of faith. You're going to be one of the living stones that I build this new temple in." From the very beginning, he knew that the people who ruled in the temple were going to reject him and he was going to raise up a new, living temple that would be a light to the nations, a light to the world that they might be reconciled to God, including those who formerly did not recognize him.

Jesus knew from the beginning he was going to be rejected. He knew from the beginning the hour of his glorification. His glorification was not going to be parlor tricks at weddings or even healing the nobleman's son from a distance or calming the wind and the waves. Jesus knew his glorification was going to be when he laid his life down for those who he loved.

"My hour has not yet come [woman, and I will be on my Father's timetable] ." Notice later when his enemies tried to kill him, they could not because his hour had not yet come. Notice when Pilate says to him, "Don't you know who I am?" and he reaches up in his beaten state and says, "Let me tell you who you are. You are nobody unless my Father gives you authority. This isn't your show. It's mine. You carry on, and I will lay my life down. No one takes it from me. I will take it back up again."

From the very beginning, John wants you to know that Jesus knew what was going down. He is in control. Mary wisely walks out of that kitchen with the servants and says, "All right, I have no favor in intercession with him." Watch this. I'm going to say this again. The Scriptures teach us that the Son is a mediator for us before the Father, but nowhere is there any indication that the mother is a mediator for us before the Son. "Do not venerate that woman. Honor her."

I quote one who said, "Do not worship Mary, but be a Mary. Be humble, of great faith, who suffers for the kingdom, who speak these words. Whatever he says to you, the truth, the Word of God, the one full of grace and truth, you do it." Mama, you want to put a verse on your refrigerator? There it is. His mother said to her children, "Whatever Jesus says to you, do it. Not what I want, not what your daddy wants, not what your friends want, what he wants. That's the King. I'm out of your kitchen. Follow him."

John, chapter 11, verse 3. Martha and Mary, not Mary the mother of Jesus but Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus. I love what they do. Watch what you do. All you do is take your problem to Christ. You don't tell him what to do. You can drop innuendo. "We're out of wine. Just letting you know."

Moving on. John 11:3: "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick." Just letting you know and move on. There is no specific request. You take your problem to him and trust him. He will glorify himself in his time. Out of the kitchen. Off she goes. So what does he do? In verse 6 it says, "Now there were six stone waterpots…" There is significance there.

Seven, biblically, is the number of completion and perfection. In the Scripture, six is the number of imperfection. It falls short. Stone is where the law came from. We know that these waterpots are for the Jewish custom of purification. External washings as a continual reminder that you are not clean, that you are to be holy and set apart from the other nations, but you are not the people who you should be.

So you wash when you come in. You wash between courses. You wash the dishes. You are continually being reminded that you do not meet the requirements of the law. The law was written on stone tablets. The law is good in that it accomplished its purposes, but it was not to bring you to salvation.

Paul says in Galatians, chapter 3, "…the Law has become our tutor…" In other words, it teaches us what righteousness is that we might see that we need something to help us in our unrighteousness. God in his mercy gave us provision that by our faith in the temporary sacrifices that he would overlook our transgressions for a time until he fulfilled the law.

Watch this, six, the number of incompletion, stone where the law was written. He says, you get those "…containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, 'Fill the waterpots with water.'" Completely. Why? I don't want anybody to think that you do about 80 percent of the work and then Jesus comes and ices it off. No.

He literally said, "…I did not come to abolish [the law] but to fulfill [the law] .""Completely accomplished in me, the righteousness of God is met. Not in anything that you do. I'm the one who fills it up. It needs nothing from you. In fact, you cannot. There is no magician's trick at work here. It is to the very brim. It 100 percent the work of Christ, 100 percent grace. Until you go inside the container of the law and see your need and you draw out from that the provision of Christ, there will be no rejoicing."

By the way, what was the very first miracle of Moses? He turned water into blood, death, judgment. That's what the law does. He takes what is life and he shows you, "No, you're dead." The wages of sin is death, and the law teaches you that. What's the very first sign of Christ? He takes that which was to purify you, and he brings joy and gladness. Wine, and abundantly so.

Could John write? Is there some stuff here? Amazing. Amazing. Jesus says, "Fill the waterpots with water. […] Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." By the way, I have to stick this in right here. We are so stinking intimidated by being indoctrinated in this idea of millions and billions of years. It is nonsense.

What would be the very first miracle I would do if I was crashing on this scene and showing that I was God, that I was in the beginning, and that I was the Creator and sustainer of all things? I would do an act of creation. That's exactly what Jesus does. How old was Adam when God created him?

We don't know, but we don't think that he was a newborn who was slapped on the bottom and nursed at some divine womb until he was a man. No, we believe, if you believe in the Scripture, that Adam was a man. So he created Adam and how old was Adam when he was created? About a second old, but how old did he look…17, 19, 25? I don't know.

What is wine? Wine is grape juice with…what? Age. What's the very first miracle of Christ? He fulfills the long-anticipated blessing of the Messiah that there is excellent and abundant wine. About 2,500 single servings are what would come out of those six pots. It's here, and it's the good stuff.

It's not Mad Dog 20/20. This is not Ernest and Julio Gallo's Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine. This is not a two-dollar bottle of Oak Chalet from Walmart. This is Cakebread. This is Silver Oak. This is the good stuff. It is there in abundance. What he is saying is, "I am here, and I have accomplished the law. Draw from me, and you will have life. I create with no effort that which has apparent age."

So the next time when you're arguing about how old the earth is because you look and you see the scientists tell you things that take a long time to get that way, just say, "Let me just tell you something. I have no problem with it looking like it is old. It's just not necessary that it is that old."

If God wants to create a universe that the moment it's created, there is light that is coming here from the sun, which takes about eight minutes at light traveling at 186,000 miles per second from a sun that's 93 million miles away, by the time that light hits you, it left the sun eight minutes ago. God can create it right away like that. A universe that's millions and billions of miles deep, God can create it.

When he creates an earth that looks like there's millions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth through sedimentation so we know that this fossil creature is this old. Why? Because of what rock layer it's in. How do you know how old that rock layer is? Because of the animal that's in it. It's circular reasoning.

Let me just tell you something. There's a story of a universal flood which could immediately bury millions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth instantly. So even in the natural earth that is here, we have no problem explaining from the Bible how it looks older than it is. I have no problem with an earth that looks old, but I have no need to make it old to make it fit my Bible.

Don't you give away, don't you cower at the scientist who is constantly changing his story, this Darwinistic idea that lets secularists and rationalists not have to believe in God because now they've figured out how they got here, they are now all going back and go, "Well Darwin was a nut. We all know that even he thought there were problems with the theory. Nobody with intellectual integrity really supports that idea that much anymore in scientists." They come up with other ideas.

There is Neo-Darwinism because they have to keep amending it because science itself thwarts them, but there's no such need for the Christian. I love this. You go to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and from (I wrote this down; this is good stuff)… In Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, from 1924 to 1988, there was a visitor's sign right when you got out to the entrance of those caverns that said that those caverns were at least, based on the rock growth and formations in there, at least 260 million years old.

Then they watched them over the course of that 60 years. They saw them growing at a rate different than they thought. In 1988, they took the sign down. They said, "This place is at least 7 to 10 million years old." Then a little while later, they changed it. "This place is at least 2 million years old." If you go to Carlsbad Caverns today, there is no sign. So even their natural processes are constantly getting amended. Let me just say this.

You don't cower. He is a Creator, and he can make things look older than they are. He doesn't need help. He doesn't say, "Fill it up, and then tell them to wait 20 years and we'll have wine." No, he created the good stuff. How do I know it's good? Because, "When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from…"

Why? Because he was not following the master. He was not in the room with him. He was not coming with Jesus, seeing what he had done. All he knew… Watch this. It says, "…(but the servants who had [been with Jesus] knew)…" They knew from whence it came. They understood there is something here that we are not familiar with. There is a Creator here. In verse 9, it says the headwaiter did not know.

A buddy of mine tells this story. I'm going to steal it. It's too good. He talked about the Irishman who he had followed Christ. They came and said, "Do you really believe that the Bible is true?" He said, "I absolutely do." He said, "So you're telling me that you believe in the Bible. Can you explain it?"

He goes, "I really can't explain it. All I know is that he is King and I have followed him, and he has changed my life. You guys know I was a drunk. You know I was an alcoholic who ruined my family, and I have come and I have seen he is who he says he is. I have sobered up. It's changed my life."

They asked him, "Do you really believe that Jesus can turn water into wine?" He said, "All I know, if you want to come to my house, I can show you that he turned beer into furniture, because he has changed me. I'm no longer wasting my money." That's who you ought to be. You ought to be a servant.

All you know, you maybe can't argue physicists and molecular biologists, but you just tell them, "Come and see. You draw from this well. You'll never understand it from over there." "Where do you get that stuff?" "Come and see. You have to draw yourself from what the bridegroom has provided and you will be satisfied." Let's wrap this up real quick.

In verse 10 he said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." Circle you. Circle man, good stuff first, but you keep getting better. This is good stuff right here. Watch this. My wife was pointing this out to me yesterday.

She goes, "We've been married 20 years, and you are nothing… What I'm getting right now is not that you wooed me with 21 years ago. You gave me the good stuff first, and there's been a slow declension in honor." She was basically informing me that what wooed her into oneness with me was no longer present. I had given her the good stuff first, got her lips numb with love and romance and letters and attention, and now I'm serving her the vile stuff. That's not the way it is with God.

It says in Proverbs 4:18, "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." In other words, the more you know Christ if you're following him, it ought to be just the opposite. "Brother, when you wooed me as a young man in your 20s, ten years into your walking with Jesus Christ, as you followed him, you have become more like him, you love me more, you honor me more, you care for me more, you know more of what it means to give your life for me as Christ gave his life for the church, and I am blessed, because the good stuff…"

You go back and watch Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel, chapter 2, verses 31 to 35. He has a vision of the kingdoms of men. "The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay." He moves from beautiful to death.

That's what men do, women. That's what men do, men. It's not what God does and not what godly men do. It gets better all the time. What's the Enemy do? He gives you the pleasure of sin before the wages of sin. "Come lick this sweet thing. Come get drunk. Don't worry about the headache. Don't worry about the shame."

Not God. You come first. God offers the pain of obedience first and then the blessing of obedience. It gets sweeter and sweeter. You come acknowledging your sin and brokenness and submission. Take up your cross, you follow me, and there is life here. Not with the Enemy. He offers you all the pleasure and hides the pain, but it's coming.

That's what men do. They woo you like wolves in sheep's clothing, seeking who they might devour. You find a godly man, but you bring the good stuff. I'm going ton tell you something. The good stuff is coming. There's not just one Christmas; there are two. He is coming back. You serve him. You draw by faith from the well of righteousness, which he has created through his own blood, which he has fulfilled the law.

Living righteously, " [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might [partake of him and find life] ." This is no mere man. This is the Son of God. He is Creator and he brings abundant, excellent provision. He calls you to come in brokenness, humility, and submission, to carry your cross just like him. Then the hour of glorification will come.

I want to tell you. I have drawn from him for 30 years, and he has never disappointed. I'm not going to argue with you on any other level. He has turned my beer into furniture. I invite you to come. If you know him, you must go. You must tell others to come and see. Hope has come. If you are here today and you know Christ and you have not connected with a body, would you connect with us?

If you have connected with us, will you go and sing of this Messiah who has revealed himself? If you have never dealt with that which is lacking in your life of righteousness, will you find your satisfaction in him who has poured himself out, who has met the standard of the law that you might find life in him? It's Christmas. All you have to do is take the gift. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." John 2. Boy, it's good.

Father, thank you for your Word, both written and living. I pray for those who are here now who love you and know you that they would go and sing of how great you are. "Water you turned into wine," it says in the song. You are great, and you have turned our mourning into gladness. You take that which is inside of us and make it beautiful. Only you can do that, you who rebirths men who come to you.

We thank you, Lord, that you have met the requirements of the law. We thank you that you have offered to us that provision that we might be people who sing. I pray that we would go now and tell it on the mountain, that we would go and declare to others the hope that has come.

I pray that our hearts would be filled knowing that there are still some bitter days ahead, but it's going to get better and better when the morning star arises and he draws us to himself. We love you and seek to serve you, for we now become familiar with you and repent. Would you draw to you Father all who have never come? For your glory and our good I pray, amen.

All right. We have five days to get them in here with us. Let's go get 'em. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.

About 'The Gospel Of John: The Visible Image, Volume 1'

Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.