There are a few experiences in life that move to the top of the list of “My Most Special Moments.” A wedding is one of those life experiences. I know this, not only from remembering how special that day was for me back on January 8, 1983, but from being involved in more weddings than I can count. Weddings are special.
I was in Trenton, Texas last weekend to officiate the wedding of Ryan and Kaitlyn. After we had our wedding rehearsal we went to a restaurant in Allen for the rehearsal dinner. The room was full of about 50 people and the father of the groom stood up to get things started. He thanked everyone for coming and made mention that people were coming to the wedding from 9 different states. Weddings are special.
Because of the special nature of weddings, the wedding party, no, let me be honest, the bride and her mom can get pretty uptight if everything doesn’t go according to plan. The photographer, florist, caterer, musicians, soloists, limousine company, preacher, and everyone else connected to the wedding better be on top of their game or nerves can become frayed. I’ve learned through the years that frayed nerves can often give birth to Bridezilla.
As I said, I’ve lost track of how many weddings I’ve participated in during the last 23 years since I arrived here at Britton Christian Church. I’ve been a part of many beautiful weddings. I’ve done weddings in the parlor of the church, in backyards, in church sanctuaries, and in exotic locations like Belize, Cozumel, and Cancun. I’ve done weddings where the bride and groom were dressed in street clothes and I’ve been in weddings where the wedding dress cost more than my truck. I’ve become friends with brides and grooms that I didn’t know before we started premarital counseling and I’ve done weddings for brides and grooms that I’ve known since they were little kids. I’ve worked with some of the sweetest, nicest, most godly young kids I’ve ever known and I’ve come up with a list this past week of the “Top 10 Bridezillas” I’ve worked with in the last 23 years. Some of you just got extremely nervous, but have no fear I’m not going to read that list.
Our Scripture this morning is set at a wedding and yet the focus of the wedding is not on the bride and groom, the focus is on Jesus. Let’s read our Scripture and see what we can learn. Turn with me to John 2:1-11.
1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour 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, 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. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 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 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:1-11 NIV)
The weddings that you and I have been to are quite different from the weddings that took place in the 1st century in Israel. First of all, marriages were arranged by the fathers. People generally married at a young age. Another big difference between modern-day weddings and weddings in first century Israel is that in our day the bride’s family is responsible to pay for the wedding, but in Israel the groom’s family paid for the expenses of the wedding. The “betrothal period,” which we might see as the engagement of a couple lasted for several months. During the betrothal period the man and woman were considered married even though the young girl continued to live in her father’s house and the couple were not allowed to consummate the marriage.
The wedding celebration would oftentimes last a week and when the night of the wedding ceremony arrived, which would be a Wednesday for virgins and Thursday for widows, the groom and his friends would go to the bride’s house with torches blazing. They would escort her back to the groom’s house and the ceremony and banquet would take place with all of their guests in attendance.
Jesus and His disciples, five at this time, attended the wedding of the nameless couple who lived in Cana in Galilee. John tells us, in verse 11, that when Jesus turned the water into wine it was the first of the “signs” that Jesus did. There are several words that are used in the New Testament for Jesus’ “miracles.” One of the words is “???????” (dunamis) which is translated, “works” or “mighty works.” Another common word used is “???????” (semeion), which is often translated, “sign.” Another word is “??????” (terata) which is often translated, “wonder” or “marvel” and it is only used when it is connected with “???????” (semeion), as in “signs and wonders.” John’s favorite word is “signs.” D.A. Carson writes,
John prefers the simple word ‘signs:’ Jesus’ miracles are never simply naked displays of power, still less neat conjuring tricks to impress the masses, but signs, significant displays of power that point beyond themselves to the deeper realities that could be perceived with the eyes of faith. (Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. pg. 175.)
Our Scripture today, the turning of water into wine, begins the second section of John’s Gospel which runs through John 12 and is called the “Book of Signs.” The word “sign” is used 16 times in John 2-12. There are seven signs that take place in these chapters.
1. Turning water into wine. (2:1-11)
2. The healing of the nobleman’s son. (4:46-54).
3. The healing of the man at Bethesda. (5:1-10).
4. The feeding of the five thousand. (John 6:1-15).
5. Jesus walking on the water. (John 6:16-21).
6. The healing of the blind man. (John 9:1-41).
7. The raising of Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:1-44)
There is only one other place in John’s Gospel where he uses the word “signs” and it is found in John’s thesis statement in John 20:30-31 where he writes,
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31 NIV)
You can see from what John has written that the miracles that Jesus did, the signs He performed, were done with purpose. What was the purpose of turning the water into wine? Why did Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead, walk on water, and feed 5,000? It’s wasn’t to impress or “wow” the folks, but they were done so that people “may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing they may have life in His name.” There are 34 miracles of Jesus recorded in the four Gospels, but John picks these 7 to show that Jesus is exactly who John said He was, the Messiah.
It is so important that we keep this in mind as we study the Gospel of John and that we look for the result that Jesus intended when He performed signs. I want us to notice three things that have stood out to me as I’ve been studying this Scripture this week.
The Obedience of the Son
At the wedding in Cana, there arose a problem—they had run out of wine for the guests. This would be a really big deal, a huge embarrassment to the groom’s family. There is even some evidence that running out of food and drink for the guests would open the groom’s family up to a lawsuit by the family of the bride for failing to fulfill their responsibilities.
Mary, Jesus’ mother, couldn’t have just been a regular guest because she knew the family had run out of wine and she was so concerned that she went to Jesus and said, “They have no more wine.” We’re told that this is the first sign that Jesus ever did so Mary couldn’t have known what Jesus would do, but she knew to turn to Him. Jesus’ response to His mother seems really harsh to us. Jesus said, “Woman, why do you involve me?” (John 2:4 NIV) The Greek word for “woman” means, “a woman of any age.” It was more of a formal word to be used when addressing women. It wasn’t intimate like, “mom” or “momma,” but it wasn’t rude either. It’s the same word Jesus used when He was hanging on the cross and He spoke to His mom and John. Turn with me to John 19:26-27 and I’ll show you what I’m talking about.
26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27 NIV)
Why would Jesus address His mother this way? That’s a great question and the answer is that His relationship with His mother had changed. The parent/child relationship had changed and Jesus had to let His mother know that the only One who dictated His actions and decisions was His Father. Jesus was teaching one day when He told the crowd, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38 NIV)
One of the greatest examples of Jesus’ passion to set aside His loyalty to His family so that He might focus solely on doing His Father’s will is found in Mark 3. Jesus was teaching when His family heard about the things He was saying. Mark tells us,
21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21 NIV)
Jesus kept right on teaching until we read in vs. 31 that they arrived at the house where He was teaching. They sent someone in to get Him. Jesus was told, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” Mark tells us what happened next. Read along with me in Mark 3:34-35.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:34-35 NIV)
This is such an important lesson for you and me to learn. I will never forget when I made the decision to go into the ministry. My grandfather, who was a businessman, thought it was a horrible decision. He told me I should never take a job where I am dependent on the generosity of others. I didn’t listen to him.
I can also remember when Connie and I were getting ready to leave Plano and come to Oklahoma City. Dr. Darnell and I met for the last time before I would leave and he said, “Mike, be sure and pray for Connie every day.” I told him I would. Then he said, “There is nobody in this world that has greater influence over you than Connie. Your ministry in Oklahoma City can be short-lived if Connie doesn’t stand with you.” David was absolutely right. Our families oftentimes have such a great influence over the decisions we make in life. We need to pray for them, but follow God.
Leave It With Him
The second great lesson that I’ve learned this week from studying this Scripture is from the life of Jesus’ mother. Mary’s husband, Joseph, was probably dead by this time. The last mention of Joseph in the Bible is when Jesus was 12 years old and he and Mary were frantically searching for Jesus (Luke 2:47-50). Mary, as a widow, probably turned to Jesus often for help when she was dealing with the troubles of life. We know from John that when Jesus turned the water into wine that it was His first miracle so we have no way of knowing if Mary was expecting Jesus to do a miracle, but we know that she took the problem to Him.
Jesus didn’t say, “I’ll get right on it mom.” He said, “What does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Mary didn’t ask any questions, but instead she turned to the servants who were taking care of the people at the wedding and said, “Do whatever He tells you.” There is not another mention of Mary in the story. We don’t read that Mary took a taxi to the local grocery store to try and buy wine, she didn’t come back around to Jesus to see if He was taking care of the problem, she simply left it in His hands.
What problem are you dealing with this morning? Is it a broken relationship? You’ve tried every way possible to make things right in your own power, but nothing has worked. Can you leave it with Jesus? Is it a health problem? This past week I was over at David and Alice Johnson’s house. David’s doctors discovered what appears to be cancer. We were talking about the situation when David said, “I just see this as a bump in the road.” I said, “Whether our problems are a bump in the road or the end of the road we must know that all of our roads are in His hands.” Can you leave your health problems with Jesus? Do you have a wayward child who you have tried to turn around, but it’s not working? Can you entrust them to Jesus? Are you having trouble paying your bills? It doesn’t seem to matter how hard you work or how much you make–you are always short at the end of the month and it is driving you insane. Can you trust your financial troubles to Jesus? These are just a few of the situations that keep us up at night, but regardless of what it is in your life, can you, like Mary, tell Jesus about your troubles and trust Him to work in your life?
The Quiet Wonders of God
This past week, as I was studying John 2, I ran across quite a few commentators who were skeptical that Jesus actually changed water into wine. The skeptics say the story should be understood metaphorically or allegorically, since taking the story literally is an impossibility. Why can’t the story be taken literally, according to the skeptics? Because transforming water into wine is scientifically impossible. This got me to thinking.
If you or I were to do some miracle we would take out a full page ad in USA Today, call the local news networks, and hire an agent and marketing company to help us capitalize on the event. Did you notice how the miracle of turning the water into wine unfolded? Let’s read it again. Turn with me to John 2:7-10.
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, 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. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 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.” (John 2:7-10 NIV)
You need to know that the six stone jars were used for Jewish purification and each of them held between 20-30 gallons. Jesus said, “Fill the jars with water.” The servants filled each of the jars to the brim. Then Jesus said, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” The head waiter or the master of the banquet was in charge of all of the food and drink. When he tasted the wine he couldn’t believe it! He immediately went to the groom and said, “What’s up with this? You’ve saved the best wine for last!” Did you catch the reasoning for why most people served the best wine first? While folks are sober as a Judge you need to put your best foot forward, serve the expensive wine to impress them. Once the celebration has gone on for a while and folks are getting loose, then you can pull out the Mad Dog 20/20 and nobody will know the difference. Now, you need to understand this is the head waiter’s experience; it’s not Jesus’ take on the situation. The Bible condemns drunkenness at every turn, but the culture and times in which the master of the banquet worked and lived showed that wedding receptions weren’t that much different than many of the ones I’ve been to in my life. I can assure you that there has never been a wine produced in any vineyard in the world that tasted as sweet and fresh as the wine Jesus produced on that day in Cana!
I want you to notice something. Where was Jesus when the head waiter was wide-eyed with the quality of the wine? Jesus isn’t mentioned in the story again. The next time we hear about Jesus is in verse 12 when He and His disciples are headed to Capernaum. It really is remarkable when you stop and think about it. Jesus told them to fill the jars, draw some out for the head waiter, and then He quietly fades into the background.
Those skeptics who question the historicity of Jesus transforming water into wine should take a look at God’s creation if they want to witness something really amazing! Dr. Arthur Compton, Nobel Prize-winning physicist, once said,
For myself, faith begins with a realization that a supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man. It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence-an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered-`In the beginning God.’
Another well-known scientist, Dr. Ilya Prigogine, was a world famous chemist and physicist who was awarded two Nobel Prizes in chemistry. Dr. Prigogine died in 2003. He was not a Christian. As a matter of fact he was among 21 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto in 2003. Yet, Dr. Prigogine wrote:
The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero. (I. Prigogine, N. Gregair, A. Babbyabtz, Physics Today 25, pp. 23-28.)
Dr. Michael Denton is a biochemist and author who wrote, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. In his book Dr. Denton writes about the incredible complexity of the human brain. He writes,
The human brain consists of about ten thousand million nerve cells. Each nerve cell puts out between ten thousand and one hundred thousand connecting fibers by which it makes contact with other nerve cells in the brain. Altogether the total number of connections in the human brain approaches 10 to the 15th power or a thousand million million. Numbers in the order of 10 to the 15th power are of course completely beyond comprehension. Imagine an area about half the size of the USA (one million square miles) covered in a forest of trees containing ten thousand trees per square mile. If each tree contained one hundred thousand leaves the total number of leaves in the forest would be 1015, equivalent to the number of connections in the human brain! Despite the enormity of the number of connections, the ramifying forest of fibers is not a chaotic random tangle but a highly organized network in which a high proportion of the fibers are unique adaptive communication channels following their own specially ordained pathway through the brain. Even if only one hundredth of the connections in the brain were specifically organized, this would still represent a system containing a much greater number of specific connections than in the entire communications network on Earth. (Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 330.)
That’s mind boggling! Water into wine? Piece of cake! And yet, God hasn’t announced this marvel of His creation to anyone. As a matter of fact, He has hidden it inside of our skulls. This is what I’m talking about by the “quiet wonders of God.” We can drink in the story of Jesus turning the water into wine, we can, in the instance of the human brain, try and understand that which is beyond our understanding, and we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if He is capable of doing marvels such as these then He can certainly take care of you and me. God does some of His best work when we see no evidence of His work at all my friends. Trust Him. Know that He is working. Know that His love for you is your provision and take your stand trusting in Him regardless of what may come.
Will you trust Him this morning? More important than trusting Him to see you through the trials of your life, will you trust Him as your Savior this very morning? Will you confess to Him that you are sinner who is need of a Savior? Will you confess to Him that you believe Him when He claims to be the Messiah, the Savior of the lost? If so then won’t you come forward and give me your hand as you give Jesus your heart?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
August 11, 2013