Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty Six, Thursday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read John 2: 1-11; Luke 14: 15-24

Joy in the presence of Jesus was often the outcome for those who believed his message and followed his lead. It wasn’t necessarily a feel-good- happiness, but instead it was filled with meaning and significance to all who were in his presence. One can only imagine the joy of being with Jesus as he performed his first public miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory in such a tremendous way, through the turning of water into wine.

It’s fascinating to note that it was Jesus’ mother who noticed that the wine was gone. Her comment “They have no wine” stirred Jesus up and he replied, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” But Mary, with her spiritual perception, simply said to the servants present, “Do whatever he tells you.” So the six stone water jars were filled with water at Jesus’ command, not for the customary ceremonial washing, but instead for all of it to be changed into wine.

Fine wine, we must note. The master of the banquet said to the bridegroom, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink, but you have saved the best until now.” Jesus made premium wine from the simple water in the jugs, nothing short of offering the best. We can’t help but to chuckle to ourselves that of course he would make the best!

Jesus’ outstretched arms of love performed this miracle of joy. His arms of love would extend many times hence to miraculously transform lives. The offering of well water in simple jars of clay would be multiplied throughout his earthly ministry. Prompted by the Spirit in every circumstance, Jesus evoked change everywhere he traveled. Those who welcomed his gifts of love would all become new from the inside out. Thus the meaning of the parable of the great banquet: to taste joy for all eternity. “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Joy is given to us by the Spirit no matter the circumstances of our lives. Joy is birthed in the heart and soul of the believer who finds contentment in any situation. Joy is evidenced whenever God is given the glory for all gifts large and small, easy and hard, even the good and bad. For Jesus, joy was found in children, in revealed truth, in divine paradox, in repentant hearts, in community with his friends, in prayerfulness with his Father, and even as he prepared for the cross.

Will you choose joy no matter the circumstances of your life today? Will you trust the Spirit to fill you with his joy despite the status of your feelings, relationships, health or wealth? Behold the joy of the Lord; believe in the possibility of joy; belong to the eternal banquet feast; and become joyful in Jesus, the One who miraculously turns your ordinary jars of water into fine wine.