Sunday, 20 January 2019

Lif in all its fullness.

Isaiah 62: 1-5. A prophesy of the close indwelling of God within the church likened to a marriage, it is so close and personal. The perfect accompaniment to the gospel story concerning the marriage at Cana in John 2: 1-11 (see below)
1 Corinthians 12: 1-11. God is the source of all spiritual gifts that are distributed according to his will. There is no hierarchy of spiritual gifts, and the common denominator is that all who have the Spirit of God can affirm that "Jesus is Lord"   
John 2:1-11. This is the entire gospel in miniature! In John's gospel he doesn't use the word "miracle" but "signs". The turning of water into wine is a spiritual sign that with God in the equation, everything is lifted and renewed and life enhancing. The C.of E. lectionary misses out the four most important words in this story in the Bible - the first four words...."On the third day".
And we all know what happened on the third day I trust - the raising of Jesus from the dead!

The story of the turning of water into wine is my favourite story in the New Testament and I’ll tell you for why!
It is the entire gospel in miniature. The Spiritual message is that with God in Christ in your life you are transformed into something new.
The extraordinary thing about the lectionary reading is that it leaves out the first four words of the story, which are essential to understanding the true context and content of this first "sign" in John's gospel.
If you were to look up John 2: 1-11 in the Bible you’ll see that the story  doesn’t start “There was a wedding in Cana”
It actually starts “On the third day” and this is the key to understanding the full spiritual understanding of this story.
“On the third day” refers to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The victory of life over death. And on that day Heaven and earth are joined together forever as in a marriage.
On that day, Easter day, Jesus breathes the Spirit on his disciples. There is no wait for Pentecost in John’s gospel. The resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit both happen on Easter Sunday.
And John doesn’t use the word miracle ever in his gospel. He uses the term signs - Spiritual signs - and this sign is the first and most important sign, the keynote sign that all the other signs refer back to.
John is sometimes referred to as the “spiritual” gospel, which is a bit misleading as all the writings of the N.T. are spiritual in some way but you have to dig a bit deeper in John to discern the true meaning, to extract the Spiritual message from the story.

In the story, Mary represents old Israel and all its traditions and rituals. In Jesus’ rather brusque way of speaking to her he is firmly inferring that something new is about to happen to fulfill all those traditions and He is the source of that change.
The six stone water jars represent the imperfection, the un-fulfillment of Israelite religion because seven is the number that represents perfection in Hebrew numerology – a combination of 4 which always represents the world and 3 which represents God. The two married together, God and the world in a mystic union represents the perfection of creation
The water that is being transformed can be any situation or any bit of God’s creation. Let us say today that it is your life!
Your life will be transformed from something ordinary into something rich and intoxicating when God’s Spirit works in tandem with your life.
The outworking of what this means I outlined last week when I talked about the quality of our relationships and evidence and that we expect the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in our lives.
But the Spirit also bestows gifts on his children. That is what Paul is talking about in his letter to the Corinthians.
There many different Spiritual gifts but only one giver – the Holy Spirit of God.
God is sovereign, so who gets which gifts and when are completely down to Him. They are all given for a purpose, which is to build up the people of God.
The main gift is that you can only say “Jesus is Lord” and mean it under the influence of the Spirit.
But the whole array of gifts, services and activities can be given to different people at different times for the common good of the church.
In a non-exhaustive list Paul talks about wisdom, a divine property itself, knowledge, faith, the gift of healing, miracle working, prophetic powers and insight, speaking in tongues and the discernment of tongues.
All these good gifts are given as a result of the marriage between heaven and earth that happened on the third day – the resurrection of Jesus and the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Through that sign, Jesus revealed His glory – a way of saying his full worth – that He is the author and transformer of life.
"In Him you can have life in all its fullness" as John affirms later in his gospel (10:10)
Full in every sense of the word. It extends the boundaries of your life and very being to eternity. It increases your depth of love and compassion. It extends your sense of who you are, where you fit in, and your purpose in life.
We are children of God and our role is to radiate his glory on earth.
For us, every day is the third day. Every day we pray that the water of our lives is progressively turned to rich, quality wine.

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