This morning, I'd like us to come to understand the nature of our personal relationship
with Jesus Christ. With this in mind, let me pose to you these questions: How often
do you think about Jesus Christ in a given day? Is there one day where you think
about Jesus more than other days? If so, I imagine that day is Sunday--a day where we
pray in His name, a day where we read about Him, and a day where we often hear a
sermon about Him. For many people, Christ is someone we think about only
on Sunday--someone we call upon only
in difficult times. And sadly, many of us go about our weekly business without a
thought of the presence of Christ. This is not how the Christian life is intended
to be lived.
Christ is to be called upon in the good times and the bad. He is to be worshipped as fervently on Tuesday as He is on Sunday. I am reminded of this fact when I read the account of the wedding at Cana in John, chapter 2.
It is important to note that this is the very beginning of Jesus' ministry. So early in His ministry is it, that up until now, Jesus has not performed a single miracle(v.11).
Jesus, along with His mother, and some disciples, are present at a wedding in the city of Cana--a city just north of his hometown, Nazareth(v.1).
On the surface, the details that the apostle John includes in verse 2 appear unnecessary--but on the contrary, they are essential to understanding this entire episode. John is careful to point out that "Jesus was also invited . . . to the wedding "(v.2). That is to say that Jesus was not at the wedding as a guest of someone. Jesus was not at the wedding because He had responsibilities in a religious capacity. Jesus was at the wedding because He was "invited ".
This "invitation" becomes an important metaphor for the Christian life. We must not be idle. We must not assume Christ will intervene at every turn to help us out. For God has ordained prayer to be the means for Christ to come and cleanse us, and for the Spirit to come and empower us. The first step in the Christian faith begins with an invitation to Jesus Christ .
The faithful Christian does not merely invite Jesus for the initial cleansing of sin either--Christ not only wants to forgive us of our sin, but He also wants to deliver us from the ongoing assaults of sin(Jn. 8:36). We do not simply invite Christ once and forget about Him. We do not simply invite Christ on Sunday and forget about Him Monday to Saturday. We must learn to invite Christ into our life everyday. We invite Jesus everyday, not because our salvation is in jeopardy but, because the health of our Christian life depends on daily walking with Christ. We will see this truth manifest itself as we continue in this passage.
In verse 3, Jesus' mother alerts Him to the fact that the party has run out of wine. Why would Mary deem it necessary to alert Jesus of this? Since Jesus had not yet performed any miracles, we should not so quickly assume that Mary intended Jesus to miraculously make more wine. John Calvin wonders if Mary's hope was that Jesus would quell "the guests' annoyance with some godly exhortations"(Calvin, John , 46). This is quite plausible given the fact that while Mary may not have ever witnessed a miracle from her son, she would have had many occasions to witness His exemplary life and His ability to exhort from the Scriptures.
Jesus' response to His mother has been widely misunderstood. When we read the English, "Woman, what do I have to do with you? "(v.4), we are tempted to think Jesus is rebuking His mother. Greek scholars assure us, however, that this phrasing is typical of the day and culture(Tasker, John , 59). Jesus was, by no means, issuing a rebuke, and His mother would not have taken this as a rebuke. And while the wording here in the English is admittedly confusing, what Jesus is likely saying is this: "your concern and my concern are not the same"(Tasker, John , 60).
Mary's concern was the reputation of the bridegroom and the impending displeasure of the guests. And with the phrase, "My hour has not yet come "(v.4), we are reminded that Jesus' primary concern was the Father's ordained will for Him(Jn. 4:34). If Jesus was to intervene in this mini-crisis, it would be for far different reasons than what was motivating Mary. Yet, this is the way God often works. As the patriarch Joseph pointed out to his brothers, "what you meant for evil, God meant for good "(Gen. 50:20). While Mary called for Jesus out of a concern for the success of the party, Jesus acted on this concern in order to bring glory to the Father.
In Mary's exhortation to the servants we are reminded of a basic truth in the Christian faith. She says to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it "(v.5). Our first responsibility, you will remember, is to invite Jesus to the party--invite Him to your workplace, invite Him into your home, invite Him to your times of recreation. Once we have invited Jesus to where we are at, only then are we ready to heed Mary's suggestion--"Whatever (Jesus) says to you, do it ".
We invite Jesus into our life, not as a spectator, not as our supernatural fix-it man, but as our Lord . We invite Jesus into every aspect of our life because we recognize that we need direction. Mary reminds us that when Jesus gives us that direction, we must follow it.
I sometimes wonder if this is the reason why many neglect reading their Bible. It is because we know that in the Bible we may be confronted by Christ, and asked to do something that we do not want to do. I must confess that there are days where I fear reading my Bible for this very reason. I know that if I open that holy Book I will be forced to rid myself of all the bitterness I have enjoyed fostering. I will be forced to purge all the misplaced pride in my heart. Yet, at the same time, I cannot escape Mary's admonition, "Whatever (Jesus) says to you, do it ".
In order that we do not misconstrue Jesus' lordship over our lives with being like a taskmaster to us, let us continue in this passage to see what happens when Jesus is obeyed.
Jesus, noticing "six stone waterpots " holding "twenty or thirty gallons each "(v.6), instructed the servants to "fill the pots with water "(v.7). The servants obeyed, filling the pots "up to the brim " with water(v.7). Jesus then gave them a second instruction, "Draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter "(v.8). Again, the servants obeyed the instruction of Jesus.
When the headwaiter tasted what the servants had brought, "the water had become wine "(v.9). Immediately the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; (but) you have kept the good wine until now "(v.10).
There is much for the Christian to learn from this account. First of all, none of this would have been possible if Jesus wasn't invited to the party. Without Jesus at the party, there is no replacement for the depleted wine, the guests leave dissatisfied, and the bridegroom is disgraced. In short, without Jesus, the party becomes a chaotic scene.
Is there any part of your life that seems chaotic? Is your work chaotic? Is the state of your home in chaos? Is even your leisure time filled with frustration and interruptions? Perhaps the trouble is that Jesus wasn't invited. It is not too late to invite Him.
The second thing we learn from this passage is the need to "do " what Jesus says . It is great that we come to church, and it is commendable that we read our Bible, but are we "doing " what Jesus says to do?
If we are not obeying Jesus as we should, we obviously have not yet understood the third lesson from this text: When we obey Jesus, He blesses us . We are to obey Christ, not simply for His sake, but also for our own sake. We benefit from doing what Jesus tells us to do.
Let us also appreciate the magnitude of Jesus' blessing in this instance. Jesus did not merely provide the amount of wine needed, but He supplied far beyond what was necessary. If only one or two containers were used, one could suspect that the wine had been brought in from elsewhere. But by using 6 containers totaling over 120 gallons there was no mistaking this for anything but a miracle. Jesus made enough wine to last 300 people for an entire evening! By producing such a great quantity of wine, the intention of Jesus was not to fill their appetite or to get them drunk, but to unequivocally demonstrate the power of God within Him.
Yet, while I maintain that Jesus blesses us to glorify the Father, I wouldn't want you to think that He does not wish us to enjoy His blessing. Jesus does not turn the water into just any kind of wine, but into the best kind of wine. This was no cheap, watered down version, but wine of the highest quality.
It is interesting that the apostle John abruptly ends his discourse on the party. He does not elaborate on the joy of each guest who is, now, amply filled. Instead, John leaves us with a consequence of Jesus' miracle which we must not forget--John reports that, after the miracle at Cana, "His disciples believed in Him "(v.11).
Of course, if they were disciples they must have already had, at least, a measure of faith in Jesus. But, as any Christian can attest to, there is always room to grow in faith. After witnessing this timely demonstration of power, the belief the disciples had in Jesus was strengthened. This is a consequence to keep in mind whenever you read about a miracle of Christ--miracles are not demonstrations of power for power's sake, but miracles are always intended to stimulate and strengthen faith in Jesus .
Let us return to the issue of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How strong is our faith in Christ? Do we desire to have our faith strengthened?
Trusting that you do desire for your faith to be strengthened, I urge you, by prayer, to invite Jesus to be present wherever you are at. Invite Jesus to be present with you at home. Invite Jesus to be present with you at work. Invite Jesus to be with you during your leisure times. Of course, Jesus is always present to us, but by inviting Him through prayer we are made aware of this presence.
Remember that it is not enough to invite Jesus to be present and to leave it at that. His presence demands obedience. As Mary instructed, we must "do " what Jesus says. Obedience must never be seen as a burden, rather obedience must be understood as a means of blessing. When will fill our containers with "water ", Jesus is faithful to turn that "water " into "wine ".
Many people neglect to serve Christ because they have no "wine " to offer--that is, they feel they don't have the polished spiritual gifts to serve Christ. Yet, Christ calls us not to bring "wine ", but to bring "water ". Christ calls us to offer ourselves--unpolished, and weak in faith as we may be--Christ calls us to service in order to transform and bless that service.
If your desire is to be blessed by God you must invite Jesus to the party, and you must do what He says . The good news is that Christ is faithful. Christ will not fail to bless your service to Him. Let us become a church committed to serving and obeying Jesus Christ. For it is then, and only then, we will experience the fullness of the riches of Christ. Amen.