Given the two amazing scenes in John 2, I've split up our walk-through into two distinct podcasts. Simply click on the link below, scroll down on The Sounds page, and enjoy Jesus both making wine and making a ruckus!
A little thought: The "fruits of the Spirit" (Galatians 5) are the natural outbursts of the heart that truly knows Jesus and the riches of our inheritance in Him. They should free-flow just as naturally, and unthinkingly, as the grapes do from the vine-attached branches in a vineyard. For we are the Branches; He is the Vine. These "fruits" are the fruit of His Holy Spirit, not of us...
To hear our walk-through of the conclusion of John chapter 1, click the button below and scroll down on The Sounds page. What an amazing chapter!
“How can you know me?” returned Nathanael.
“When you were underneath that fig-tree,” replied Jesus, “before Philip called you, I saw you.” At which Nathanael exclaimed, “Master, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel!”
“Do you believe in me,” replied Jesus, “because I said I had seen you underneath that fig-tree? You are going to see something greater than that! Believe me,” he added, “I tell you all that you will see Heaven wide open and God’s angels ascending and descending around the Son of Man!” From John 1
Years ago, I was in a seminar given by the wonderful Dale Bruner, and he was teaching through this particular passage. I'll never forget his conclusion here. He asked - and I ask you - when you hear the phrase "Heaven wide open and God's angels ascending and descending," does that ring any scriptural bells for you? Any passages come to mind?
From Genesis 28: "Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, 'I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring…. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.'"
What a scene! And Jacob's reaction is one of absolutely fitting awe: "Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.' And he was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.'"
By conjuring this moment in Nathanael's memory of the Torah, Jesus not only associates Himself with this passage, but also with the place in the passage - Beth'El, the "House of God." Did you catch that? "You will see Heaven wide open and God's angels ascending and descending around the Son of Man." Now consider Jacob's words in the context of Jesus!
"Surely the Lord is in this Jesus, and I did not know it." And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this Jesus! This Jesus is none other than the house of God, and this Jesus is the gate of Heaven."
"Look at the ministry: how much it is in the wisdom of man and of literary culture; how little in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Think of the unity of the body: how little there is of the manifestation of the power of a heavenly love binding God's children into one. Think of holiness—the holiness of Christlike humility and crucifixion to the world. How little the world sees that they have men among them who live in Christ in heaven, in whom Christ and heaven live.
"What is to be done? There is only one thing. We must wait upon God. And what for? We must cry, with a cry that never rests, "Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens . . . [and] come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence" (Isa. 64:1). We must desire and believe, we must ask and expect, that God will do unlooked-for things. We must set our faith on a God of whom men do not know what He has prepared for them who wait for Him. The wonder-doing God, who can surpass all our expectations, must be the God of our confidence."
Andrew Murray, Waiting on God
Over the course of the next nine months, we'll be walking (with delight!) through the Gospel of John. For his opening, simply click on the button below and scroll down on The Sounds page to the John 1.1-18 podcast...
"In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out. A man called John [the Baptist] was sent by God as a witness to the light, so that any man who heard his testimony might believe in the light. This man was not himself the light: he was sent simply as a personal witness to that light. That was the true light which shines upon every man as he comes into the world." John 1:5-9
As we read through this, the "light section" of John's famous prologue, we must not miss its all-important opening statement: "In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind." The "light," which can sound so mystical and nebulous, is none other than the actual life of the Word, Jesus. Yes, as the One who was Creator-God from the beginning. But also as we've come to know Him, the One who walked and talked and lived - "the visible expression of the invisible God." The "light" of God is indivisible from the "life" of Jesus; they are one and the same.
And how good is John's description of John the Baptist's calling! He lived "as a witness to the light, so that any man who heard his testimony might believe in the light." His life was "simply as a personal witness to that light." Personal. Someone who himself has basked in the glow and can speak to its goodness. Someone who, like Moses, has been so intimately involved with the light that now his own face glows for all to see.
The reason I love John's description of John the Baptist's calling is because it's actually our calling too. You and I stand in the direct lineage of Way-preparers like John the Baptist and our greatest pursuit must always be a higher and deeper knowledge - a knowledge of the heart, not just the mind - of that Life which is Light.
Consider King David's understanding of the Life, the Light, the Love of God from Psalm 36:
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.
As intimately as David knew the Light, we must know the Light. As recklessly as John the Baptist gave witness to the Light, so must we. It is Jesus Himself, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who gives us knowledge of His Life and Light, and then gives courage to proclaim Him. Rest in Him; learn from Him; then go!
2 Corinthians 13:3 - "The Christ you have to deal with is not a weak person outside you, but a tremendous power inside you."
It takes a real act of the will - or an almost unbelievable absence of mind - to forget about Someone who actually lives inside you! Brothers and Sisters, let's not miss Him for a moment today!
Had there been a third son in the Prodigal Son parable, one who did "correctly," what might his actions have looked like? It seems to me he would've simply been glued to the Father and emulating the exact things He was doing.
When out in the fields, out in the fields with Him.
When scanning the horizon, scanning the horizon with Him.
When running to the lost son, running to the lost son with Him.
When eating and dancing at the party, eating and dancing at the party with Him.
What's the use of of being in the Kingdom if we're off somewhere else, "slaving" like the older son? What's the use of having all the "property" and yet squandering it amidst the ways of this world? At the Father's side is the Kingdom, the work, the reunion, the joy, the party. There is nowhere else to be if we want Life.