Scripture

Isaiah 62:1-5;

1 Corinthians 12:1-11;

John 2:1-11

Open your mind and heart as you read the passages of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

 

 

Observation

Isaiah 62:1-5

Isaiah prophesied about the time when Jerusalem would be deserted as the Babylonians took the city’s inhabitants into captivity. But he speaks words of comfort for he assures the people that God will not rest until Jerusalem is restored. The inclusion of Zion means that this prophecy applies to all God’s people including, as Isaiah states in the next verse, those who are not Jews. Everyone will see God’s glory through what He has done for Jerusalem.

The city will have a new name for it will be transformed, as are all who come into the Kingdom of God. Jerusalem will be a crown of glory for God and, by implication, so will all those who are called His people. It is not easy to comprehend just how precious we are to God. The times of struggle in life will pass and people will one day understand how they delight God for they will experience in full His presence and love, just as a wife does in the presence and love of her husband. (Beulah means married). This is how Christ feels about His Bride, the Church and He rejoices over His people.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

In this section of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians Paul writes about the spiritual gifts that God uses to bless and grow His people. Many people had little knowledge of what these gifts meant, especially those who were of a pagan background where they were often linked to superstitious practices. Paul does not want Christians to be ignorant in this regard.

The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, and any gifts He gives will do the same. In order to identify whether a gift is genuine, it is necessary to assess whether it brings glory to Jesus or not. The Holy Spirit is the source of the various spiritual gifts, all of which serve and honour God and which are given for the building up of God’s people. Every gift, not matter what it is, should be respected as originating from God Himself.

The Holy Spirit is always present in a believer’s life, whether they are using gifts at any moment or not. The gifts Paul mentions here are:

  • The word of knowledge – a supernatural awareness of something that can otherwise not be known.
  • Faith – whilst all Christ-followers have faith, this gift is the supernatural ability to trust God in any and all circumstances.
  • Healing – can be given or received as both a single event or repeatedly as desired by God.
  • Working of miracles – when the laws of nature are set aside and the Holy Spirit works in power through someone whom He prompts to take action.
  • Prophecy – speaking words about current or future situations at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
  • Discerning of spirits – the ability to differentiate between good and false doctrine.
  • The gift of tongues – a personal prayer language given by God. It may occur in public worship but then needs to be accompanied by the gift of interpretation. (The gift of tongues is not the only evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit).
  • The gift of interpretation – enables the gift of tongues to be understood by all present.

Spiritual gifts are distributed as God wills.

John 2:1-11

A Jewish wedding is a fantastic party! Jesus was welcomed at parties. He didn’t dampen the mood but enjoyed Himself. His presence at this wedding implies His blessing on the marriage. He made a huge difference to the couple – their wedding would have been a social disaster, bringing shame on the family for a long time, if He had not been there to help them. Rabbis of the day considered wine to be a symbol of joy. For a family to run out of wine at a wedding feast did not bode well for the future.

His mother also attended. Mary probably had a suspicion that Jesus’ public ministry was about to start. There had been signs – a dove and the voice of God at His baptism; the 40-day long trial in the desert as He prepared Himself for what lay ahead; the gathering of a group of disciples to travel with Him.

Jesus’ response to Mary was not an insult or rejection. Rather, the word ‘woman’ can be translated as ‘lady’. It is interesting to note that the only other time He called her ‘woman’ was when He looked down from the cross and saw her standing there watching Him with John.

Mary had no doubt that Jesus would do as she asked in His own way, in His own time, so she told the servants to follow His orders.

Jesus used the things that were around. The six stone pots would have held water for purification purposes. Jesus asked the servants to fill them. The men did exactly as He said, filling them to the brim – so the wedding was blessed to the maximum. In this way, no one could say that Jesus added anything to the water. Rather He transformed the liquid contained in the pots.

With no knowledge of what was to happen, the servants again obeyed when Jesus told them to draw some water and take it to the master of the feast. (It might have been bad news for them if they took the master water. But in faith they obeyed as Mary had instructed). So when the miracle became evident, the servants knew the enormity of what had happened. Jesus had used no other means than His will to make the change. If He could transform water into wine, He could do other miraculous acts too.

For John, the Gospel writer, every miracle Jesus did was a sign of His divinity, as he states in John 20:30-31. (The other signs can be found in John 4:46-54; 5:1-15; 6:1-14; 15-21; 9:1-12; 11:1-44). The glory of Jesus is found in His compassion – and the disciples’ faith in Him strengthened.

After the wedding Jesus went home to Capernaum where His family seemed to be living at that time.

Icebreaker:

Are you more comfortable listening or talking? What is your biggest challenge when listening (if you are a talker) or talking (if you are a listener)?

Application

  • How goes it with your soul today? Are you tired, worn out, depressed, concerned about the future? Or are you upbeat, excited about this year and the opportunities it holds, eager to get started? Briefly share with one another how you are feeling.
  • What difference does it make to your emotions to read that God rejoices over you?
  • How have your feelings about your relationship with Jesus changed since you first became a Christian? Is the original enthusiasm still there? Has it deepened or flattened out? What did you do then that you don’t do now? What do you do now that you didn’t do then in regard to your relationship with Him?
  • How often do you stop and listen to God? What makes this important to you – or what holds you back from spending time doing this?
  • As you practice the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you, how often do you stop and ask those whom you are serving what they need? When you do this do you listen to their answer? Does their response influence how you serve them?
  • The sermon was designed to challenge those who listened to it. Spend some time now in silence whilst still together. Individually, in the silence, choose one of the issues that have been discussed in this session and ask God what He wants to say to you, personally, about it. After a while, come out of the silence and share God’s words with the rest of the group.
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Prayer

Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Service

Be accountable to one another and spend time listening to God. Enquire too of those you serve how you can serve them more effectively, compassionately, lovingly. Put the responses you receive from God and others into practice. Watch what happens to your ministry and report back in a week or so to the group.

Bibliography

Isaiah Chapter 62

1 Corinthians Chapter 12

John Chapter 2

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