John chapter two sets the scene at a wedding, and Jesus’s mother is there, along with Jesus Himself and His disciples. Imagine inviting Jesus to your wedding, and He actually attends in the flesh. Quick side thought; it’s kind of funny that Jesus was invited to a wedding (someone’s wedding whose name we are not given) and that He actually goes. It seems like, with all the things that God could be doing (all that God responsibility stuff), it doesn’t make sense for Jesus to be having fun and attending a wedding--doesn’t He have souls to save?
But it’s in this reality that God does His work: He existed amongst His creations in the most down-to-earth way, and He got His message across through the love He shared with the people around Him. I think this simple point speaks volumes: God is so great and so all-powerful, yet He took the time to attend this wedding because He was invited, and because He loved the people who were getting married (and everyone else that was there).
1) When we bring our problems to God, we allow Him to perform His miracles through them
With this in mind from John 2:1-2 (that God just wants us to invite Him into our lives and spend time with us), we see in verse 3 that Mary comes to Jesus and says that the wine has run out (John 2:3). A situation has arisen in the wedding: the party has run out of wine. For ancient Jewish marriage traditions, the marriage ceremony usually lasted from 5 to 7 days… so depending on what day the marriage ceremony was at, the shortage of wine could be a real downer. To make matters seem worse, Jesus responds to Mary’s concern in a way that almost says, “What’s it matter to me? I’m just trying to enjoy this wedding.” (John 2:4).
Mary then tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says to do--a funny, yet bold, choice of action, considering Jesus sounded like He was unmoved by the situation and distant from the problem (John 2:5). But Mary knows the heart of God: that He wants to help us, and is wanting us to place any situation that burdens us upon Him. This is why Mary, almost immediately after Jesus’s response, tells the servants to rely on Jesus and do whatever He says. She knows to rely on God no matter what, even when He Himself tests her.
And this brings us to the next point: that although the shortage of wine was a situation that seemed entirely insignificant to Jesus, it was made significant to Him because of Mary’s concern and request for help, along with the people at the wedding (possibly). And when we look to God for help, we provide Him with an opportunity to do what He innately does: provide. At the request and faith of Mary, along with the eventual faith demonstrated by the servants, Jesus proceeded to perform a miracle. The first requirement to bring the miracle to fruition required the servants to fill twenty to thirty gallon waterpots with--you guessed it--water (John 2:6-7). How they filled these behemoth pots with water during that day and age sounds like a real pain, and I could just imagine what the servants were thinking, like, “why the heck am I doing this.”
2) God wants us to trust in Him
But the servants came through and filled the pots as they were asked, and were obedient. In many ways, the miracles God works often require obedience, and to truly be obedient requires one to trust. There is always the possibility to be obedient out of fear, but God does not work that way; why would He die for us, if only to instill fear into our hearts to do what He says? No, God wants us to actively trust in Him freely because of the goodness of His love. God is wanting our trust, and one of the ways we do this is by being obedient to what He asks of us--whether that be going to church even when we don’t want to or after a long time of not going, praying for someone (even the people we might not like as much), giving something, or whatever else God may move upon our hearts. In the instance John is writing about, the obedience God was calling for from the servants was to fill pots with water. But that’s not everything, either.
Once the pots were full, the real test was about to begin for the servants. In John 2:8, we see Jesus tell the servants to draw some water out of the pots and bring it to the master of the feast. In many ways, the preceding obedience of filling the pots with water was like a stepping stone to greater responsibility. The servants filled the waterpots with water in private (or at least without the master of the feast knowing), and thus demonstrated their act of faith in the private setting. But God was not finished, and after the servants’ first act of obedience, Jesus called them to demonstrate their faith publicly by bringing the master of the feast a cup of water from the waterpots (John 2:8).
Whether this “master of the feast” was a member of government, or a high-ranking priest or Levite, doesn’t change the reality that the task of bringing this “esteemed” person a cup of water--right after the wine has run out-- be quite daunting. From my point of view, it’d almost look like the servant would be sending a message of, “Here, drink some water, you look like you could use it because you’ve already been drinking too much.” Not sure how well that message would blow over.
Nonetheless, the Word states that the servants obeyed Jesus and brought some water to the master of the feast (John 2:8-9). For the miracle to be complete, it required the servants to walk that cup of water all the way to the center point of the wedding: right to the master of the feast. Amidst all the potential for gossip and doubt and confusion from the rest of the gathering, the servants obeyed.
For all we know, the water in the servants cup might have been water the entire time they were making their way to the master; even to the point of it flowing to the master’s mouth. In any case, however, the servants endured and gave the man the cup of water that Jesus told them to give. And because of their obedience and trust in Jesus (and/or their trust in Mary’s trust in Jesus), they endured the whole way and brought to fruition Jesus’s first miracle: that the water was made into wine. And we see the fruits that their obedience bore: “And he said to him (the bridegroom), 'Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!'" (John 2:10).
3) When we trust in God, we allow Him to work in ways that are so much bigger than ourselves
Not only did the faith and reliance upon God by Mary and the obedience and trust of the servants create a miracle by providing wine to the wedding, but--even more so--it allowed God’s glory to show up, and it helped the disciples to believe: “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.” (John 2:11). Because of the actions taken by Mary and the servants, Jesus’s glory was manifested. When we trust in God and do what He says, we allow His glory to be made manifest in our lives.
What did this look like in this wedding scenario? Wine was provided by Jesus for the wedding--and from the wedding’s standpoint, this was quite a blessing in terms of the momentary gathering. But the fact that this miracle helped the disciples to believe, is something of extreme importance. The disciples were God’s builders of the Church, and the fact that the faith and obedience of some “lowly” servants helped the disciples find faith themselves, is something of eternal weight. The names of the servants are not mentioned, and as far as I know, we have no idea who they were. But for as long as the Word lives, their acts of faith are immortalized through it, and the glory of God shines through their simple decision to listen to Jesus.
When we trust in God, we allow Him to work His miracles in our lives. Could the servants have ever predicted that Jesus would turn the water into wine? I’m sure they are not so different from us, and were thinking of how impossible such a thing seems. But despite whatever thoughts they might have had, they did what they did anyways and listened to Jesus. And because of their trust and obedience, they allowed Jesus to work His first miracle and instill faith into people that would help change the world. It is no surprise that Christ’s first miracle is one that demonstrates the necessity of listening to Him in the private setting, and then demonstrating faith publicly. Jesus wants us to cultivate an inner, private relationship of trust with Him, so He can move us into greater responsibility outwardly. And once our private relationship with Him has been built, we can bring our faith to others and tell them about the One who works miracles.
4) God is always calling us to trust in Him more
God is calling us to trust in Him in so many ways, and although we might not have to fill water pots with water to be made into wine, we are being called to have faith in His plan for us nonetheless. A part of me sometimes would much rather have Jesus in person, telling me to fill water pots with water--at least He is telling me what to do directly and in the flesh. But we are called to be people who walk by faith, not by sight, and if we cannot trust in God without seeing, then we will not have the faith it requires to see God’s glory made manifest. Who has the wisdom or knowledge to fully understand how God works, and how His glory will be made manifest? I’m sure the servants at the wedding never fully realized the weight of what happened that day, and the impact it had on the history of Christianity.
I think it’s the same for us as well; that sometimes, it’s hard to see God’s miracle while we are filling the waterpots, or even after the water has been made wine. But there is always God’s assurance, that no matter the miracle or blessing, whether seen or unseen, through joy or suffering, we can know this: that God provided us with His greatest miracle by dying for us at the Cross, and then overcame death after three days and rose from the grave; that whosoever believes in the name of Jesus Christ would be saved, and have everlasting life.
In order to allow Christ’s miracle into our lives, God asks us to place our faith and trust in Him. Every miracle that Jesus performed was in response to acts of faith, and it is out of God’s great compassion that He offers us salvation through Jesus. There is no secret formula; there is no right way to do it. You just come as you are, and humble yourself before the Cross, and God does the rest. We are not guaranteed any moment of this life; our lives come and go like the wind--but God will remain, and it is only in Him that we have a Hope that never dies.
I pray that God blesses you with the faith and obedience to trust in Him, and to allow His love, peace, and joy that surpasses all understanding, to overflow in your life, and to have open eyes to see the miracles and glories being made manifest in you and the world around you, and to grow in relationship with Him. In the mighty and awesome name of Jesus Christ, Amen. How is Christ calling you to trust in Him today?