Summary: A sermon on the water to wine miracle in Cana. Listening to Mary's instructions to the wait staff at the wedding. A challenge to faithful discipleship.
Hillsborough Reformed Church at Millstone
Jesus turned water into wine. It is one of the best known of his miracles.
In John’s gospel it is the first miracle Jesus performs, and since John puts it first, the church has traditionally regarded it as the very first miracle Jesus did.
John does not call it a miracle. He calls it a sign.
That’s because Jesus was not just a miracle worker who did things to impress people. His miracles had meaning, meaningful miracles, if you will. They are signs.
The miracles of our Lord point to something.
This miracle takes place in a context with which we are all familiar. Everyone has been to a wedding reception. They are delightful, happy fun times. Wedding receptions celebrate love and the start of a new life together of a young woman and man. They are full of promise. People laugh and dance and eat and drink.
Jesus is at this wedding reception. He had been invited, we are told. So had his mother. So had his disciples. Though we don’t know whose wedding it was, we know it was in Cana and the bride or groom or both must have known Jesus and his family and his disciples.
Have you ever struggled with a wedding invitation list?
I recently heard form a friend out of state whose son is getting married. There is room for 150 guests at the reception. The young man told his father and his mother, you can only invite 25 friends and family. We have over a hundred of our friends coming. Mom and dad are not happy. So the give and take, back and forth has been going on about who can come and who can’t
When you are making an invitation list and the space or resources are limited, you certainly don’t invite people you don’t like.
So the fact that Jesus and his disciples were invited means they were liked.
Tells you a lot, doesn’t it?
And then a terribly thing happens. The wine runs out. Ouch! That would be embarrassing. Imagine if you were hosting your daughter’s wedding and you were told by the staff there weren’t enough meals to go around. You’d be mortified – embarrassed, fretting about what to do. What would you do? Send out for pizza?
This is what happened in Cana. (Not sending out for pizza!)
The wine ran out.
Mary told Jesus about the wine shortage. Then she said an amazing thing – she turned to the staff at the wedding and said to them, “Do whatever he tells you to do.”
This may have been one of Mary’s finest moments. What was going through her mind? Why did she tell her son and then expect him to do something about it? Did she expect him to run off to the next town over to the wine shop and get more? I don’t think so. I think Mary knew something was about to happen. She had no way of knowing what, but she had a sense her son could fix this embarrassing problem.
Do whatever he tells you to do.
Jesus saw the jars of water for the Jewish rite of purification – for the ritual hand washing. These were large – 20 – 30 gallons each, so we are talking about well in excess of 100 gallons of water.
You know what comes next – Jesus converts the water. He turns water into wine. And when the steward tastes it, he is amazed – it is the most excellent of wines! Most people serve the good wine first, then when taste buds are exhausted, the lesser wine – but you have saved the best wine till last.
Now note carefully.
Who knows about the water turned into wine?
Mary knew. His disciples knew. The wait staff knew – the servants. That’s it.
Don’t miss this, please.
About two million weddings take place in our country every year. Of the two million weddings that happened last year, how many did you know about? At best a handful, unless you follow the silliness of celebrities. All around you and all around me, people were getting married, saying, “I do.” “For better, for worse. For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health.” But you and I are unaware of them unless they were family members or close friends.
The wedding in Cana was just one wedding among many in the year 30 AD. We don’t even know the name of the bride. But something happened there that sends a chill down our spines. A sign took place. Only those closest to Jesus saw it.
Who knows about the water becoming wine? You do! God has revealed this to you. To you the sign has been given.
The sign was this – the best is yet to come. Jesus is here. The old trials and struggles and heartaches and hurts are over. Life has shifted like two tectonic plates riding up and over one another in an earthquake.