Did you pray that you might see Jesus this week and have you?
We have been talking about experiencing God. Can we experience God like people in the Bible did? Can we hear God’s voice? Can we be part of miracles that God wants to do in our suburb?
To help answer that question we are following the journey of the twelve disciples. Initially, we looked at Jesus’ own experience of God prior to His ministry. Last week we saw some of the men who would later be among the twelve disciples – Andrew, Peter, Philip, maybe John and maybe Bartholomew – have their first encounter with Jesus.
They, no doubt, had the training in the scriptures that all Jewish boys had. They didn’t excelled academically and follow a rabbi. They were tradesmen but they would have had a substantial background. Then something prompted at least some of them to cast their lot in with John the Baptist. John was a bit of a wild character; he lived and preached in the desert; he called people to repent and be baptised and, in that way, he was preparing the way for Jesus. These men weren’t just amongst the crowds; they were his disciples. John’s preaching must have convicted them of the need to turn their lives around and to seek God’s forgiveness, and they became part of his team, committed to him and to his message.
Consequently, they knew about the coming Messiah. John kept telling people that there was One coming who would be far greater than he. There was an expectation that the Messiah was imminent.
One day, Jesus turned up. John pointed Him out and two of the disciples followed Jesus. Jesus invited them to “come and see”. They spent that day with Him and came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
Andrew invited Peter to come and see. Jesus invited Philip to follow Him. Philip invited Nathanael to come and see. Jesus promised that they would see even greater things. The invitation, at this stage, was for them to simply have a look. There are many times after this when we see the disciples still fishing. It seems that it was part-time discipleship at this stage – experiences with Jesus but at other times still fishing. What sort of experiences did Jesus give them?
READ John 2:1-25
v.1 says, “on the third day”. It seems that on the very next day they went to the wedding in Cana. Imagine what it was like for those men. They are tagging along behind Jesus. They have been invited to observe. They must have been wide-eyed with expectation. But would they have expected what they actually saw?
You know the story. The wine ran out. Jesus’ mother told Him that. That’s odd. Was she simply telling Him? Was it just the latest piece of gossip at the wedding? Or did she telling Him to do something? And if she expected Him to do something, why? What had she seen in Him in the previous 30 years that caused her to think that Jesus would do something about the wine?
It seems that Jesus understood her to be suggesting He do something and He questioned why she would do that. His time hadn’t come. It sounds to us as if He was chastising her. He called her “woman” which we find harsh but actually the word used did not suggest any disrespect. It was perhaps like addressing someone politely as “madam”. Maybe Jesus just wanted her to reflect on what is was that caused her to believe that He might do something. What sort of believe in Him did she have? Why are you doing this?
Mary simply said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” That’s not bad advice.
The water jars were filled; some “water” drawn out and taken to the master who was amazed by the quality of the wine.
What an interesting afternoon for the disciples! They had been invited to come and see. Besides water being turned into wine what did they see that day?
- Miraculous power
- Willingness to serve those in need
- A fun-loving Jesus?
- That Jesus does things excellently
- Ask and you will receive. Mary asked. God answers prayer
- The results of obedience (“Do whatever He tells you.”)
John adds a wee comment of his own at the end of the story: this was “the first of the signs through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples put their faith in Him.”
John’s gospel is structured around a series of “signs”. Signs are visible pointers to something else. In the context of the gospel, they are things that you can see that point you to Jesus. This theme of “come and see” continues. God reveals Himself. God gives signs
We are told the purpose of the signs. That we might see God’s glory. God doesn’t give signs for our entertainment. God is revealing His glory. It is not so that we have an exciting life; it is so that we might worship. It is so that we might know Him and worship Him.
What was the result of the disciples seeing this sign at this wedding? They put their faith in Him. The sign had worked. We were told in the previous chapter that they believed He was the Messiah but now they know even more about Him. And what they have seen convinces them that they can trust Him; that they should now cast their lot with this man. Faith isn’t about knowledge so much as trust; I believe in you so completely that I will put myself into your hands. Jesus took them on a journey. He revealed Himself to them and their faith grew.
Is that true of you? Is He revealing Himself more and more to you? As He does so, is your willingness to trust Him growing? Do you trust Him enough to take Mary’s advice: Do whatever He tells you?
Then we move quickly on to another dramatic event. Again, think of the impact on the disciples.
It was almost Passover. They went up to Temple in Jerusalem and it was chaos. There were animals all over the place and people rushing around doing business. Imagine the noise and the smell and the hubbub. Jesus made a whip and drove the animals out of the temple courts. He turned over the tables of the money-changers and scattered their money. “Get out!” They had turned His Father’s house into a market.
What did the disciples see?
- Passion – anger
- Passion – zeal for the house of God
The Holy Spirit gave them understanding. They remembered the scripture (Ps 69:9) that says, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” It was an aha moment. “Ah, I get it.” Another little growth in their faith. This is the Messiah that those ancient scriptures referred to. And this is what He is like.
In contrast, the Jews said, “What authority do you have to do this? Show us a sign.” Isn’t that interesting. He was showing them a sign. The disciples saw zeal for God but the Jews didn’t see it.
God will give signs. That is the point of John’s story. The disciples had been invited to come and see the signs. God will give signs but not just because people demand them. Why hadn’t these people, for example, responded to John the Baptist’s call for repentance? Why had they rejected that sign?
Jesus didn’t have to do what they demanded. His answer was quite cryptic: There will be a sign: the Temple will be destroyed and rebuilt in three days. “Don’t talk nonsense,” they replied, ‘This temple took 46 years to build and you are going to build it in three days?”
That is the end of the story – for now – but they remembered that. They quoted those words back to Him when He was on trial, just prior to His crucifixion. They remembered it alright but how many recognised the sign and followed Him when he rose from the dead three days later?
Jesus’ answer was cryptic. John explains for our benefit that Jesus was referring to His body not to the Temple itself. It was cryptic but the Holy Spirit is able to open our eyes to these things if we are open to Him. Note John’s comment here: After He was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what He had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. Three years on they saw yet another sign and their faith grew even more.
Jesus gave the Jews that same opportunity but did they take it? The resurrection is the greatest sign of who Jesus is but some will not respond even to a sign of that magnitude and even though Jesus had alerted them to it. There were other times when people asked for a sign and Jesus pointed to the resurrection as the sign.
Matt 12:38-40 38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’
39 He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Some saw that sign. For others, even the sign of the resurrection was not enough.
At the end of chapter 2, John adds that many people saw the signs Jesus was performing and believed in His name. See the pattern here? God reveals Himself. Some see the signs and their faith grows.
At this stage in the relationship, Jesus is doing all the work. He is revealing Himself to them. All the disciples are asked to do is watch, and come to some conclusions. They are asked to keep their eyes open; to observe, and to respond. If what they saw persuaded them that Jesus was the Messiah, then they were challenged to respond by believing; by trusting. And so, John gives us a little update on their faith at the end of each incident that they witnessed (see verses 11, 17, 21 plus 23 on the crowd.)
Are you at this point of investigating? If so, can I suggest you keep searching? The disciples took time out from their business to investigate Jesus. Keep searching. Or, maybe you have experienced Jesus and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is the Messiah and you are trusting Him.
Are you a disciple-maker? Are you saying to others, “Come and see”? Are you showing them Jesus? If God did ask you to publicly pray for water to turn into wine, do you trust Him enough to do that? Do you have a passion for God and for His glory such that you will take a public stand even if it is unpopular?
There are stages in between. We will look at them, but where are you in terms of your growth?
There is a sad note at the end of John 2. Many saw the signs and believed in Him but He would not trust them because He understood human nature. Will those who say they believe, turn away again five minutes later? Will those who adore Him, later call for His death? Will our faith become faithfulness? There is a whole lot more to this than just an initial, enthusiastic response. Experiencing God isn’t just about the high points. Will we still believe at the low points in our lives? Will we still do whatever He tells us when obedience is costly? Will we have zeal for His house or will we seek personal gain?
Jesus understood human nature. Some people He could not trust. Can He trust you? Let’s continue following the journey of the disciples – those men whom Jesus ultimately knew that He could trust.