“When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from . . . he called the bridegroom over” – John 2:9
It happened again. As the preacher was reading the passage he was getting ready to teach, my mind seized on one scene from the story and took off in a completely different direction. A couple of directions, in fact. I wish it wouldn’t do that, but in this case I like the places it took me.
In John 2, Jesus and the disciples are at a wedding in a little village called Cana in Galilee. A wedding was always a grand and festive occasion, and in a small village like Cana it would be a celebration that involved the whole community. Like today’s wedding celebrations, refreshments were served and at this wedding the wine was very important. Failing to provide adequate wine would be a social disgrace to the family. And in this small village, the newly-married couple would never live it down.
Jesus, with a little nudge from his mother, tells the servants to fill six stone jars with water. Now we have around 120 gallons of water that is about to be turned into wine. Jesus tells the servants to take a sample to the master of ceremonies, a person called in to oversee the distribution of the food and drink. Astonished at the high quality of the wine, the master of ceremonies calls the bridegroom to the side and compliments him on saving the best for last. The bridegroom, naturally, has no idea what he’s talking about, and John doesn’t tell us if he ever confesses the truth.
This is where my mind takes a left turn. Jesus performs this tremendous miracle behind the scenes and as far as we know, never steps forward to take credit. Sure, the servants knew and the disciples get to witness His first miracle, but Jesus stays quiet. Now as the preacher is heading off in an entirely different direction, I’m wondering, “How often does Jesus work behind the scenes to make us look good?” I’m sure, if this story is any indication, God is quite fond of saving people’s reputations and making them look good in ways that go beyond description. I don’t think we’ll ever know all the miracles God has done for us without us having a clue He was even in the room.
Next, I’m astounded by the fact that Jesus’ first miracle saves the reputation of one unknown couple in an insignificant village in the middle of nowhere. If I knew I was soon to be the Savior of the world, I’d probably get all the press together and make a splashy show so everyone would get the message there’s a new Messiah in town and things are REALLY going to be different. But Jesus quietly changes the innocent lives of one newlywed couple and lets the disciples draw their own conclusions. Some would think Jesus’ first miracle was wasted in an unremarkable town on an unremarkable couple. But who are we to tell God who to bless with His miracles? I wouldn’t turn it down if the miracle was pointed at me. Would you?
Here’s the final challenge of this passage. Our behind-the-scenes God seems to take delight in blessing the unknown in quiet and unassuming ways. Can we? Can we bless someone in need and do so without fanfare, without recognition, without our name in the bulletin or in the paper? Can we let the blessing be a blessing even if someone else gets the credit? It’s the way of Jesus in this story. I hope it can be the way of all of us.