One of my favourite songs contains a chorus which includes the phrase “It always makes a difference when Jesus passes by…” The message of the song is derived from specific instances in the life of Jesus. The brief meditation I share with you here is based upon a specific instance from the life of Jesus with suggestions as to how He made a difference and how we may try to follow His example.

We are all familiar with the story of the wedding in Cana of Galilee in John chapter 2. Our daughter was married in 2002 and I remember the effort we made and if I were honest, the money spent, to try and make sure the wedding guests were comfortable and would enjoy their meal.  In the Cana wedding the guests were not unhappy with the wine they had been served and nor did they expect better, however part way through the Cana celebration it was discovered the wine had run out. Jesus was approached and on His direction several large water pots were filled with water from which He then instructed it be drawn and taken to the master of ceremonies. The master of ceremonies tasted it and said “usually a host serves the best wine first and then when everyone is full (drunk) and doesn’t care he brings out the least expensive wines but you have kept the best wine until now”. Even today we hear that phrase “keeping the best wine until last” Now for most people they will refer to this instance as Jesus changing water into wine – which is the literal truth — however I suggest the real central truth has to do with the presence of Jesus making a difference.

In this miracle Jesus gave above the expectations of those who asked Him, however I believe it goes beyond even expectations Jesus turned emptiness into fullnessthis speaks to me about purpose.

Even with all the abundance of wealth in the developed world in which we are privileged to live, many people are discontented and empty. It is true of course that in order to live if we are able bodied and of working age we are expected to earn a living and pay our way and it is easy at times to think that all we seem to do is work to pay bills!! Perhaps that is why for so many a windfall on a lottery seems to be the answer.

Where does this emptiness come from? Why is it that even with material prosperity our lives can run on empty? If we try to live beyond our financial means that can certainly lead to financial emptiness but the struggle to deal with the consequences also affects the emotions.

Emptiness may occur at times because the pressures or problems of life (from which believers are not exempted) leave us drained. I know family members and friends who have been unfortunate to experience marital difficulties that have led them through a period of emptiness.

The story of the first miracle of Jesus reminds me that even with the very best preparation we may come against a situation for which we are not prepared and it may result in emptiness.

Speaking of Himself Jesus said “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly”

The term “more abundantly” speaks to me about fullness and I believe it applies more to the quality of our inner (Spirit) life than the material, physical or financial elements of life. The water pots Jesus used had been set aside for a specific purpose, they were meant to hold water. God’s Word reminds me I am not the product of some big bang or millions of years of evolution Genesis 2 v 7 “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life and man became a living soul”

We are a unique creation, God created us with the purpose of having His life within us but we like to go our own way and yet our own efforts do not lead to the fullness of purpose God has for us.

For those who have entered into a personal walk of faith knowing we are saved by grace, we know how the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit makes a difference in our lives even and especially in those times when as the hymn writer says “problems of life my spirit may assail”. This difference is not a matter of sinless perfection, because our standing before the Lord is only in Christ’s perfection. Nor do not set ourselves above those who do not share our scriptural faith or principles. As we live from day to day Jesus asks us with the aid of the Holy Spirit to try and be a difference in the world amongst those with whom we live and work. It challenges me to have a different perspective (for me this means trying to see life from God’s view); a different attitude (for me this means trying to walk in love); a different respect for others (for me this means trying to live with a ‘servant heart’ towards others). I find this is a daily work. I have to say I don’t always get it right, but I believe with the enabling of the Holy Spirit I need to keep trying to make a difference.

Brian Bell

 

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