God's Best vs. Man's
Posted on 11/13/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
HE HAS MADE ME GLAD
I will enter his gates
with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter his courts
I will say this is the day
that the Lord has made
I will rejoice for
he has made me glad
He has made me glad
he has made me glad
I will rejoice for
he has me me glad!
HIS BANNER OVER ME
He is the vine and we are the branches
His banner over me is love (x3)
His banner over me is love
He calls us to his banqueting table
His banner over me is love (x3)
His banner over me is love
LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in your presence
with your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
you fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice,
COME HOLY SPIRIT
Come Holy Spirit, I need you
Come sweet Spirit, I pray
Come in your strength and your power
Come in your own special way
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Today I'd like for us to take a look at the first miracle Jesus performed. It wasn't raising someone from the dead, or opening deaf ears, or giving sight to the blind. It wasn't even the descending of the Holy Spirit as a dove after he was baptised, or the accompanying voice from heaven.
Jesus' first miracle is recorded after these events. And his first miracle and the name of my message today is, "God's Best vs. Man's."
Let's read this from John chapter two, verses one through eleven.
1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.
3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."
4 Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."
5 His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."
6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.
7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it.
9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.
10 And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"
11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
We don't hear that much about this miracle. We hear about Jesus walking on water. We hear about Jesus asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. We hear about Jesus being baptised in water. We hear entire message about them, or even series of messages, articles, or books. But we don't hear that much about Jesus turning water into wine. And yet within this first miracle, this small, seemingly insignificant event, Jesus sums up the state of mankind without God, the difference between the New and Old covenants, the redemption of all humanity, and the difference between man's best and God's best.
The first thing I'd like to point out today is in verse three which says, "And when they ran out of wine."
"When they ran out of wine." For whatever reason, they weren't prepared for what this occasion demanded. Their own preparations were not enough. What they had was insufficient. They fell short of having what it took to get them through.
Have you ever run out of wine? Were your own preparations, your own efforts, ever not enough? Has what you have ever been insufficient? Have you ever fallen short of having what it takes to get you through?
If your answer is "no," then your time is coming. The truth is, what man can supply isn't enough. And until we realize this, we'll continue to fall short.
The truth is that there is a time coming in our lives when we'll realize that what we have is not enough. For some of us, this time will come on this side of the grave. We will turn to Jesus for help. For others, we will continue to deceive ourselves into believing we have enough, and we will only realize the truth after our life has ended, and then it will be too late.
But I believe most of us here have realized that, at least in the grand scheme of things and in our own Salvation, what we have is far from enough. And for those who haven't, the Spirit of God is here today and he's tugging at your heart. And I pray and believe that God will reveal the truth to you today, and when you know the truth, you'll be set free.
So the first thing to realize is that what we have is not enough. And this is not true only in our Salvation or in eternal matters. This is true for all of life. Sure, we might be able to get by or even appear to prosper without asking Jesus for help. But we don't realize how things would be if we would come to the end of ourselves and cry out to him, "Jesus! What I have is not enough! I cannot walk by faith, walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, and I cannot glorify you in all I say, think, and do, with my own efforts and what I can produce. I need your help! I need YOU!"
And this brings us to our second point today, which is in verse five, where Mary says to the servants, "Whatever he says to you, do it."
Imagine what would have happened if they had realized they did not have enough wine, and someone asked Jesus for help, but when he told them what to do, they did something else instead. I'm afraid all their efforts would have been in vain.
They could have said, "Jesus, that's rediculous. These stone waterpots are very heavy. And besides, what does water have to do with wine? We don't know you. You've never done any sort of miracle. Your family is not even in the business of making wine. Instead of getting water, let's at least get you some grapes. Or maybe we'll travel to the next town where we might be able to find enough wine to get us through."
But if they had not done what Jesus said, or if they had modified what he said to suit their own human wisdom, they would not have seen the glory of God that day, and they would have fallen short of having what they needed to get them through.
I don't have to ask if any of us have ever done that. Of course we have. Most of us have asked Jesus for help. And probably all of us have either not done something he said or done it a little bit different than he instructed. And whether or not we realized it, we were left short of what we might have seen had we simply done what God said.
So we would do well to keep these words of wisdom at the front of our minds. Memorize them. Print them places you will see them often. And live by them:
"Whatever He says to you, do it."
Next, in verse six, we read, "Now there were six stone waterpots sitting there, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece."
Imagine a thirty-gallon water pot. That's big. Most of us know how big a keg of beer is, either from days in our past or from the movies. Imagine two of those, one on top of the other. That would come up to our shoulders. And that would hold thirty gallons.
How heavy would those two kegs of beer be if they were empty? I'm certainly no Sampson, I admit, but I wouldn't want to try carrying them anywhere. Imagine if they were both full of beer. Forget it, you may be able to pick them up, but I wouldn't even try.
Now imagine that instead of metal, they're made out of stone and are fused into one huge container. Well that's exactly what was sitting there that day. They were too big for most of us to even think about lifting even if they were empty, let alone full of water.
An important bit of knowledge to add to this is that they were used for ceremonial purification. They were placed at the door so a person would not enter the house in an "unclean" state and thereby contaminate the house. They would dip their fingers into the water and wipe them dry, symbolizing the washing away of their sins.
This was the Old Covenant. It was symbolic, but did not truly cleanse the soul from sin. And just as the stone water pots were too heavy for anyone to carry, so the Old Covenant was too heavy to bear, nor could it cleanse the soul from sin.
And so in verse seven Jesus says to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And it says they filled them up "to the brim."
In the Christian world, we often hear that works are not important for the believer because nothing we do matters. Jesus did it all, and nothing else is required. But this is a dangerous misunderstanding of Scripture. It is true that to receive Salvation, we simply receive it. We can't earn Salvation by our works. We cannot attain the Second Birth by some type of pennance, ritual, good deed, or mental ascent. Jesus did it all, we need only accept what he did. But when we have come into the Kingdom, it's very important to realize that faith without works is dead. We have entered into a covenant with Christ, and Scripture makes clear that we are to be faithful. And just as there were six water pots, six being the number representing mankind, so he asks us to use our human strength, mind, heart, and soul to obey him in all things.
Not only did these servants fill the pots, they filled them as full as they could, "to the brim." How often do we do just what we think we have to do, and go no further? Don't worry, I'm stomping on my own toes right now. How often do we, instead of seeing how little we can do, see how whole-heartedly and passionately we can carry out the wishes of the Master?
So they filled them to the brim. And yet, if things had stopped there, they would have been in a more miserable condition than before. Their part alone accomplished nothing but to make the burden of man's efforts even more impossible to bear. Yes, God asks us to obey him with our whole hearts, filling our human vessels to the brim, going the second mile, doing our absolute best. But without the touch of the Master, all we have is a burden that we cannot bear. Obedience is imperitive. But we must realize that it is what God does with our efforts, not our efforts themselves, that changes the world.
Next, in verse seven, Jesus tells the servants, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." Once again, they did not talk their way out of doing this strange and rediculous task. They could have said, "Are we supposed to go to the master and say, 'Master, you are asking for more wine, so here is some lovely water'?" But instead, they obeyed the Word of the Lord, having seen no miracles, having seen nothing out of the ordinary, having seen no sign whatsoever that their need would be met and their work had not been in vain.
Then in verse nine we read, "When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom, and he said to him, 'Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!'" - "You have saved the best for last!"
What he did not know was that the bridgegroom had indeed served his best wine first. And it had seemed good enough. But when his best was not enough, Jesus stepped in on the scene. And because of obedience, God took plain old water stored in cold stone vessels and provided an abundance that was far superior to what human effort could produce.
And I say he produced an abundance, because sitting there in stone waterpots was up to 180 gallons of the finest wine that mankind has ever tasted. The waterpots were not perfect. The water was just water. The obedience, while necessary, was in itself of no consequence. But what Jesus made out of it was absolutely perfect.
In these pots meant for purification was water that could not wash away sins and only represented a burden too heavy to carry. But because our religious rituals and our own efforts were not enough, he transformed them into wine, symbolic of the New Covenent of his blood, which is more than enough, and completely cleanses the soul from sin.
Are you ready to admit that your best simply isn't enough? Are you ready to ask Jesus for help, and then to do exactly what he says with completeness and passion, even if what he says doesn't seem to make any sense?
If so, you're invited to get out of your set right now and come join me at the altar for a time of dedication and worship.
And if you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then he's waiting and ready to turn your emptiness into something new and full of life. Just tell him you accept him into your heart as your Lord. Then instant message someone on the ministry team.
Jesus is ready to give you his best, as you choose to admit your need to him and obey him. Let's gather here at the front and dedicate our all to him together.
Lord Jesus, we come to you today insuficient and unable to fit the bill with our own efforts and resources. And so we ask you for help. We commit ourselves today to obey you in all things with our whole hearts, and we ask that you lead us, direct us, and turn our obedience into the best wine by the power of your Holy Spirit. And when we fail, give us the boldness and strength to get back up and keep moving forward.
We surrender to you, Lord, and I ask that you move here now in a mighty way. Hold us to our commitment. Holy Spirit, I ask that you remind us every day that we can do nothing without you, and that as we seek your presence and walk in your Spirit, nothing will be impossible.
Guide us now as we spend some time in prayer and worship, and may we leave here today transformed by your presence.
We ask these things in Jesus' name.
Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed. If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, feel free to instant message Mariposa or me. After this time at the altar, we're going to meet in the Fellowship Room to your left for a time of fellowship, and I hope to see you there.
Come, and let's spend some time seeking after God, and surrendering our lives to His best.