Summary: We cannot always do what Jesus did, but we can do what he tells us to do and experience the transformation of water into wine and despair into hope.
Do Whatever He Tells You to Do
John 2:1-11 January 20, 2013
Rev. David J. Clark
Something went wrong at the wedding. It’s a common occurrence. I warn couples that something will go wrong during their wedding day. It may be something insignificant – the goldfish for the table decoration might be floating belly up by the time the guests reach the reception hall. It may be something that no one ever notices – one of the groomsmen’s trousers has a hole. It might be something that everyone sees and notices – like the time one of my clergy friends accidentally swore during the sermon He was trying to say one word that rhymed with a swear word and accidentally said the big one right there in church in front of God and everyone.
Something went wrong at this wedding Jesus attended. They ran out of wine, which would have been a big thing in that culture. Weddings were community events that lasted several days and involved countless details. There was always at least a year between the betrothal and wedding. The party was a sign of faith in God, and the connection of God between God’s people. People come together in celebration; people celebrate love, community and God.
In this party, in this small, poor village they run out of wine. Why did they run out? Perhaps it was just one of those things where they didn’t plan well enough or maybe someone was guzzling too much. More likely, the couple was poor and they just didn’t have enough. Unfortunately, to run out of wine was considered a sign of disrespect, of not trusting that you’d be taken care of. You could be ostracized from the community and I read, you could even be sued. Imagine starting off that way, embarrassed, broke and facing a lawsuit. Maybe some of you have been there.
Mary notices, “They’ve run out of wine.” And Jesus sounds harsh, “What is that to you and me? My hour has not yet come.” Mary kind of pushes him to take care of it anyway. It’s the time of their need, you do something. So Mary says some of the wisest words ever uttered. She tells some of the servants “Do whatever he tells you to do.”
She pushed him into his first miracle. I’ll bet you could see him rolling his eyes and sighing. It shows the humanness of Jesus. Even he had his mother telling him what to do when he was 30 years old. And she was right. He did act. It’s a human moment that reminds us that Jesus identifies fully with us. There are going to be things in this world that God wants you to do that at first you are not going to want to do. From time to time, you are going to need a little push to get going in the direction you need to go. Have you ever had a Mary in your life, someone who has given you that little push? You do it. Sometimes it is someone who is just blunt we’re going to church; I’ll pick you up at 8:10. You are going to open up your checkbook and give $100 dollars to Costa Rica mission relief– you were hoping to get away with five.
I don’t think I would have accomplished much if there hadn’t been someone in the background encouraging me to move forward. We all need a Mary – someone who will encourage us, someone who will even see where we need to be and get a little pushy with us. Do you have a Mary? Maybe this is the time today to listen to her instead of shutting her out. Maybe you are supposed to be a Mary for someone else. Maybe there is someone who you sense their call to be faithful to God in some area of their lives. Go ahead, get a little more assertive. They may roll their eyes and sigh, but they may also start down a path that leads to blessing. It occurs to me that part of the pastor’s job is to be a Mary, to give you the push you need sometimes, the call that begins “I’ve got an opportunity for you.”
Jesus told the stewards to fill the six stone jars of 20–30 gallons each with water. We’re told these jars are for the Jewish rites of purification. People would come to events, and ritualistically wash signifying a cleansing for God. You get ritually pure and then you can get into the party. He told the stewards to fill these jars and this is the water that turns to wine. Jesus had said, it is not what is on the outside that is impure but what is on the inside. And now, the wine, the blessing, gets on the inside and cleanses us. And the wine from Jesus that cleanses us from the inside hits our taste buds every week in the sacrament of communion. We are reminded of the cleansing, healing, blessing power of Jesus for our lives.