The Power of Change

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”

                                                                                     John 2:1–11 (NASB95)

Why does change get such a bad rap? Change is all around us, and some of the change around us we hardly even notice. In the past two weeks we have seen changes that were hard to miss. We have had days in the 50’s filled with sunshine and blue skies, followed by days in the 20’s filled with clouds and snow showers. Yeah, I know…we all noticed those changes because we had to drive in the snow and shovel it out of the way. Those are dramatic changes that are hard to miss! But what about sunrise and sunset? The sun is rising earlier and going down later, so we have more daylight hours now. That has been a gradual change, a change we take for granted because it happens year in and year out.

Not all change is bad. We enjoy the change of the seasons as winter leaves and spring arrives. Some of us prefer to see summer leave and fall arrive. So, all change is not bad…right? There are many ways for change to happen. It can happen as you alter something, such as someone making a change to their will. Or it can be a radical change as in a transformation. And then there is the more subtle nature of change as when we change the subject during a conversation. So, not all change is bad. In fact, we experience change throughout our day, every day of the year. Some more subtle than others but the point is we experience change often.

Well, change is the topic of our message this morning. More accurately it is about transformation, it is about stepping out in faith, it is about leaving your comfort zone, today we are looking at The Power of Change in John chapter 2. What we see on the surface doesn’t tell the whole story so we will need to take a deeper dive into the first sign of Jesus – changing water to wine.

An invitation has been given to Jesus and His disciples to attend a wedding in Cana of Galilee. The wine runs out and the servants are told to do whatever Jesus says. He instructs them to fill empty waterpots, used for ritual cleaning, with water. Jesus then turns the water to wine and has some sent to the headwaiter. The Power of Change astonishes the headwaiter, manifests the glory of Jesus and caused the disciples to believe.

Jesus has extended the invitation to follow Him. During our time with Jesus, we are sure to run out of faith at times. As His servants we are to be obedient to what He says. In our obedience Jesus will fill our empty rituals through The Power of Change, that will astonish those around us, show the change Jesus has caused within us and fill and strengthen us with genuine faith.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is the purpose of The Power of Change in the Christ follower’s life?”

The purpose of The Power of Change is to call the Christ follower out of empty rituals and fill them with genuine faith.

1). The Power of Change is an invitation to step out in faith.

When Jesus invites us to follow Him, He is inviting us to step out of our comfort zones.

This passage opens with John recording a wedding at Cana of Galilee on the third day. Traditionally, this has been interpreted as the third day after John the Baptist declares Jesus the Lamb of God. While this is very likely true from a simple reading of the Scriptures, the mention of a wedding that same day, sheds a different light upon the matter. The mention of a wedding being on the third day would capture the attention of the Jewish mind. The third day of the week, Tuesday for us, carried certain importance. In Genesis 1:9-13 the phrase, “God saw that it was good,” is mentioned twice, so in the Jewish mind God has blessed this day and thus, the wedding held on the third day.

Wine symbolizes several things in Scripture, and, oddly enough, one of those is blessing. It is the mother of Jesus who approaches Him to say the wine has run out. This would be absolutely devastating to the family and in particular, to the bridegroom. Has the wedding couple suddenly lost their blessing? As we will find out, no, they have not lost their blessing, but that discussion happens in our second point. When the mother of Jesus approaches Him, she receives a gentle rebuke when Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come.” At this point she gives instructions to the servants to do whatever Jesus says and then simply walks away.

We see the mother of Jesus stepping out in faith, she has made her request known and leaves, trusting that Jesus will respond in the best way. She makes no further requests or demands – she simply walks away, trusting Jesus will act…somehow. Jesus does in fact respond. He instructs the servants to fill six waterpots used for ritual cleaning with water. In obedience, the servants do as they have been instructed, not having a clue about what is going to happen. They fill the waterpots to the brim – there is absolutely no doubt this is nothing but water! We are not given any clue as to how long between the filling of the waterpots and the drawing of the wine might have been, but now it is the servants who must step out in faith.

The servants have been instructed to draw some of the water that has become wine and take it to the headwaiter. Can you imagine the fear that must have filled the hearts of these servants? If this is dirty, nasty water, the headwaiter is likely to spit it out and turn on the unlucky servant who gave him the water! That servant will be dressed down and humiliated before the entire wedding party and guests. These servants are putting a great amount of trust in someone they have only just met! Well, this turns out to be the best wine of the wedding and the headwaiter is absolutely astonished.

Finally, it is the disciples who step out in faith. The step the disciples make is not yet as public as the other steps that have been taken, but the disciples are said to have believed in Him. We know from the way the first five disciples have been gathered that they are all seeking the coming Messiah. John and Andrew were introduced to Jesus as the Lamb of God. Philip is convinced they have found the One written about in the Scriptures, and Nathanael has confessed Jesus to be the Son of God and the King of Israel.

Scripture records many other times when people, including the disciples, are called to step out in faith. Peter walks on water when called to step out in faith. Several times the disciples are told to cast their nets one last time, only to find a catch when they were called to step out in faith. A royal official has a son healed by stepping out in faith. A woman who has been bleeding for many years steps out in faith just to touch the fringe of Jesus’ garment, she finds healing in the moment she stepped out in faith. The list goes on, but the point is clear – at some point we must step out in faith. There is one common factor shared by all of those who stepped out in faith – everyone responded immediately to the call to step out in faith. No other words needed to be spoken, no other request need be given – just obedience.

Anyone who considers themselves to be a Christ follower has heard the call to step out in faith. In each case, not only are we called to step out in faith, but we are also called to come out of our comfort zones. We are called to leave behind those things that are familiar, comfortable, safe, known and consistent, to enter into a new world of the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable, the dangerous, the unknown, and the inconsistent. Once this new world is not so new anymore, we find ourselves being stretched and moved into something new and scary once again. And so goes the journey for those who are called Christ followers. We are not to grow complacent, stagnant, or comfortable. We are to always be on the move, stepping out in faith, trusting that Jesus will respond in the best way.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

When was the last time you were able to approach Jesus and leave your request, trusting Him to respond in the best way? (This means no further requests of demands and no trying to take it back!)

When was the last time you responded in immediate obedience to Jesus, trusting Him for the right outcome?

Where is Jesus calling you to step out in faith?

The purpose of The Power of Change is to call the Christ follower out of empty rituals and fill them with genuine faith.

2). The Power of Change will fill our empty rituals and bring us to genuine faith.

As we follow Jesus, we are filled with genuine faith that brings about an amazing transformation in the Christ follower.

I mentioned earlier that wine symbolizes several things in Scripture. I have already mentioned blessing, but wine also symbolized love and faith, the Blood of Christ, and finally, fulfillment. In addition to this, in the water turning to wine we see transformation. The first transformation we see is in the mother of Jesus. When we read that the mother of Jesus approached Him about the wine, she is approaching Him as His mother. The transformation comes as Jesus offers a gentle rebuke in His response, “My hour has not yet come.” The mother of Jesus does not respond as any other mother would, with the expectation that her son would show respect and obedience.

Instead, we see the mother of Jesus turning to the servants and instructing them to “do whatever He says,” and then simply walking away. The mother of Jesus responds as any believer should respond to Jesus. This is an excellent example for our prayer life. The request has been made known to Jesus and then left there, trusting that Jesus will respond in the best way, and then our faith will be honored. There were no additional requests made, no coming back to “take matters into my own hands,” just simple faith and trust in the One who created all things.

Next, we see the transformation in the waterpots. Whenever a Jewish person saw these types of pots, they knew they were used for one of two things – one, for holding water, two, for ritual cleansing. These waterpots either held fresh clean water to quench your thirst, or they held water to wash hands and clean eating utensils. That’s it…no other options! The waterpots in this case are empty, they represent the empty Jewish rituals when true faith is not present. When Jesus has the waterpots filled, He is giving context to an empty religion. These jars help visualize what Jesus meant when He said, “I have not come to abolish but to fulfill.” In addition, these jars have been given a wider usefulness – now they are containers for the gifts of Jesus!

Now we come to the transformation of the water. This water – plain, ordinary, thirst-quenching water – has been given a new identity as wine, and not just any wine, but the best wine of the wedding. Not only is it the best, but it is also in abundance! Now that is a blessing upon a wedding!!! The best wine coming near the end of the wedding illustrates the emptiness of Jewish rituals versus what Jesus came to bring. The abundance of wine is a picture of the salvation He came to offer, and a revelation of who He was. This is also a picture of what Jesus does in our lives – He fills us with the Spirit and goodness when we are lacking.

Finally, we come to the transformation of the disciples. Just three short days ago, this group of ragtag disciples were seeking the coming Messiah virtually on their own. Only two of them, that we know of for certain, were following John the Baptist and came to Jesus when the Baptist proclaimed Jesus to be the Lamb of God. We have no idea what Peter and Philip were doing but if we guessed fishing we couldn’t be too far off base; And all we know of Nathanael is that he was under the fig tree. Now they have been front and center to the first sign of Jesus and will become part of the team that turns the world upside down for all generations.

Our transformation, while not complete, is nonetheless just as dramatic. At some point we were all called to step out in faith and trust Jesus. When we did our transformation began. If your experience is anything like mine, you learned to do things the “Christian way,” because “that’s the way we do things.” There was no explanation as to the meaning behind these things nor was there any Scripture to support these things. For many of us, these were empty rituals that did nothing to fill our empty vessels. Now we have a fuller understanding, and we are learning more each week, and our vessels are beginning to find a new usefulness – we too are beginning to carry the gifts of Jesus!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Where are you in your transformation from a “deer in the headlights” disciple to one with a front row seat of the miracles of Jesus?

What new identity has Jesus given you during your transformation?

Where do you need the abundant filling of Jesus today?

The purpose of The Power of Change is to call the Christ follower out of empty rituals and fill them with genuine faith.

I don’t want anyone to be misled about what Jesus was doing or why He came? Jesus did not come to start a new religion; He came to build a new body while fulfilling the empty rituals of the practices of Judaism. Not once does Jesus strike down the Law or denounce the commandments of God. He simply corrected the course because manmade rituals and traditions had caused far too much confusion and distanced people from God.

Left to our own resources, we will run dry. Life is too complicated, its problems to challenging, and our strength is too limited to allow us to cope without help. But recognizing our own emptiness before Christ will allow Him to work a miracle in us. He will apply His powerful resources to work a miracle in our lives. This sign was a partial unveiling of the full identity of Jesus. How power over nature, sin, death, and evil reveal Him to be the promised Messiah.

This miracle, or sign, along with the remaining six recorded in John’s gospel account, all point to how creation is subject to Jesus. They point to His authority to do what He does and say what He says. These miracles reveal Jesus’ glory, just as we are to reveal the glory of Jesus, for we too are miracles. Those who believe in Jesus, those who are Christ followers, but run into situations they cannot understand, must continue to trust that He will work in the best way.

Real trust focuses on the source rather than on the shape of the help that will be supplied. We are to lay our requests before Jesus, stepping out in faith, and trusting Him to respond as He wills. Further. We are to step out in faith in immediate obedience to His word when He speaks. We must ask ourselves how clearly we understand the Jesus we claim to know.

Are you ready to do whatever Jesus says?

We do all things to the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen

Next Week: John 2:12-25

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