I’m back this 2023-24 season of BSF to the online group I joined in 2021 whose discussion group leader, John Charles, lives in Adelaide Australia. The time zone difference means I get out of bed every Tuesday at 3 AM (Pacific time) to get ready for when the online video discussion opens at 3:30 AM. It works well for me. We are studying the Gospel of John this year.

During the course of a phone conversation, John mentioned that his pastor asked him to give a three-minute preface to Communion. John did and shared his text with me. He gave me permission to post it here:

Wedding At Cana

In John’s gospel there are seven miracles he called signs, because they point to something far greater than the miraculous event.

The first sign was at a wedding in Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine.

While that miracle showed the deep compassion of Jesus for the bridal party, it also has a far wider meaning.

In the Old Testament, marriage was often used to represent the relation between God and his people.

And wine was often used to symbolise fellowship, joy, and abundance of life.

The wine running out at the wedding was a sign of how Israel’s life with God had come to a stop.  Worship had become a hollow ritual, like washing with water from the stone jars.  It had the busy appearance of religion, but without any real heart for God.

And God had not spoken to Israel through any prophets for 400 years, which is the time difference between Queen Elizabeth I and II of England.

But Jesus came to heal our broken relation to God. 

When his mother Mary told him the problem of the wine, he responded in terms of what the wine running out really signified, and how mankind’s separation from God could only be remedied through his sacrifice on the cross, the time for which had not yet come.

Mary’s response was a wonderful example of trust in Jesus; her advice was, “Do whatever he tells you.”

No one could enter the marriage feast without using the water to clean away the dust of this earth.  And we are not worthy to enter into relationship with God while we bear the sin of this world, but Jesus has provided true cleansing from sin.

Through his sacrifice on the cross, he took the penalty of death for our sin upon himself, in our place, that we might be judged righteous before God.

As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin – to be sin – for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

And at the last supper, Jesus again used wine as a symbol, when he took bread and wine to represent his body and blood, or his life, which he gave up on the cross for each one of us, to win the victory over sin and death,

And just as Jesus’ mere presence was enough to transform the Jewish ritual cleansing water into the best wine of joy and fellowship, so his presence now, as he lives in us through his spirit, brings us into true abundance of life and fellowship with God.

by John Charles

I appreciated John’s text. He skillfully wove relevant Biblical passages into an integrated and meaningful stream, and then tied it all together in a truly wonderful and encouraging final paragraph.

Thank you John – you modelled how we may profit from this year’s BSF lessons for the sake of ministry in the kingdom of God.

Glory to God

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