“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. Continue Reading
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side” — Matthew 14:22
This is a passage that many people have trouble with, because it tells us that God sometimes instigates hard times in our lives.
Just after Jesus feeds the five thousand, the gospels of Matthew, Mark and John tell us that Jesus “made” the disciples get into the boat and go to the western shore of Galilee. This word “made” may also be translated “compel,” “necessitate” or even “force.” It is a very strong word that leaves little doubt the disciples did not have a choice in the matter.
What we see is Jesus compelling the disciples into a boat He knew would:
- take them into a storm
- find them “straining at the oars” (Mark 6:48) and
- ultimately blown off their intended course.
The disciples, intending to take a short boat ride across the northern tip of a lake that is merely four miles wide, soon find they were still in the middle of the lake (Mark 6:47) after rowing three or three and a half miles. They were in a storm and going nowhere fast. Fortunately, Jesus rescues them by walking across the lake.
At first, this sounds like a heartless thing for Jesus to do. Continue Reading
Nothing Is Wasted
“After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.’ So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people” – John 6:13 (NLT)
In this very familiar passage – the only miracle that is mentioned in all four Gospels – Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five small, flat cakes of barley (the cheapest of grains) and two small fish (probably pickled fish served as hors d’oeuvres). After everyone had enough to eat, Jesus instructed the disciples to gather the leftovers, filling twelve large baskets, “so that nothing is wasted.”
This story is a great picture of our God who not only provides but also over-provides, and by doing so teaches us not to waste the over-the-top supply. This passage challenges me to ask, “What am I doing with my extras?” Specifically, what am I doing with my extra time, treasure and touch? And every person I know has extras in at least one of the areas, if not all.
Time – What do I do with my extra hours? Do I spend it working more so I can earn more? Do I use my extra time to watch more television? After the people ate and were satisfied, Jesus likely distributed the extra for the blessing of many. On the other hand, I like to picture twelve grown men marching behind a young boy and delivering the baskets to his family in Capernaum. Jesus produced the over-abundance but He shared the results. Am I using the blessing of my extra time to be a blessing to others, or am I finding extraordinary ways to waste it on myself?