Jesus Increases People's Gladness

 
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Cana of Galilee. The first miracle. The first sign that Jesus is different. It isn't people's grief, but people's joy that Jesus visits. He works his first miracle to increase people's gladness. The One who loves all people loves their gladness too. For Jesus, there's no life without joy, no living without gladness. Everything that's true and good is joy and gladness and always a cup full of Jesus' forgiveness.

In Cana of Galilee, Jesus visits people who don't have enough wine for the wedding celebration. They're poor people. In fact, historians write that these people who live by Lake Gennesaret are the poorest of the poor. But that doesn't stop Jesus. Poor, unimportant people at their simple wedding celebration don't disgust Jesus. Instead, He makes abundant amounts of wine to show them why He's come: to increase their joy and gladness.

Now they drink the new wine, the wine of new, great gladness. Bride and bridegroom, guests, disciples, and Jesus' mother - all taste the new wine of gladness. That's why He's come, so don't make excuses to avoid being with Him and don’t refuse forgiveness. Don't refuse to sit with the One who's come to be like us from love and rejoices with us.

Jesus changes water into wine so that the guests' joy and gladness will not be cut short. He calls new guests too. He expects new guests to come and sit at the table over and over and over again. And when they come (and they will come) Jesus serves them new wine too, a cup full of His forgiveness.

Likewise, water jars are set up at the wedding, intended for Jewish rites of purification. But, now, they're full of new wine. That's why, at Cana, Jesus does His first miracle. The first sign that Jesus is different. He fills old jars with new wine. Purification rituals will not do anymore. Only new wine, wine that fills people with joy and gladness. Only wine that's served in a cup full of Jesus' forgiveness will do now.

Only wine that’s served in a cup full of Jesus’ forgiveness will do now.
— Donavon Riley

The religious leaders follow the old ritual, washing with water that's intended to purify them. It doesn't work. Pilate washes his hands too. It doesn't work. He can't wash his hands clean of Jesus' blood.

The only purifying that does work is purifying that comes from the new wine, the blood of Jesus shed for us for the forgiveness of sin. The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin. He does this for us because the One who loves all of us loves our gladness too. For Jesus, there's no life without joy, no living without gladness. Everything that's true and good is joy and gladness and always where Jesus is with us, always a cup full of His forgiveness.

At that time, in Cana of Galilee, Jesus visits people who don't have enough wine for the wedding celebration. Now, in the churches at this time, Jesus visits us too, to give us enough wine to cleanse us from all sin, and that's worth celebrating. Our joy and gladness is, for Him, worth every drop of His blood that's spilled for us. He spills his blood for us because He doesn't hold back, not until our joy and gladness is complete, not until we drink the cup of His forgiveness that washes away the crippling effects of sin, the torturous fear of death, and the horrifying, satanic chaos that comes close and threatens us day after day after day.

Jesus visits us, from love He comes to you to be with us, so that our celebrating never ends. He doesn't show up to increase our grief, but to increase our gladness. Jesus comes to pour the new wine of joy and gladness into us in abundance. He comes to fill our old, stony heart with the new wine of his forgiveness. We cannot stop His coming to us. Nobody can stop His coming to us. Nobody can stop Jesus from making new wine, and nothing can sour His blood, which is poured into us for the full of forgiveness of our sin.

He comes to fill our old, stony heart with the new wine of his forgiveness.
— Donavon Riley

There's no shortcut to joy, apart from Jesus. There's no hack to attain gladness, apart from Jesus. There's no way to get to what's true and good except to sit with Jesus and receive the new wine, the blood of Jesus that spills out for us, that He pours into us, for the full forgiveness of all our sin. That's why Jesus comes. That's why He calls us to come and be with Him. That's why He's with us today and always: that we may drink from the cup He holds out to us, that we may have His forgiveness poured into us that our joy and gladness, and the truth and goodness of God may be complete in us.

Much of the inspiration (and wording) for this article is culled from Fyoder Dostoevsky's meditation on the Wedding at Cana in The Brothers Karamazov, Chapter 4.

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, Online Content Manager for Higher Things, a contributing writer for 1517, Christ Hold Fast, and LOGIA. He is also the co-host of The Banned Books podcast and the As Lutheran As It Gets podcast.



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