I was asked to lead a Bible study at Youngstown State University with a few students. Last night we talked about the first miracle Jesus did in public found in John 2. He was at a wedding at a town called Cana, about nine miles from Nazareth where he had grown up. When they partied back then – they really partied. Weddings would last about a week, during which time the bride and groom were treated like king and queen.
Running out of wine would have been a lasting insult to the family name of the newly united couple. When Jesus’ mom told him about the vino shortfall, Jesus decided to do something about it. What impressed us was how he did it. Actually, it was who he used to complete that task and what it took for them to make it happen that grabbed our attention.
I’m starting to develop a list of no-names mentioned in the bible who did amazing things that have gone unnoticed by so most people. They are among the first people I’d like to meet in Heaven. The servants in this story were told by Mary (Jesus’ mother) to do whatever Jesus told them to do. When Jesus told them to fill six stone jars with water, they filled them to the brim. But the next thing they were told to do was a bit more risky.
Verses eight and nine point to a dilemma of faith for people who had never even heard of Jesus doing a miracle before (John says this was his first one). I’ve always imagined that Jesus told them to take wine to the master of the banquet for his approval. But, John records in these verses that they were told to draw water from the jars. Imagine how foolish they would have looked to bring water to their boss! They did it anyway. Because of their faith, somewhere during the trek from the stone jars to their master – Jesus turned the water to wine.
For those who would argue that verse nine points to the initial act of drawing water used to fill the jars instead of drawing from the jars after having filled them, I’d have to say that’s possible but not necessarily the case. I believe John helps to make this clear by using the same word – “draw” – in verses eight and nine to make a connection between what is being referred to in both verses.
7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 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. (NIV)
I wonder what went through the servants’ minds as they approached their master with the pre-transformed beverage. How relieved they must have been to hear the master say that the wine was so good! Their literal steps of faith in obeying Jesus – having never seen a miracle from him – was key to making it happen. It will be great to hear them recount the story some day.
It will be even better to have a few faith stories like that of my own to share with them.