Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beyond Necessity 3: The Hour - what's free costs


When Jesus’ mother says: “the wine has run out” (v4)

Jesus, before he acts says to her: “it is not my hour” (v4) Which as it turns out doesn’t stop him from doing something… but is a hint that there’s something more going on.

 Everything Jesus does here is a trailer, a picture, a foretaste of something more. When he says “it’s not my hour” he’s saying this is not my wedding, so this isn’t my responsibility. But, one day it will be. One day it will be his time not just to save the bridegroom of Cana from humiliation and to provide for his guests.

One day will be his wedding day and he will provide richly for all who are there. But, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Someone has to buy the bread. Someone pays.

When The Times newspaper took its website behind a paywall the readership of the site fell but they proved that people are prepared to pay – less people paying something was more effective than lots of people paying nothing for content that cost to produce.

To give life to the world is going to cost Jesus. John records more of Jesus talking about this hour. John 12:23-24 “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified… unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.”

Jesus will die to bring life to the world. This is awkward because John and Jesus are telling us that this is a world dying. Though we probably know that.

They’re telling us that we are dying. Though we probably know that.

John and Jesus are telling us that we can’t refill our own glasses, we need what only he can do. Which I don’t like at all…  I like to be comforted in my anxiety by Jesus, I'm not so keen on his confrontation: why don't you trust me?

My GCSE Science teacher told me I wasn’t going to get a top grade and so I shouldn’t be entered for the Advanced paper. I fought back. Got my head down. Got an A grade. I get kicks from trying to achieve. That's (sort of) fine for my Science GCSE but Jesus says: when it comes to your life, you really can't just kick through.

And Jesus says: “No. This one is beyond you. But that’s not the end.” The Wedding at Cana wasn’t the end game. John calls it Jesus’ first sign. A signpost. The destination: Jesus dying. Dying, to bear much fruit. The sign shows us something of his glory. The destination shows that glory more fully. The glory of Jesus: beyond necessity gratuity, lavish love. Death to him, to bring life to me. Because there’s nothing free that doesn’t cost someone else.


The storyline of the Bible starts with a wedding and ends with a wedding. It’s a great love story from beginning to end. The bridegroom of Cana is quite typical. A numpty. A fool. Tight-fisted. The Bible pushes for a deeper diagnosis. Hear this in the story of Hosea and Gomer. The story of this couple is told as a picture of God and humanity. Hosea like God, Gomer like humanity. He loves her but she betrays him. But, like God, even as Gomer gives herself to her lovers, Hosea makes the costly move to win her back from her slavery and selfishness and stuff-ups.

Hosea takes responsibility for his wife's waywardness. So too Jesus takes responsibility for our wandering hearts.

The generous hearted puritan Thomas Watson said: the capacious heart of Christ beats strongly for humanity, all the more as we run from him.

Back at Cana, what was meant to be a perfect day stood on the brink of ruin and there’s nothing the bridegroom can do to fix it.

 Jesus doesn’t do nothing; he doesn’t point the finger; he doesn’t humiliate. He confronts the situation. He acts. He provides. He gives. The launch of Jesus gives a window into the heart of Jesus. The man who goes beyond necessity into gratuity though it will cost him his life. The launch of Jesus gives a window into my heart. I’ve failed and fallen and I can’t fix it. There: Jesus comes, finds me, stops me, and points me to see his beyond necessity love in his death for me. His arms pinned open in love to fill my glass, to fill my heart. He takes full responsibility for me.

And that day in Cana Jesus friends – v11 – believed in him.

John calls them “disciples”. People with L-plates on. And their journey with Jesus will be like that. Here they see. But they’ll completely miss the next thing John reports about Jesus later in this chapter. Two steps forward, one step back. It’s clumsy and messy like a three-legged race. But, Jesus doesn’t check my track record or my story to see if I qualify for life. He doesn’t require me to be impressive enough.

No, whether I’m exploring faith or have journeyed with Jesus for years – a window into his heart reveals the same thing: From beginning to end, for all of life, the whole deal with Jesus is that he takes the cost on himself, beyond necessity and utterly gratuitous, to bring me to himself.

Jesus, I’m empty, thirsty, parched. You are lavish, generous, gratuitous. I receive you. Amen

Image: UCCF Uncover

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