A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

From the Gospel of John

John 1:43-51; 2:1-11

Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Introduction

The opening chapters of John's Gospel tell of the introduction of various people to Jesus, men who would become His disciples. As we read, we too are being introduced to Him. The next section we look at shows us more about Him and how He attracted people to Himself. Remember that John, whose record we are reading, was so intimately acquainted with all that took place.

Chapter 1, verses 43- 45

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, He said to him, "Follow me." Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote –Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

These are men who would form the twelve who went with Jesus for three years. Just ordinary men, but destined to be changed forever by their acquaintance with Jesus. Philip was quick to recognise that Jesus was different. He saw Him as the one who fulfilled prophecy—the long-awaited Messiah.

Verse 46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.

Nathan's surprise shows that there was an idea abroad that Nazareth was a town of lower class people. That may have been untrue, but Philip's response was simple. "See for yourself." For us today this is good advice. Don't judge Jesus from a distance. Get to know Him and you will be convinced about who He is. No man could be just like Him.

Verses 47-49 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you when you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."

Jesus compliments Nathanael who then wonders how Jesus could know anything about him. He would soon see that Jesus has much knowledge that other men do not have. He was able to assess people, to see within them. Another remark follows showing more of Jesus' knowledge of secret things. Nathan remembered that he had earlier sat under a fig tree and was greatly impressed by what Jesus said. He went further than the others in calling Jesus "Son of God and King of Israel." The title "Rabbi" means teacher.

Verses 50, 51 Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall all see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

These new disciples were just beginning to see that this man was different. Certainly not some deceiver, a person out to impress others for his own gain, but someone who reminded them of God Himself. Jesus promises them that they will see great things and the following record in this book tells of them. The reference to angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man is not easily understood. The title "Son of Man" Jesus took upon Himself. It has its beginning in Ezekiel and is a title of honour. The movement of angels could refer to Jesus being like a ladder between earth and heaven. Jacob in the Old Testament saw such a picture in a dream.

grapes and wine

Chapter 2, Verses 1, 2 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

We are hearing about a chain of events over one week. A wedding was being celebrated and we are told who was there. Such occasions were marked by much eating and drinking, just as many are today.

Verses 3 –5 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to Him, "They have no more wine." "Why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever He tells you."

Jesus' reply to His mother may sound strange. It was important for Him not to be told by His mother or anyone else what God's will was for Him. He alone could ascertain that. His mother's word to the servants is a message for all to listen to in life. What Jesus says is all-important and should be heeded and obeyed.

Verses 6 -8 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then He told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

Turning water into wine is a miracle. John calls it a "sign". A sign because it shows the power evident in the life of Jesus. It was the first of many such signs in His earthly life. People are quick to dismiss a story like this as untrue. They fail to see that all power belongs to God. If God is able to create this astounding universe with all its complexity, a miracle like this is a small thing to Him.

Verses 9, 10 They did so and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

It is understandable that guests that have had a good share of wine would be less able to discern the quality of the drink later in the day. The banquet master was more restrained and was able to tell that the wine was very good. We know of course, that what the Lord did would never be sub-standard. It would always be the best.

Verse 11. This, the first of His miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him.

No doubt these signs of Jesus carried a lot of weight. People today have the idea that folk way back then were likely to believe anything, as they were unscientific. This is an error. They knew that virgins don't have children and that water doesn't suddenly become wine, just as we do. They marvelled at the miracles; they didn't take them as a matter of course.

Conclusion

This Gospel is known as a teaching Gospel. What John wants us to know he makes very plain. He wants us to see who Jesus is and then to put our trust in Him. When we read about the miracles or "signs", we will also see that there are lessons to be learned. The main lesson is that Jesus is God come in the flesh. No other explanation of Him will do.

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