“Power, Jesus, and You”
January 17, 2016
By John PartridgeU
Scripture: Isaiah 62:1-5 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 John 2:1-11
My grandparents were marvelous gardeners. They had composted, turned the soil, and nurtured their garden for five or six decades with such care that, even when the soil was dry, you could stick your bare hand wrist deep without much effort. They had combined generations of practice and stewardship that they had learned from their family and combined it with the best that science had to offer and grew incredible, and delicious, things without chemicals, without fertilizers, and without very many weeds (and what weeds there were, didn’t last long under their watchful care). When we visited them, we intended to, and were expected to, help. But helping out came with a few rules. Grandma and Grandpa were the bosses. Whatever they said was the law. You could help but you did what they told you to do, the way that they told you to do it. Even though their house was a place of incredible love, there was a clear division of labor that was not to be toyed with.
It was good training for real life.
As we got older we discovered that work is often like that too. At most places of employment there is a division of labor. Sometimes it is a division between labor and management, or blue collar and white collar, or both, and even within those divisions there are divisions between sales and engineering, between laborers and electricians, skilled and unskilled, and lots of other divisions.
And so, as we come to faith in Jesus, it is fair for us to wonder what the division of labor might be in the church. Especially in light of last week’s message where we learned how the Spirit of God lives with us and gives us the strength to do God’s will. If we are called to do God’s work, then what is it that we are called to do? What should I expect Jesus to do, what does the pastor do, and what am I expected to do? And so this morning we’re going to talk about some of the ways that we discover a division of labor, as it were, in the Christian life.
We begin with the prophet Isaiah as God declares how he will use his people, and his blessing, to make his name knows throughout the world (Isaiah 62:1-5).
62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
2 The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah, [Hephzibah means my delight is in her.]
and your land Beulah [Beulah means married.];
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.
First off, what we just heard says that God intends to use his power to restore Israel and to vindicate his people. ‘Vindicate’ is not a word that we use a lot, but it means to clear someone of suspicion, to acquit, or exonerate them of the charges against them. And so God intends to prove that his people were right in their belief in him and remove all doubts among the nations that Israel’s God was the creator of the universe and rules over everything in it. God intends to prove to the world that he is the only true God. But, at the same time, God intends to use his people to accomplish his purpose. God intends for his people to be so obvious, so amazing, so wonderful, so blessed, and so good, that the entire world will be attracted to him because of them.
And then at the end of that passage, God speaks of his love for his people, his love for you. God says that he loves you with the love that a bridegroom has for his bride. God wants you to know that he not only loves you, but he wants to pour himself into you until he is thrilled with you.
And then in John 2:1-11, we see some of the power that Jesus wielded during his life on earth. It is power that was sometimes a little different that the power of God that we see in the Old Testament, it is power that is a little more local and more personal, but it is still power that goes beyond anything that ordinary human beings could ever hope to accomplish.
2:1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
The jars that Jesus ordered to be filled with water were not small pitchers; they were huge jars that, when full, would weigh between two hundred fifty and four hundred pounds. Even empty they were probably fifty to a hundred pounds each. It would have taken considerable time and many trips to the local well for the servants to fill six of these jars. The servants could probably only carry between two and five gallons at a time, and so to fill the 180 gallons held in these six jars would require between 36 and 90 trips to the well. And suddenly, without a word being spoken, all six of these huge jars are no longer filled with water, but wine, and not only is it wine, it is excellent wine that the steward in charge of the feast felt must be the best wine in the house. When it comes to the division of labor, Jesus does those things that no one else can do, those things that require the power of God to do, and when he does them, he does so with outrageous excellence.
And then in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, the Apostle Paul describes how God’s power comes down to us, and how we can be called to do the will of God.
12:1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
What Paul describes is often referred to as the Spiritual Gifts, but this is not an exclusive list. In other places there are other lists that include more gifts and those are also intended for use by God’s people. But here we see not only the list, but some important rules on how these gifts can, and should, be used. Paul says “4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” And so we know that we do not all receive the same gifts. Each of us is different, we were created to be different, we are built differently, gifted differently, and inclined differently.
But regardless of our differences, it is the same God that works through us and the gifts that we are given are intended to be used for the common good. God has given us different skills, abilities, inclinations, and different gifts, but that doesn’t make one gift better or more valuable than any other. That doesn’t make pastors more important than the congregation, just different. It doesn’t make prophets, or teachers, or healers, or evangelists, better than people who have different gifts, just different. Engineers and designers have no reason to design if sales people can’t sell. I may have been given a gift that allows me to teach and help lead worship, but I do not have the gifts that many of you have with music, with children, with food, hospitality, and many other things. I am not the church, I cannot to do the work of the church by myself, and no one or two of us can. What we do, we must all do together, using all of the gifts that God has poured out upon all of his people. Each one of us has a role to play regardless of how important we think that role might be. Each and every one of us is needed and the gifts of every one of us are required to get the job done.
And so, while the life of the church has an exclusive role for the power of God, and a role for the power of Jesus Christ as he does the things that none of us can do, there is also a role for each one of us. Just as we saw in Isaiah, God intends to prove to the world that he is the only true God. But, at the same time, God intends to use his people, God intends to use you, to accomplish his purpose.
God intends for us to be so obvious, so amazing, so wonderful, and so good, that the entire world will be attracted to him because of us.
No one of us is more important than any other.
No one of us is unnecessary.
To do the work that God has prepared for us will require the efforts of all of us, using all of our gifts, working together.
Were you blessed in some way by reading this message?
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