24-03-19 SIGNPOSTS TO GOD SAVING
THE WORLD - PART TWO
John 20:30-31: Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, you may have life in his name.
In the first part of this study the suggestion was put forward that the Seven Signs found in the Gospel of John are signs that point to how Christ will both save the world and take away its sin. This second part seeks to support that assertion by starting to examine the seven signs in detail.
At the outset it’s important to say again that these signs anticipate how Christ will save the whole world in that wonderful new time when He will rule the world from heaven. This whole new eon is what the Lord described as the ‘kingdom of God’ and the ‘kingdom of heaven’. The Apostle Paul seven times calls it the ‘Day of Christ’ in his epistles (e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:7, Philippians, 1:6, 10, 2:16). The Apostle Peter proclaimed that it would be ‘… the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). It is when God through Christ will set the world to rights. Sadly, no matter how much we might long for Him to do so Christ is not saving or setting the world right now.
Thankfully though, the Day of Christ is the very next thing on God’s agenda. It is imminent because, as the rising tide of global evil attests, the current dispensation of the grace of God (Ephesians 3: 2) is rapidly drawing to a close. Suddenly, Almighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ, will reveal Himself to the world in all his power and glory in what the Bible calls his ‘appearing’ (Titus 2:13, 2 Timothy 4:1) and everything will change. Every heart will be opened to see Him as He really is, the God of putting everything right. The blaze of his glory will be so bright all will see it and go on seeing it. As Isaiah 40:5 declares: ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it’.
What’s more each and every person will be ‘enlightened’; that is divinely empowered to see the truth of who God is and man and the world as they should be. Thus Psalm 77:18 (speaking as though it has already happened; so sure was the prophet that it would), says: ‘His lightnings (enlightenings) lighted the world’. In Luke 17:24 Jesus when on earth spoke of his day, the Day of Christ, saying, ‘For as the lightning that lighteneth out of one part under heaven shineth unto the other part under heaven, so shall the Son of Man be in his day’.
Amazingly, in this time war will cease; disease and famine will be banished; there will be a chicken in every pot, every man will sit under his own vine tree. The earth itself will be restored to its original creation glory. Unsown corn will be reaped on the mountains and harvests will spring forth of themselves. Just as there was in the Lord’s feeding of the 5,000 there will be more than enough food for everybody. Furthermore, everybody will ‘know the Lord’. As Habakkuk 2:14 declares: ‘For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’.
What a glorious day the Day of Christ will be. And Jesus gave a foretaste of this, his glory, in the signs recorded in John’s Gospel. Indeed, in a real sense the Gospel of John is a book about Christ’s glory; eleven times it mentions Jesus manifesting his glory while on earth. And the first occasion He did so was when He turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana (John 2: 1-11). In fact this ‘beginning of miracles’, as John calls it, is a nutshell summary of how gloriously good it will be for believers – and everyone will be led to be a believer – ‘in that day’, a day which last several hundred years and which precedes the tribulation and what is commonly called the Second Coming of the Lord. During this happy era the Lord rules over mankind from heaven and brings peace on earth just as He promised to do.
More than that He brings joy to man so abundantly that it overflows every cup. Let’s see that in John’s account of this first miracle that manifested Christ’s glory as the Son of God.
And there were set forth six water pots of stone, after the manner of purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins each. Jesus saith to them fill the water pots with water, and they filled them to the brim. And He saith to them, Draw out now and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. (John 2: 6-8).
There were six pots each containing two to three firkins. Now a firkin is half a kilderkin and a kilderkin holds 16 to 18 gallons. Therefore if the pots each contained only two firkins and each kilderkin had only 16 gallons, then we have the following calculation: 6 x 2 x 8 = 96 gallons of wine. What a party it must have been. And it is my conviction that although filled with joy none of the guests would have had a hangover. Why? Because when the Lord blesses there is no downside to it. It is joy unrestrained yet untainted by the evils of excess. Proverbs 10:22 proclaims; ‘The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it’.
You see in the soon-to-come Day of Christ God will give us joy abundant with no added or consequent sorrow. In Psalm 16:11 the prophet David says his flesh (i.e. human nature) will ‘… rest in hope, for Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (that is, in the grave) … Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore’. And ‘evermore’ here literally means the splendour or glory we are travelling towards, i.e. the Day of Christ. Indeed, according to Bible researcher, the late Otis Q. Sellers, the words ‘forever’, ‘evermore’ and ‘everlasting’ really point to the eon to come, which is the pre-millennial kingdom, not to an eternity in heaven.
For example in Luke 1:33 the angel does not tell Mary that her child shall reign over the house of Jacob ‘for ever’, as the King James Bible has it, but rather that He shall reign ‘in respect of the eons’. And when Mary responded in her touching magnificat, she did not mean that God spake to Abraham’s seed ‘for ever’ (Luke 1:55) but that He spoke to them about the eon, the Day of Christ, the reign of heaven over earth in which all the promises made to and spoken by the Old Testament prophets would be fulfilled. The Greek word here translated ‘ever’ is aion, which, according to Strong, means in English eon, or a new and future world age. Thus it refers to the ‘world to come’ and the ‘kingdom of God’, as Jesus described this stupendously better time.
Right now, in this ‘present evil world’, as the Apostle Paul calls it (Galatians 1:4), there is little or no joy for most people. Countless millions are slowly starving to death; many others are reaching the end of their lives more quickly, slain in war, mown down by accident or disease. The media is full of stories of the unfortunate. Truly, if food, shelter, a job and peace are necessities then large part of humanity are missing out on them. It’s a rat race world and without Christ there’s little joy in it. Certainly, no one, Christian or otherwise, can claim at present to have the ‘fullness of joy’ David spoke of because that will only be realised after resurrection. But His peace we can have now if we trust the Lord and commit our needs in prayer to Him amid the storms of life. And his grace will support us and meet our needs.
But, again, that is a far cry from the pleasures without end and fullness of joy, untainted by sadness or disappointment, that God promised faithful believers through the psalmist. Such ongoing ecstasy will only be ours in the life to come. When we read John’s account of how Jesus brought unlimited joy to the wedding at Cana it seems too good to be true. Yet John maintains ensuring the wedding couple and guests had a joyful party with plenty to drink was not only the first of Jesus’s sign miracles but also a manifestation of his glory so great that seeing it ‘his disciples believed on Him’ (John 2:11).
Your see in Christ joy and glory always go together. Indeed it can be said that God’s glory is to see man, the highest creature He created, rejoice and be happy. The whole of history – His story – is working toward that very end. And to be truly happy, full of joy, means man must be full of God’s joy (John 15:11). Of course to receive that man must also be found in Christ and ‘abiding’ in Him (John 17:13). And in the Day of Christ he will be. In the parable of the talents Jesus also spoke of faithful servants entering into the ‘joy’ of their Lord.
Can you rejoice with me that to show how much He, as Almighty God, desires our happiness - and will ensure it in the world to come - our Lord ordered the wash pots filled to the brim, then turned that water into wine? Wine is the biblical symbol for joy and happiness. It is wine ‘that makes glad the heart of man’ (Psalm 104:15), not the purification of gallons of water whether applied by washing, sprinkling, being dunked in a tank or standing under the shower. Jews meticulously washed themselves in Jesus’ day but this did not please God. Why? Because only faith pleases God. When asked by his hearers how they could do the works of God, Jesus succinctly replied, ‘Believe on Him whom God hath sent’. Seeing water turned to wine to the surprise and joy of all present created faith in the hearts of his disciples.
Three other aspects need to be noted. Firstly Jesus was an invited guest at the Cana wedding. We must ask, is He also invited to our home, our celebrations, to live in our hearts? Secondly, though invited as a guest Jesus did not perform the role of a marriage celebrant. Why? Because at an Israelite wedding no such officiant was required. The couple’s promise to be faithful to one another before witnesses validated the marriage on its own. It is church and social tradition that requires a priest, pastor or celebrant to officiate at a wedding, not the Bible and not the Lord. In fact scripture records only one occasion on which He brought man and woman together and that is found in Genesis chapter two when He introduced Eve to Adam. Subsequently man and woman were expected to ‘wed themselves’ and stay faithful to each other.
Secondly, though no wedding officiant, Jesus brought added celebration and joy to the occasion as only He could. The wedding party had run out of wine. That speaks volume about the present human condition. Today far too many live in desperation and fear. And even marriages begun in love often break down. The truth is that only hard work by both parties can keep the romance alive. But at Cana Christ showed that He can maintain the joy of ‘two becoming one’ even when the wine runs out.
Thirdly, mark well the words of ‘the governor of the feast’ to the bridegroom: ‘… thou hast kept the good wine until now’. God (Jesus) had indeed kept the good wine until then. Consider: for thousands of years sin’s legacy had brought guilt, trouble and strife to all mankind, as indeed it still does, tainting with sadness and ultimately death that most beautiful of natural human experiences, love between man and woman. Now, for the first time in over 4,000 years God Himself is personally present again to bring back the joy He always intended for such union.
However, it was but a foretaste of the joy Jesus will add to life in all its aspects in the Day of Christ, the Kingdom of God that is the very next event on God’s calendar. For it is then that He will fully manifest his glory, glory that will stay and not fade away or be cut short by time. He has indeed saved the best wine till last.
To be continued.
 Philippians 4:7