These words, "Do whatever he tells you…" were the stand out words for me yesterday, as we continued our journey through John's Gospel in our community at Barney's.After about five weeks in John chapter one, we finally made it into chapter two! We were considering John 2:1-12, where Jesus turns water into wine. It's a well known passage, but as is (almost) always the case, each time we go to scripture God highlights something new.
For me, one such thing was these words of Mary's (John 2:5) - "Do whatever he tells you…". The scene, familiar I'm sure, is that Jesus, Mary, and some of Jesus' disciples have been invited to a wedding in Cana - a small village just north of Nazareth. Weddings in Jesus' day tended to happen over a few days, rather than the few hours we are more used to in Western cultures.
Running out of wine, as happened at this wedding, did not just mean people were going to get thirsty (a problem in itself, I'm sure you'd agree!), but it also meant that the family of the groom would undergo some serious shame and social pain as a result. No doubt this was part of Mary's conern and instistance that Jesus do something - and perhaps also part of his motivation to overcome his reluctance to get involved.
Either way, the servants on this occasion end up being the ones who (literally) end up doing the heavy lifting. The words "do whatever he tells you," leads to the servants drawing and carrying about 600 litres of water - enough to fill six large jars which were normally used for ceremonial hand-washing.
As we, the reader know, by the time the water reaches the lips of the master of the banquet, it is no longer water, but wine - very good wine at that.
As with much of John's Gospel, each verse, each paragraph, each account of Jesus' life and ministry is packed full with meaning and significance. There is much contained in this account of the Wedding at Cana. But the one point which rose through all the others for me yesterday was the real signifant role these servants played, in doing what Jesus told them to do.
I reckon I'd have been complaining if I'd have been one of the servants. "What are we doing this for? What kind of stupid plan is this? Why does this Jesus guy want us all to wash our hands again - doesn't he know the wine has run out?" I'm pretty sure there'd also be a big part of me worrying about what other people would think of me going along with this craziness once word got out!
But with the words, "Do whatever he tells you," still ringing in their ears, the servants do just that - and their efforts are a key part in Jesus' first recorded miracle taking place.
Did Jesus need the servants to fetch the water? Was he just being lazy!? Surely Jesus could just have clapped his hands and the jars would have been full of new wine. He could have done. But instead, he chooses to work through ordinary people, and makes their willingness to obey, to serve, and, maybe, to believe in him, a key factor in the performing of this miracle.
I'm left realising, again, that Jesus consistently chooses to work through ordinary people like us. He doesn't have to. But he chooses to. The obedience of the servants made all the difference in Cana that day. Our obedience, our willingness to do whatever he tells us, our choosing to believe Jesus in the midst of an unbelieving world, make all the difference in God's will being done today. God chooses to work through us, in the bringing and establishing his Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Our faith, our obedience, our willingness to risk looking stupid are actually key factors in seeing Jesus break in to the world, through our everyday lives here and now.
What is God asking you to do this week? Where in your life is God calling you to 'do whatever he tells you?' What opportunities do you have this week, to have faith - at the risk of looking stupid?
Pray about it. Chat about it with a couple of good friends.
But don't miss the chance to, "Do whatever he tells you." You have no idea what might happen if you to!