Jesus’ First Miracle

Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (Eyewitness John 2:5).

Eyewitness: pp. 38, 179, 261
In Your Bible: John 2:1-12

Jesus was baptized by John, led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, then victoriously resisted Satan who tried to tempt him. Three days later, he attended a wedding feast in a village near Cana, in Galilee. Mary, his mother and some disciples were also present. Jesus’ first miracle took place during this well known event.

A CRISIS AT THE FEAST

At the wedding feast, Mary noticed the wine for the guests was nearly gone. She approached Jesus and said, “They have no more wine.” “Mother,” Jesus said, “you must not tell me what to do. My time has not yet come” (Eyewitness John 2:3,4).

His reply seems abrupt or maybe even rude. But according to some Bible scholars, the tone Jesus used was gentle. The term he used in reference to his mother, has no English rendering. It is better translated as Lady, which gives it respect and gentleness.**

Some Bible translations use the term “woman” or “dear woman” to soften his reply. But we know, Jesus always honored his parents – this is a command from God (Eyewitness Deuteronomy 5:16).

Undaunted by Jesus’ reply, Mary directed the servants, “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you to do” (Eyewitness John 2:5). Inferring Jesus would solve the embarrassing shortage of wine, so as not to dampen the week-long wedding festival.

Servant Filling Large JarsJesus told the servants to fill six jars, normally used for ritual washings, completely full with water. Then take a sample to the host to get his approval for use. (These jars were huge, each could hold 20-30 gallons. This would be up to 180 gallons of water – a lot of water for wine indeed.)

The host not only approved this new wine he sampled, but made glowing comments on how much better it was than the first wine served. Only a few knew the source of the wine – Jesus, the servants who poured the water into the jars, probably Mary, and the disciples present.

JESUS BEGINS HIS MINISTRY ON EARTH

At a wedding festival Jesus first showed his glory, Mary displayed absolute confidence in her son, and the disciples first saw him humbly meet simple needs in a manner no one else could.

The miracle at Cana in Galilee was the first sign of Jesus’ majesty, and his disciples believed in him (Eyewitness John 2:11). This initiated the disciples’ belief. Their faith in Jesus would grow throughout their time with him and blossom as Jesus sent them out, under his direction and authority, to do Kingdom work and show Kingdom life.

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miracles that have not been recorded, but these are written so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. By believing, you will have life through his name (Eyewitness John 21:25). Believe it.

Application: Jesus listened for what his Father would have him do. Our faith grows as we believe and trust in Jesus, read the Word of God, and allow the Holy Spirit guide us.

Prayer: Father, I believe you can help me as much as you helped these we read about in Scripture – even in times of crisis. Thank you.

**From: Wm Barclay, The Daily Bible Study, The Gospel of John, Volume 1 The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1953,1956, pp.80-90.

Photo courtesy of nuchylee /freedigitalphotos.net

The Baptism of Jesus

“This is what should be done,” Jesus said. “We must do all that God requires of us” (Eyewitness Matthew 3:15).

Eyewitness: p. 33
In Your Bible: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23a

The record of John the Baptist’s ministry is very brief. The account of Jesus baptism is shorter! John the Baptist’s message, a call for repentance directly addressed what to do about our sin problem. Look closely at what John the Baptist preached. He and Jesus both emphasized Kingdom lifestyle and righteous living.

OXYGEN VOLUME 13John the Baptist knew Jesus was from God. When Jesus stepped into the water and came to him, John objected and said, ” I should be baptized by you. Why are you coming to me?” “This is what should be done, Jesus said, We must do all that God requires of us” (Eyewitness Matthew 3:14,15).

John the Baptist brought the revelation that repentance and baptism were critical to being a Jew and serving God. Prior to that a Jew did not need baptism. Notably, they did baptize and circumcise proselytes who came to Judaism from other faiths. Baptism was for sinners, the Jews were the Sons of Abraham. A dilemma. Why should a Jew be baptized?

WHY DID JESUS NEED TO BE BAPTIZED?

Was it because Jesus was in the form of a man or born of a woman? Or because Jesus identified with mankind’s need for repentance? Or was it to grasp John’s baptism (for repentance) is part of God’s work – physically and spiritually cleansing of man’s body, soul, and spirit? Jesus said it should be done. Something to ponder. Do all God requires.

The voice of God is of supreme importance when Jesus comes out of the water at his baptism. God said, “You are my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with you” (Eyewitness Luke 3:22). The first statement is from Psalm 2:7 which is a verse every Jew knew as the description of the Messiah. The second statement is from Isaiah 42:1, a description of the Suffering Servant, and culminates in Isaiah 53. God affirmed Jesus!

ADDED INSIGHT FROM LUKE’S ACCOUNT

* Jesus came for baptism after everyone else had been baptized that day (only in Luke).
* John baptizes Jesus.
* Jesus prays (only in Luke).
* Heaven opens up and the Holy Spirit descends as a dove.
* Then God speaks and affirms Jesus as His Son.

In the baptism of Jesus these certainties are revealed:
* Jesus was indeed the Chosen One of God.
* The way in front of Jesus was the way of the Cross.
* The King’s throne must first be a Cross.

After this momentous occasion, Jesus began his public ministry, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and in continuous in communication with his Father. He made many disciples, taught additional hundreds who flocked to hear him, healed all kinds of diseases, raised the dead, cast out demons, and showed the Father’s love for man. What a beginning after being ministered to by John the Baptist.

Application: Jesus said it succinctly, “We must do all that God requires of us” Our task – don’t balk when God says to do something and don’t be discouraged in doing good. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Learn of Him.

Prayer: Father, help me to keep asking you, learning from you, and seeing what you want me to do. I praise you God.

Photo courtesy of Dunatos777 via flikr

About Jesus’ Famous Cousin…

Welcome: First time to visit this devotional blog? Check the ‘concept’ page to see why the Eyewitness, the Life of Christ in One Story and The Message are used as main Scripture references. The goal of this devotion is to present Scriptures with the idea of opening the eyes of your heart. Dig in and enjoy. If you would like to follow this blog, click on the ribbon at the lower right and complete the information to receive it by email.

“REPENT,” HE SAID, “FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS NEAR” (Matthew 3:2 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: pp. 31,32
In Your Bible: Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:2-8; Luke 3:1-18

IMG_0219Often people are recognized by what they wear, what they say or how they say it. That’s truly the case of the prophets of God. They wore unusual garments, were often loners, and fearlessly brought God’s message to the people whether the listeners wanted to hear it or not!

THINGS WE KNOW ABOUT JOHN THE BAPTIST

* His father was Zacharias (Luke 3:2 New American Standard Bible, NASB).
* His mother Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, greeted her (Luke 1:31 NASB).
* In Elizabeth’s womb, John leapt with exaltation at this greeting (Luke 1:44 NASB).
* His clothes were like that of a prophet – rough and rudimentary (Matthew 3:4 NASB).
* He ate extremely simple foods – locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4 NASB).
* People came from Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordan Valley to hear him (Matthew 3:5).

Baptism of Repentance

Baptism of Repentance

Luke’s Gospel illuminates John the Baptists’ emergence, by pinpointing the exact time frame – the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar and he mentions five other governmental rulers.

HIS MESSAGE – A DEMAND AND A PROMISE

The Demand: Man must repent for his sinful life.
* Turn from evil to God.
* Clean his heart and live a godly life.

The Promise: The Spirit of God (breath and power of God) will be poured out on mankind.
* The Spirit can bring order out of disorder.
* The Spirit enables man to see truth – God’s truth.

When crowds of people came to be baptized, John the Baptist didn’t mince words. He said, “You bunch of snakes. Who warned you to flee God’s judgement? The way you live proves whether you have left your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:7 Eyewitness).

When the people heard John proclaiming the need for repentance (God’s message) in the wilderness, for the first time they understood, they were sinners. This was a new concept for the Jews. After all they were Sons of Abraham.

Hearers of this message were compelled to ask, “What shall we do?” John the Baptist gave these guidelines on how to live:
* “If you have two garments, give one to the poor. Share your food with the people who are starving” (Luke 3:11 Eyewitness).
* To the tax collectors who also asked what to do, he said, “Do not collect any more taxes than the government requires” (Luke 3:13 Eyewitness).
* To the soldiers, he said, “Be content with your pay. Never extort money or make false accusations” (Luke 3:14 Eyewitness).

With many other words, John the Baptizer encouraged the people and preached about how they could gain hope for salvation (Luke 3:18 Eyewitness).

We often think of John the Baptist as a wild man shouting in the desert to the Pharisees “You brood of vipers”……. maybe he was and maybe they were! But most important, to those who would listen, he showed how to gain hope for salvation – Jesus the Christ.

Application: Today we can do something about our sin nature. Face up to it – Repent..Turn Away. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus with a powerful direct message. He pointed to the Messiah and the Holy Spirit which were to come, bringing life everlasting through Jesus.

Prayer: Father, thank you for showing all mankind that repentance, turning away from sin, then turning to you cleanses our heart.

Photos: Jesus – His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey 1979.

Nicodemus, You’re Not Listening

So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born again’–out of this world, so to speak (THE MESSAGE John 3:7).

From: THE MESSAGE John 3:1-21
In Your Bible: John 3:1-21

Nicodemus a Pharisee

A Pharisee – Nicodemus

As a child, how many times did you hear, “You are not listening to me!” Maybe not only at home, but also at school. What if this came from someone you didn’t want to disappoint? Too often this comment is probably true. We should listen better.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee met Jesus at night. He said, Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it (THE MESSAGE John 3:2). It was obvious, God was working through Jesus – even the Pharisees had to admit it!

Jesus explained to Nicodemus about being born from above as though he would or should understand. But Nicodemus was thinking in natural terms, “How can a man be born again when he is old?” Jesus of course spoke in spiritual terms today’s believers can now grasp.

Jesus had to get Nicodemus’ attention: You’re not listening, I’ll say it again. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God? (THE MESSAGE John 3:12).

Shortly after this encounter, Jesus said a verse we’ve heard often, but it’s a bit different in the Message. This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: So that no one need to be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life (THE MESSAGE John 3:16).

This powerful, plain truth for Nicodemus, a prominent leader, teacher, and Pharisee is the same truth for us today. Nicodemus believed. We should too. With the Word, the Word incarnate, and the Holy Spirit of God, we have no excuse but to believe!

Application: The term “Be born again” or “Born from above” means much more if we sit with Nicodemus and Jesus in this exchange. Everyone who looks to God, trusts and believes in him through Jesus, will gain real life–eternal life. Are you listening?

Prayer: Father, guide me into the truth of your Word. As I read and listen to you, help me learn to abide in you.

Photo of Pharisee – from Jesus His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1979, The Genesis Project.

Jesus Rebukes the Pharisees

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law are telling you what Moses says you should do. You may do what they teach, but do not copy what they do, because they do not practice what they preach (Matthew 23:2,3 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: pp. 149,150, 203-205
In Your Bible: Luke 11:37-54; Matthew 23:1-34

Pharisee

Pharisee


When you read a Pharisee invited Jesus to his home, you might wonder, “What were they thinking?” Perhaps they wanted to learn from him privately? Why is this account in the Bible? Could this be a Pharisee who became a believer? All these questions are valid. I think this passage is also there for believers to learn and be wise about legalism.

When Jesus and a Pharisees sat down to eat, the host noticed Jesus did not first ceremonially wash** his hands, as required by the Law. Jesus, who knew his thinking, then addressed many errors the religious leaders did that misled the people. Yes, it incensed these religious leaders.

Jesus Illuminates Errors of the Pharisees

* They emphasized ceremonial washing – But didn’t understand God makes you clean
* They burdened the people with the Law – But did not keep the Law themselves
* They had specific directions on giving – But neglected justice, mercy, and God’s love
* They were proud and vain – But forgot humility pleases God
* They hid the key to knowing God – Because only they interpreted the Scriptures
* They were hypocrites (honored OT prophets) – But ignored NT prophets (John the Baptist)

For centuries the Jews struggled with strictly following the Law. What a difficult path to trod, following leaders who could not adhere to the Law, yet insisting others do so. The Bible shows that no man can follow the letter of the Law except Jesus – God incarnate.

Keep it Simple

Man makes complicated rules. God’s rules are simple. Jesus said, If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love……This is my commandment: Love others as I have loved you (Eyewitness John 15:10,12).

The prophet Micah said it right, But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously–take God seriously (Micah 6:8 The Message).

Application: We might see ourselves in the mirror of Jesus’ critique of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law. Beware of religious legalism that leads us away from the simplicity that God wants for the believer.

Prayer: Father, thank you for freeing us from the Law and man-made direction on how to fulfill it……..Jesus is the answer.

** A word from Bible commentator William Barclay on ceremonial washings the Law requires. “The Law laid it down that before a man ate he must wash his hands in a certain way, and that he must wash between courses. As usual every littlest detail was worked out. Large stone vessels of water were specially kept for the purpose because ordinary water might be unclean; the amount of water used must be at least a quarter of a log, that is enough to fill one and a half egg-shells. First the water must be poured over the hands beginning with the tips of the fingers and running up to the wrist. Then the palm of each hand must be cleansed by rubbing the fist of the other into it. Finally, water must again be poured over the hand, this time beginning at the wrist and running down to the finger tips. To the Pharisee to omit the slightest detail of this was a sin.” From: The Daily Bible Study, The Gospel of Luke, Westminster Press, Philadelphia. 1953, 1956, p. 158.

Photo of Pharisee – from Jesus His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1979, The Genesis Project.