Knysna Methodist Church – Lectionary Notes – 16.1.2022
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.
The word David uses here (hesed) which has been translated ‘mercy’ can also be translated as unfailing love or loving kindness which Davids sees God extending to His people. God’s love encompasses all creation. David uses the biggest things he can think of to describe the characteristics of God – mercy, faithfulness, righteousness and judgements are described as the heavens, clouds, great mountains and deep sea. God cares for the people and animals He has created.
Such care is a precious thing. The word hesed is repeated to emphasise the point. All people can find rest and protection in God’s shadow, just as chicks find shelter under the hen’s wings. Those who follow God find abundant provision for their needs and delight in Him. They find pleasure in both light and life. Following God leads to a life filled with joy, even though it is a dim representation of what God’s people will eventually enjoy for eternity.
David prays that God’s loving kindness will continue for all who know God. David assumes that these people are those who are ‘upright in heart’. In his mind the two go hand in hand. He ends the psalm by praying that God will protect His people from those who are wicked.
1 Corinthians 12:1-13
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 which all 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 evidence of the
in filling of the Holy Spirit and is not given to every believer).
• The gift of interpretation – enables the gift of tongues to be understood by all present.
Spiritual gifts are distributed as God wills. At baptism each person is drawn into the family of God; but each person is still unique. Paul uses the brilliant analogy of the human body to describe the Christian community. No matter who or what people are, all who believe are one in Christ and have a role to play.
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. 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 He did not address her as ‘mother’. As His ministry began, so their mother-son relationship changed. He no longer leapt to please her, but consulted God the Father first. (John 5:19; 30; and John 8:28-19).
However, 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 asked, 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 of course, 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.
The miracle resulted in a huge amount of superb wine! The couple would have been able to sell the excess after the wedding. Not only would this have been a means of provision for them, but also it would prove that it was not an event the wedding guests had imagined.
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.
Points to Ponder
• How does it make you feel to read that God delights over you?
• What struggles in life have you experienced that, looking back, God turned into blessings?
• What has happened in your life that has made you delight in God?
• Take a look at the gifts mentioned in the Corinthians passage. What gifts are you aware of amongst the members of your group? Discuss how people feel when they have their gifts named?
• What about those whose gifts may not be so obvious – to the group members or to themselves. Spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal each one’s gifts to them.
• If someone asks you to do something what sort of thing would you stop and pray about first?
• What makes you want to do this? What sort of requests do you not worry to pray about?
• How do you feel if you are pressured into doing something you are not sure about without praying?
• How could you delay your response – or refuse to do anything you feel God is not calling you to do?
• This was Jesus’ first miracle. He trusted God. How do you feel when God asks you to do something that is out of your comfort zone?
• What is your response?
• How can the group help you with any struggles you have shared in this session?