Article: New Joy: Miracle at Cana | Feba Varghese

John 2:5,7
5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

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A miracle in its true meaning refers to and extraordinary happening of an event. When something that was perceived to be impossible occurs or when something totally new happens we call it a miracle or as a wonder! This portion talks of the first recorded miracle of Jesus in Bible. We are all very familiar with this context of the above bible portion.

A wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. A marriage in this culture is a celebration. The groom and his friends go to the bride’s home, and then escort the bride in a festive procession to the groom’s home, where a grand celebration takes place. The wedding Jesus and his disciples are attending, however, has a serious problem. They had wine enough to begin the festivities — but before long they run out of wine! Weddings in Jesus’ day were weeklong festivals. Banquets would be prepared for many guests, and the week would be spent celebrating the new life of the married couple. Often the whole town was invited, and everybody would come. wedding. To accommodate many people, careful planning was needed. To run out of wine was more than embarrassing; it broke the strong unwritten laws of hospitality.
John 2: 3 “When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.'” (2:3). So in our present circumstance, we might not really appreciate the problem. A small loan perhaps and a quick trip to the store might solve the problem without any fuss. But enough wine for days of festivities would require a great deal of wine, and there is no way to get enough quickly. And to supply only water for the festivities would be considered a severe social embarrassment for the family. So there is a crisis in this family!
• A need is Sensed:
In this context, firstly, a need is sensed by a person. Mary senses the need in her surroundings. In this context we don’t know if Mary was related to the family closely or not but we see that she was sensitive to the need of the family she is engaged as part of the event. She could have behaved like, ‘I don’t care and I am not going to do anything to help!” She was just a guest in the wedding. But she goes beyond and takes a step to help the family.
Mary, who is perhaps especially close to the family, and sensitive to their need, not only mentions it to Jesus, but suggests that he solve their problem. John 2:3 “3 Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’
If we look around us, there are many people requiring help in various ways but the question is how many of us are sensitive to the needs around us? We should be sensitive and helpful to the people around us.
In Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
It was a humiliating incident for the family but instead of pointing a finger at them she quickly tries to help them.
• Brings the need to Jesus:
Secondly, soon after a need is sensed, it is brought to the attention of Jesus. Mary understands that it is beyond her capacity to replenish the large requirement of wine stock. And as a person who knows Jesus since his birth, she knows Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. At any rate, she specifically mentions the problem to Jesus in a way that leaves him no doubt that she expects him to take care of it.
Even in our personal sometimes the needs around us or the needs in our families are beyond our abilities. But we have one stronghold that we can always approach boldly and that is the presence of God. No matter how hard and complex our situation may be, God is still powerful to do a miracle in our life. Although Mary did not understand what Jesus was going to do, she trusted him to do what was right. We may run into situations that we cannot even understand but as children of God we must continue to trust that he will work in the best way. In this period of Coronavirus, we all may have questions and worries but as Children of God we can still have faith that our God is mighty to save!
In John 2: 5, we read, His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” And that is a tone of complete surrender to God’s will. Sometimes things may not make proper sense to us, but complete obedience to God’s will may be the answer to our problem.
• Jesus Intervenes:
Thirdly, after the need is brought to Jesus, we see that He is quick to respond to the need. Jesus saw six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons – and that would have been the quantity required. And we read in John 2:7, Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

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John notes that such jars were used to hold water for ceremonial washing or purification. Before a meal, servants (or perhaps the host) would pour water over the hands of each of the guests. Mark explains the custom: “The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash (Mark 7:3-4). So, I was quite surprised at the response of the servants in filling the water to the brim. They probably don’t know Jesus other than the instruction given by Mary to them, but we seem obediently following the instruction of Jesus. And they didn’t fill it half way or three-fourth but up to its brim!!

And this is something we need to learn as well in our personal life. When God ask something from us, would we do it full heart or with half heart? We all know the story of the poor woman who gave offering to the Lord. Jesus watched and said, Mark 12:44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

There’s an old story about a dad who gave his son two quarters as he heads for Sunday School. He told the boy that he should give one quarter in the offering and he could keep the other to get an ice cream cone (I guess that price for an ice cream cone proves how old the story is). As the boy walked down the street he accidentally dropped one of the quarters which then rolled into a storm drain and disappeared. The boy looked for a moment down the drain and then slowly looked toward the sky, sighed and said, Well God, there goes your quarter!

Many times, we don’t give our best when it comes to offering to God. And when I read that portion were these servants of Jewish family who had no idea about the identity of Jesus obeying him completely, it challenges and questions my surrendering to God.

He then asks some fluid to be drawn out and taken to the head of banquet who declares it as the best of choice wine! The normal time for fine wine would be at the beginning of the party when people haven’t eaten and drunk much! The master of the feast is a keen observer of normal human behavior, and is surprised to get such good wine so late in the feast.

According to verse 11 this sign had three functions:
1. Reveals his glory: The teacher is more than he seems, and every so often the massive Shekinah glory of God shines out.
2. Inspires faith: It’s important to observe that in his disciples, this miracle inspired faith in them.
3. Great Joy: It brought great joy to the family of banquet!

Now this miracle performs a transforming role in converting not just the water to wine but he also transforms a humiliated family to a family of celebrations and joy. This family could have been utterly ashamed if the guests knew that they were out of wine but as Jesus performs his first recorded miracle of Bible, He brings a new joy to this family!). Wine is a symbol of joy. When the wine ran out, the wedding feast began to lose its joy, but Christ’s miracle brought it back to the wedding.

And just like Christ brought joy to the family in Cana, he has filled each of us with His joy too! When we accept Christ as our Savior, repent, and are baptized, we become a new creation just as the water was changed to the finest new wine. Great joy is the result! And that joy that we have is greater than the joy abounded by new wine!

In Psalms 4: 6, 7, we read that “There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. Here, the Psalmist is talking of an inward joy that comes from knowing and trusting God. And from the time He was born, the angels announced “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). The birth of Jesus brought great joy to the world, his death and resurrection on the Cross brought us even more joy as the mankind was liberated from the clutches of sin and He going to fill us with everlasting Joy as He will come again in the clouds to take us!

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world, and the joy of the Lord is our strength. Even in adverse circumstances, faith can actually enhance our joy. Paul and Silas knew adversity as they sat in a jail cell. Their legal rights had been violated. They had been arrested without cause and beaten without a trial. But even at midnight, they sang—loudly—the praises of the Lord they were serving (Acts 16:25).

1 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Jesus is the true-joy giver of our life and the gift of salvation gave us biggest joy from sin! As we abide in Christ, the True Vine, we, the branches, are full of His strength and vitality, and the fruit we produce, including joy, is His doing (John 15:5).

Despite all the tensions and hopelessness that may be around us, we can take strengthen us in the Lord and He is going to fill us with His abounding joy. All we have to do is completely surrender us to the hands of God whose hands are not short to save us!
May God fills us with His abounding joy today.

Feba Varghese

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