In Cana of Galilee, about 2000 years ago, there was a wedding, which is documented in John chapter 2. At this wedding, Mary, the mother of Jesus was there and the Bible tells us that Jesus and His disciples were invited. Mary, who was probably helping out, noticed that the wine had ran out. As we all know she turned to Jesus and told Him this. Jesus responded, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” At this point, I almost imagine Mary smiling at Jesus, confident that He will not forget the fifth commandment. She then turned to the servants at the wedding and said, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Such powerful words that every Christian should live by. But are we? Some of us have opted to pick and choose what to believe, while others in Christendom have completely abandoned His commands, this article highlights some of the areas where we often fail to obey our Lord:
1) Keeping the Sabbath
This is the very purpose for the video above, which calls us all to remember the Sabbath. There are absolutely no biblical reasons against keeping the Sabbath, rather there are several which teaches against it. Jesus by His very words says:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill it.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
We do not have nine commandments; we have ten! The very fact that God wrote these commandments on stone testify that they were meant to be kept throughout time. If we understand that we should obey the sixth commandment and not commit murder, and are horrified when some individuals slaughter others on the news, then how can we possibly be justified in abandoning the fourth commandment and even making Sunday the new Sabbath day. Some Christians believe that Jesus’ death had abolished the law but no, what Paul referred to as “the law,” was rather the mosaic laws for sacrifices and burnt offerings and this is made clear in the following passages:
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
First of all, we learn that God never found pleasure in sacrifices and burnt offerings and I think that His displeasure was actually reflected when He spoke from the burning flames, which refused to consume the bush (Exodus 3:3) – which some Bible scholars believe was a thorny desert bush exactly like the thorns God cursed the ground with, due to original sin (Genesis 3:18). The bush was a symbol for sin, while the fire was God’s wrath – which was not being quenched (Ezekiel 38:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:8). Of course we also see that Paul defines the “law” not as the ten commandments but rather the laws on sacrifice and offerings for sins. Paul goes on to say in Hebrews 10:9, that Jesus “taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” Well, what was the first? The first was what Paul described as “…Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings…” What was the second that Jesus established? The second was an “offering for sin.” So, Jesus did not come to abolish the Law to give us Grace, as the Grace teachers on television like to tell us, – humanity always had Grace, after all it is by God’s grace that Jesus died for our sins – Jesus came to end the need for us to uphold the laws of sacrifice and burnt offerings for sin. These sacrificial laws, which were written on perishable paper, were what Paul had been referring to as “the law” in his epistles; not the ten commandments, written on stone, which was why Paul was able to confidently say, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).”
How important was keeping God’s commandments to Jesus? Here is what He thinks:
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
If we truly love Christ then we would obey Him. I am sure that neither I nor this video may stir some of consciences of those who might read this, so I will end this point with one last statement – I do not want my prayers to be an abomination:
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
2) Lack of Fasting
Fasting should be a very important part of the Christian’s walk with Jesus Christ. It may be a surprise to you that soon after Jesus gave us the “Our Father” prayer and taught us how to pray in Matthew 6, He immediately began to discus the best fasting practices that we should keep:
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Note well that Jesus did not say “if you fast,” He said, “when you fast” as if He actually expects us all to fast, and I think it was no accident that He spoke on fasting after the prayer that He gave us, this shows how important fasting should be to our prayer lives. According to the verses above, when we fast, we should not look sad or starved to make it clear to others that we are fasting. Those who do so, are actually looking for the admiration of other men while they fast, and as such, they “have their reward.” I am sure that you are well aware that some Christian denominations and even some of those of the Islamic and Hindu faiths actually have time periods dedicated to fasting. Is the fasting done by these people acceptable to God? The Christians who fast at fixed times all declare to the world that they are entering their fasting period, so they have already received their reward as Jesus says. The other world religions fast in vain, as they do so to demons – even the Muslims, the scriptures make it clear:
1 Corinthians 10:20
But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
So why is it important to humble ourselves before God? Again the scriptures makes it clear that God only hears the cries of the humble:
LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
So, I hope that you understand now, that fasting is not some magic spell to force God to answer us, but rather it helps to humble ourselves so that we can be prepared to approach God in prayer. Some Christians like to say that they would fast only if God tells them to, but D. L. Moody, a famous evangelist, wonderfully explained, “If you say, ‘I will fast when God lays it on my heart,’ you never will. You are too cold and indifferent to take the yoke upon you.” With that in mind, I will ask the question: Are you hungry for God? Before you answer that question, I will close with this quote from John Piper, a Christian theologian, “The absence of fasting is the measure of our contentment with the absence of Christ.”
3) Loving Traditions Rather Than God’s Commandments
Christendom is so divided today and I believe that it is our obsession with traditions which deserves some of the blame. Jesus, our Master and Teacher, makes it clear that He hates tradition:
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Many of us have become complacent where the commandments of God is concerned, we have reached a place where it is perfectly fine to bow down to idols and graven images when the Bible makes it clear, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images (Isaiah 42:8).” Also what is unknown to many is that Jesus actually condemns the use of repetitive prayers and contemplative prayers – both practices are becoming more and more popular:
Matthew 6:7, 8
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
The more surprising thing about Matthew 6:7 is that Jesus made that remark immediately before He gave us the famous “Our Father Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-15. I am absolutely convinced that our Lord knew that in the future, some of His children would abuse this prayer among others and thus He saw it fit to give us this warning. I am sure that some undoubtedly will object to this interpretation claiming, “My prayer to God is not vain repetitions!” Before I answer that, do you know that many of the false religions around the world use prayer beads and also pray repetitive prayers? This is absolutely true! Muslims use prayer beads called the masbaha, tasbih or sibha. Hindus also use prayer beads called the japa mala. Buddhist tend to use either the juzu, shu zhu or seik badi and even the Baha’i faith uses prayer beads. All of them say repetitive prayers or words to each bead of their prayer beads. Many of these practices were established before the founding of Christianity! As such one is forced to conclude that the use of prayer beads and reciting repetitive prayers are actually very pagan practices and God commands us to never follow the ways of the heathen:
Deuteronomy 12:30, 31
Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
If you are involved in this particular tradition and refuse to give it up, I would like to at least warn you, even more of how serious this matter is in God’s eyes, “For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy…(Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16).” Being holy means being separate and set apart, as such, the similarity between the repetitive prayers and use of prayer beads in some Christian denominations to the traditions of the world should raise red flags. These red flags should provoke us to have faith in God rather than faith in our Faith.
As you may see now, there is absolutely no biblical supports for many of the traditions which we hold onto; rather the Bible seems to go against these traditions. Furthermore, the Bible actually makes it clear that it has all that we need for salvation:
Isaiah 8:20, 22
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
2 Timothy 3:16, 17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Traditions are irrelevant and I think this is clearly evident in the life of Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus said while He was tempted by Satan, during His fast in the wilderness? Each and every time that Satan tempted Him, He declared, “It is written!” and then would proceed to quote verses from the scriptures! Note well, Jesus never leaned on tradition to fight off Satan, nor did He use some formulated ritual; His hope was in the scriptures, to defend Himself against the temptations. I think that the Bible consistently shows that Jesus agrees with the Sola scriptura doctrine! If we truly call ourselves Christ followers, then we too would follow in His footsteps and lean only on the holy scriptures, and not add words to them in the form of tradition:
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
What is the Ultimate Lesson Behind Jesus’ First Miracle at the Wedding of Cana?
Charles Spurgeon, one of the most influential preachers of recent memory, when asked about the fundamental lesson behind this miracle answered in this way,
“…whenever we get a command from Christ it is always wisdom to carry it out zealously. He said, ‘Fill the waterpots with water,’ and they filled them up to the brim. You know there is a way of filling a waterpot, and there is another way of filling it. It is full, and you cannot heap it up; but still you can fill it up till it begins almost to run over: the liquid trembles as if it must surely fall in a crystal cascade. It is a filling fullness. In fulfilling Christ’s commands, my dear brethren and sisters, let us go to their widest extent: let us fill them up to the brim. If it is ‘Believe,’ oh, believe Him with all your might; trust Him with your whole heart. If it is ‘Preach the gospel,’ preach it in season and out of season; and preach the gospel—the whole of it. Fill it up to the brim…If you are to repent, ask to have a hearty and a deep repentance—full to the brim. If you are to believe, ask to have an intense, absolute, childlike dependence, that your faith may be full to the brim. If you are bidden pray, pray mightily: fill the vessel of prayer up to the brim. If you are to search the Scriptures for blessing, search them from end to end: fill the Bible-reading vessel up to the brim. Christ’s commands are never meant to be done in a half-hearted manner. Let us throw our whole soul into whatever He commands us, even though, as yet, we cannot see the reason why He has set us the task. Christ’s commands should be fulfilled with enthusiasm, and carried out to the extreme, if extreme be possible.”
I could not have said it any better than Charles just did! Let us go out and obey whatever God tells us to the uttermost! And await that glorious day when He tells us, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”