Dust your feet off, put on your best, and scoot alongside. Here’s our chance to be wedding crashers, without the chance of being thrown out by the bride’s family! Let’s tuck ourselves in at the celebration and watch.
Reading the gospel of John, chapter two, is like beginning to examine a multi-faceted gem in a sunbeam. The result is a stunning realization that there is always more than meets the eye to our Savior.
I’ve made a stop along my journey in Cana, where Jesus, along with His new minted disciples, is invited to a wedding. Weddings are wonderful affairs–such joy and celebration–until there is a glitch in the preparations. (I speak as a survivor. My daughter’s tented wedding reception took place on a farm. After cake- and guest-withering heat, we found ourselves in the middle of a major electrical storm. It’s always interesting being the highest point on a hillside, under tall canvas held up by a long metal pole.)
At this wedding is a particular family–among them the mother, the firstborn son, and a group of his students from the village. The celebration began like any other, with ordinary focus on the joining of families and weaving of community
I have never before considered the particular manner in which Jesus chose to act on His mother’s request to provide more wine for the guests. How simple it would have been to just increase the wine, and miraculously fill those six empty stone jars. Yet Jesus chooses not to. Instead, He has them draw 120-130 gallons of water. Why the extra step?
Because as always, in all extra steps, Jesus teaches us. Why does it take so long to realize some of our dreams? Why are there so many diversions and side trips? Because Jesus has something to teach us. In delays and disappointments, extra hoops to jump through and off ramps, He continues to shape our hearts.
Our God is One of great contrasts. His holiness vs. our sinfulness. His unyielding love vs. our fickleness. His saving grace vs. our human perversion of Law.
I’ve been turning the brief conversation between Jesus and His mother over and over in my mind…“When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
I never have been able to figure out why Jesus would respond to her this way, and then go on to do exactly what He said it was not time to do. What I notice today, though, is that Jesus, being both very human and at the same time Spirit, apppears reluctant to begin an unstoppable chain of events. Once started, there was no going back. I think I get that. We know what we have to do. We know what we are willing to do because the profit of our actions will be worth the cost. At the same time, we dread beginning because the ensuing action is huge, there is no exit strategy, and the sacrifice is great.
Through the years, as I’ve poured over the ancient words God has chosen to keep for us, one of the great constant Truths that He continues to engrave on my heart is that He is deliberate. There is nothing our God does without purposeful intent.
“Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine, but you have kept the good wine until now.“
This extra step of water to wine was the “Great Reveal.” It was time to let the whole world in on the Secret. He has come. It really was the right moment. What better time was there to strip the cloak of inadequacy and offer the hope of grace? There is so much to teach us in a blink of an eye, in the empty jars-filled with water-now turned to wine: How much sweeter is the healing covenant with Jesus than the teaching-law of Law! Human hearts are the ultimate empty vessels, and God spent centuries shaping them to see the inadequacies of anything but His given grace. Seemingly satisfied with the house Merlot, we needed the lesson of contrast to awaken our hearts. Pay attention Children. I have come. This colorless liquid isn’t enough for you. Your house wine isn’t worthy of this celebration. Look at the difference–It is I who provides the best wine. I am the vine from which it comes. (And P.S….Guess Who is really the Bridegroom here?!”)
I am giggling a moment here, this side of the cross, envisioning the surprise of the servants, the wedding families, and the guests. They had no idea they had the best wine kept in their storehouses. What a surprise! And they thought it was just another family wedding…
Today’s Take Aways (tuck them in your heart today)…
I have a need. My wine has run out. Jesus is the one to fill that need. He is the one to satisfy.
Breaking with the custom of allowing the guests to drink freely of cheap wine once their senses had been dulled by the bridegroom’s best offerings, as always, Jesus does the unexpected. He underlines what God wants us to know, always: Your best isn’t good enough. It isn’t the best at all! I provide the best. Pay attention to the difference.
We sometimes have the best wine stored away, and Jesus will call it out at the right time.
God devotes time to shaping the empty vessels of our souls until we are ready for the New Wine.
God’s ultimate act of grace was revealed for all at a wedding, and ends at the arrival of the Bridegroom to gather His Bride.
Blessings on your day and journey back from Cana to wherever you walk today, and hoping that you know Him more.
All Scripture from the Revised Standard Version. Thank you, Matthew Henry, for your insights.
Water. What a marvelous teaching tool! From water to blood, there was the first escape. We are born again in the waters of baptism, after our burial with Jesus. Someday I am going to put on my galoshes and slosh around in the marvelous wetness and gather the blessings of God there!