Jesus performs His first miracle at the Feast of Cana recorded in John 2. You may know the story. Jesus, Mary and the Disciples are all invited to a wedding and the wine runs out. While there is lots of debate about whether this is “wine” wine like the wine around today, grape juice or something in between what is not in question is that running out of whatever the purple stuff was in that culture was a bad thing. Embarrassment galore to the extent that the young couple being married that day would have been marked by the event for a good portion of their marital life by the infamy.
In the closeknit communities of those days do you think anything like that was ever got forgotten, particularly without tv to distract people? If you come from an Irish family like me you can guess at the answer – grudges are meant to be held for generations, right?
So Jesus steps in and fixes the situation. Here is the text:
And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “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!”
11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Did you notice the interesting thing about the miracle here? Jesus does not do it entirely alone. He calls on the servants to grab the jars and fill them with water. He then calls on them to serve the wine to others. Only Jesus did the actual turning water into wine, but Jesus, God in Flesh, allows mere servants on the inside of its performance, having them carry out the literal heavy lifting.
As a result of their role as servants, a role that is just as looked down on now in society as it was at that time, only the servants get to witness all of the details of the work done by Jesus.
They get to know with absolute certainty that they themselves did nothing out of the ordinary – they filled pots with their own hands with water and set them before Jesus. Their own inadequacy to fix the situation was clearly on display. Ok, we gots water what now? I don’t know, how about you? Shrugs all around.
They also get to know with assurance that when they put the pots in place there was nothing miraculous about them, they just followed the instruction Jesus gave them. They did what they can do – do what Jesus says to do and watch what happens.
Then they get to see Jesus interact with the pots, the simple vessels of water and get the privilege of witnessing the change in the pot’s contents and the results of Jesus work in those vessels.
Can you imagine seeing the reactions of each of the wedding feast attendees as they sampled the wine knowing full well that it was just water a few moments before? Do you wonder whether the servants had to fight doubt and rebellion when they were told to serve the feast with water from pots they had just put there when only wine was acceptable? I know that I sometimes doubt when Jesus tells me to do something and then rejoice when I see what He did despite my doubt. My doubt makes His faithfulness even sweeter.
It is only the servants that get the full picture of Jesus’ work from beginning to end. Jesus taking an empty vessel filled with just water and turning it into something wonderful to be served to those at a feast. Only they watched as it was done and got to see the results moment by moment.
The world defying truth is that when you are serving the Lord as even the lowliest servant simply following Jesus’ directions you are not really sacrificing on the big stage, you are being blessed and privileged.
Like the servants at the Wedding at Cana, it is only servants in this world that get to see God do wonderful awesome things from beginning to end. You may be just unnamed servants like the guys from John 2, but you get to witness God working and taking the basest materials – people just like you and me and turn it into sweet wine to be given out at a feast and appreciated by others.
Service to Jesus is walking with Jesus. It is knowing and being like Jesus. It is being with Jesus and working with our hands for Jesus as He does the miraculous. There is no greater privilege.