Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Water and Blood


On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
            Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
            After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
(John 2:1-12 ESV)

The first miracle of Jesus, like all his miracles, is sometimes pointed to by those who are looking for signs of his divinity.  But the miracles of Jesus don’t prove that he was God – even his grandest miracles.  Peter and Paul both raised the dead.  Peter, Paul, and John all restored the sick.  The disciples (probably not just the twelve either) reported after going on mission that the demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name. 

Nor are miracles like this restricted to New Testament times.  The changing of water into wine is unique in only one respect: the medium the water is changed into.  In Exodus 4 we have the first miracle ever reported as performed by a man.  Notably, it involves water.  As God finishes giving Moses his commission for ministry, he gives him three signs to perform in the event the people of Israel and/or the Egyptians don’t believe he’s really on the level.  First his walking stick becomes a snake.  Next, he puts his hand in his cloak and it becomes leprous.  Finally, he takes a bit of water from the Nile River, pours it on the ground and strikes it with his stick.  It immediately becomes blood.   When Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go, the first miracle (called a plague in context) is turning water into blood.

Water turns to blood.    

At a later date, after Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land (another pretty cool manipulation of water, by the way), the only source of water to be found is “brackish.”  Here was the whole nation in a pretty parched situation.  As the old maxim goes, “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.”  God tells Moses to take one of the trees nearby the spring (called the spring at Marah, meaning bitterness) and throw it into the water.  It instantly turns the water sweet and clear.   Not quite wine, but a significant and needed change nonetheless.

Jesus turning the water into wine is not the final miracle to do with water.  Just as Moses was instructed to stike the water with his staff and it turned the whole Nile to blood, so a centurion took a spear as Jesus hung on the cross and pierced his side.  Now the two media are co-mingled, as water and blood flowed out.   Long ago I heard a well-meaning pastor explain the medical significance of water and blood at the crucifixion.  He said this was a sure sign that Jesus was dead already. 

Perhaps.  But what if there’s something more God is trying to tell us? 

Water turned to blood.  Dirty water made clean.  Water turned to wine.  Blood mixed with water.  As John says, “This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.”
(1 John 5:6-10a ESV)

The water is a witness that this one or that one has been with God.  That’s why we baptize those who profess faith in Christ.  They have believed the testimony that God has borne about his Son.  Moses believed God and changed water into blood.  He continued to believe God so that water was no obstacle to him.  He walked believing God in such a way that the most brackish water could become sweet sustenance to Israel.  Water was the medium by which Jesus is first publicly identified by God (“this is my Son, listen to him”), and by which Jesus foreshadowed his own crucifixion and the coming consummation of the Church with her bridegroom by changing water into wine.  And the water and the blood are a final witness, present at his death.

Yes, Jesus was the Son of God.  But the water is not a proof of his divinity.  It is a witness to his divinity.  Oh!  To live to see the water change to wine once more as Christ pours it out for the church at that great supper the day after the Last Day.

Jon

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