Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What would Jesus do? He would change water into wine!

I have noted before the limits of the "What would Jesus do?" principle. It will do as an elementary principle, but it will never do as the basis for a well rounded Christology. It invests too much in Jesus as a moral example and not enough in him as Savior and Lord.

Kirsten Powers is a new Christian and, her faith having not come to full maturity, she can be excused for asking the ridiculous question, "Would Jesus bake a cake for a gay couple?" and offering an equally ridiculous answer. Skye Jethani and Jonathan Merritt, however, do not get off so lightly. They should know better, but apparently don't.

Now, I am not going to waste anyone's time considering the pro's and con's of Christians baking cakes for "gay weddings." That is a superficial issue so sadly illustrative of the superficial times in which we live. Bringing Jesus into the discussion, in the hypothetical manner in which the above mentioned authors have, only adds to the superficiality.

Jesus was a carpenter, so the question of whether or not he would bake a cake is irrelevant to the discussion. What we do know about Jesus and weddings, however, is pretty clear from Scripture.
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

(John 2:1-11 ESV)
Previously, I wrote concerning this passage:
The church’s message about salvation has often been one-dimensional focusing, in some circles, on this particular aspect while, in other circles, on that particular aspect. The result, quite predictably, is a superficial “gospel” that is more death than life.

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that salvation is not merely redemption and healing—on a superficial level—but restoration to fullness of life or, as Eugene Peterson has put it, “Life, life, and more life.”

Throughout John’s Gospel, salvation is synonymous with life. Jesus says in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” What he does at the wedding in Cana illustrates this profoundly. No one is sick, no one is hungry, and the people hosting the wedding are certainly not destitute. Yet, Jesus acts anyway, invigorating a feast that was about to die before its time with new, vibrant, abundant life.

It is crucial that the church today proclaim, in both word and deed, the entirety of the Gospel message of salvation as fullness of life. Our culture today devalues life. The life of the unborn, of the elderly, of the disabled all seem to become more expendable as they become more inconvenient. I saw an article the other day about two twins in Belgium who were already deaf and going blind. They decided to euthanize themselves because they couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing each other anymore. Wickedness masquerades as compassion when the culture of death reigns.
The Jesus we encounter in the Gospels is not merely some moral teacher whose example we seek to emulate when faced with an ethical dilemma. He is God incarnate, the Word made flesh, the Lord of creation who comes to transform us out of death into new and unending life.

So let us be done with all this superficial talk about Jesus and wedding cakes. Jesus is not interested in baking cakes. He is interested in changing water into wine!