Summary: Being a follower of Jesus is not about adhering to a set of rules which makes your life dull, boring, and lifeless.
Jesus: Rule-giver or Life-giver?
July 10, 2011 John 2:1-11
I sat down this past week with my Bible, and decided to read the Gospel of John – I planned to read the whole thing and see if I noticed any of our popular conceptions about Jesus being dumped on their heads by the actual, real Jesus of the Bible. I got as far as chapter 2… where the popular conception of Jesus as a straight-laced, boring, serious, religious, rule-follower is dumped on its head. It is a familiar story, let me lead into it with a bit of extra-Biblical imagination, and then I’ll read the story from Scripture.
Introducing the Story:
Cana, where I’m from, is a small town. We are humble people, and close-knit as many small towns are. To be honest, it was kind of a boring place to grow up – the real action is in the cities by the lake – Tiberias, or Capernaum. But around here, the only excitement is when a baby is born or one of the locals gets married.
And that’s what’s got me worried… See, I’m one of the locals, and I’m getting married. In my culture, a wedding lasts a week and boy, what a week! There is feasting, and dancing, and drinking, family and friends all come together to party. This is a once-in-a-lifetime party! I said we are humble people, and as the bridegroom it is up to me and my family to throw this party, and it is serious business. Did you know that if I run out of wine, my guests will not only be insulted, but I will have shown that I don’t have enough resources to marry, and can even be sued by the wedding guests!
I think I have enough wine, but I’m not sure; that’s why I’m worried. At the last wedding in Cana, several years ago, people drank an awful lot. I’ve done my best, but I am a simple man from a simple family, without much money. I hope the wine lasts…
John 2 (NLT)
The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him They have no more wine.
Dear woman, that’s not our problem, Jesus replied. My time has not yet come.
But his mother told the servants, Do whatever he tells you.
Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, Fill the jars with water. When the jars had been filled, he said, Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies. So the servants followed his instructions.
When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. A host always serves the best wine first, he said. Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!
This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Misconception: Jesus the Boring…
Of all the misconceptions about Jesus and about being a follower of Jesus, there is one that perhaps bothers me most. It is the idea that being a follower of Jesus is boring, dull, lifeless, and not fun. I understand where the misconception comes from (and by the way, it is not from Jesus). It comes from a half-truth, which sits on a lie most people believe, which sits on another lie most people don’t even know exists.
The half-truth is this: being a follower of Jesus means there are some things we do not do (the half that is true…), because we shouldn’t do them and we are bad if we do (the half that is mostly a lie). This half-truth causes Christians to be characterized by the list of things we don’t do (or claim not to do…) – we don’t get drunk, we don’t have sex with someone we aren’t married to, we don’t lie and cheat to get ahead, we don’t swear, we don’t sleep in late on Sunday morning, etc… It is true that we don’t do those things, but that is nowhere near the heart of what it means to be a Christian. Furthermore, our reasons for not doing those things are absolutely NOT because we have to and are bad if we do and thus are afraid of rejection and so behave ourselves. That is not even close to the Gospel message, which says God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Rom 5:8). We have a much, much different; much, much better reason for choosing not to do the things we don’t do.