It wasn’t so easy to do when I was a child, otherwise I'm sure I could be embarrassed by them for years to come. Now all it takes is a cell phone and a semi, steady hand and viola – videos clips of your child’s first.
We record all kinds of first. First words. First crawl. First steps. First attempt at eating a pickle. First birthday. First day of school. First bike ride. First basketball game. First time ever watching Star Wars. Of course, nobody every records and posts a video of “my child’s first not wanting to eat broccoli tantrum,” but I digress.
Firsts are important for us. They showcase maturity and growth. And sometimes…they showcase something more.
Today we’re taking a look at another first of Jesus. But it isn’t something that's normal. In fact, it is by definition something abnormal. We are going to take a look at Jesus’ first miracle – an event unexplained by the laws of nature; supernatural; from God.
I. He Cares
Take a look at John 2:1. It says, “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.”
The setting is a wedding. Jesus had been invited to a wedding. So…stop for a moment and think about the last wedding you were at. You’ve got an idea of the setting. Beautiful flowers, friends and family, delicious food – all in all a joyous occasion.
But back then weddings were celebrated a bit differently from the way they are celebrated today. The reception lasted longer than a night. It appears that the party would go on for a few days.
At first, that sounds like a good idea. A week long party. But think about what that might be like. The bridesmaid that you made a fool of yourself while dancing now has to see you the next day. The usher that was flirting with you the night before – the one you weren’t interested in at all — has another shot to impress you. Uncle Ted, who you got into an argument about politics with, has a second chance to win the argument the next day. The cups, streamers, and dying flowers don’t look quite as beautiful the next day.
Of course – one of the big perks that probably kept people around and prevented them from returning home to work – FREE FOOD & FREE DRINKS. Think about it how nice that would be. Chicken Cordon Bleu for lunch. A butter lobster for dinner. Late night oven baked pizza snack. Prime rib for breakfast. Prime rib for lunch. Prime rib for dinner.
But at this particular wedding, something disappointing happened. The mother of the groom didn’t object to the marriage. The bride didn’t abandon the groom at the altar. The officiant didn’t even mess up the couple’s last night.
It was much worse: They had run out of wine!
I say it like that because it doesn’t appear to be all that big of a deal. Now granted – there were probably only two drinks available at the wedding – water and wine. The wine, more popular, because it had been fermented and filtered. To lose that as an option was at the very least a social embarrassment. At most – it was the breaking of a social contract. “I travelled through three cities to get here and they can’t even provide me with proper nourishment. How rude!”
Still – you’d think, with the exception of Uncle Karl, everyone would get over it. This isn’t someone who had gotten very sick. It isn’t someone who couldn’t walk. It isn’t someone who couldn’t talk or hear or see.
Mary sighed. She knew the couple and she knew the family. She didn’t like how embarrassed they looked. But…what could she do? On a carpenter’s salary, she didn’t have enough money to go and pick up a jar. Besides – Cana wasn’t her hometown. Where would she get the wine? What would be open at this hour?
There’s nothing she could do to help. Except…
Her son. Jesus. There was something extraordinary about him. She had treasured it in her heart. She reflected: An angel had announced his conception. She had given birth without having had sex. Shepherds came to worship him that night. Time after time, people had swept him up from her arms to praise God for his birth. Men from far in the east had visited them and given extravagant gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. King Herod – had tried to kill him.
Now granted – He hadn’t done anything miraculous yet. He was a model boy. A perfect boy, but that didn't mean he could fix this.
Yet, there was something special about him. Something incredible. Something magnificent. Something divine.
When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
He looked at her.
He smiled. “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.”
Mary looked down. He’s right. Why would this be the time? Why would this be the first miracle? Why would, if he was the Savior of the World, have time to care about saving this couple’s reputation?
And yet. Maybe.
She motioned for the boy that was pouring a glass of water close by. She followed him back to where the other servants had gathered. She hushed her voice. She pointed at Jesus. “Do whatever he tells you.”
Have you ever felt like that? Have you felt that maybe your problems are just too unimportant for Jesus to care? Too small for him to “do a miracle?”
· I’ve got a big test coming up, but…it only makes up 15% of my grade. I’m in this alone. God’s got bigger things to do.
· I have a tough schedule this week – 50 hours of work, plus taking my kids to swim lessons and I’m meeting with my manager. But none of that’s spiritual, so…God bless my soul?
· I’d love to have God’s blessings. I’m meeting the realtor this week. But we’re aren’t able to afford anything over $300,000 and that’s pretty small for a hefty God. I think he’ll only be helping me if the house was over a million!
· What does God care about me? I’m not movie star. I’m no athlete. I’m no politician. I’m just me. Normal. Lactose intolerant. Kinda shy. God doesn’t care about me. He couldn’t.
Take a look at Jesus’ reaction to this minor problem. 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.”
Take note. Jesus didn’t avoid Mary for the rest of the night. He didn’t say his goodbyes and get to the local motel. He didn’t give his disciples a few dollars and say, “You guys take care of it.”
He cared too much.
The same is true about you. He cares too much to ignore event the smallest of your requests for help. Take a look at what Jesus said here. He said, “29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Sparrows are tiny birds. They’re common and not all that impressive. Case in point: When’s the last time you went to the zoo and your kid said, “Mommy, when do we get to see the sparrow exhibit?” The toucan or the flamingo, sure…but sparrow? Probably not.
Yet God cares about one of them. He cares about what they are doing. He cares about the worms they eat, the twigs they need for their nests and the branches they rest on.
You are way more important than a sparrow. Jesus didn’t die for sparrows. He died to save you. He cares about you.
He even cares about your hair. Isn’t that amazing? God has a count of how many hairs you have on your head. Some of you are thinking – that’s not really that impressive. But think about what he’s saying. Yet God knows. God knows and God cares about you. He cares even about your hair count – something that there’s isn’t even an app for yet!
It means he cares about little ol’ you and he cares about the little ol’ things that go on in your life.
- He cares about that mean comment someone posted on Facebook.
- He cares about the fact that you need a new pair of shoes.
- He cares about the arthritis acting up in your pinky finger.
- He cares about the science project which is only 1% of your grade.
He cares about you. Every part of you. Even the seemingly less significant parts.
In fact, after seeing what Scripture says, the only way we can say, “God doesn’t care,” is if we listen to ourselves rather than him. Isn’t that the truth? When we think God doesn’t care, it’s because we don’t think it’s significant enough.
That’s tantamount to telling God – the things He cares about (you) – isn't important!
Stop that. Repent. Turn to your God who cares so much about you and receive his forgiveness.
II. He Can
Of course, maybe you’re thinking. That’s nice, but caring isn’t enough. It’s nice to hear he cares, but if you can’t help, then what’s the point?
It’d be like the Green Bay Packers last night. Did I care if they won? Absolutely. Did I wish I could help? Absolutely. Is there anything I could acutally do to help? Well…in spite of my superstition that as long as I stand with a bag of Doritos in my hand – NO!!!
What good is it if you care, but you can’t do anything!?!
Nearby Jesus were six big stone jars. They each held about thirty gallons of water. They were placed by the entrance to the wedding hall as an old fashioned faucet. Before indoor plumbing, this was key for washing hands – especially so in the Jewish culture which called for a ceremonial washing of the hands before they ate.
Jesus said to his servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’
The servants looked at each other. That was it? This woman had talked to them so confidently – This guy will fix the problem. – But all he wanted was more water. They could have come up with that. It didn’t solve the problem of wine – it just provided a less tasty consolation.
But they said they would, so they did. They went outside. The drew some water form the well. They filled each jar up to the brim. Then, they lugged them back – with sweat dripping down their foreheads.
Then, Jesus told them, “draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
Did you want him to confirm that it was water? Were you hoping that the master had had too much to drink and wouldn’t notice the different? C’mon guy. This won’t work. This is going to bring even more embarrassment than not having any wine at all.
But…they had promised. So, they took the ladle. They poured it into a nearby chalice. They took the cup to the master of the banquet. And they were totally ready to tell him, “It was that guys’ idea.”
The master took a sip. He swished it in his mouth. He swallowed. He leaned down and sniffed it. He smiled.
He called the bridegroom – who had been totally unaware of everything that just happened and he said to him, “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.”
Can you imagine what was going through the servant's’ mind? Wait. What happened? We filled that glass from the ladle. The ladle had been dipped in the jar of water. The water was from the well. The reason we did that was because Jesus….
Jesus! He must have done something. But…what? We were with the water the whole time. And how would he smuggle in 180 gallons of wine anyway? This was impossible. This was incredible. This was….
How do you normally make wine? First you plant the grapes. Then you grow the grapes. A process that takes a couple months. Then, you harvest the grapes. Then, follow the chart, you sanitize, combine, pitch, aerate, ferment, rack, stabilize, degas, clarify, fill, clear, rake, age, rack again, bottle, cork and condition.
Granted – Jesus could have skipped the first couple of steps – but still do you get the point? Wine making takes hundreds of hours of work, months of waiting, and lots of equipment.
Jesus made wine in seconds, with no waiting, and without nothing but water!
It’s a miracle.
Look at John’s conclusion to this section: “This was the first sign that Jesus did which revealed his glory.”
It’s like I’m sure Michael Jordan’s mom can remember the first basketball game that she thought, “He might be something special,” or Leonardo Da Vinci’s parents saw a painting and thought, “He might have some special artistic talent.”
The disciples saw Jesus do his very first God thing and got to thinking – he might be something special. He might be something divine.
This is where your mind needs to be too! Because this isn’t the only sign that Jesus does. He continues to show his incredible, God-power throughout his life. He makes the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the mute to talk, the sick to be healthy, the water to be walked on, the storm to be quiet, the demons to leave, the skies to open up and a voice to proclaim, “This is my Son, whom I love with him I am well pleased,” the dead to come back to life…himself to die and come back to life.
Jesus did God things. Things that no one else could do, can do, or ever will do.
It means HE IS GOD!
The fact that he changed water into wine – reminds us that he really did change something else.
He changed your spiritual status.
He changed your guilt into forgiveness.
He changed your status of condemned into innocence.
He changed your death into life eternal.
Of course, apart from Jesus – the water would have still been water. Apart from your Savior, on your own, you will still be guilty. You will still be condemned. You will still be sentenced to eternal death in hell.
But with him – a miracle. A chance. Forgiveness. Innocence. Eternal life. And with that: peace, joy, and confidence.
Confidence that God cares and confidence that God can. Amen.