Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On the third day

Here's the trivia quiz for today: What did Jesus do on the third day?

Jesus turned water into wine. 

John, the beloved disciple, writes his gospel to point to seven miracles of Jesus, the first and the last being on the third day.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

Here's Jesus' mom, being a mom just like me or you.  Her family is having a wedding and the hosts stands on the brink of embarrassment. There are many guests, and there is no more wine. And Jesus acts just like a normal son.  He lets out a sigh and replies, "Dear woman, is it our problem they miscalculated when buying wine and inviting guests? My time has not arrived." 

But Mary knows her Son all too well. She knows His time, but knows better His heart:  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Thus six massive stone water pots, that could each hold 20 to 30 gallons, were filled to the brim with water by the servants and turned to wine by Jesus.  Not just any wine.  But the best wine.  So good that the master of the wedding feast declares, "This wine is delectable. Why would you save the most exquisite fruit of the vine? A host would generally serve the good wine first and, when his inebriated guests don’t notice or care, he would serve the inferior wine. You have held back the best for last."

Such a delightful story, such a powerful miracle. Still, it always bothered me to read Jesus' initial reaction to Mary here.  It almost sounds disrespectful, as if Jesus is saying to her, "Seriously? You want me to get involved in this petty wedding planning blunder? It's none of our business, I am off the clock still, and busy with more important things.  Can't you see I'm teaching My guys here?"

But Mary knew Jesus well and was not at out put out.  Instead she says not a word to Jesus again but immediately directs the servants to do whatever Jesus instructs them. Mary was used to His push back and was confident that if she kept moving in the direction of her request, He would do it.  And Jesus did, and then some.  He not only provided more wine, He provides about 180 gallons of extraordinary wine.

Jesus continued to push back in the gospels, most notably to the Canaanite women in Matthew 15:26-28.  Jesus calls her a dog.  She is undeterred and continues to plead with Jesus to heal her daughter, who is demon-possessed and suffering terribly. Jesus admires her faith and grants her request.

In our lives, Jesus is going to push back.  He will take His time.  It will look like He is not going to act, like it's not His business, not His time, and He's got more important matters to attend to.  But nothing is further from the truth.  Jesus cares deeply about our concerns. Nothing is too trivial for Him to act powerfully on our behalf. But He is wants us to grow in our faith more than anything else.  And if an uncomfortable period of waiting will produce deeper faith in us, that is fine with Him.

In the end His provision for us is far and beyond what we can hope for or imagine.  We need to push on in faith.

Jesus, how hard it is for me to push on with my prayers when I see nothing happening.  But that is what you want from me.  I see now You love and serve assertive women in the gospels!  I am so encouraged by that! Help me to persevere in faith and not lose heart. Remind me that Your timing is perfect.  You are never late and always care about what I care about. Your results are always amazing! 

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:1-11)

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