Have you ever looked in the mirror on Monday morning and asked yourself, “What are we (the church) doing? Or better still, what am I (a professed follower of Jesus) doing?” Have you ever wondered if you are simply keeping religious people happy instead of doing what you see Jesus doing? If not, then you may stop reading now and go about your business. Have a great day. If so, then keep reading because you and I are in the same boat and need to encounter the irreligious message of Jesus.
This morning I had the opportunity to speak to several employees here at RBC. We talked about the irreligious message of Jesus found in John 2:1-12. As I shared John’s account of Jesus’ first miracle, the irreligiousness of what Jesus did crashed afresh over me like a shockingly powerful wave of conviction.
In John’s account of Jesus’ first miracle several things make me stop to ponder:
1. Jesus’ reluctance to “come-out” as the Messiah (John 2:4)
2. Mary’s insistence that he involve himself in this particular instance (John 2:3 & 5)
3. The Master of the feast and the wedding couple seem to be oblivious to the fact that Jesus has just spared them a great deal of shame. (John 2:8-10)
4. Jesus’ disciples had not yet put their faith in him. (John 2:11)
But the phrase which captured my attention as I prepared for this particular devotional time was the one which describes the pots which would hold the water Jesus was going to turn into wine as, “the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washings.”
Here’s the scene. Jesus and his disciples are at a wedding and Jesus’ mother Mary comes to him and tells him that there is no more wine for the wedding guests and that he needs to do something. Jesus is reluctant, telling his mother that, “my time has not yet come.” Mary then in true mom fashion totally ignores Jesus’ hesitation and tells the servants, “do whatever he (Jesus) tells you to do.” I can totally see the exasperation in Jesus’ face as, at the behest of his mother, He tells the servant to fill up the stone pots with water.
The servants follow Jesus’ instruction and fill the water pots with water which promptly turns into wine. Problem solved, right? Well, sort of. The problem with this action by Jesus is that filling these particular pots (the ones used for ceremonial washings) with wine rendered them useless for religious/ceremonial washing. Do you see the problem?
I suppose some people at the wedding, probably those who were really religious, got very upset with Jesus because when he preformed this miracle he made it very difficult for them to follow their formulaic religious rituals. Conversely, I bet those in attendance who were thirsty were probably really pleased.
Here is a stark reality. The religious people at this wedding could get more water to cleanse themselves of their ritual uncleanness but the thirsty people could not get more wine without the presence of Jesus.
As I processed this passage I came to the following conclusion. If I am really serious about living according to the mission of Jesus I need to be more concerned with giving thirsty people a drink than I am about keeping religious people happy.
Today let’s follow in the footsteps of Jesus and allow ourselves to be moved by the situation of the “thirsty” around us and, in the name of Jesus, buy a round for anyone who wants a drink. Religious people can find more water but the only way to get a taste of the Christ’s new wine of reconciliation and redemption is to have Jesus at the party.
How would this look in your life and in mine? What would it look like if we let religious people get their own water for the ritual and the ceremony but spent our energies to provide thirsty people with a drink?