We are in the midst of this season after Epiphany and we are getting ourselves ready to go through Lent. In this we are looking at the beginning and a handful of milestones in Jesus’ earthly ministry. In these milestones we not only learn about who Jesus is, but we are called to reflect on our own ministry in the world as well.
At the onset this one may seem like a bit of a stretch. You may have heard that scripture read and thought…“Is he going to talk about us performing miracles?” Well I am not gonna say you cannot perform miracles, but I will say that is not what I am going to be talking about today. Today I want us to talk about something that may get glossed over as we read this passage.
So often we want to focus on the grandness that is Jesus performing his first miracle. In fact most of the times I have heard this passage preached the often just focus on the glory and majesty…and divinity that is Jesus. That is a great thing to focus on and had I not been doing this sermon series I might have gone that way. However, as I think about what this passage says for us today I think about Jesus’ preparedness and willingness to answer the call to help.
So first lets look at the story and parse the story out and then we will examine how the story relates to how we do ministry as well.
When this story starts out we see the writer start by saying, “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.” (John 2:1-2)
The writer is setting the scene. We see that there is a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Cana, in the biblical world, was about 10km or around 6 miles north from Nazareth. A little more of an understanding it is about 161 km or 100 miles north of Jerusalem. Cana was in the region of Galilee and was believed to be near where Jesus resided before his ministry began.
Now we assume that since there is a clear invitation to this wedding, Jesus would have known the people whom were getting married. Not only did they know Jesus, but the knew Jesus’ family because Jesus’ mother was invited as well. So here we are at a wedding and Jesus is there, his disciples are there, and his mother is there.
Now much like weddings today they were parties, the people being married put on a party to celebrate their marriage. In our story the party has been going on for a while and the wine has run out, and we have this interaction between Jesus and his mother.
“When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim.” (John 2:3-7)
Jesus’ mother comes and informs him that the wine has run out. Now this is how we know the gospel writers had a sense of humor. Jesus’ response is likened to him saying “well they should have hired a better wedding planner.” Pretty much he was wondering why that matter to them. However his mother is not going to let that stand she sees Jesus as being able to help these people with their problem.
Now lets ignore the alcohol implication in this passage. In what I am about to say is not a statement about alcohol, but about the work we are called to do.
Jesus helps the people and supplies wine so that the party may continue. We don’t know why they ran out of wine? Was this a poor family who could only afford a small amount of wine? Or did they just plan badly and didn’t plan enough wine to last long enough? I don’t think it matters, because the part of the story I want us to latch on to, and something that is a theme of Jesus ministry and miracles often, is that there is a need and Jesus helps to provide for that need.
In a time where the wine had run out Jesus provides wine to allow the people to continue to celebrate.
So what does this mean for us?
Well I think it is fairly obvious as I have mentioned it a few times now that this passage shows us that even when we least expect it, when we are called upon we should act to help others.
How many of you have gone out and unexpectedly been put into a place where someone needed help? How many of you actually responded? I think that the answer to that second question is often a lot less than that number should be. So often we encounter a need for help and we let it pass by. Often times that statement by Jesus, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me?” (John 2:4a), is the place where we stop…We make that statement and don’t help because we feel it is not our job. However, we see that despite that statement Jesus understands the need to help, and despite knowing that he isn’t the one who should solve the problem…he rectifies the situation anyways…because he knows that in the midst of need we, as Christians, are called to respond.
Last year time.com picked up a story from Savannah, Ga. A man was running a marathon and with about 200 yds. to go to the finish the man tripped and fell. He was laying on the ground and he was bleeding from his face, knees, and arms. He was laying on the ground, probably in an immense amount of pain. Because they were near the finish there was a large crowd of spectators watching this. A police officer rushed onto the course to address the situation and see if the man was alright. Upon approaching the man he could hear the man whispering, “I’ve got to finish this race. Please help me, I’ve got to finish the race.”
This man was laying on the ground, in a lot of pain, and all he wanted to do was finish. This police officer didn’t have to help. He could have told the guy he wasn’t going to run, or that he shouldn’t and just let the emergency squad help square him away. No the police officer helps the man up and walks along side, holding the man upright as the go across the finish line. (http://time.com/4106645/police-officer-helps-injured-marathon-runner-finish-race/)
When we least expect it we could be called upon to help someone in need. Need is all around us in our society. How are we responding to it? What are we doing to help those in need?
Jesus shows us that we should always be of the mindset to help people in need. Jesus helps the people at the celebration by providing them with the opportunity to continue celebrating. In his ministry Jesus also helps by healing people who need healing, feeding those who are hungry, and housing those who need comfort. He responds to the need that is present, and we are called to do the same.
Let us leave forth from here knowing that we are called to do this work too. When we do the work of God powerful things happen. I am not saying that you will perform miracles like turning water into wine, but by showing the love of God through your work you offer to the person or people you can bring people who may have lost all hope of God in their lives to rely on God and become a part of God’s Kingdom.
*Scriptures used from New Revised Standard Version