Monday, July 19, 2021

The Water, The Wilderness, & The Wedding

The grand mystery of our universe could be the wonder at the complexity of the stars and planets and galaxies. It could be the cells of the human body, DNA, or the united function of the human body systems, or the brain, it could be human works of art, or the mystery of how an unborn baby forms in the mother’s womb. Though these things are mysterious and enchanting, though they are beautiful and complicated and even strange to us, they all pale in comparison to the grand mystery of the life of Jesus Christ, the God-man.

Sometimes we brush over this too easily. We repeat it in our creeds and doctrines, Jesus Christ was the God-man, fully god, fully man, born of a virgin, come to save sinners. Right? It is true. But slow down a bit. Jesus is actually God inhabiting a human body, coming into the world. We have it written down and reported by people like Matthew, who was there to witness Jesus life personally, same as John, or people who gathered information after, like Luke or Mark.

But to understand how we should live as human beings, we have to understand the God-man, the person who it is said in the scriptures, made the universe, the earth, the animals, and the human race. It was all done through Jesus. Jesus was with God in the beginning, the bible tells us. What does that mean? Many have wondered at this.

Who is Jesus? That is the greatest and most important question of life itself. You need to find that out. You need to investigate that and understand that.

Last week we talked about the birth of Jesus, the circumstances surrounding his birth, and how the Christ was predicted throughout the Jewish Old Testament scriptures.

We have only the records of Jesus birth, and his dedication at the temple 6 days later, and then one solitary incident when he was 12 years old, and visiting Jerusalem for a festival. But other than these moments, we don’t get any information of Jesus’ life from birth to thirty years old. So we’re now jumping forward in time to Jesus at age 30, when he begins his public ministry. You could say that before this Jesus was in hiding, carefully preparing for the moment when God would call him to begin his mission.

During this time, you have two religious sects vying for spiritual authority over Israel, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. As you recall throughout the old testament Israel had struggled to obey God and the law of Moses. This led to great destruction and loss for Israel. Israel had split in two, then the north was conquered by Assyria, and the south was conquered by Babylon. But we know that 70 years later Israel returned from captivity in Babylon and rebuilt the country. So the latest attempt of Israel to stay right with God, is the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They have developed a sort of religious legalism. They’ve added all sorts of rules and regulations on top of the law of Moses, they call it the oral tradition. This is a desperate attempt, by a conquered people, to somehow get the people to honor God properly. But instead it’s turned into a legalism that is strangling the people of real relationship with God.

In this moment in history, a wild man named John the Baptist, is out in the wilderness calling people to repent of their sins. And he is baptizing them in the Jordan river.

One John is out there, preaching and baptizing, when Jesus of Nazareth appears, and steps down into the waters and speaks to John.

Matthew 3:13-17 says, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

This is one of the first records we get of Jesus early life. He is baptized by John, perhaps as a first moment to declare, so it begins. Immediately after this we see the wilderness experience:

Luke 4:1-13 says, “Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,* 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

3 Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’* ”

5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

8 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’* ”

9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. 11 And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’* ”

12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’* ” 13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.”

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested. Jesus really had to prove that he had conquered sin, and was pure and righteous. So he was tested by Satan. And I think all of us end up being tempted by Satan, and God uses these moments as a test, to see if we really love Him, or the sins of the world. But Jesus overcomes Satan. He refuses the 3 temptations, and has victory over the adversary.

The next event we see is the wedding that Jesus attends. From John 2:1-12 (ERV) 2 Two days later there was a wedding in the town of Cana in Galilee, and Jesus’ mother was there. 2 Jesus and his followers were also invited. 3 At the wedding there was not enough wine, so Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 Jesus answered, “Dear woman, why are you telling me this? It is not yet time for me to begin my work.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do what he tells you.”

6 There were six large stone waterpots there that were used by the Jews in their washing ceremonies. Each one held about 20 or 30 gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them to the top.

8 Then he said to them, “Now dip out some water and take it to the man in charge of the feast.”

So they did what he said. 9 Then the man in charge tasted it, but the water had become wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants who brought the water knew. He called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “People always serve the best wine first. Later, when the guests are drunk, they serve the cheaper wine. But you have saved the best wine until now.”

11 This was the first of all the miraculous signs Jesus did. He did it in the town of Cana in Galilee. By this he showed his divine greatness, and his followers believed in him.

12 Then Jesus went to the town of Capernaum. His mother and brothers and his followers went with him. They all stayed there a few days.”

Jesus and his followers visit a wedding. Weddings in Jewish culture are very important. The celebration often lasts for days. It would involve feasting, wine, dancing, and singing. But the organizers run out of wine. And this is very embarrassing for the married couple. So Jesus mother Mary asks Jesus to help. But Jesus reminds his mother that he can’t reveal himself by performing miracles right now. Jesus knew he had to be very careful about the timing of the events of his ministry. But who can say no to mom? Not me. Nor did Jesus.

Jesus agreed to help, and saved the couple a great deal of embarrassment. It’s a great reminder that Jesus cares about the little things in our lives, not just the big things. He cares about fun and joyous times, and wants us to be happy. That is very comforting.

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