Friday, February 28, 2014

"Discipling the Powerful"

Insights #9 March 1, 2014
First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Discipling the Powerful
For the week of March 1, 2014
This week we are considering the theme of discipling the powerful, that is, those in powerful positions. Jesus instructed the eleven disciples that they were to "make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19, ASV). Certainly this would include any and all classes that were willing to learn the lessons of the kingdom of heaven, under whose authority and name such discipling was to be conducted (verses 18 and 19). Thus, though the idea of discipling a person of power can be intimidating, one can confidently and calmly undertake to carry out that commission knowing that it comes from the highest power and authority in existence, and he or she is simply an agent or ambassador of that higher power.

It appears that when we consider the stories and counsels of Scripture illustrating this theme, we note that the witnesses that are recorded there carried this conviction of a higher power, with a working understanding of the meekness and lowliness that such a responsibility includes, since those qualities were the trademark of true power and greatness (Matt. 11:29, 30). From that vantage point, God's agents in scripture were able to appeal to the powerful of earth, helping them to see the bigger picture (God is really in charge), modeling for them a submissive attitude (so those in power could see how to submit to God), treating them respectfully (as God's image required), walking with them in the challenges they faced learning these lessons, and willing to suffer personal loss (even at the hands of those in power) to illustrate to them what the greater values are (that giving is more important, and more powerful, than taking).

Of the many stories we could review in sacred history, consider briefly the stories below.

Daniel and the three Hebrews with Nebuchadnezzar
The context of why Daniel and his three friends were in Babylon is the frame that connects the story in Daniel 1 with the last years of Judah's existence, beginning with the great repentance, revival and reformation of King Josiah, based on the book of the law and the sanctuary service. There are vital lessons here that we must learn as end-time witnesses, to have an "excellent spirit" (Dan. 5:13; 6:3; compare Prov. 17:27) in the midst of Babylon and beyond. The assurance the stories from Daniel's time gives us, is that God can use us to reach the powerful in Babylon with the message of the everlasting kingdom whose trademark is humility, whose King is the creator, and whose way is in the sanctuary (Psa. 77:13).

Jesus and the Jewish leaders
Jesus early learned His higher identity (Luke 2:49), which was affirmed at the beginning of His public ministry (Matt. 3:17). That gave Him a higher commission that no earthly religious or civil leader in power could control or supersede. While His mission was on a collision course with their power, it was mostly because the power of heaven is more effective, through its humility and spirit of giving, in gaining a deep and lasting allegiance, which likewise lifted one above the negative control of earthly powers. At the same time, Jesus showed that the spirit of heaven, in its unselfishness, shows respect to those in power, calling them also to join the higher allegiance. Thus Jesus would affirm the position of religious leaders, indeed, had to affirm that authority, before unmasking their spiritual poverty (Matt. 23:2, 3). This was necessary, otherwise He would have fomented rebellion, which is opposite of the spirit of heaven. Lucifer was expelled because of that spirit.

Jesus and the Romans
Jesus' unselfish authority, manifested through the power of His word in healing and teaching, reached out to a Roman military leader, a man thoroughly acquainted with Roman authority, and kindled a responsive, humble faith in his heart. Jesus' commendation of that faith contrasted it with the unbelief of His own people (even His disciples; Matt. 8:10; compare 8:26).

Jesus affirmed Caesar's rights, but made them separate (and by implication, subservient) to God's (Matt. 12:17). When Pilate tried to impress Jesus with his authority, Jesus replied to him with respect, but clearly witnessing to the higher authority. "Thou couldest have no power [authority] at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." (John 19:11). Jesus was not ignorant of the Roman system or its principles, but His approach in winning disciples was based not on attacking error but witnessing to the truth. This is vitally important in reaching the powerful.

"The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses,--extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet the Saviour attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart."  (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 509.3; emphasis supplied)

The Disciples and Jewish leaders
An error in discipling powerful people is seeking their cooperation in God's work when they have no understanding or experience in the principles of His kingdom. The disciples learned this painful lesson through Judas' course.

"The disciples had been much disappointed that Jesus had not tried to secure the co-operation of the leaders in Israel. They felt that it was a mistake not to strengthen His cause by securing the support of these influential men. If He had repulsed Judas, they would, in their own minds, have questioned the wisdom of their Master. The after history of Judas would show them the danger of allowing any worldly consideration to have weight in deciding the fitness of men for the work of God. The co-operation of such men as the disciples were anxious to secure would have betrayed the work into the hands of its worst enemies." (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 294.2)

Jesus avoided this error, as well as that of exposing Himself to "useless conflict" with those in power (Ibid, p. 450.1). While He would avoid conflict if at all possible, He was ever open to the individual seeker, even "a master of Israel." (John 3:11).

The Disciples and the Romans
Peter had a special vision to prepare him to treat another Roman centurion with the openness and respect that Jesus showed to the earlier centurion. He testified to the corporate nature of the gospel message (Acts 10:28, 34, 35), though he still struggled at times with the prejudice that is a direct attack on the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2:11-14).

Saul of Tarsus went from a powerful persecutor to Paul the apostle who shared before many people of power the testimony of his learning the higher power of the gospel in his encounter with Jesus. He wrote to the believers in Rome of the importance of respecting authority, framing the godly attitude with the verb "be subject unto" (Rom. 13:1) which was first used in the New Testament for Jesus' relating to His parents. It means "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden" (Thayer). Can we help carry the burdens of the powerful? In this passage Paul then used the same verb "render" that Jesus did of Caesar (Rom. 13:7).  Paul lived his own advice, with his personal testimony in Rome winning some of Caesar's own household (Phil. 4:22), and even making the last appeal Nero would experience (Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 496.1&2). God's witness reaches the highest levels of earthly power.

The lesson should be clear. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." (Luke 16:10). The preparation for witnessing to, and discipling, the powerful, is effectively ministering to the weak and lowly. For the words of Mordecai to Esther applies to you, dear reader. "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14). The powerful are awaiting your witness.
-Fred Bischoff

The witness to those in power includes these lessons from Adventist history--

We have men placed over us for rulers, and laws to govern the people. Were it not for these laws, the condition of the world would be worse than it is now. Some of these laws are good, others are bad. The bad have been increasing, and we are yet to be brought into strait places. But God will sustain His people in being firm and living up to the principles of His word. When the laws of men conflict with the word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be. The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful master, and man has no right to take God's workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own.  (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 201.2). [1859; the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850.]

Accordingly, Christ says in another place, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." Matt. 22:21. In that time the head of the Roman Empire, the personification of the world's power, was Caesar. And in that Roman world-system it was claimed that whatsoever was Caesar's was God's; because to all the people of that world-system Caesar was God. He was set before the people as God; the people were required to worship him as God; incense was offered to his image as to God. In that system the State was divine, and Caesar was the State. Therefore that system was essentially a union of religion and the State.
In view of this, when Jesus said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's," He denied to Caesar, and so to the State, every attribute, or even claim, of divinity. He showed that another than Caesar is God. Thus He entirely separated Caesar and God. He entirely separated between the things which are due to Caesar and those which are due to God. The things that are due to Caesar are not to be rendered to God. The things due to God are not to be rendered to Caesar. These are two distinct realms, two distinct personages, and two distinct fields of duty. Therefore, in these words Jesus taught as plainly as it is possible to do, the complete separation of religion and the State; that no State can ever rightly require anything that is due to God; and that when it is required by the State, it is not to be rendered. (A. T. Jones, Christian Patriotism, pp. 63.2, 64.1) [1900]

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"With the Rich and Famous"

Insights #8 Feb. 22, 2014
First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"With the Rich and Famous"
For the week of February 22, 2014
This week’s Sabbath School lesson focuses on money.  It examines how men and woman have related to money and wealth down through the ages.  The lesson points out, quite accurately, that money in itself is not described as a problem in the Bible.  But problems arise with many because they lose their focus on Christ and relate to their wealth in spiritually disastrous ways.  “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).  This need not be the case and the Bible provides several examples of individuals who succeeded in “keeping their heads” and maintaining a proper devotion to God, while possessing great monetary wealth.  They never allow wealth to become an idol.

Nicodemus was a wealthy man with some degree of influence because of his position as a teacher in Israel.  But Nicodemus had some very significant spiritual weaknesses.  Evidently, seeking to protect his influence, he sought an audience with Christ by night.  He wanted to learn of Christ without risking personal embarrassment and loss of standing in the minds of his fellow Pharisees in Israel.

Jesus understood what Nicodemus was seeking and He understood what Nicodemus needed.  So He cut to the chase, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Surely Nicodemus understood what Jesus meant.  The analogy of being “born again” of the Spirit was not unknown to the Jews.  But Nicodemus was offended and “instinctively . . . rebelled against any suggestion that knowledgeable Israelites like himself should require conversion” (SS Bible Study Guide,Discipleship, p. 66).

Although Nicodemus may have understood Christ’s words in using this metaphor, one wonders whether he understood the true meaning behind what Christ was saying.   What does it mean to be “born of the Spirit”?  The subject of the Holy Spirit is surrounded by controversy within Adventism today.  There are some who deny that the Holy Spirit is a person.  Yet, even some of those who acknowledge the full personhood of the Spirit are at a loss as to what it means to be “born of the Spirit.”

Jesus said, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:6-7).  Therefore, we must be spirit before we can successfully walk in the Spirit.  So we want to understand how does one who is born of “flesh” become “spirit”?  What do these metaphors really mean?  What does it mean to be “born again”?

Before one can be born again one must die.  The life that is flesh must die before a new spiritual life can begin.  Paul describes how this happens.  “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).  In order for our old self to die, we must “see” something that many have never seen before.  We must “see” the cross of Christ and understand what happened there.

It is not too late to see it.  Christ was crucified more than two thousand years ago, yet we can see that event today.  We must see it, not with the eye of flesh, but with the eye of faith.  And we must not only “see” the cross, we must see Christ crucified for us.  When our spiritual eyes are opened to the reality of the Christ crucified, and we by faith accept our position “in Christ,” we are then experiencing what Paul described.  We are crucified with Christ.

To see the cross is to understand something of the horror of great darkness that overtook Christ in the garden of Gethsemane.  It is to sense His dread of the coming conflict with the powers of darkness.  It is to understand His fear as He contemplated the weakness of His humanity and the risk of defeat at the hand of Satan.  To “see” the cross is to begin to understand the consternation which filled the soul of the Son of God when on Calvary in His hour of “supreme anguish,” His Father “forsook” Him.  To “see” the cross is to understand what “consternation” is.

Consternation is not a word that we use often in today’s world.  The servant of the Lord uses it when describing the cross of Christ.

“Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation.  . . . The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 754).

What does that term “consternation” mean?  One must go back to the 1913 edition of Webster’s dictionary to find a definition which says:

Amazement or horror that confounds the faculties, and incapacitates for reflection; terror, combined with amazement; dismay.

But “dismay” is not a term used very often today either.  It means:

To disable with alarm or apprehensions; to depress the spirits or courage of; to deprive of firmness and energy through fear; to daunt; to appall; to terrify.

Understanding these terms in connection with the experience of Christ at Calvary, we begin to “see” the cross.  We begin to sense its grand dimensions.  And as we identify with Christ there, we are born of the Spirit.

Being born thus, nothing else matters.  Our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations, all shrink in significance in the light that shines from the cross of Christ.  Our reputations, our egos, our sinful self, all become of no consequence, when we accept our death with Christ at his cross.  Then we understand the words of the apostle Paul when he said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

We must be born again.  With the new birth we find joy, and hope, and peace, perhaps for the first time in our lives.  This is what Christ was inviting Nicodemus to, that night so long ago.  Nicodemus eventually responded to the call.  He used his wealth to sustain the infant church, after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.  What is your response to Christ’s invitation today?
-K. Mark Duncan

Raul Diaz

Friday, February 14, 2014

Insights #7 Feb. 15, 2014

Insights #7 Feb. 15, 2014
First Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Jesus and the Social Outcasts"
For the week of February 15, 2014

"Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinnerscame and sat down with Him and His disciples."  Matt.9:10 (NKJV)

"...A friend of publicans and sinners."  Matt.11:19  (NKJV)

"But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, 'Why does he eat with such scum?'"  Mark 2:16 (NLT)

"Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him."  Lk 15:1 (NKJV)

"And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery . . .  (Jesus) said unto her, 'Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?'  She said, 'No man, Lord.' And Jesus said unto her, 'Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.'"  Jn.8:3,10,11  (KJV)

"The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)"  Jn. 4:9 (NIV)

"The Pharisees beheld Christ sitting and eating with publicans and sinners. He was calm and self-possessed, kind, courteous, and friendly; and while they could not but admire the picture presented, it was so unlike their own course of action that they could not endure the sight. The haughty Pharisees exalted themselves, and depreciated those who had not been blessed with such privileges and light as they themselves had had. They hated and despised the publicans and sinners. Yet in the sight of God their guilt was the greater. Heaven's light was flashing across their pathway, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it;' but they spurned the gift. Turning to the disciples of Christ, they said, 'Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?'" {ST, June 23, 1898 par. 5}

"We need more of Christlike sympathy; not merely sympathy for those who appear to us to be faultless, but sympathy for poor, suffering, struggling souls, who are often overtaken in fault, sinning and repenting, tempted and discouraged. We are to go to our fellow men, touched, like our merciful High Priest, with the feeling of their infirmities.  It was the outcast, the publican and sinner, the despised of the nations that Christ called and by His loving-kindness compelled to come unto Him. The one class that He would never countenance was those who stood apart in their self-esteem and looked down upon others."  {MH 164.1-2}

Can the principles of the 1888 message make us more like Jesus, so that we will relate to those who would generally be considered "social outcasts" in the same way that He did?  Or is the 1888 message primarily about getting our theological ducks in order?  Do the truths of the 1888 message actually teach us, and move us, towards relating to ALL, particularly the "social outcasts," with the same warmth and benevolence and care and courtesy as our Savior Jesus Christ did?  Right theology, that doesn’t lead to a changed life, is like being a Nobel prize winning mathematician who can’t figure out how to balance his personal budget.

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones.  This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure."  {TM 91.2}

"It clearly appears that the 1888 message as given by Jones and Waggoner was intended to reproduce the righteousness of Christ in our experience.  A righteousness that would clearly include – if it is righteousness at all – a love and concern for the 'social outcasts.'" 
The famous E G White quote above ends with the following verse from 1 Jn. 4:7-11: 

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us."  {TM 94.2}

Let’s look at how the truths of the 1888 message, move us to relate to the “social outcasts” more and more as Christ did:

1.  Corporate Repentance – If we are all "made of the same dough", and if as Protestant Reformer John Bradford said, "there but for the grace of God go I," then it is clear that we by nature are no different than any social outcast.  By the fortunes of birth, circumstances, and also our own personal choices, we are indebted to those who have been less fortunate than ourselves.  Just as Jesus repented in our behalf (GCB, April 4, 1901 par. 15), we are to feel repentance on the behalf of others.  "As we see souls out of Christ, we are to put ourselves in their place, and in their behalf feel repentance before God, resting not until we bring them to repentance."  {7BC 960.2}

2.  The Nature of Christ – If the humility of God led Jesus to take our fallen sinful flesh, then how could we not follow in His footsteps and humble ourselves to befriend and aid our fellow social outcast human beings.  Clearly the condescension of Christ from his position in heaven with a perfect nature to become one with FALLEN man by taking our nature, is nothing compared to our leaving whatever our comfort zone might be to reach out in care and assistance to the "social outcasts" and unfortunate around us.  If He could come that far for us, we can be all the more motivated to extend ourselves for the "social outcast."

3.  Legal Justification – If God has given life and forgiveness to the whole world, from the most wealthy and educated to the poorest and least successful, then it must be the case that we can give to ALL the hand of acceptance and fellowship and respect.  God has imbued ALL mankind with the dignity and value expressed in the gift of His Son.  Can we not then view them ALL with that same dignity and value that God has instilled in them.  If we can see the world as God sees it –every individual – then we will relate to them as God has related to them, and as He has related to us.

4.  The Seeking Shepherd – Just as God saw us lost and damaged, and didn’t wait for us to come in search of Him before He aided us, so we are to emulate God, and go in search of the flotsam and jetsam of this world, not waiting for them to come to us for assistance, but to go in search of them.  The lost coin and lost sheep will never make it home unless they are searched for and pursued and carried back home.  The "social outcasts" in our world need this same searching for, pursuing, and bringing back home.

5.  The New Covenant – The "social outcasts" of our world need to hear the good news that God is not requesting from them that they make promises to Him.  They need to understand and believe that He is only asking them to believe His promises to them.  Whether it is alcohol or substance abuse, or sexual sin, or criminal history, or financial mismanagement, or whatever the "besetting sin" is, the solution is to BELIEVE the goodness of God and His promises to each of us.  And that believe will access the power of God to produce victory and success in the Christian life.  It truly is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Rom.2:4).  And that is the good news that the "social outcast" needs to hear.
And we could continue with all the points of the 1888 message, but the pattern is clear, all the concepts that God in His great mercy brought to us as a Seventh-day Adventist church in the 1888 message, will empower us in our evangelism to the "social outcasts," as well as empower them to experience the love and goodness of God in their own lives.  May we let the truths of the 1888 message have influence in our minds and experience that we won’t just be "speaking to each other," but will be engaged in ministry that blesses the "social outcasts" and draws them to God, just as did the ministry of Jesus 2,000 years ago. 
-Bob Hunsaker

Raul Diaz

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Discipling the Ordinary

Discipling the Ordinary

Steve is from Barbados, where one of the main soup ingredients is flour or cornmeal dumplings. One day, Betty, who is also from Barbados, invited some friends – Steve included - to her home for dinner, where, of course, soup was on the menu. The soup was filled with chunks of potatoes and vegetables, but dumplings were nowhere in sight. The moment Steve noticed the lack of dumplings he complained profusely to Betty and then teasingly questioned her ethnicity.  To Steve, soup was incomplete without dumplings.  To his way of thinking, dumplings in soup were as important as the water.  Yet, no one would call a dry meal soup; likewise, no one would call just hot water soup.  Water along with other ingredients must be present to make soup. 

In relation to water – and this same principle holds true at any level - it is composed of three atoms: two hydrogen and one oxygen. Important to note, is that neither element itself becomes water neither do both elements stop being hydrogen and oxygen. Even though their chemical properties remain the same when these components bind together, interestingly, they do act differently when separate (unbound).

Now, since water dissolves other substances, it is great for soup. It is not that water becomes whatever it dissolves, but rather that the water molecules surround the other molecules. Let’s consider salted water. Although, the two molecules are combined they still retain its separate/individual properties: salt remains salt and water remains as water. Imagine a red balloon surrounded by white balloons; where the red balloon is the salt molecule and the white balloons are the water molecules. Since salted water requires both water and salt, we can conclude that both water and salt must be present to form salted water. 

What about juice, then? Typically, juice comes from fruit and fruit is far more complex than salt.  Therefore, it is not just one molecule but a series of molecules of different substances. Take grape juice, for example: freshly expressed grape juice consists of 70 to 80% water and many dissolved solids. These soluble solids include numerous organic and inorganic compounds. The water molecules surround all these chemicals from the fruit. This implies that water and the solids from the fruit must be present to form juice. 

It is then obvious that water does not transform into grape juice (bear with me).  Yet, when we read the story in John 2:1–11 it seems to say exactly that. Let us read the passage,

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

 How did Christ make juice appear where only water was present?  Remember, we have concluded that for water to form grape juice there had to be grapes present.  And, according to the story there were no grapes present.  So, this is definitely a miracle.  Christ must have made grapes appear where there were none.  Christ spoke and something happened: what was not present appeared by the Word of God (Psalm 33: 9; Hebrew 11: 6).  Yes, Christ was not recorded saying, ‘let there be grape juice.”  But, we can safely assume that the thought did cross His mind in prayer. 

 In the context of our lesson, we could also state that compared to juice, water is ordinary in that it is everywhere and it has a more simple molecular structure.  This would make juice not ordinary, but as our lesson would call it: extraordinary.   The idea is to equate ordinary people with water and extraordinary people with grape juice.  The implication is that grape juice (extraordinary) people are former (ordinary) water people transformed by the grace - or creative power - of God into grape juice people.  Jesus specialized in transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.  That was, whether Jesus was changing water into unfermented wine from the fruit of the vine, or turning fishermen into preachers (Mark 1:16–18),

Now, what transformed the water into grape juice was the Word of God.  In the same way, what transforms ordinary people into extraordinary people is also the Word of God.  The Word sanctifies (John 17:17). It is through the hearing of the Word that faith is produced (Romans 10:17) as well as through the believing of the Word that righteousness is produced (Romans 4: 3). Peter says that we are, “…born again … by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).  For the ordinary to become extraordinary the Word must be present and abiding in the believer. Ellen White gives insight into how the Word of God works in us to transform us from ordinary to extraordinary. Let us read the passage,

             “In the Bible the will of God is revealed. The truths of the Word of God are the utterances of the Most High. He who makes these truths a part of his life becomes in every sense a new creature. He is not given new mental powers, but the darkness that through ignorance and sin has clouded the understanding is removed. The words, “A new heart also will I give you,” mean, “A new mind will I give you.” A change of heart is always attended by a clear conviction of Christian duty, an understanding of truth. He who gives the Scriptures close, prayerful attention will gain clear comprehension and sound judgment, as if in turning to God he had reached a higher plane of intelligence. The Bible contains the principles that lie at the foundation of all true greatness, all true prosperity, whether for the individual or for the nation” (Our Father Cares, 41).

Are we allowing the Word to abide in us and transform us into extraordinary - grape juice -Christians?