"Fill the jars with water".
One of the strangest sermon stories I ever heard concerned a man who was escorted by an angel to the wedding supper of the Lamb. The story went something like this:
“Upon arriving, the man noticed a banquet table that stretched as far as he could see. The table was set with pure silver and decorated with the rarest of gems. Oh, and the food, let me tell you about the food. (Insert fifteen minutes of sermon filler describing food). The angel motioned the man to his seat at the table. It seemed everyone had been waiting for the man to arrive and take his place. It was then, as the man approached his seat, that he noticed something unexpected. Turning to the angel, the man asked, ‘Sir, I see this magnificent feast and all these people awaiting to partake. But, I am noticing that these people do not have elbows and their arms are straight. How then, sir, will they eat of the Lamb’s supper?’
The angel said to the man, “Here in heaven, people don’t need elbows to eat. Here, they serve each other.”
I’m sure the point of the story had something to do with service. And maybe somewhere in the pews that day some enlightened heads nodded at the story’s big reveal. Not me. I was still stuck on the elbows. What? There are no elbows in heaven? What’s up with that? How do pockets work? So, I guess there are no push-ups either? I thought these new bodies were supposed to be upgrades.
If we want to shine a light on God’s heart for servants, we don’t need to make stuff up. We just need to read our bibles. Check out this story.
Jesus was invited to a wedding. Some have suggested that one of Jesus’ family members was among the wedding party. Others have speculated the groom may have been related to Nathanael or possibly might even have been the Apostle John. We don’t know for certain.
We do know the party ran out of wine – a social blunder of embarrassing proportions. To run out of provisions at a wedding feast signaled to your guests that you were either unwilling or unable to provide for the occasion.
What happened next is a familiar story. Mary asks her son to intervene. Jesus does and he saves the day. “And so, my children, Jesus performed His first public miracle at a wedding in Cana. Next…”
Back up. Let’s freeze the frame at that part where Mary is informing Jesus that the wine has run out. Now look around. The party is cresting. People are dancing and singing and laughing. Jesus’ freshly minted draft picks (we call them disciples) are in on the fun. Over there we see the center of the celebration. The bride and the groom. The bride’s father is telling a joke. Over his shoulder, giving instructions to a couple of servants, we see the master of the banquet. His job is to keep the party rolling and he’s just now noticing the guests’ cups need refreshed.
The wedding at Cana marked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Here, in the jars used for ceremonial washing, water poured in and wine poured out. Through the lens of Scripture we see the foretelling of Christ’s passion. We see His blood in the wine as we are cleansed of our sin. Our hearts of stone are changed as the life of Jesus fills us. We recognize this miracle as the first of seven signs in John’s Gospel which attest to the Divinity of Christ. The Scriptures say “He thus revealed His glory and His disciples put their faith in Him.” John 2:11
My question: To whom did Jesus first reveal His glory? Let’s see.
Roll the tape.
Stop. There. You see those hands? The ones filling the jars? They belong to the servants, to those whom Mary instructed “Do whatever he whatever He tells you” and to whom Jesus said "Fill the jars with water... now draw some out."
It was the servants whose hands Jesus used to reveal His glory! The guests certainly enjoyed the wine, as did the disciples who put their faith in Jesus that day. But it was the hands of the unsung servants that Jesus used to serve up His first public miracle.
This, my friends, is the sort of thing that amazes me about the heart of God. Time and again we see Him supporting the supporting actors, revealing His glory through the most unlikely people.
The servants that day did what servants do. They showed up. They followed instructions. On that day in Cana, they participated in a miracle.
And they didn't have to elbow their way to the center of the story.