Nourished by meals with the Messiah
Joel S. Heckendorf
Saving the best for last (John 2:1-12)
When Mary tapped Jesus on the shoulder at a wedding in Cana, informing him of the soon-to-be-discovered faux pas, she got a “Not yet,” from her son (John 2:4). Didn’t he get it? Didn’t he know how embarrassing it would be for their friends to run out of wine at their own wedding? An array of thoughts might have filled Mary’s mind as she walked away from that conversation, with her patience likely tested by Jesus’ “not yet.”
What thoughts fill your mind when you tap Jesus on the shoulder with your prayers and get a simple, “Not yet.” “Jesus, I’m a little short this month on my bills. Is that new job going to happen?” “Not yet.” “Jesus, I’m running dry here. Can you at least pour me a drip of hope? A drop of joy? A dribble of peace?” With every “not yet,” Jesus seems to fill our whine glasses with disappointment, anger, frustration, and many other blends that test our patience.
But before you completely lose your patience, pause. Hold Jesus’ “not yet” up to the light and examine it a little closer. Give it a swirl and a second sniff. What do you notice? “Not yet” does not mean no. “Not yet” may test your patience, but it also holds out promise.
To Mary’s credit, she got that. That’s why she cued the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). She realized that the impending problem maybe wouldn’t get solved in her way or on her timetable. But it would get solved.
And did it ever. Jesus miraculously turned 180 gallons of foot-washing water into 908 bottles of top-shelf wine. Just like that, Jesus’ “not yet” turned into the best yet. Jesus promises the same to you. In his wisdom, he may not always fill your glasses with whatever you want. He may test your patience with one “not yet” after another. But he also promises that his divine solution will be the best yet.
That’s so evident as we begin another season of Lent. At first glance, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday are an odd combination for Feb. 14. But they beautifully go hand-in-hand. On the surface, Valentine’s Day is all about our present wants: chocolates, courtship, and the like. Ash Wednesday kicks off our Savior’s journey to the cross. After saying on numerous occasions, “My time has not yet come,” the time came for Jesus to offer his life as payment for our sins. The season of Lent doesn’t paint a pretty picture with its strokes of suffering, shame, and sacrifice. But they were all part of God’s saving plan. They were necessary for what followed. First came the cross. Then came the crown.
Because of his Easter victory, be assured, he’s saving the best for last. Therefore, like that wedding couple in Cana, may we invite, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.” Then, with eager anticipation, even in ways unknown to us, watch how his gifts to us will be blessed.
Food for thought
- What significance is there in knowing that Jesus was an invited guest to a wedding?
Considering this is the first week of Jesus’ public ministry, it says something about his care and concern for people and their daily lives. Especially when you consider that wedding celebrations were sometimes a week long in their culture, Jesus’ attendance shows that he wasn’t “too busy” for people. The Almighty didn’t act high and mighty. Similar to the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” this accounts that we can bring any request to our Lord in prayer. There is nothing too small for him.
- Recall a time when God’s “not yet” turned out being a blessing in your life.
Answers will vary. While not a theologian, consider the country songwriter Garth Brooks and his song, “Unanswered Prayers.” After talking about how a high school fling didn’t end up in marriage he sings, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” When we look back on our lives, often we can see how temporary “not yets” from God ended up being a blessing. In heaven, we’ll see the “best yet.”
- Why did Jesus ask Mary, “Woman, why do you involve me?” (John 2:4)?
Jesus’ answer sounds disrespectful or uncaring to our ears. But by calling her “woman”, he is reminding Mary that his work as Savior does not hinge on her. In a way, he is distancing himself from her. She is no longer a boy that she raised in Nazareth, but he has just entered the “public” ministry. In regards to his public ministry, Mary was a sinner who needed to be saved, just like you and me.
- Besides meeting the immediate need of the host, what purpose did Jesus’ miracle serve?
The closing phrase, “his disciples believed in him,” shares the bigger blessing of this miracle. His disciples had just started following him. They already had faith in him as the promised Messiah, but this sign (or miracle) strengthened their faith in Jesus as the Son of God. Consider the words of John 20:30-31 and how they relate to this account, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples… these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Contributing editor Joel Heckendorf is pastor at Immanuel, Greenville, Wisconsin.
This is the third article in a 11-part series that looks at Jesus as a mealtime guest and how he blessed his fellow diners—and us—with his living presence. Find the article and answers online after Feb. 5 at wels.net/forwardinchrist.
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Author: Joel S. Heckendorf
Volume 105, Number 02
Issue: February 2018
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2018
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