SEEING THE GLORY OF GOD
On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water," And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. When the steward 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 steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men 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.
This is Jesus' first miracle in the gospel of John. It's a sign showing that he has come to raise a dead Israel to life ... just as he raised that dead wedding feast to life.
This sign was for the benefit of his disciples. The purpose of the sign was to increase their faith.
...this, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory;
and his disciples believed in him.
In the beginning of our walk with Jesus things like this always happen ... some sign .. some wonderful answer to prayer that comes with such power it knocks us off our feet ... and our faith expands. Now Jesus is real to us...it's not theory any more. We have encountered the presence of the Lord and we believe as we have never been able to believe in him before.
But this honeymoon faith, this faith which the disciples had when they walked away from that wedding feast with Jesus, is fragile and weak. It is not the kind of faith which can take us through
wilderness journeys .... it's beginner's faith.
And so, as you continue through the book of John, you find Jesus teaching the disciples the importance of believing as an act of the will.
"Don't just believe in me because you saw a sign or because you had a prayer answered.
- Believe in me because you know me now.
- Believe in me because you know you can trust me.
"This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
"He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.' "
"I have ignited the flame of faith in you, but now you must keep it burning ... exercise faith...believe. In the beginning of your walk with me I manifested my glory and you believed. Now to bring you into the faith that endures, we turn it around the other way ... believe and you will see the glory of God ... step out in faith and the glorious doors of the kingdom will open for you."
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I know that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me."
When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
" ..Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?"
These words which introduce the final sign of Jesus' flesh-and-blood ministry in John's gospel are his ultimate words, not only to Martha, but to all believers of all time.
" ..Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?
-You're concerned that the situation is hopeless.... the man has been dead four days in warm weather.... there's going to be an odor when you take away the stone.
You see the problem well enough, but did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? ...Believe!
Lazarus, come out!"
— And here he comes!
At this stage in the life of faith we can no longer expect Jesus to keep our faith going by feeding us signs. At this stage, the signs will come only when we exercise the faith we have ... only when we believe. We need to see the glory of God indeed, but we will see the glory of God only as we believe.
When we say, "Lord, we have to see your glory ... give us more of your Spirit ... give us more of that living bread so that our lives can be empowered to free the captives."....
He answers, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"
"But what does he mean, 'Believe'? I thought I did believe.
- Why do you think I come to fellowship?
- Why do you think I eat the bread and drink the wine?
- Why would I present offerings of my toil and sweat if I didn't believe?"
Martha could have said all that too ... she was deeply attached to Jesus. He was more important to her than anyone else in her life. Yet, Jesus was calling for something more.
"I know you love me Martha ...I know you care about me ... but I want you to trust me in a way you've never trusted me before ...I want you to trust me when I tell you, I can turn this situation around ...I can restore Lazarus...believe this."
And to us Jesus says, "I know you love me....
I know you care about me....
I rejoice to hear your hymns of praise ... I rejoice to see you out there obeying my word. But now I want you to trust me as you've never trusted me before. I want you to believe that I will bring life into this fellowship where I have placed you which it has never had. I will flood it with power from above ... believe this!"
1. Believe that Jesus is the source of all life and all health for us, and we will see the glory of God.
This is why Martha saw the glory of God that day. Listen to this conversation which preceded the miracle:
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."
"...I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day..."
"I am the resurrection and the life ... not just on the last day but now. He who
believes has life now."
...Believe, believe, believe.
Trust not just in a future event but in the life-giving presence of Jesus among us now.
- Believe as you call on his name.
- Believe as you sing his praises.
- Believe as you eat the bread and drink the wine....
that Jesus is your resurrection and your life now, and you will see the glory of God,
you will see resurrection life flowing into your present situation ...
your Lazarus will come forth,
your impossible mountain will move,
your nightmare will give way to a vision of God's glory right where you are.
2. Believe in Jesus enough to deliberately commit ourselves into his hands each day ... and we will see the glory of God.
And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
"If any one would come after me," (be in my presence, walk in my steps, have fellowship with me, see my glory)...
We have the presence of Jesus in our lives when we commit ourselves to him not just once and done, but daily. And this daily commitment means you die to yourself and live to him. You turn away from your way, pick up that cross which reminds you that you're dead to your way, and. you go his way. When this becomes a serious act each day, we will see the glory of God, as the Son of God walks at our side.
3. Believe that Jesus' words have the power to keep us alive in this world and the next, and we will see the glory of God.
After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus
said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." John 6:66-69
"You have the words of eternal life.
Your words are Spirit and they are life.
You are the bread which came down from heaven and your words are the life that comes from the bread."
So we listen to those words,
we remember them,
we trust them,
we do them. We deliberately put ourselves under the power of these words which Jesus speaks.
- If he calls us the salt of the earth,
- that's what we are.
- If he declares us the light of the world,
- that's what we are.
- If he commands us to love our enemies,
to keep our eye single,
to speak the truth,
- that's what we do.
"...you have the words of eternal life..."
When we believe this, and live this, we will see the glory of God as Jesus' words are fulfilled before our eyes.
Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"
In the beginning we saw the glory and then we believed in Jesus. But now Jesus is calling us to a faith which first believes then it sees.
After every revival, and the honeymoon season gives way to serious discipleship, those who believe only when they see, begin to see less and less and they believe less and less until they finally turn back to Egypt and Babylon and the ways of the world. But the Lord keeps walking on at the head of a little band of disciples who are learning from him about the faith which endures ... the faith which believes in Jesus even when it sees nothing.
These disciples will see the glory of God again and again and again and will be sustained by that glory because they believe. We are being called to be part of that band as he says now to us,
"Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?"