Summary: What do we do when we ask God for miracles and they fail to materialize. Do we conclude his is incapable or not there. Or is there a larger picture?
Introduction (Personal story)
It was a life defining moment. It was the Fall of 2013 when I received a phone call in my office. It was the nurse at the doctor’s office where my wife had had an appointment and she said I needed to come to the hospital. Earlier that week, my wife had felt a lump in her breast and had gone in to have it examined. It concerned the doctor so he sent her next door to have an immediate sonogram.
On that day we sat in that sonogram room as the tech examined the image of the lump before she finally said, “It has all of the hallmarks of breast cancer. We need to set up an appointment to have a biopsy done as soon as possible.” Three days later the biopsy was completed and the surgeon confirmed it was cancer. And while they thought it was a simple case that was caught early, he ordered a PET scan just to be sure.
The PET scan revealed the cancer had spread to some of the vertebrae on my wife’s back and to her femur on her right leg.
I share this story not for sympathy but because no one wants to hear the diagnosis of cancer. And one of the things such a life defining moment does is it almost forces a person to pray. Early in November of that same year, my wife’s femur broke in the spot where the cancer had been. The surgeon who performed the surgery didn’t pull any punches. He said he could insert a rod in Dee’s leg to join the break, but he said due to the radiation treatment and the dead bones from the cancer that the fracture would never heal properly.
Six weeks later the screws holding that rod in place snapped. Four weeks after that the rod in Dee’s leg broke in two. It just seemed to be getting worse. Now I believe that God has the power. I have faith that God can accomplish the healing. I believe miracles are possible and that they still happen. So I got down on my knees to beg God for a miracle for my wife.
Have you been to the point in some life’s situation where you have asked God for a miracle. I said “God you can bring what is dead back to life. You can heal my wife’s leg completely. You could even remove that rod in her leg if you wanted to and you could glorify your name. Lord, I am asking for a miracle.” It didn’t happen. My wife still walks with a cane.
Have you been there? It can lead us to make some conclusions about God. Maybe God is incapable of handling it. Maybe he doesn't care. Maybe he's not there. How do we handle it when the miracle we desperately want fails to happen?
If that’s you I want to explore today’s passage to see if we can find an answer.
Today’s Passage is about a wedding. So to better understand the story, we need to know a little about 1st Century Jewish weddings.
Weddings in Jesus Day
Marriage in Jesus' day began with a betrothal period, up to a year before the marriage celebration. The man and woman enter into a binding agreement to marry, in fact more binding than our "engagements" in our Western culture today. In Jesus day, the man would give the bride's father a bridal gift, a form of compensation to the father (some of which becomes a dowry the father gives to the daughter at the marriage to help provide economic stability to the marriage bond).
During the betrothal period, the couple doesn't live together or consummate the marriage though they are considered husband and wife, and the bond cannot be broken without an official certificate of divorce. Once that period is over, the marriage is celebrated. The groom and his friends go to the bride's home, and then escort the bride in a festive procession to the groom's home, where a grand celebration takes place. There is probably some kind of exchange of vows and some kind of religious ceremony, we aren't sure.
The groom probably gives his bride gifts. And after the marriage feast, the bride and groom enter the nuptial chamber and the marriage is consummated. It’s important to realize that the festivities could go on sometimes for a week or more. It appears this is the case in our text today.
John 2:1 starts with
“On the third day” - what does that mean? If we use the last chapter as a guide, it would have been on the third day since the calling of Phillip to be Jesus’ disciple.
So on the third day,