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Have you ever read your Bible and missed the common thread tying several passages together because the sections have different settings?
In addition, the added section headings can help us see the main point when we’re reading through Scripture, but sometimes they can break up an even bigger theme and make us miss it altogether.
Part of my reading today was from the book of John. It started at the beginning of Chapter 2 with the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned the water into wine. It then went through the cleansing of the Temple, his conversation with Nicodemus, and finished with John’s witness that Jesus was the Messiah sent by God at the end of Chapter 3.
Here’s the thread I found winding through both chapters.
Ceremonial Water Changed to Wedding Wine
Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.
When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”John 2:6-10 NLT
The water Jesus used had been set apart for a purpose. It was separated from regular old ordinary water, and was used for purification. It was in a sense “holy water.”
Jesus took this special water and turned it into wine for a party. He removed the separation between the holy and the common.
Separation Changed to Salvation
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”John 3:16-17
Because of sin, everyone has been separated from God. None of us is perfect, or even good enough, to approach God on our own.
Jesus didn’t come to save a few and rescue them from this world. He came to save everyone who believes. He came to reconcile us back to God.
“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).
Jesus did not come to further separate the holy from the unholy, He came to sanctify and reconcile all to God!
So What Now?
Should this reconciliation make a difference in the life we live today?
There’s more to this thread that winds through John 2 and 3.
Cleansing the Temple
In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”John 2:14-16
Followers of Christ have the distinct role of being individual temples of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life” (John 3:6).
Later on Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Corinth, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Our personal lives show who or what we’re really living for. Of course there will be moments when we trip and fall–there is only One perfect person, and none of us fits the bill!
But there should be signs of growth toward deeper love for God and more active love for others as we learn to clean up our temple and submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
Being Changed to Doing
But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. (Jesus)John 3:21
Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment. (John the Baptist)John 3:36b
How we live and what we do matters. If we really are living for God, our light should be shining brightly for the world to see!
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14-16).
We are not called to separate ourselves completely from the world, living in caves out in the desert. We are called to shine God’s light out into the world where we live, drawing others to Him through word and action.
We are separate and set apart because we follow Christ, but we are not separated. We have a job to do: we have been called to share His message of reconciliation. We carry His light into the darkness, living as His servants in every area of our lives.
Not just at church, but at the grocery store, at the gas station, at the bus stop, at the movie theater, at the gym, at the restaurant . . . wherever we go, we are to live for Him and carry His light!
Now it’s your turn!
Are there things in your life taking up time, space and attention that should be set aside for God instead? Is God truly Lord and Master of your life, or is He just a side hobby?
How do you shine His light in the relationships you find yourself in on a daily basis?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these chapters from John’s gospel!
One of the ways we can interact more deeply with the Bible when we read is by taking the time to write out specific verses that impact us.
I have recently joined two groups via Facebook that encourage writing out Scripture verses, each with a different focus. I will share them with you and invite you along for the journeys if you’re interested!Continue reading Scripture Writing Resources