Sermon Notes, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, 22 January 2017 Anno Domini
St Andrews Anglican Orthodox Church
Why do we judge wrongly the hearts of others?
Discuss the story of Job.
We could judge more sensibly if we could see the end of a thing, but we cannot, and God can. God does, indeed, save the best wine for last (a subject of my sermon today). Look at poor Job! Look at the beginning of Job in Job 1:
1. There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. 2. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. 3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
Please note the numbers of assets Job had at the beginning. After God allowed Satan to deprive Job of all things near and dear (as a testimony in obedience to us), see what God had in store for Job at the end after his constancy and obedience to God’s Word?
12. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. 13. He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. 15. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. 16. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. 17. So Job died, being old and full of days.
In all holdings, Job, who lost all that he had and was judged unrighteous by his friends, gained all things in double numbers except his sons and daughters. Of course, his friends looked at the loss and judged Job by the ‘appearance’ and not the essence of his heart.
And why did God grant double the sheep, camels, oxen, and she asses that Job had owned before the tribulation and not double the sons and daughters? It is a error in our reading to assume that. That is not the way the Lord works! Job did, indeed, gain double the number of sons and daughters as at first. How? Those sons and daughters which belonged to Job prior to his trials and temptation by Satan were on safer ground than before their deaths. They were with God, and still belonged to Job in God’s safe-keeping. So, in reality, he ended with double the number of all things.
The mysteries of God are beyond our finding out unless we allow God to grow our minds in His Great Mind.
Why do I introduce today’s sermon, taken from John 2:1-11?
Because the same principle, spread throughout the biblical text, comes shining through in the story of Job that God saves, always, His best wine for last.
Exam with me the story of poor Moses:
After forty years of leading a nagging, defiant, and rebellious people across the Wilderness, he arrives at the Jordon Waters. There is only this small sliver of water separating Moses from his tired wonderings in the Wilderness and the Promised Land.
But God refuses to allow the leader to cross with his people. Moses had disobeyed God in his anger at the people, and God refused him the privilege to cross over.
Look at the final earthly days of Moses as described in Deuteronomy 34:1-6
1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, 2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, 3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. 4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.
5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
Sad, isn’t it? By our view of circumstances, tragic, even. But wait! See Moses the next time he appears in Scripture:
1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
And look at Joseph, beloved of his father: Beaten by his own brothers, cast into a well, and then sold into slavery.
Joseph later became the second ruler of Egypt and was the soutce of salvation to his brothers. Listen to how Joseph describes this experience after finding his brothers in Egypt appealing for food:
When his brothers recognized Joseph as the little brother they had beaten and betrayed,
18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
John 2:1-11 —
1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
Marriage! This passage is related in every maariage ceremony I have ever witnessed or conducted!
This phrase: This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee,
Is the most beautiful of all the Bible to me.
When we look at John 1:1, see how it correlates to the beginning verse in Genesis: “In the beginning….” John 1 and Genesis 1 refer to beginnings.
Now look at John 2 and Genesis 2: both refer to the institution of the first marriage, and every lawful marriage to follow:
Gen 2: 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
This is the first relationship God ordained for man – marriage – even before the church!
Now we come to John 2 and what do we find? Once again, God is honoring and sanctifying, before Christ’s Church has been inaugurated, the institution of marriage.
Now, Cana of Galilee was a neighboring community of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. These people were doubtless close friends. The wedding couple were perhaps near the same age of Christ (thirty) and may have been personal friends to Christ.
His mother, Mary, was also there along with the discuiples. This occasion immediately follows the beginning of the earthly ministry of Christ. Remember in John 1 Jesus is baptized of John the Baptist and undertakes his ministry at that time.
So the marriage at Cana is the first miracle and blessing that Jesus’ wrought in His ministry.
This demonstrates the importance of marriage in the eyes of God. If marriages fail, so does God’s Church because marriage is the building block for the church.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
How could our gracious Lord but rejoice at the commencement of that stupendous work of Divine mercy which, determined upon before the world began, by the kindness of God the blessed Trinity, He had now come to effect? Yet whilst the Lord Jesus cheered His heart at the commencement of His ministry by adorning the marriage feast with His presence, and so contemplating His own union with His spouse, the Church, there is melancholy in these words, “Mine hour is not yet come,” which speaks to the heart of every one who truly weighs their meaning.
The time will come for Christ when the wine of life is no longer His. He must lay down His life for us. He understood this, while Mary, His mother, did not know these things.
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
This is also Godly counsel for us today: Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it
It was a great humiliation to exhaust the wine supply at a wedding in the time of Christ. Eph 5:18
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
The Holy Spirit is the Wine of God. It makes us behave in ways the world does not understand.
Vv7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
Here is an example to us of obedience. They are out of wine. Jesus has been called upon to remedy the matter. He tells the servants to fill the waterpots with water.
Does this make sense? But notice, no one questions Christ. They obey this seemingly ridiculous counsel without so much as a question. We should also unquestioningly be obedient to Christ in all circumstances, good and bad, of our lives.
And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.
It was customary that the Master of ceremonies first taste all new wine before serving.
This wine is different. It is the new wine of Heaven which cannot be placed in old bottles.
9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
As we have witnessed in the life of Joseph, of Moses, of Job…God most often saves the best wine of life until last.
Does everyone remember the Ninth symphony of Beethoven? The Ode to Joy at the last? It was the very last musical note Beethoven ever wrote, and God gave him inspiration for it during the last days of his life. He may be withholding your best wine for last as well.