John 2:1-11 1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “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 till now.” 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
I doubt there was ever a parent who believed more in their child than Mary believed in Jesus. She knew what she had experienced at His birth. She had received Divine revelation about His identity through signs and wonders, not the least of which were angelic visitations, and she had no doubts about the abilities and calling and wisdom of the boy she had been raising. We see her confidence in Jesus expressed here at this wedding in Cana where He performed His first miracle.
Wine was the staple drink back then and weddings were like festivals that lasted for several days at that time. Back then the wine was very diluted. It was like three parts water and just one part wine, so the alcohol content was super low. So, before you get super excited and think this message is a message about how Jesus is promoting the drinking of alcohol that wasn’t the case. Back in that day, however, it looked bad for the host if you ran out of wine at your wedding. And so, Jesus turned water into wine for His first miracle. I love right out of the shoot that we see:
Jesus is the God who cares about our personal crises. It is a tender and compassionate God who cares about our feelings and reputation. He knew how much embarrassment the host would suffer for running out of wine. Perhaps from the outside we would look at that situation and think it is a little thing, not a big deal, but to that host it would be a big deal.
We have all had those moments too, when something that others would consider a small thing was a big thing to us, but maybe not big enough that we think God would care. This first miracle of Jesus shows us that God is caring and compassionate whenever we have a crises no matter how big or small it is.
We also see that Jesus is the God who can provide what we are lacking, and His provision is an upgrade. We see in the story in verse 10 that once people tasted the new wine they realized it was better wine than the wine they had run out of. Listen, God doesn’t just replace things in our lives; He improves them. What He pours into our lives is exceedingly better than what we had been able to provide for ourselves.
Jesus doesn’t just come into our lives to “fix us up” or “patch us up,” but He comes into our lives to make us completely new and to introduce us to a whole new way of life. And life with Jesus gets better and better and beter.
In addition, we see that Jesus is the God who responds quickly to our needs. Sometimes even as Christians we may think God has better things to do than help us with our issues. I mean with ISIS running rampant and rioting in major cities and natural disasters taking place, we think perhaps our need isn’t a super high priority to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. When Jesus was made aware of the situation, He took action.
Notice that Mary didn’t tell Jesus what to do. She simply told Him about the problem. She made the need known. Perhaps this morning you need to make your need known to Jesus. He won’t ignore you. He may not work in a way that you can see with your natural eye right away, but right away He will be at work on your behalf. No one saw that water turning into wine in those jars. It happened subtly. It happened almost covertly. But it happened!
This is just a little aside, but notice also, that Jesus, the Guest, became Jesus the Host! He wound up supplying what was needed for the wedding feast. The principle is simple. Jesus’ presence can sanctify and bless every activity in our lives even after you think you have run out of what you need to be able to enjoy whatever you are doing!
Finally, Jesus demonstrated that He is the God who involves us in His miracle work. Jesus could have just placed wine into the empty jars, but He asked the servants to get involved by filling the jars first with water. Even though I just said “finally” the message isn’t over. (I saw some of you lean over to your spouse and mouth “Sweet, we are getting out early!” Not happening.) This last demonstration by Jesus leads me to some questions for our exploration.
Why an intermediate step? Why get the servants in on what He was doing? Remember, some of Jesus’ disciples, the ones He had already called, were present with Him at the wedding. There were six at that time to be exact. What would they learn as they watched these servants cooperate with Jesus? Why would they need to see this miracle and see the servants engaged in the miracle? How would it lay the groundwork for their role as Jesus’ disciples? What did Jesus want His disciples to learn in that moment?
I believe the lesson started out with Mary’s words to the servants of the house, “Do whatever He tells you.” What a powerful thing for Jesus’ disciples to hear. “Do whatever He tells you.” What a powerful thing for us to hear this morning. Is that how we are living our lives as followers of Christ? Are we seeking to do whatever He tells us? How could things be different in our lives, in our families, in our workplaces and neighborhoods and in our world if we would just learn to do whatever Jesus tells us to do?
As they watched things taking place, the disciples would have learned that we need to do whatever Jesus tells us to do even in unlikely places.
This miracle didn’t take place in a temple or church. It didn’t follow a prayer meeting or the anointing of someone with oil. It wasn’t in the context of a religious activity or spiritual atmosphere. This miracle took place at a party. It took place in a social scene. It took place among friends in their town. The disciples had anticipated a wedding, but not a miracle. They were just attending an event. They had no idea that God would want to display His power at a party.
Listen, it might be among the football stands or on the soccer sidelines that God wants to perform a miracle. It might be in the grocery store or at the school lunch table that God wants to do a new and amazing thing. Scripture tells us God is always at work. Always. (John 5:17) So as His disciples we shouldn’t be caught off guard or surprised that God may want to do something on our vacation or at our hair appointment or as we coach a Little League team.
We need to remember that Jesus attends weddings. Jesus makes house calls. Jesus is walking the halls of our schools. Jesus is at your sports’ team’s practice. Jesus goes where the need is. Sometimes He gets there before there even is a need. But the point is that we need to be ready for His instructions because clearly part of His plan is to use us to meet the needs of those we encounter. Their problems become our problem because He is concerned about them, and He lives in us. If Jesus cares, then we care.
I don’t even know if the people throwing the wedding feast realized they had run out of wine. Scripture doesn’t say they were aware or were in a panic. Maybe Mary was first to realize the situation. Maybe she went to draw out a cup, and the wine vat was empty. Maybe she then went to the backup vat, and it was empty. Or maybe she knew the wine was gone because she had taken the last cup and she felt bad about that! It’s like when someone takes the last meatball at a party or the last scoop of buffalo chicken dip, and you are right behind them in line. Who wants to be that guy? J However it happened, it seemed to be Mary’s concern before it was anyone else’s.
Sometimes people don’t realize they are in trouble. Sometimes people aren’t aware they have a problem. Sometimes people don’t see things running out or draining from their lives, and God points it out to one of His children so they can ask Jesus to intervene. If Jesus cares, we care. If we are listening He will speak to us about situations where people’s lives are in trouble.
The point is that you don’t expect to encounter a problem at a wedding, but they did. Think about this possibility: Perhaps you are on the guest list because God knows what will happen ahead of time, and He is strategically placing you there so that He can work through you in the moment of need! Maybe you aren’t just going to a wedding. Maybe God is sending you to perform a miracle! Maybe you didn’t just make the team because you are a great athlete. Maybe God has a strategic purpose for putting you on the squad, and He has a plan to use you there.
The question is: Will we do whatever Jesus tells us to in an unlikely place even when it isn’t our problem or “responsibility”? Mary could have noted the problem but figured she wasn’t the one throwing the party, so it wasn’t on her to figure out how to solve the problem. No, Mary recognized the problem at the party, and she engaged Jesus out of concern for those giving the shindig.
I have shown the video once before in a message about how well-known Bible teacher Beth Moore was told by God to approach an elderly man in an airport to ask if she could brush his hair. It was the weirdest thing God had ever asked her to do. If you want to be inspired, get on Youtube and put “Beth Moore brushes hair in airport” and prepare to be blessed. An airport? Brush someone’s hair?
Who of us would think that in a crowded airport God would ask us to engage a total stranger to ask him if we could have the honor of brushing his hair? Who of us would think that would make any difference at all in someone’s life? But it was a God-moment that transformed both the man and the celebrity Bible teacher as she obeyed God’s voice in the strangest of places and in the oddest of ways!
The disciples would also have learned that following Christ means doing what He tells us to do when we are dealing with a lot of problems. The servants would have been the first people to have to deal with this lack of wine situation. The party guests would be coming to them asking where the wine was. They would have been on the front lines of the trouble. They would have been the ones people were complaining to or yelling at. The fact that the wedding family had run out of wine was their problem too due to the position they were in as servants.
Sometimes we don’t listen to God because of the problems we are dealing with. Sometimes we think we need to be about fixing our problems or getting through our trial before we can get focused on hearing from God. We get focused on the problems, distraught by the problems, overwhelmed by the problems and rather than try to hear God’s voice about what He would have us do we do nothing or we do destructive things. Sometimes people are yelling at us, demanding something from us, and we don’t have a solution. Sometimes we are just showing up for work, trying to do our job, and the situation we find ourselves in is bigger than our job description and is bigger than our ability to take care of it.
This wouldn’t be the last time the disciples would be in the middle of a crises. This wouldn’t be the last time they would be thrust into a situation where there was a major need. They needed to know that if they walked with Jesus, they were connected with the Master Problem Solver and they should do whatever He told them to do.
Mary didn’t know how Jesus would help the servants in this predicament, but she knew that if they would listen to Him and do whatever He said, the situation would get better.
Sometimes we can conclude that having problems disqualifies us from being used of God. Jesus could have asked the six disciples to get the jars and get them filled with water, but He didn’t. He turned to the people with the problems and told them the instructions.
Listen, disciples don’t have to be problem-free in order to be used of God. Don’t wait until your life is perfect or problem-free and then start obeying God’s voice. If you wait for that you will never be part of God’s miracle. Do whatever Jesus is telling you even if your plate is filled with problems right now.
Maybe it is reading into the text, but one observation about these servants that I think is fair to make is that they had just met Jesus. They were “new” to Jesus, if you will. If you are young in your faith, if you are new to this Jesus thing don’t think that you have to wait until you attain some kind of spiritual status in order to do what He tells you to do. You don’t have to know how to pray better before you can be part of God’s miracle. You don’t have to know your Bible better before you can be used of God. Do whatever Jesus tells you to do even if you are a young Christian.
In fact, one of the fastest ways to grow as a Christian is to start serving the Lord with the information you have. Mary had known Jesus all of her life, but up to this point she had never seen Him perform a miracle. It’s not about how long you have known Jesus, but it is about how much you believe in Him and His ability and desire to be at work in the day to day affairs of your life and the lives of those around you.
You may leave here today, and Jesus may tell you to pay for someone’s meal at the restaurant where you might eat. It might not even be someone you know. Just step out in faith and do it, and find a way to give God glory for it. You might leave here today and sense there is someone you need to visit in order to brighten their day. Don’t question if it is from God. Make the visit. If you have an opportunity to bless someone because you have the idea, the time, or the resources that is always going to be a good thing and a God-thing if you will step out and do it.
Finally, finally J will you do whatever Jesus tells you to do even if you don’t understand how it is all going to work?
Get into the minds of the servants with me for a minute. Jesus asked them to get the ceremonial pots, the ones used for religious rituals, the ones that had a special purpose and not a common purpose like drinking wine from, and fill them with water. First of all, they could have questioned that since water isn’t wine, what good would it do to fill pots with water? Scripture says they filled them with water to the brim so it isn’t like they were anticipating that Jesus was going to add wine somehow to the top layer.
Second, why not fill the containers that had held the wine in the first place? Why fill the containers that were designated for another purpose? Couldn’t they get into trouble for using the ceremonial jars for something other than their designated purpose? But our text tells us that rather than question Jesus’ instruction, they filled them with water.
Re-read the text with me from there: John 2:8-9 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside.
Here the servants had another opportunity to question Jesus’ commands. He asked them to draw some of the water out of the ceremonial jars and take it to the head host of the banquet to serve it to him. They could have said, “Really, Jesus? You want us to serve the person in charge water from the ceremonial pots?” They knew they had filled the jars with water. They had no way of knowing that what they would be serving to the head host of the banquet would be wine and not water.
Jesus had never explained the plan to them. He didn’t tell them up front that when they filled the ceremonial jars with water that it would turn to wine. When they went back to Jesus to tell Him they had filled the pots as He had asked they didn’t know that something miraculous had taken place. When Jesus asked them to dip some out to take it to the banquet host they didn’t know something miraculous had taken place. But they did as He asked them to do.
Think for a minute, if the water had been turned into wine in the ceremonial pots, but the servants never drew some out at Jesus’ command, the miracle would have taken place, but it would have never been experienced. The miracle would have happened, but they would have missed it. It was listening to Jesus’ words all the way to the end of the instructions that enabled them to see the miracle of God with their eyes! We have to take this listening to Jesus thing all the way to the end.
The new recruits, Jesus’ new disciples were going to need to see what could happen if they would trust Jesus regardless of not having all of the information up front. There is no way Jesus could have told the disciples all about His rejection, His arrest, and His crucifixion without them leaving Him on the spot. No, they had to learn to walk with Him and trust His words one step at a time. Most of us wouldn’t believe Jesus if He told us the whole plan for our lives up front. And if He did, we might be found trying to get in the way in the name of “helping God out.”
Our human minds and human experience tell us every day what is impossible. The realm of faith is sometimes a difficult realm to live in, but that is where the miracle of God is realized. Faith isn’t just trust in the Unseen God, but it is trust in His plans that are still unfolding.
And as we do, we will discover that it gets better and better like the wine at the party getting better. Not everyone at the party knew what happened. Mary, Jesus, the disciples and the servants knew, but the rest of the people were oblivious that a miracle had taken place. Some miracles are kind of on the “down low” if you know what I mean. Some moments are sort of just private between God and us, but that’s ok because those moments, those miracles, like the wine at the wedding of Cana, they fill us up to overflowing and produce great joy and satisfaction when we are willing to do whatever He says. That day, that miracle was just as much for the servants, the disciples, and Mary as it was to save the wedding family from disgrace.
I’m thinking Mary smiled quietly on the inside and said, “I knew it was just a matter of time.” I’m thinking the servants smiled quietly on the inside and thought, “We know something you don’t know.” I’m thinking the disciples smiled quietly on the inside and thought, “We didn’t make a mistake when we left it all to follow this man.” Verse 11 says: This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Do you want to see the glory of God? Do you want your faith in Christ to grow? Do whatever He tells you.