Today’s passages: Isaiah, chapters 63-64; Psalm 107; John, chapter 2
Scripture: John 2:1-11 (NRSV) – 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. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no more 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. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Observations: I have always been intrigued by this passage, because there are so many layers of meaning and symbolism to it. It also contains a number of major themes that run through John’s gospel – Jesus’ “signs” (miracles), the matter of “his hour,” and the importance of water as a symbol, just to name three. But today as I read this passage, I’m drawn to the attitudes of the servants at the wedding. Jesus’ mother tells them, “Do whatever he tells you.” These were not her servants, nor were they Jesus’ servants – but they were willing to listen to her, and they put themselves at Jesus’ disposal. When Jesus told them to fill the jars with water, “they filled them up to the brim.” And then when Jesus told them to draw some water out of the jars that they had just filled and take it to the chief steward, they did so.
The reason that this is important is because none of those things made sense from a human perspective. Why should these servants listen to Mary, or to Jesus? Why was their obedience in filling the jars so enthusiastic that they filled them to the brim? And why would they dip from jars that they had just filled with water and take it to the chief steward to test? That seems like a recipe for disaster: the wedding has run out of wine, so let’s take him some water to drink! But they did it without hesitation, and Jesus miraculously turned the water into wine.
Applications: God is reminding me today of the importance of faith and obedience, even when it doesn’t “make sense” from a human perspective. I’ve been rereading the story of Abraham this week, and how Abraham believed God and obeyed him even when it didn’t “make sense.” God is not calling us to abandon the mental capacities that he has given us, but he does call us to not make our own intelligence and understanding our god. He tells us to “test the spirits” – by knowing his Word, understanding what he has revealed about himself, and spending time listening to him – but there are times when God will call us to do things that we may not understand. When we know he’s speaking, and he calls us to act, we need to “fill the jars to the brim” and trust that he will bring everything together in his plan.
Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding me that sometimes you call us to things and places that don’t “make sense” from a human perspective. Thank you for being willing to call me, and use me, for your glory. Help me to know your will, and to faithfully obey, trusting that when I “fill the jars to the brim” you will glorify your name and bring others to faith in you. Help me today to fill my jars to the brim in obedience and trust, that your Kingdom may come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.