MESSAGE DELIVERED: JANUARY 15, 2017
Okay, obviously, this is the familiar story of the wedding feast in Cana where Jesus performed His very first “public” miracle, and even the heathens of the world understand the reference of “changing water into wine”…of turning ordinary water into fine wine.
So with this event in mind, I want to ask you a couple questions: have YOU ever WITNESSED a miracle? PERFORMED a miracle? Or PARTICIPATED in a miracle? And one last question…are you absolutely sure of your answers TO those questions?
Let me give you a little background here…you might find it interesting. The tiny village of Cana was about four miles from the village of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up…and it is on the way to Capernaum. Cana is also the home of Nathanael, the man who, when told by Philip that he had found the Messiah, asked that infamous question; “can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
So I want you to understand that Nathanael, who considered himself a sophisticated man, had grown up in an equally small town just a short walk from where Jesus grew up.
The village of Cana itself is situated on a slope overlooking a valley, and nearby is a fresh spring that still supplies good water today. The village itself still exists, but it is very rundown and has only a few inhabitants.
A wedding was to be a joyful occasion and a LOT of wine would be consumed. And everybody knew that wine dulled the senses. So the master of the feast would set out the good wine first, the best he had available, and when that had been consumed, then he could substitute the inferior stuff, and the guests would hardly be able to tell the difference.
But somehow, at this wedding, the wine simply ran out. It may have been because of limited resources of the host. Or it may have been that Jesus and His band (which only numbered six at this point) had been invited late, and were unexpected when the plans were made. That could explain why MARY seemed to feel responsible to supply new refreshments.
Let’s look at these verses…verse 1 says “the third day”…that is Tuesday…Sunday, Monday, TUESDAY. And Jesus’ mother was already at the place of the wedding when Jesus arrived. And it could be that Nathanael, who had just met Jesus, was somehow involved WITH the wedding party.
Maybe he was a brother or cousin or something of one of the members of the wedding party, and he had unexpectedly invited his new found Rabbi to join them. That might explain why they ran out of wine, these seven unexpected guests. And it might explain why Mary asked Jesus for help.
As I said, this would be the first PUBLIC miracle that Jesus was to perform, but that doesn’t mean it was the first miracle He had EVER performed. When Mary called this shortage to His attention, I don’t think she knew WHAT He would do, but I am certain that she knew He would do SOMETHING.
In verse 4 where He calls His mother “woman”, that was not a mark of disrespect, as it might be today. It was simply a way of referring to a female person. We will see much later, when Jesus is hanging from the Cross, about to end His Life, He will again refer to His mother in this way, as He transfers her care unto His disciple, by saying “Woman, behold your son…”.
Now He says “Woman, what have I to do with you”? or, you might say “What business is that of mine?…My hour has not yet come”. In His ministry, Jesus was to be no MERE worker of MIRACLES. EVERYthing that He did, had a purpose, nothing was to be done for mere spectacle.
And notice also, at this point in His earthly life, His mother had no authority over Him. But I also think that this unspecified request was about to be granted in a HUGE way, was to be granted on Mary’s behalf, by a grateful God. God had asked an awful lot of Mary, by placing the care and keeping of His Infant Son into her hands…so this event may have been a small reward, and opportunity for her to sit back, in the presence of all these friends and relatives, and be able to say “That’s my boy”!
Verse 5 gives us a whole sermon full of information. Mary didn’t ask Jesus to do anything in particular. She didn’t say “Jesus, fill these wine bottles back up”. She didn’t say “Better make some more Mogen David”. She just brought the NEED to His attention, and then turned to the servants and said “Whatever He tells you to do, DO it”.
Having pointed out the need, which I’m sure Jesus was already aware of, she simply acknowledged His ability to MEET that need. But she didn’t dictate terms…she didn’t tell Him HOW to meet that need. And I think we are all too often guilty of DOING that!
We are aware of what we see as our own great needs, and we think we also know the BEST way of dealing WITH that need. So we tell God HOW we want Him to MEET that need…what He needs to do, and often HOW He needs to do it. But what we SHOULD do, is just tell Him that we HAVE a need, which He already knows, and then acknowledging, as Mary did, that He has the ability to MEET that need, as HE sees best.
What Mary said here, was another way of saying “Nevertheless, not MY will be done, but Thine”. This might be a good time to remind you of that corny old joke about a guy who was caught in a flood. It’s corny, but it also teaches a great truth.
So, this guy is stuck in his house as the flood waters are about to pour into the house, and a guy comes by in a boat and says “Better get in and I’ll take you to safety”. But the guy says “No, the Lord will provide”, and he goes up to the second story, but the waters keep rising and a bigger boat comes by and a guy says “You better get in and I’ll take you to safety”. But the guy again says “No, the Lord will provide”, and he climbs up on the roof. But the water keeps rising and he climbs on top of the chimney and a helicopter came by and hollered down “Better get in and I’ll take you to safety”. But the guy still says “No, the Lord will provide”.
But the water still rises and the guy drowns and finds himself at the Pearly Gates and says to Peter “What happened? I had all sorts of faith, and I still died”. And Peter says “C’mon, dude. We sent two boats and a helicopter”!
Right, old story, I know, but it points out the need to just ask for help, don’t dictate HOW that help comes. We just need to do what Mary does here, she points out the need, and then says “You handle it as you think best”. And then she turns to the servants and makes that wonderful statement, “Whatever He tells you to do, do it”.
I think ANYone who decides to serve the Lord, and that should be ANYone who has been saved by the Blood of Jesus, SHOULD decide TO serve Him…so her words there are for ALL of us, when she said “Whatever He tells you to do, do it”! HE is the Son of GOD! WE are the SERVANTS! The servants don’t give ORDERS to the MASTER! Servants TAKE orders, not GIVE them!
So, ‘whatever He tells you to do…’ if He tells you to stand on your head, rub your belly and whistle…do NOT tell Him you think that is SILLY! Understand that He had a good reason for asking you to DO that, or He wouldn’t have asked in the first place. Your ONLY acceptable response is, OBEDIENCE! Just DO it.
Now, the water pots in question were NOT intended for holding WINE. They were used for ceremonial washing. And all together they held something like 120 gallons of water.
And as you see from verse 7, when told what to do, the servants FILLED those water pots to the BRIM. But also notice that MARY may have known what Jesus was capable of doing, but those servants didn’t! They didn’t know Jesus from Adam. But they had been given an order, and they just went ahead and carried that order out; just did what they were told.
They didn’t grumble about it. They didn’t say among themselves that they had no business drawing WATER, when what they NEEDED was WINE! That the ceremonial WASHING had already been ACCOMPLISHED, so “what are we supposed to do with all this water, DRINK it”? They just did as told.
Now, in verse 8, Jesus didn’t ‘wave His hands over those water pots’…didn’t ‘cover them with a scarf’, as I would when doing one of my magic tricks. In fact, He probably didn’t even get up from where He was sitting. When the jugs were filled, He just said “Now give some to the master of the feast”.
And you know, if WE had been there AS one of those servants, WE might have said “Good grief! He DOES expect us to drink this stuff”!
But the REAL servants just did as they were told. And the master of the feast, not knowing what was taking place, not knowing that what he was being offered was nothing but plain WATER…found instead the very FINEST of wines.
In fact, he was AMAZED! Not because of the miracle, he had no knowledge of THAT! He was amazed, because the bridegroom had kept the BEST wine until LAST!
But those servants…THEY knew what had happened. They KNEW there was nothing in those jugs but plain old well water. They knew nobody had TOUCHED it, or ALTERED it in any way. And yet, here was the finest of wines. And they also knew that if they went back and looked, the REST of those water pots would be filled with fine wine too.
That is often the way a MIRACLE is seen by the people of the world. And verse 11 says that THIS was just the START of the signs and wonders He would do. And ALL of them were designed to point out the Glory of The Son of God.
As you read through the Gospels, you will find miracle after miracle recorded, and they were all done for a purpose; to point to JESUS, for Who and What He was…The SAVIOR, sent from God.
He didn’t come to take something that was BAD, and make it GOOD…He came to take what was GOOD, and make it BETTER!
At that wedding, Jesus took what was GOOD, water…and changed it into something BETTER, fine wine. And WE have to understand how IMPORTANT wine was, in Jewish culture. And that was the purpose of His ministry, to take what was good, people, and make them into something better, useful servants.
So, I asked you at the start of this if YOU had ever seen a miracle, or been involved in one. Well, now let me tell you that you CAN be. I believe God is still IN the purpose of working miracles.
And I believe that WE can share IN the working of those miracles, IF we are willing to DO it, God’s way! There are a LOT of people involved in this story of the wedding in Cana. How many of them shared in the working of the miracle? Mary? Sure, it was her requests that set the whole thing in motion.
Those servants? They had no idea WHO Jesus was, or at least we’re not told that they did. This was the BEGINNING of His ministry, so His FAME hadn’t yet begun to spread. But by their obedience to this strange command, this thing came about, so they had a BIG part in it.
All those wedding guests? They all benefitted from the miracle, but most of them had no idea that anything had happened. The disciples? The six men that Jesus had so far called to Him? They had the benefit of having their brand new FAITH in Him STRENGTHENED…RECONFIRMED…by the miraculous thing they witnessed. And THAT was probably the primary REASON this happened.
Jesus had just told Nathanael, 3 days earlier, “You will see GREAT things”! This was just the FIRST of those great things. And beloved, YOU can SHARE in the workings of miracles, TOO, if you will remember THREE things.
FIRST…miracles are ALWAYS signs that reveal Christ’s Glory! If you ask God to give you a brand new Cadillac, you better be prepared to explain how THAT will bring Glory to Jesus. And just saying “It’ll make ME happy” ain’t gonna DO it!
In the first place, it WON’T make you happy. THINGS will NEVER make you happy. And if God gave you a new Cadillac, it would only make you want a new BMW. And anyway, making YOU happy does NOT bring Glory to God! Instead, it should be that bringing Glory to GOD that MAKES you HAPPY!
Okay, the SECOND of those three things is…recognizing that Jesus IS able to DO ALL things, and that will enable you to share in His miracles. Mary did NOT turn to Jesus and ask “Is there anything You can do”? She KNEW, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that He COULD solve this problem. So she didn’t make the mistake of trying to tell Him HOW to do it.
Look at MOSES! The Israelites were TRAPPED at the shore of the Red Sea, and Pharaoh’s army was bearing down on them. Never in a million years would it occur to him that their safety could be had by making a dry path through the middle of the sea. But, he didn’t try to tell God what to do, he just pointed out the problem, and BELIEVED that God was big enough to handle it. REMEMBER THAT!
And remember Mary’s words to the servants “Whatever He tells you to do, do it”! Don’t worry if what you’re told to do doesn’t strike YOU as the RIGHT thing to do. God knows a WHOLE lot more than YOU ever will! So don’t TELL HIM what to do, and don’t QUESTION what He tells YOU to do. Just do it, and you will find it was the RIGHT thing, after all.
THAT is the THIRD thing you have to do, in order to share in the working of miracles; OBEDIENCE! Often, obedient servants have only the most minor of rolls in the story. Usually they are ignored when the Bible commentaries are written. We don’t know who these servants were, and we aren’t told of them AGAIN. And yet they had an irreplaceable part in the working of THIS miracle.
Humanly, I would think they should get SOME recognition for this, and I’m sure they GOT it, but not in THIS world.
We are told of the importance of being “the least of these”…and of being “the servant of all”…but instead we usually want to be the STAR of the show. The Oak Ridge Boys have a song that says “Nobody wants to play rhythm guitar behind Jesus, everybody wants to be the lead singer in the band”. It really seems like that is true, more often than not.
Everybody wants to be a star…the one who turns the water into wine, the one who walks on the water…but NONE of us are called for that. All we are, are the ‘backup singers’ to the TRUE Star, Who is JESUS! But, as those servants, we have the incredible privilege of SHARING in Christ’s miracles. Sometimes we are called to just PREPARE the WAY…in some SMALL way…for a truly WONDERFUL…BREATHTAKING event to take place.
We who BELIEVE, are called to help LOST people to encounter the SAVIOR! And did you just say THAT’S not a miracle? If it ISN’T, then there never WAS a miracle! We are called and empowered to HELP people move from DARKNESS to LIGHT…from DEATH to LIFE! And WHAT can POSSIBLY be MORE miraculous, than RAISING the DEAD?
YOU can’t actually ACCOMPLISH that, but you CAN have a PART in the PROCESS!
We tend to think of ‘miracles’ as that ‘walking on the water’ thing, and many of us secretly, or maybe not so secretly, want to be able to DO that! And that surely would be a way of drawing a LOT of people TO us. But it wouldn’t necessarily bring Glory to JESUS!
But, when a lost sinner is saved, THEN the SAVIOR is GLORIFIED, and ALL of HEAVEN rejoices! THAT is a MIRACLE!
And THAT is what all of US should be WORKING for, even if you NEVER see it happen. But you know that it CAN happen, and we should be busy preparing sinners to meet Jesus.
So let’s have a time of invitation, and ask if there is someone here who has been touched by a servant of the Lord, maybe FILLED to the BRIM with the Water of Life, and are just waiting for the Master’s Touch, to turn you into Heavenly wine?
Maybe you have never given your heart to Jesus, or maybe you’re not SURE if you’ve done that…will you make this the day of your Salvation?…let Jesus forgive you, welcome you, love you?
There is absolutely NOTHING standing in your way right now, and the doors of Heaven are wide open and waiting to welcome you, if you’ll come.
Or maybe you KNOW your soul is Saved, but you haven’t been the SERVANT that you know the Lord wants you to be…and are you finally willing to accept what Mary told the servants in Cana…”Lord, whatever you tell me to do, I will DO it”.
Remember…the purpose of miracles is to bring GLORY to Christ…and that HE can do all things…and that all that is required of us is to be OBEDIENT!
Invitation this morning is #65…”The Wonder Of It All”…that’s that beautiful old song that George Beverly Shea wrote, as a psalm of Praise to the Lord Who came to Save us.
Let’s make sure, beloved, that that WONDER includes ALL of us!