Tag Archives: water to wine

That God Loves Ordinary People Is Extraordinary Indeed!

God loves ordinary people, and that is one of the most amazing and hope-filled truths of the Christian faith.

It is a truth no other world religion is strong enough to handle. What kind of God would so lower himself?

It is a truth that religion of the self-centered, do-it-yourself, toxic type, as opposed to that which focuses on a real relationship with God, can hardly afford to consider lest its true colors show.

God loves ordinary people.

That frightening truth was Exhibit A in the Pharisees’ case against Jesus. Pharisees are hard people to make happy. As Jesus noted, “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’” (Matthew 11:18-19).

Maybe we still find the Lord’s choice of friends a bit troubling. We worry about his reputation.

We shouldn’t.

I don’t believe Christ was a glutton. But I’m glad he evidently enjoyed good food as one of God’s excellent gifts.

I don’t believe he was a drunkard, but I’m glad that when the time came to make wine, Christ made the best and shared it as a good gift from God.

I doubt it’s the Almighty who is in question when we catch ourselves being “nicer” or more scrupulous than God.

Did you hear about the old gentleman who, when he learned that Jesus turned water into wine, said, “Well, the Bible says he did, and so I believe it, but I’d have thought more of him if he hadn’t.” (Hmm. Maybe that’s why the hallmark of some misguided “religion” is that it spends so much time trying to turn wine back into water. To change the metaphor, it’s far more comfortable with cold tables of stone than with the living Spirit of God.)

Similarly, I suppose we can make allowances for Christ’s choice of companions. The Pharisees once scowled and pointed to a party that took place when Jesus was calling Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle. He had to go where Matthew was, right? Even if he wasn’t comfortable there, right?

Well, yes. So the Lord has a good excuse. We can be okay with Christ eating and drinking with “sinners” as long as he doesn’t enjoy it, right?

I could be wrong, but I’m afraid the truth is far more scandalous—and wonderful—than that. I’m afraid the Pharisees, wrong as they were, were right: God not only loves ordinary folks, he likes them! He actually prefers their company to that of the “high and holy.” What kind of God is that?!

If that is true, and if God is completely good, then genuine “goodness” is not the cold and scrupulous, thin and sterile, thing many folks, religious or not, have often thought it to be.

Maybe real goodness is not all about “Do this, but don’t do this,” the kind of rules that keep religious folks feeling religious and non-religious folks glad they aren’t religious.

Maybe the real purity and holiness God wants is something far deeper than either group thinks. Maybe real goodness is deep and full and rich, filled to the brim with joy and life, the very life of God, and a person truly in love with God is filled up with the wine of God’s genuine joy in a way that folks truly in love just with themselves as they center either on their “religion” or on their own earthly appetites and desires, can never be.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

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Picking a Venue for Christ’s First Miracle

water to wine

Does Jesus ever do anything just as we’d expect?

If God became human and entered our world to save us—something we would certainly never expect . . .

If we realized (and we surely didn’t see this one coming, did we?) that God had actually entered the world as a baby in the village of Bethlehem . . .

If we could begin to wrap our heads around such amazing realities . . .

Well, then it is conceivable that we just might expect him, at the right time and at the right place, to begin to do some amazing things. We often call them “miracles.” In the Apostle John’s Gospel, in particular, they’re specifically called “signs.” They are evidences pointing to the power and, yes, deity, of the One performing the signs.

What venue would “God in the flesh” choose for such signs? When? How? Questions abound.

Modern politicians would put a gaggle of handlers to work trying to answer those questions to maximum effect.

Some mega-church pastors, at least the largely plastic type without a pastoral bone in their bodies, would put large staffs to work picking the place, promoting the event, positioning the cameras.

I’m afraid they’d be busy as bees falling, with incredible efficiency, to every temptation Satan once pitched to Jesus in the wilderness. To use power selfishly. To pull out all the stops to achieve the sensational. To (as William Barclay well writes), “try to change the world by becoming like the world,” making a very effective pitch to consumers rather than running off crowds by lifting up a cross.

So when and where would we moderns showcase the very first of the “signs”? Maybe on a huge feast day attended by as many as possible of society’s rich and famous. Maybe at a palace in a great city such as Jerusalem.

Time and place settled, we’d soon face a larger question. Miracles are by definition astounding, but we’d want the very first “sign” to be especially eye-popping, something on the order of restoring sight to a man blind from birth, casting out a legion or two of demons, maybe even raising someone from the dead. Cameras rolling, of course.

But Jesus does it all wrong.

When the time comes for his first miracle, Jesus argues that it’s probably not the right time. And, to us, the little village of Cana surely seems like absolutely the wrong place.

Instead of storm-stilling, or blind-lighting, or dead-raising, Jesus breathes new life into a simple village wedding feast about to run aground due to a lack of wine. He turns ordinary water into the finest wine, an act every bit as surprising as it is miraculous.

But once I’m over my surprise, I find myself loving Jesus’ choice. It points me to a Lord who cares about little events, little places, and ordinary people of precisely the sort the mighty in our world strategically blow right past and never even see.

That’s wonder-full indeed!

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!  
Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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