Text: John 2:1-11 Theme: Mary noticed a need she was helpless to meet; so she turned to Jesus to help.
The Apostle John begins this account with: On the third day a wedding took place. On the third day. Now, it’s easy for us to breeze past that detail. It seems unimportant. But that phrase should set bells ringing. You see, on the third day is biblical code.
We discover that code all through the Bible. Genesis 22: on the third day Abraham looked up and saw the mountain in the distance. On that third day he took his knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord stopped him. Do not lay a hand on the boy! Instead the Lord provided another sacrifice.
Exodus 19: on the third day God descended on Mt. Sinai with thunder and lightning. Then the LORD gave his law, the ten commandments, which are more precious than gold.
Esther 5: On the third day Esther risks entering the king’s presence to make an appeal. The king grants her request and God’s people are saved from Haman’s vile plot!
Jonah 1: After three days the Lord delivered Jonah out of the belly of the great fish. He went on to preach repentance to Ninevah and the whole city was saved. You get the picture: On the third day has became biblical code- that God will do something special to reveal himself and do great things for his people. The supreme example: on the third day God raised Jesus from the dead.
Now John writes: On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. So bells should go off. Be on the alert for God to do something special at that wedding.
John gives us some details about the wedding: Jesus’ mother was there… Aha! Mary has already been at the center of some pretty special things. An angel appeared to her and announced she would give birth to the Son of God. Then, while still a virgin, Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit and gave birth to a son. And then shepherds appeared, reporting that angels announced this child was the Savior.
Vs 2: And Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. By now we should be on the edge of our seats. What’s going to happen?
At first it all seems rather ordinary. They are just attending a wedding in Cana. Scholars say that wedding feasts then didn’t just last for a day or an evening. They could last days- even a week! Wedding feasts featured good meat and fine wine. But then a problem arose. They ran out of wine! Apparently they had no professional wedding planner to estimate their needs. A celebration was unthinkable without wine to gladden hearts. It was embarrassing!
And Mary noticed. She noticed the wine had run out. And notice: she didn’t ignore it. She didn’t say: well, it’s not my problem. No; she wanted to be helpful.
But she herself was helpless. She certainly didn’t have the money to buy wine. So, she could have thrown up her hands and shrugged: What can I do?
Instead, Mary turned to Jesus. She turned to Jesus. That’s the pivot of this story. Mary alerted Jesus to the need: They have no more wine.
Interesting: Mary doesn’t know what to do. But she does know that Jesus could help.
What a lesson for us! Life is complicated. We may run into all kinds of problems. Marriage problems. Parenting problems. Job problems. Health problems. Some problems may be so difficult that we have no idea what to do. No solutions. But, like Mary, we can turn to Jesus. We can tell him the situation and trust him to help.
Now, from Jesus’ initial reaction, it might seem he was unwilling. Dear woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.
What hour is Jesus is referring to? The time when his full identity would be revealed. God’s people expected the Messiah to be a conquering king, not a suffering Savior. Jesus didn’t want people to paint him with their pre-conceived notions. So, he sought to keep his identity as the Messiah quiet for awhile.
But despite Jesus’ caution, Mary persists. She persists in the hope that Jesus will help. She said to the servants: Do whatever he tells you. Here’s another great lesson: we should be persistent in seeking Jesus’ help. Like Mary, we should keep on looking for his help. We should keep on praying for help.
It is a deep sadness to me that neither of my sons is actively following Jesus right now. They aren’t committed to a church. In certain ways they’re choosing their will over God’s. I’ve been praying for the Spirit’s transforming work in them for years. No change yet. It would be easy to give up. But Mary reminds me to persist: in seeking Jesus’ help.
Now Jesus takes action. Nearby stood six stone water jars, each holding 20-30 gallons. Jesus said to the servants: Fill the jars with water. So they did. Then Jesus said: Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet. So they did. And somewhere along the way the water turned into wine!
Now, the master of the banquet didn’t realize where the wine had come from. But he did recognize fine wine when he tasted it. He was amazed! Everyone brings out the choice wine first, but you’ve saved the best till now.
Here’s another lesson: in his grace God’s gifts to us aren’t cheap and inferior. He provided choice wine for the feast. God’s gifts are choice: like fine wine. Think of the gifts of nature: mountains and seas; woods and rivers; sunrises and sunsets. Then think of the gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit, eternal life! God’s gifts are the best.
Jesus turned water into wine for an ordinary wedding in the ordinary town of Cana. Here we see Jesus is there in the ordinary events of life: work, play, weddings, meals. Most of us are ordinary people. We lead pretty ordinary lives. Remember: Jesus is there for us in the ordinary events of life. We just need eyes to see it.
Now, you can imagine Mary observing all this with enormous satisfaction. You can imagine her thinking: That’s my boy! Jesus really came through. I’m sure Mary pondered this latest wonder in her heart.
In pondering this encounter, in thinking on this miracle, what did Mary learn about Jesus? First, like Mary, Jesus wants to help. Jesus doesn’t ignore our needs. He isn’t self-absorbed. He isn’t hard-hearted. Jesus stands ready to help us.
Second, unlike Mary, Jesus is able to help. Mary herself was unable to meet the need. But Jesus had the power to help. In fact, he shows himself to be lord over creation. He has divine power- transformative power- to turn water into wine.
Third, Mary learned about the scope of Jesus’ help. His help wasn’t stingy. His help was generous- in quantity and quality. He didn’t just provide a few glasses of wine. He provided gallons! He didn’t provide cheap wine; he provided choice wine. Jesus is generous.
Psalm 121 says: I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 121. By faith may our first reflex be to turn to Jesus.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are times in life when we run out. Like Mary, there are situations where we are helpless. What are we to do? Turn to Jesus. Ask him to help.
I think about marriage. I think about a marriage that is under serious stress. There can be so many cutting words, so many slights, so much hurt, so much distance. You’ve tried this or that, but nothing seems to work. You feel helpless to fix things. What to do? Like Mary, turn to Jesus. He is willing to help. He is able to help. He turned water into wine. He has the divine power to transform a marriage.
I think of a conversation with a mother whose son was caught in the grip of alcohol. He had received treatment. He had gone through detoxification. But he kept drinking. He just couldn’t break the demonic power of his addiction. He was utterly helpless. What to do? Turn to Jesus. He is willing to help. He is able to help- generously.
I think of cancer patients. Sometimes there comes a point where the doctor says: I’m sorry; we’ve tried everything; nothing more we can do. That’s a helpless feeling. What then? Like Mary, turn to Jesus. Ask him to help. He may not do a miracle. But he can give comfort + a peace that transcends understanding.
Right now do you face some problem? Is there some need in your life- some shortage? Like Mary, do you feel helpless to handle it? Whatever it may be: turn to Jesus. Jesus wants to help you. Jesus is able to help you. Jesus is generous with his help.
One final thing: ultimately our greatest problem is not a shortage of wine at a wedding. Our greatest need is not more food or better health or a nicer house or a big bank account. Our greatest problem is sin. Our greatest need is to have our sins against God removed.
But there’s nothing we can do to erase our wrongs. We’re helpless to pay the debt of our sins. It’s like using a credit card but never making payments: our debt only increases every day.
What are we to do? Turn to Jesus. Tell him the problem. Confess your sins. Then ask him to pay for your debt- by his death on the cross. Like those large stone water jars, there is plenty of grace- to wash away all of our sins.
On the third day at the wedding Jesus’ transforming power and glory was revealed. John adds: turning water into wine was the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs. The first sign. The supreme sign is that Jesus rose on the third day to conquer sin and give us new life. No matter what your situation- body or soul- will you turn to Jesus? Then see the great things he can do!