Saturday, January 18, 2014

The details of daily life

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."  They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him (John 2:1-11).

Jesus performed many spectacular miracles during His adult life here on earth.  He fed thousands of people from a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.  He made lame people walk, blind people see, and restored hearing to the deaf.  Jesus walked on water and quieted a storm with His words.  He even raised the dead back to life!  But His very first miracle was a subtle, quiet thing—performed at a wedding of all places. Without any fanfare, Jesus turned six containers of water into 120 gallons of high quality wine.  Jesus kept the wedding celebration going, while sparing the groom from public embarrassment.

It might seem a bit strange for Christ to use His godly power in this way.  Why waste the first miracle of His public ministry on such a minor problem?  Having participated in several weddings, I’m can tell you that there is nothing trivial about the bar running dry at a wedding reception—not if you’re responsible for the arrangements!  Most weddings are large, complicated affairs—any significant problems will spoil things for the bride and groom.

Although Jesus never married, He is the God of love.  He loves His Father.  He loved His parents, His brothers and sisters, and His disciples.  He loves you and me.  That love is what brought the Son of God down from heaven to live among us as a man.  And that love moved Christ to action when the wedding celebration in Cana faced a problem that would have ruined the day for many happy people.

You see, Jesus cares about our daily lives.  Jesus cares about the ordinary events, the little things that consume most of our time here on earth.  I’m sure you’ve heard people say that “the devil is in the details.”  Most of our sins are not big, public things.  You probably won’t get caught in a major scandal.  You probably won’t be arrested for murder or kidnapping or treason.  Nevertheless, each day of your life is filled with sins—sins like losing your temper, spreading gossip, breaking promises and telling lies.  You might shoplift something small or inexpensive; you might dabble in illegal drugs.  A lot of the time we commit sins we aren’t even aware of, causing hurt and resentment in complete ignorance.  King David acknowledged this problem when he prayed to God for mercy: None of us know our faults. Forgive me when I sin without knowing it (Psalm 19:12).

In the same way, most of us don’t face huge problems in our lives.  You probably won’t step on a landmine and lose a foot.  You probably won’t have to live on the street, begging for charity so you can get something to eat.  Nevertheless, our lives are filled with stress and obstacles.  There is the car that won’t start but costs too much to replace.  There is the idiot at work who makes your day miserable.  There are the friends and relatives who keep getting into trouble and expect you to bail them out.  Each day is full of little aggravations, some of them unexpected and others that pester you endlessly.

We need Jesus’ help constantly each and every day.  Yet many people try to put God’s Son on a schedule. Some make time for Him once each week on Sunday morning.  Others visit with Him on Christmas and Easter, and during special events like baptisms and funerals.  But as we saw in today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus is interested in our daily lives outside the church.  He performed a miracle in order to spare a groom from embarrassment and the wedding guests from disappointment.  Christ wants to touch every part of our lives with His love.

This incident reminds us to pray for all kinds of things.  Of course the most important thing to pray for is forgiveness for your sins and help to lead a God-pleasing life.  Also important is praying for the spread of the Gospel, that those who are in danger of hell would see the danger of sin, repent, and join us in following Christ on the Way that leads to heaven.  These prayers should be on our lips every single day.

But our prayers can reach beyond these needs.  The Bible urges us to care for each other, and this extends to prayer as well.  James writes, is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (5:13-16).  Mary is an example for us; when the wine was almost gone, her concern for the bridal party and their guests took her to Jesus where she asked for His help on their behalf.  Because He loves us, Jesus is willing to exert His power in our daily lives.

Jesus wants you to do well on your ACT.  Jesus wants you to be enthusiastic and productive at work. Jesus wants your home to be filled with hugs and laughter.  The devil wants to create all sorts of problems for you—sickness, money troubles, spats with your loved ones.  He wants you to fuss and fret about life’s annoyances so that you’ll forget about Jesus and focus all your attention on yourself.  But the Savior stands ready to help.  Jesus walked, ate, and relaxed with His disciples and friends.  He understands the stresses and concerns that plague us because He has experienced them first hand.

The Son of God came to make our lives better by getting the devil out of the details.  On the cross Jesus suffered and died to free us from sin so we can spread the Gospel, raise a family, earn a living, and enjoy friendships without sin throwing a wet blanket over everything.  When we make mistakes, we can find peace through Jesus’ forgiveness.  When the devil raises obstacles, Jesus lends us His strength, wisdom and patience.  When we trust in the Messiah as our Savior, we can trade each day’s stress and frustration for confidence and hope.  No problem is too big for the God who created the heavens and the earth; no problem is too small to be noticed by the Lord who keeps track of every hair on your head.

Of course, we need to keep things in perspective.  Jesus wants us to be happy, but He wants to be part of our lives at the same time.  Our Lord was a guest at the wedding in Cana.  Those who invited Jesus to join them were blessed greatly by His being there.  Wherever Christ is welcomed, blessings follow.  In the book of Revelation chapter three, Jesus said Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Almost anything we do can give honor to the Savior—in 1 Corinthians chapter ten Paul writes, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  But we must be careful not to take Jesus for granted or push Him to the side.  Listen to the warning given by James: You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (4:2-3).  Much of the time, we ask the Lord to give us something that we need or to fix some troubling situation—but when Jesus smooths things out for us, we get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we forget all about Him!  The blessings we enjoy must never shove Jesus from His throne in our hearts; Christ said Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:37-38).  Jesus does not want to be a spectator who tosses us peanuts every once in a while as He watches us go through life; He wants to be involved in our activities all the time, supporting us with His strength, guiding us with His wisdom, and comforting us in His mighty arms.

Sadly, our tendency is to place personal wants and needs ahead of everything else.  This insults the God who made us to be His own.  And so Jesus came to earth—came to compensate for our selfish behavior.  He lived the life God expects from each of us—He honored the heavenly Father above all things, and He never let selfish desires distract Him from showing God’s love to a sinful world.  Our Savior capped off His perfect life with an atoning sacrifice—He suffered and died to pay the blood price for every time our selfishness made God angry.  Jesus has settled the debt incurred by our sin; as a result, we can be forgiven when we go to Him for mercy.  Jesus has opened the one and only path that leads from this world of endless frustrations and disappointments to the home of God, where everything is perfect down to the smallest detail.

Jesus cares about weddings.  He cares about families and work and putting food on the table.  He cares about good grades and having a pleasant date.  He cares about you when you catch a cold, get scared during a power outage, or feel lonely.  Jesus wants to be there for you in every moment of your life; when little things get you down, remember to look up.

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