When I wrote “Examining the Claims of Jesus,” a study guide for seekers on the 1st five chapters of John, I missed the main point of Jesus’ first miracle. I thought he was showing mercy, being kind to his mother and his friends who faced embarrassment because they had run out of wine. I pleaded with the publisher to let me rewrite it for future printings, and thankfully, they did. As Keller says in this week’s sermon:
“This is the greatest movement in the history of the world. These things are calculated. These things were thought through. He wasn’t just saying, “All right, Mom. Okay.” (Tim Keller)
Long before I became a Keller follower, I was a Philip Yancey follower, and he was the one who opened my eyes to the main point of the first miracle in “The Jesus I Never Knew,” explaining that those enormous water jars represented religion, rituals, and man’s way of cleansing — that was not how Jesus would cleanse us to make us “pure brides.”
“Perhaps with a twinkle in his eye, Jesus transformed those jugs, ponderous symbols of the old way, into wineskins, harbingers of the new. …The time for ritual cleansing had passed; the time for celebration had begun.” (Philip Yancey)
Jesus was showing us: out with religion, out with the ways of man to make us clean, and in was coming the power of the blood and the joy of the gospel. When Johnny Cash sings “He Turned The Water into Wine” at San Quentin — just watch their faces. How they need what Jesus offered them with this first miracle: cleansing and joy!
Jesus took the cup of wrath so we could have the cup of joy!
We’ll study the text first and then listen to the sermon. If you’d like to have a transcript of the sermon, you’ll see it below this link:
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. How have you experienced the wisdom, power, or mercy of the Lord this week?
Monday: Jesus and His Mother
3. Read John 2:1-5
A. What stands out to you upon the first reading and why?
B. Do you see any significance that the first miracle took place on “the third day?” If so, what?
C. What does Jesus always mean when He says “my hour?” Why do you think He says this to his mother?
D. Keller says Mary’s response seems like a “non-sequitur.” Why do you think she responds as she does?
While I personally disagreed with the emphasis The Chosen put on this miracle being about pleasing his mother, I did like this particular scene in it and thought they caught how Jesus knew this was the beginning of heading to the cross. To skip the part I don’t like and the message from Dallas, start t 1:45.
4. What are your thoughts on the above? Have you wondered what it must have been like for Jesus to know, all His earthly life, where He was headed (for us!)?
Tuesday: The Meaning of the Miracle
5. Read John 2:6-12
A. What stands out to you upon first reading and why?
B. Do you see any significance in six stone water jars?
C. What happened and why do you think this was the first miracle of the Christ?
D. Does this seem like a strange first miracle to you? Why or why not?
E. Do you ask the Lord for “little things?” If so, what do you typically ask Him for during the day? Share a time He said “Yes” to a little thing recently.
Glenn Scrivener, on this miracle, said many conservative Baptists would have thought Jesus would have turned the wine into water! But God is not legalistic about wine. I’ve been reading “Fool’s Talk” by Os Guinness, showing how God often uses the element of surprise to open our eyes. Guinness takes us to Jeremiah 35, where the Lord opens the eyes of proud legalistic Jews to their disobedience. He says what God asked the Rekabites to do was like Billy Graham inviting the most conservative of Baptists to his home for cocktails.
6. Turn to Jeremiah 35
A. What invitation does God tell Jeremiah to give to the Rekabites in verses 1-2?
B. How do they respond in verses 5-6?
C. What is the Lord’s rebuke in verse 14?
D. What is God’s point, and how is it similar to the point of the 1st miracle?
Wednesday: Lord of the Feast
Listen through his first point which he concludes with:
“Yes, I come to do self-denial. I come to suffer and I come to be humbled. And if you follow me, you will, too.” There’ll be plenty of self-denial and suffering and humbling, too. But these are just means to an end. Here’s the end: as Master of the banquet, as Lord of the Feast I come.
7. What stood out to you from this and why?
8. Why did Keller say that if you were going to fabricate a first miracle it wouldn’t be this?
Thursday: Your Bridegroom
Listen through his second point which he concludes with:
What does he come to offer? And the two things we see, if you understand him as master of the banquet and you understand him as the bridegroom, the real Lord of the Feast, and the real bridegroom of your heart.
9. What stood out to you from this and why?
10. Comment on the below and how it relates to you — and how you might share this with those who don’t know Jesus.
Do you dare say to me, I reject Christianity because I want to have fun. You don’t even know who I am. You don’t even know what you’ve rejected. I am Lord of the Feast. I come to make the world run with wine. You don’t even know. There are reasons to reject me, but this is not one of them.
11. How do you relate to Jesus as your Bridegroom in contrast to Shepherd, Father, or Friend?
Friday: Taste and See!
12. Finish the sermon and share what stands out to you and why.
13. Keller told an anecdote of a mature Christian dismissing an individual for leadership because he didn’t have enough joy. Thoughts?
14. Share a time when you absolutely experienced the joy of the Lord.
15. What is your take-a-way and why?