May 1, 2011
(1) On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
(2) Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.
(3) When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine."
(4) And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
(5) His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
(6) Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
(7) Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
(8) And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it.
(9) When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom
(10) and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now."
(11) This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Amen. The word of God. Thanks be to God.
There is a saying, when it comes to pomp and circumstance, the Brits do it better. The saying is true, and we love it. Everybody loves a parade and everybody loves a wedding. We had that Friday, and American TV could not get enough of it. Kate and William got married. William is a member of that same royal family that we kicked out of the colonies back in 1776, and ever since Americans have been fascinated with royals.
It is hard to imagine an event with less relevance to an economically troubled America, than a wedding in London, but perhaps that is the point. People need jobs. Companies need business. That is the reality, but we also need distraction, and few things are more distracting than the symbol-soaked, hat-happy party that Kate and William had on Friday.
If you are immune to glamour and parades, you did not tune in, but odds are if you did, you enjoyed it. Yes, other things were far more important. Tornadoes hit NC last week; tornadoes hit Alabama this week and killed 300 people. Before that, we had the Japanese earthquake, Tsunami, and nuclear plant disaster. "Sometimes in the storms, the true storms around the world," said ABC's Diane Sawyer, "a splash of color can give us a sense of hope." Maybe she is right. We need that “splash of color.”
If you are into finances, you might be interested to know that total costs for the wedding will be around $70 million.
The British taxpayers agreed to foot the bill for "security and transport"—namely the 5,000 police, and 35 dogs who are specially trained to sniff for bombs. That bill (for the taxpayers) comes to $32 million. The bill is so large partly because police earn double while working on a bank holiday, and Prime Minister David Cameron declared the wedding day to be just that—a bank holiday.
Would you like a few more trivial facts? An estimated two billion viewers watched the wedding on TV around the world.
You might ask who is invited to a royal wedding? Somehow, I got passed over. I am still hurt about that. 1,900 people were asked to the ceremony, 600 to lunch at the Palace, and 300 for the evening of dinner and dancing. I still do not know how they missed me.
There were 8,000 TV and radio journalists (50 from CNN). That is not to mention all the print reporters.
Kate had four bridesmaids, five if you include her Maid of Honor, who was younger sister Philippa Middleton
Two wedding cakes were prepared. A traditional fruitcake with white icing and cream, and, at Prince William's request, the reception had a chocolate biscuit cake, made with 1,700 tea biscuits.
There was just one wedding ring though. Prince William was not given a wedding band at the ceremony.
Biggest question before the wedding was the wedding dress. What wedding dress would Kate Middleton wear? This is just a personal opinion but I thought it was beautiful, but then all brides are beautiful.
That said however, I would like to talk about another wedding. We do not know who was getting married, but we know where it was—Cana, wherever that was.
The royal wedding of Kate and William took place in one of the great capitols of our planet. Cana was a backwoods town off the beaten path from anywhere. Even today, scholars debate where the real town might have been. For Christ to begin his ministry there was like opening a great play at McCelvey Center in York instead of on Broadway (no offense to McCelvey Center, I love the place). Yet, having said that maybe there is a lesson here. Maybe Jesus is saying to us that no place is the backwoods to God. We cannot be anywhere that God is not.
Jesus did a miracle at this wedding, but it was an inconvenient miracle. With regard to the royal wedding of Kate and William, every detail was carefully worked out, and everything came off like clockwork. But at Cana, Jesus had to do a miracle because of mismanagement and poor planning. The wedding planner blew it. On this most important day for this young couple, there would be a big grape-colored blotch. Yet this is when we always call upon God. There is a problem. Try prayer. Ask God into our failures; Bring God into our grape-colored blotches. God is the shepherd who will find the one lost sheep of ninety-nine. God is the Father who welcomes home the Prodigal Son. God turns life into a testimony to beauty.
However, we add that the miracle at Cana was a reluctant miracle. Perhaps the strangest part of this miracle is that Jesus did it at all. It appears that Jesus did the miracle because of his mother’s persistence against his better judgment. She demands a response. Jesus responds to her persistence.
Jesus has a great deal to say about persistence. In Luke 18, he told the parable of the unjust judge. A widow kept coming to him and pleading for her rights. Hear my case, she demanded. For a long time the judge refused to act, but at last he said to himself, even though I do not fear God or respect people, yet I will hear this widow's case just to get her off my back (Luke 18:3-5). Could this parable of the persistent widow be based upon that wedding at Cana where Mary was the model of persistence? Maybe.
There are other miracles of persistence in the life of Jesus. We think of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar at the gates of Jericho and the Syro-Phoenician women who begged for her possessed daughter.
Perhaps we need to think about our own persistence. If we are not seeing miracles, perhaps it is because we are not determined enough. Do we hang in there long enough to see God’s work bear fruit? Our society demands instant gratification, but sometimes God does not work that way. Perhaps the reason we see fewer miracles these days is that we do not stick around long enough to see the results of sincere prayer.
At Cana, we learn in v3 what the problem was. They ran out of wine. That seems so trivial. We wonder, why should we care. Why is John telling us about this?
John’s Gospel is written primarily to convince us that Jesus was the Messiah, the Chosen One of God. As a result, John focuses his Gospel on seven discourses and eight signs that testify to Jesus’ deity and purpose. When John speaks of the incredible works of Jesus, he uses the word, “signs” or “distinguishing road marks.” John is not trying to give us a biography of Jesus; he is giving us a testimony to the Messiah.
The eight “signs” of Jesus that are found in John are:
1. Turning water to wine (2:1-11);
2. Healing the Government Official’s son (4:46-54);
3. Healing the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (5:1-9);
4. Feeding the 5,000 (6:1-14);
5. Walking on water (6:15-21);
6. Restoring sight to the blind man (9:1-4);
7. Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44);
8. Providing an overwhelming number of fish to the disciples after the resurrection (21:1-14).
Each of these signs has their own special significance and John tells us that he chose these events in particular because he could not possibly have written everything that he witnessed Jesus do [John 21:25]. We see Jesus displaying God’s power over illness, crippled limbs, blindness, and even death. We see our Lord’s power over natural forces and feeding thousands with a poor boy’s lunch. Yet, what about this miracle--this backwater, awkward, miracle at a cousin’s house--what does it tell us?
We have already learned that this miracle illustrates that no place is too remote for our Savior to reach, it represents that God is willing to step into our miscalculations and bring about wholeness and that God hears the cry of the persistent prayer.
However, this miracle also tells us some very important fundamentals about God:
God blesses the gathering of His people. A wedding was important to the Jewish community, especially in a small town like Cana. People were invited from surrounding villages, and sometimes they would all stay for a week. The wedding party itself would sweep through the town going up and down alleyways to make sure that no one was left out. So, this is what God blesses, a community gathered in His name, which leaves no one out. Jesus’ first miracle blessed a body of believers gathered for a specific purpose. That is a significant sign about the blessings of God. We cannot call ourselves Christian and be outside the body of believers. To be Christian is to be church.
Also, God blesses the sacred covenant of family. Family was the building block of community and the model that Jesus used for his relationship with the church. The church is the bride of Christ.
Furthermore, God wants His people to know that it is for our joy and happiness that He sent His Son. There is only one thing a good parent truly wants to pass to a child: happiness—not the trivial happiness that comes from materialism, not the shallow sarcasm that passes for humor today. Jesus wants the joy of families united in compassion, and acceptance. God wants us to know the happiness of a life well-lived.
OK, let us look at the hard part of this passage. Verse 4: “Jesus said to Mary, 'Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.'”
People have tried to tone down this statement throughout the centuries. They want to make it less harsh than it appears to be. The term “woman” was not abnormal to use in Christ’s time. It could even be interpreted as “dear woman.” However, what Jesus said after that was harsh. Jesus rebuked Mary. “What does that have to do with us?” Or, he might have said, “Your crisis is not my problem.”
Jesus can solve the problem, but he says that the timing is not right. Literally, he says; “My hour has not yet come.” I am not ready for a public ministry.
We have already seen how this is a miracle of persistence. This statement by Jesus brings out the steel backbone in Mary. She apparently ignores Jesus altogether. She turns to the slaves and growled, "Do whatever he tells you.” Then Jesus does it! He transforms some one hundred and twenty to one hundred and eighty gallons of water into the finest wine.
Notice that Mary asked him to do it, and Mary assumed that he would do it. That is the real secret of effective prayer. That is effective faith. She prays and she acts like her prayers are going to be answered.
And Jesus goes along. He has rebuked her somewhat, but he still does what she wants.
We read in v6 that there were six stone water jars there, each holding between twenty and thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water. When the slaves had completed that task, the water had apparently already been changed to wine because Jesus ordered them to take some of it to the person in charge of the wedding feast. When this man tasted the wine, he loved it. He said to the bridegroom, "Everyone else serves the best wine first, and after the guests have drunk a lot, he serves the ordinary wine. But you have kept the best wine until now!"
So a wedding, which was almost a disaster, became a great celebration; the dark cloud was lifted from over the festivities. I wonder if the bridegroom even knew who saved the day. There is no indication he did. Perhaps this was a private joke between Jesus, the slaves, the disciples, and Mary.
I wonder how many miracles happen in my life daily because of the prayers of others--miracles I am totally unaware of because someone is praying for me. How many times has my day been saved by the prayers of someone who lifts my name in love upon their lips?
Likewise, I am challenged. Am I willing to act behind the scenes, interceding for others, like Mary did for this wedding couple? Am I willing to act on another’s behalf, even if they never know my prayers or actions worked in their favor?
What we can be assured of is this: When God gives, it is in fullness and abundance. It is not enough to get by; it is enough for the entire banquet. There is plenty of joy for the entire community when prayer arises from effective faith.
We are told in v11, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.”
The glory of the Lord came to the earth and manifested itself in a backwater village. The miraculous appeared in a most obscure corner of the world and world would never be the same again. The world did not know it yet. Most people in that day would have said that there is nothing much going on. Certain they would say, there is nothing happening in Galilee. But the whole world was changing because of what happened in Galilee.
Jesus did not stage these events. They were given to him and he used them. The mark of true faith is how we return to God the circumstances that God presents to us. To put that another way: our life is the hand we have been dealt, how are you going to play your hand? This is what we have. We do not have perfect circumstances; we do not have perfect timing. That does not matter. What are you going to do for God with what you have?
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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