EVEN THE SMALL THINGS
(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg
1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
People of God:
A caucus of angels were debating political strategies. The issue of this discussion was how to make their candidate, the great King, regarded as worthy of trust, after all, to be able to believe what a candidate says seems to be the political question of history. What would let his true character shine through as the son of God in whom disciples and many others could place their confidence?
It was commonly agreed that some inaugural or first sign would be needed - a miracle wouldn't hurt - something that would really arrest people's attention and make him believable. Various miracles were brought up. It should be public with many witnesses. One suggested the healing of a famous person, something maybe excessive that would indisputably attract media attention. Another suggested calming a chaotic raging sea.
"What if we had him walk on water?," asked a third angel.
"I've got it! What if he calmed a raging sea, then walked across the water to the other side, where he performed a healing?" suggested still another.
Then a kind of quiet angel spoke up (those are the kind you have to watch out for, you know). "I think Jesus should raise an entire graveyard, bring them all back to life."
But as mothers are - it took a women, the mother of Jesus to kick start the signs or demonstrations that would make others believe who Jesus really was.
There was a wedding in the town of Cana. The Groom was probably a relative of the family. It was an important occasion to the entire community, after all this party went on for up to 7 days. It appears that the party had gone on for some time and then, as Mary informed Jesus, the wine ran out. Maybe it was because the party was poorly managed by the banquet master, maybe it was because a certain rabbi with his group of disciples came and crashed the party, we don't know. But for a wedding party like this, this was disaster. For the Jews, wine was a symbol of joy and abundance, wine was a symbol of covenant promises fulfilled. To have a wedding without wine was unthinkable. Remember, there were few other substitutes, without refrigeration juice did not last, often water tasted despicable, and there was no Coke or Pepsi dispenser around the corner. Wine was the option and it had run out.
What was this women up to? The Caucus of Angels in their political strategy meeting were indignant. Mary was meddling. They had some good ideas for Jesus' first miracle, and they were all better than changing water into wine. Why not restoring sight or healing a leper? Why not showing power over nature? Why not an "important" miracle?
Helping out somebody whose wine was running out? Sure, it might be a little embarrassing, but did it call for a miracle? In fact, it might be better to do nothing. Maybe having it run out would teach them a good lesson about the need to plan wisely. Why bail them out? It was probably their own fault.
To his mothers comment that they had run out of wine Jesus said:
"Dear woman, why do you involve me? "My time has not yet come."
The way this reads, it implies irritation and judgement regarding his Mother, like Jesus could not be bothered on such a trivial matter, though in the original language this theme of irritation need not be communicated. In the original language, an idiom is used which literally says "What (is it) to me and to you?" Jesus may equally be saying "Is this a concern that we have to worry about?
It appears to have been a concern to his mother! She said to the servants "Do whatever he tells you."
There were six stone water jars, each of which would hold 20 to 30 gallons of water. Now this was not for drinking water, this was for the Jewish rite of purification. Jesus asked the servants to fill these stone jars with water. The servants did as they were asked, and then Jesus told them to draw some out and take it to the chief steward. It was wine! In fact, it was the best wine that had been served.
The question we have to ask is "Why did Jesus do this?" A friend faced a possible social faux pas, possibly some social embarrassment, but did this really ask for a miracle? In the big picture of things, wasn't this a small, trivial matter?
In asking the question, we have our answer! That is exactly the point. That's the way Jesus is. If it matters to us, it matters to Jesus.
We live in a world where there are billions of people and we with our concerns are just one of those billions. Why should God be interested in our little concerns? By this world's standards, we are not famous, we don't influence thousands of lives, and we certainly are not the neediest people around.
If we have pain, most of us know people who have experienced more pain, even in our own congregation. If we have problems, there are always others with worse problems. If we have the flu, we know someone else who has pneumonia. If you hate the job you got transferred to, someone else got fired. If we complain about getting snowed under in Toronto, in central America its more appropriate to complain about being mudded under after Hurricane Mitch. There are always needs worse then ours, far far worse than ours.
But whatever our need, whatever our hurt, the fact of the matter is, if it matters to us, it matters to Jesus. If it matters to you, it matters to Jesus.
Maybe today, we don't see that many miracles because we neither need them and nor do we expect them. If we have pain, we get a pain killer, if we are sick, we go to a doctor. If we have lack, we have many different ways to see it fulfilled. The whole drift of our economic infrastructure is to meet human needs and if the needs are met, create new ones so that they too can be filled. Maybe in our relentless hunt for a needless society, we have stopped expecting God to be a God who meets our needs.
But every once in a while we see a Cana miracle. Last weekend, I had finished preparing for the a funeral at noon, the funeral was at 2 PM, it was time to print it out! But low and behold, the church computer with its neglected hard drive refused to print my work out. Five times I tried to no avail. And by now I was praying. In desperation, I emailed the funeral message to my Internet server and drove home carefully, (now praying that I wouldn't have an accident - I no longer had time for one). At home, I downloaded my sermon off the Internet even though I had in my panic made mistakes emailing it, reluctantly, my home computer got it! I printed it out . It was done. Somebody may have said: "Pastor Bill, get your work done earlier! Its your own stupid fault." I'll respond by saying I'm thankful for a God who shows me he cares by the small Cana miracles. It shows me a God who is so big, so majestic, so great, that in all the billions of universal concerns he must have, he also is willing to be bothered by the small and sometimes stupidly self caused things that bother me. It's these Cana miracles that convince me again and again that conincidence (as some might regard it) is a miracle. Cana miracles convince me again of the reality of the God I serve.
(Maybe you have been convinced by a few small Cana miracles - prayer and share)
Turning the water into wine was an earthy, practical kind of miracle, but it demonstrated Jesus' concern for those earthy, practical matters in our lives. If it matters to us, it matters to Jesus.
I must touch in conclusion on a second theme that is very clear in this story. By the miracle in Cana, Jesus not only provided the party with wine (and so solved the banquet master's problem ), he went further! What Jesus gives is far better! The master of ceremonies was shocked at the quality of the good wine. How often we have found this to be true. We struggle with problems and the Lord responds in unexpected ways. But what he gives is far better than we expected. To the problem of our sin, God not only gives forgiveness and release, he gives new life. Cana demonstrates that God's answer to our needs are the blessed fulfillment of promises that go far beyond our little faith. If you were at the Steve Bell concert last night, you might remember the song refrain which tells us that in Jesus actions he was doing something far beyond the disciples expectations, entirely different, far more wonderful. He was offering himself, the shepherd for the sheep, in love.
God cares for each of us. Deeply. Intimately. If it matters to us, it matters to Jesus. We matter to Jesus. You matter to Jesus.
Sometimes political parties with the caucus strategy sessions can have it all wrong, as were the angels who started this message. Jesus first miracle was the right one. Jesus could have demonstrated awesome power. He could have performed a spectacular feat guaranteed to get him on the cover of People magazine. But perhaps he did something even more important.
Jesus attended a wedding. An everyday sort of event. We have all been to weddings. The wine was running out. A practical matter. We have such practical kinds of problems every day. And Jesus cared. About a seemingly small, practical problem. Jesus cared because it mattered to someone.
If it matters to you, it matters to Jesus.
Hallelujah, What a Savior!
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.