“Filled Jars Empty People”
“Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.” John 2.1-11
Pastor’s pledge. “This being a familiar text it relies heavily on the works of a host of others. May their contribution be recognized and honor God.”
Intro: Have you ever missed a stop sign? The other day I was driving with a friend and he looked over at me and said, “Did you not see that stop sign?” I was on a familiar road. It was a street that I am on almost every day of the week. I know the law. I know the dangers of breaking the law. I know the dangers of running a stop sign. But for some reason I just went right through it. We call it a rolling stop. Are any of you guilty of ever doing that?
Signs are important. They give us directions. They tell us what is ahead. They warn us about how fast to go.
They alert us to construction zones. They give information about places to eat and where to refuel. They give us all kinds of instructions and information.
Signs are even color coordinated. And come in different shapes and sizes. White rectangular signs give information. Yellow signs give warnings. Red octagon shaped signs mean stop. Green signs direct us to institutions and tourist attractions. There is a sign on the street that tells people this is a church. Every business and restaurant has a sign. That sign displays their trademark, their brand. What they are known for.
Do you know any funny signs? 1. Yellow straight, left, right, and crooked loop. 2. Warning Children Left Unattended will be sold to the circus. 3. Upside down Accident sign, “If you can read this… you’ve just had an accident. 4. Stop sign with no left turn, no right turn, no reverse, and no forward. NO Place to go!
Then there are the signs that point us to God. “7Jesus said to the servants “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.” John 2.1-11 In our text today, we have the first sign by Jesus pointing us to God. Or we have the first miracle that Jesus performed. When the wedding wine ran out. Jesus turned ordinary water into the best wine the guest had ever tasted.
Today we are going to talk about “Filled Jars Empty People.”
I. God doesn’t take us out of the world, but he does Sanctify the world around us.
I went back to John Wesley’s Explanatory notes and found this. “Water might have quenched thirst; yet our Lord allows wine; especially at a festival solemnity.”
Some would argue this wine is grape juice. Others say that it was the best fermented nectar ever tasted.
I read several sermons that make no mention of this at all. But I think it is the “Elephant in the room” and deserves mention. We can all agree that alcoholism has ruined many lives. Injured countless innocents.
Been a factor in breaking up homes, marriages, crimes, and other immoral behaviors. That beings said, “Turning water into wine” in Jesus’ day and time had a different moral and message for the Jew that we should learn. John 2:3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. “the wine falling short” We don’t know how many days the festivities had lasted. We don’t know when the Bridegroom would arrive at the wedding. Just as we do not know when Christ will return for the church today.
His mother saith to him, They have not wine. It means one of two things: 1. Either supply them by miracle; 2. Go away you and the rest of your friends, depart before the Bridegroom appears.
Now the story is starting to sound familiar to stories and other teachings that Jesus later taught. Believing in miracles or Departing are themes of many other parables and teachings of Jesus later.
This is a story of the first Sign or Miracle of Jesus the Saviour. This is a story of convincing his disciples and the people at Cana to believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. This is a story of purification.
Of turning ordinary water into pure wine. Something that in the Jewish culture would have great meaning. The ritual of purification. The frequent washing for the Jew was an act of worship and making clean and holy the impure, the tainted, the polluted, unclean, perhaps even poisonous self. And being washed by holy water. Being Baptized. Being cleansed, forgiven, set apart as sanctified, ready to eat, fellowship, and worship God.
The message of turning water to wine is one of Jesus can purify water and make it the purest best wine ever tasted.
The Jesus can take our filthy life. (Someone needs to get a hold of this!) Jesus can take your sinful, rotten flesh, soiled soul, and with a miracle of his touch. With just a whisper of His word. With just a light of his presence. He can make us new, born again, pure, and holy.
Today the exact location of ancient Cana is not known. Joshua 19:28 refers to a “Kanah” on the northern boundary of the tribal territory of Asher. There is some thought that it is located about a mile and half north of Nazareth. It was the hometown of Nathanael and perhaps Philip. Where ever it was located it was a stopping place along the highway to places like Capernaum and Bethsaida, and Tiberius and other larger cities in the lower section of the Roman Empire.
So it was kind of a watering hole and place to lay over along the way to some other important places. And it would have been a place where there would have be road signs pointing to other cities and other things.
Jesus and Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and probably John and James had been invited to a wedding in Cana of Galilee.
We know that wedding ceremonies today can be creative and extravagant but excluding all the work that goes on behind the scene in preparation, the guests arrive and the service lasts a few minutes, followed by cutting the cake and opening gifts and some festivities that may last into the evening or later into the night.
But a wedding in Jesus’ day was much longer. Weddings of that time lasted a week or more. With guest arriving days in advance and they just keep arriving until the host believes that everyone is accounted for. The master of ceremonies make sure everything is ready. Perhaps it was on Joseph’s Mary’s husbands side of the family we don’t know. Mary the mother and parent of Jesus may have been either family or friends with either the bride or groom. In any case Mary comes to Jesus with the some very embarrassing news.
The groom and his family were near disgrace because the wedding wine has run out. And more guests are still arriving. But the wedding wine has run out. This would be a major disaster! It could even be a reason to cancel the betrothal and call the whole wedding off. Mary comes to Jesus and believes that he can help solve the problem. The wine jars are empty. Jesus you have to do something. And Jesus appears to be a bit harsh in his response to his mother. “Woman, what does that have to do with me?”
In my day and time if I had talked to my mother that way I would very quickly found out what it had to do with me. I can assure you I would not have liked it.
But really Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful. But clearly he is not being especially kind nor sweet in his response. Jesus is somewhat redefining that relationship with his mother. Mary has raised him.
Mary has nurtured him. Mary has done a good job being his mother. But now there is a sharp difference in their relationship. He is putting some distance between him a child and her as a mother. He is beginning His public ministry. He is starting a journey that will end on Calvary’s cross.
Where we must make a decision to respond to Jesus in saving faith. Or walk away. Again believe in a miracle or depart is the theme for us here today as well. To embrace Him as a personal Savior and Lord. So the relationship between Jesus and us has changed. Just as the empty Jars are filled with water and turned to wine.
Empty people. Empty people. Empty people. Must become filled with Jesus.
Our bodies are not designed to be empty. There has to be a joke that I could insert here. But I think just saying it one more times is funny enough. “Our bodies are not designed to be empty.”
Gandhi fasted for 21 days while in his 70s. Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness. People stranded have gone for 8-9 weeks without food. 50-60 days without food. Medically speaking, most doctors agree that healthy humans can go up to eight weeks without food as long as they have water.
We will come back to the water in a minute. But let’s focus what happens when we don’t have food. Our body starts to use up the stored energy in our fat. When that stored energy is not replaced we begin to lose carbohydrates, proteins, all the things that make us healthy. It doesn’t take long to go without replacing those things that make us healthy. That our body begins to feel it. In fact in 48 hours…, less than two days.
Weakness begins to set in. Go without food and Confusion begins to take over. Go without food and
Irritability starts to happen. It is no different spiritually. The thing is spiritual. We can be sitting right in front of filled jars, But still be empty people.
I said I would come back to water. There were six water pots of stone brought and sat in front of Jesus…
Stone jars like the ones used in the Jewish ritual of purification. And Jesus said to the servants,
“Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled to the brim. Dip some out and take it to the master of ceremonies. Take it to the chief steward. Take it to the person who is in charge. Did you know this is only one many examples in the bible as to why the pastor and communion steward always take the Lord’s supper first before serving it to the rest of the people? There are many other biblical examples we could explain this with also. Such as the Levitical law. Law of first fruits. The priest eating first from the flesh pots. Many other places we could explain this from. There are biblical reasons why we follow the order the way we do in communion.
And so they did as he instructed. 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.)
Closing: People look everywhere to find excitement and meaning to life. For some reason they expect God to be dull and boring and lifeless. But just as Jesus made the best wine. Jesus makes the best so life in him is better than life on our own. Why wait until everything else runs out before trying God? Do not run on empty. Why not try being filled with Jesus today?