I think a deep understanding passed between mother and son. I think Mary humbled her inner desire to see her son exalted as the One she knew he was. At the same time, Mary quietly settled her faith on Jesus, knowing his character and his compassion. She turned and told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do, and she said this with such firm authority, they accepted her direction unquestioningly.
Whatever passed between the Father and Jesus is unknown to us, but the story makes it clear God knew it was the right hour for Jesus to both honor the wedding couple with a gift from heaven, and to let his own disciples know what sort of rabban they had pledged themselves to as talmidim.
Jesus had walked with his mother as they talked, after she had gestured to him in the banquet hall. Now, they were in the entry way, the caterers and servants busily ferrying great platters of food in, and platters of bones and detritus out. At least some of the servants hovered near them, wringing their hands in anxious worry, knowing disaster was about to befall them all.
As they spoke, Jesus’ eye fell on the six stone water jars used for rites of purification. They were enormous, capable of holding twenty or thirty gallons of water.
As Mary gravely watched Jesus’ face, his gaze grew distant and pensive. His question still hung in the air between them. “What does -this- have to do with me and with you?” His hour had not come, and yet . . . Mary thought of the song she had so often sung to him, the song she’d written long ago, when she still carried him within her. She knew those words were deep inside him now, her beloved son, her Holy Spirit-given son.
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant,” she prayed, knowing God had given her those words. “He has performed mighty deeds with his arm . . . God has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things.”
As Jesus’ eyes continued to rest on the water jars, Mary continued to think about the truth and goodness of the words God had inspired in her, and that she had taught to the Son of God when he was just a small and vulnerable boy.
Then Jesus seemed to nod, coming to a decision. In that moment, Mary called the nearest servants to her and said, “Whatever he tells to you all, carry it out.” They nodded agreement, turning expectantly to Jesus.
Jesus waved his hands over the six stone jugs as he spoke to the servants, “Fill these water jars to the brim with water.” Did they hesitate for a moment? But then several servants went to the well with jugs, and refilled the jars until water sloshed over the rims of each.
“Now, draw [some] out and carry to the master of the feast.”
The servants were completely obedient, even though it may have seemed terribly risky to them. They re-filled six large water jars that were used to wash the hands and feet of the guests, and the utensils used during the feast. Then they drew this same water back out of those great stone jugs, poured this water into fresh wine pitchers, and brought those pitchers to the master of the feast to taste.
Their apprehensive eyes watched the master taste, pause, then summon the groom. What would become of them now, as the master of the feast had tasted what was just poured into his cup?
“Everyone sets out the good wine first and when they drank heartily, the lesser wine; you held back the good wine until just now!”Master of the Feast, in John 2:10
Imagine the groom’s confusion. Imagine the servants releasing their collective breath in a silent prayer of thanksgiving. Imagine the disciples, as they stood around Jesus, feeling their hairs prickle. Imagine Mary, beaming in the background.
The big question is when did this water turned into wine? What must they have been thinking? Really risky to bring water when wine was expected. And yet they were seemingly unquestioning, unhesitating in their obedience. Then somewhere along their walk from the water jugs to pouring into the cup of the master of feast, the water became wine.
There is a practical lesson in this miracle about serving God. The water turned into wine as the servants cooperated with Jesus, trusted him, and obeyed His commands. Trusting what God has given you and me always gets us in on the action, on the inside of what God is doing. To not do whatever the Lord gives us is to be left out of what God is doing in a particular situation.
When you and I listen to Jesus and trust him with the water of our efforts, then pour our efforts out as He directs, others find that what you and I are giving them is rich. It is, in fact, the best.
John indicated in his account this was the first of Jesus’ miracles, a sign that revealed Jesus’ glory by displaying Jesus’ power over creation. By Jesus’ word a profound alteration took place in those jars, and the result was the best wine anyone had ever tasted.
Symbolically, this sign pointed to
- Jesus’ Resurrection: for this happened on the third day.
- Marriage Feast in Heaven: as every marriage feast story would do, in the gospels.
- Holy Spirit: as water that could only wash externally was transformed into wine that warmed with joy from within.
- Eternal Life: since earthly wine, earthly joy, runs out at some point, but Jesus’ wine is better than any earthly wine, and it will never run out.
Physical miracles are signs pointing to greater spiritual truths
How “God sized” are the problems you and I bring to Jesus?
What circumstances are we experiencing right now that seem impossible?
- Aging parents that need more care than we can give.
- Savings are gone, the bills are stacking up, and there is no income or job to help.
- Someone has become an enemy and they are either spreading lies or trying to influence other people against us.
- A medical condition that seems hopeless, for you or me, or someone we love, a diagnosis we do not have enough resources to handle.
We might have heard other people tell us to “take it to Jesus” and now we are wondering just exactly what does “taking it to Jesus” mean? Not only is Jesus invisible, we might be wondering what Jesus has been doing anyway since somehow, under his watch, we have landed in this situation in the first place.
Taking it to Jesus means doing what Mary did.
First, know Jesus’ character the way Mary knew him, without any doubt, with absolute confidence, counting on His compassion believing that He is powerful enough, and loving enough, and good enough to do the impossible thing that you and I cannot do.
Then tell Jesus what is going on, simply and honestly, the way Mary did, trusting Jesus goodness and compassion, trusting Jesus to right.
And finally, like Mary, surrender all authority to Jesus, being willing to do whatever He tells you and I to do—through God’s word in the Bible, through wise counsel, and listening for God’s word and voice in our hearts through prayer.
As you and I experience the Lord’s response to our prayers, in our circumstances, our faith will be strengthened.
It is one thing to read about God’s power in a book, and quite another to experience God’s power in our real lives.
Genuine faith is expectant and willing to take a risk on God.
That is the funny thing about faith. You and I do not really have it until we start using it.
[Wedding at Cana | The LUMO Project, http://www.freebibleimages.org]
2 thoughts on “Gospel of John: Faith on the Line”
This post, FAITH ON THE LINE, was like a magnifier checking to see how much confidence I have when praying and trusting on those prayers. Its hard for me to just let God take care of it. Look at the situation in Seattle. Do we say God will take care of it. Of course, I’m not the government , I have no control over t he Marxist group on Capitol Hill spraying the graffiti on the buildings, destroying statues causing residents not to be able to go to their place of businesses. One would say you can pray about it. I sit here and pause wondering if this is too big . I find myself weak in some of these situations with prayer and trust that God will handle it. On the other hand, I know that God ‘s power is far greater that anyone can imagine. Th is is what I lean on for trust. T he song says the ship is broken, the sail is torn but the anchor still holds me. These posts about John gives hope to me spiritually and helps me to build this trust that is needed. Thank you Grace and Peace, Joanne.
You bring in some really important questions, Shirley, I’ve been thinking about these very same things. So, I think my next talk is going to be on how God seems to respond the same prayer with several different answers, depending on the situation, and a God’s purpose in it.
You and I see what we feel is the clear good, or the clearly best outcome, and when God does not respond in that way, it can be so very unsettling.