International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday March 18, 2012
Purpose: To recognize God's power through Jesus Christ
Scripture Text: John 2:1-12
John 2:1-12 (NRSV)
(1) On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. (2)Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. (3) When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." (4) And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." (5) His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." (6) Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. (7) Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. (8) He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. (9) When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom (10) and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." (11) Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (12) After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
In trying to fulfill his reason for writing this testimony of Jesus John explains in chapter 20:30 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” John writes of seven different “signs” or “miracles” that Jesus performed in the presence of his disciples in the first eleven chapters of John's written account.
1. Changing water into wine (2:1-11) Jesus office “Creator”
2. The healing of the official's son (4:46-54 Jesus office “Heale
3. The healing of a paralytic (5:1-15) Jesus office (Healer)
4. The multiplying of the loaves (6:1-15) Jesus office “Sustainer”
5. Walking on the sea (6:16-21) Jesus office “Sovereign Ruler”
6. The healing of a blind man (9:1-41) Jesus office “Source of Light”
7. The raising of Lazarus (11:1-44) Jesus office “Source of Life”
This week's lesson looks at the first of these seven “signs” or “miracles.”
A little background on Jewish tradition in the first century reveals some interesting facts about a proper Jewish wedding. Virgins were to be married on the fourth day of the week, (our Wednesday) and widows were to be married on the fifth day of the week. And according to the story told in Judges 14 (The Samson and Delilah story) the marriage feast lasted seven days. If you follow the events as told by John's writings, the Sabbath was implied when it is says, "They abode with him all that day," chapter 1, verse 39; then on the first day of the week Christ went into Galilee and met with Nathaniel. So that the third day from then is the fourth day of the week.
If you read John's account Mary was probably involved with the wedding planning and was not an invited guest, but rather a part of the wedding party, Jesus and the disciples were invited guest. This is probably the reason Mary was so concerned about running out of wine and spoiling the party. She obviously had some authority and responsibility as she instructed the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
The response by Jesus seems rather curt and short, when he replies to his mothers request for help by saying “so.” (My translation) Jesus was concerned that this request was not the reason he had become God incarnate. Jesus knew His hour (as John refers to it) was to come when His glory would be revealed in that final “sign” of the crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (redemptive act) back to heaven as John records in his final chapters.
The detail paid to the “stone water jars” is important because stone could be purified, earthen vessels (clay) could not. Also the quantity and quality of the wine seems be important to John's story. Somewhere between 120 – 180 gallons of first rate wine was a significant amount.
So when did the miracle happen? Jesus does not pray over or lay hands on the jars. The purpose statement for today's lesson talks about “recognizing God's power,” I find it interesting that just as in the creation story, Jesus (The Word) “speaks” or “thinks” the wine into existence.
There are a lot of Christians that believe, as was popular in the 18th century, in deism. Deism simply explained believes that God created the world and universe in much the same way as a watchmaker would create a fine watch, then God wound it up and is just letting it run. Hence there is no room in that theology for modern day miracles.
There are miracles happening every day all around us and we need to take a moment, as John did, and reflect on those events. God is very interested in your life and He still wants to be involved not only in the hard times but also in the celebrations and the lighthearted times of your life. That is how much he cares about you, the one who knows you the best, loves you the most.