It’s a normal Saturday morning six-year-olds youth league soccer game. The kids are there to play. The referee makes sure the game is played fairly. The coaches instruct their players what to do and where to be. And the parents on the sideline cheer when something great happens, groan if a kid scores in the wrong goal, smile and pull out the snacks when the game is over. That’s what parents are supposed to do. Stay in the background. Not scream at every call the referee makes or doesn’t make. Not make a scene calling out the coach for not letting their kid be the star that they are. Parents on the sideline are not to get in their kid’s face about how they didn’t play hard or angrily pull their kid away from the after-game huddle because they didn’t like the effort. That’s a parent very much making themselves the center of everything.
This week in the gospel Jesus shows up at a wedding. As an invited guest, the day wasn’t about him. It was of course about the bride and groom, the guests, and the entire party celebrating the happy occasion. At an event where he might have been on the sidelines, Jesus became the center of the story. Staying in the background wasn’t going to be the way things would go for him anymore. Because when Jesus, the Light, shows up anywhere light shines. The Light shines to show his glory as God. But if the sign of his glory is a lowly one no one sees, does it really count as a sign? We’ll discover the answer as…
The Light Shines on a Wedding
Was it really that big of a problem to run out of wine? The bride and groom were still married. They would still live together as man and wife. It was at most a minor bump. What we might call first world problems, like cell phone coverage going out while riding on our boat. But in first-century Galilee, in the backwoods lowly town of Cana north of Jerusalem, running out of wine was a big problem. It was prevalent, inexpensive, and people drank it at almost every meal. A wedding party expected to last up to seven days, couldn’t run out of wine. That would cut the party short and cause major embarrassment for the couple.
At this particular wedding, the mother of Jesus may have been an invited guest or maybe was helping with the party planning. Whatever her capacity, she approached her son about the problem. “They have no more wine. Dear woman, why do you involve me?” It sounds like Jesus was telling her he wasn’t going to do anything. “It’s not my problem.” And what could he do? Jesus was an invited guest. He didn’t have wine stored at his house. He didn’t have a house. What could his mother have expected Jesus would do? Yet what Jesus is really saying could also be understood not as “what does this problem have to do with me?” More like “this problem is mine and not yours.” His mother was simply looking out for the best interests of the wedding couple and party. Avoid embarrassment, give the people something to drink, the practical. Jesus was looking at something beyond that, shining his light on this wedding.
Without touching a thing, without talking first with the bride and groom to give them a heads up, with a simple word to the servants Jesus got involved. “Fill the jars with water. Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” It was done. The sign had been given. Jesus had caused a wine truck to appear at the back gate? Jesus had caused it to rain wine into the peoples’ glasses? Nothing huge like that. The master tastes the water that isn’t water anymore. He believes a mistake has been made. Wine this good should’ve been first to be served, but this groom kept the best for last. Most amazing, neither knows where this wine came from. The guests, continuing to be able to drink wine and celebrate, don’t have a clue. Maybe the mistake was with Jesus. The situation was perfect to claim the glory. Stand and be recognized as the hero. Take the credit for saving the day. Be seen as a miracle worker changing water into wine like that. This first sign in his active ministry could have started with a bang to a whole crowd of people. Instead, it happened behind the scenes, with only a few disciples, his mother, and maybe the servants having any idea who was behind the water into wine.
Maybe we remind ourselves when the storms roll in and dump flooding rainfall that God is behind it. What about when lightning strikes a house and burns it to the ground? Or earthquakes shake the world and bring the buildings down? If a pipe bursts and floods the bedrooms where the family pictures are stored or the clouds come in and don’t leave for the entire week of vacation, are we still seeing God behind those things? Or do we think those just luck? Might even attribute it to ourselves. We attract bad things happening. It’s the little things of life that God wouldn’t bother getting involved in. He wouldn’t bother making good happen in those areas. Or inside our marriages and relationships, where is God’s hand when our spouse grows cold towards us? We can’t believe we did it again, causing heartache and pain for this person we claim to love. Allowing another at work to have an emotional relationship with us, speaking harshly towards each other, failing to give support. These are way worse than running out of wine at a wedding celebration. Yet where is Jesus? Nowhere to be found with his ‘water to wine’ power. Otherwise, we’d expect to see him show his glory, work a miracle, and keep things right.
Don’t miss that the Light shines on a wedding. Into the normal, the everyday, out of the background and into the center of your life shines Jesus. With his glory, his light, shining into your life. Jesus is interested in the weather that affects you. Every wind, drop, and storm is carefully crafted with a promise that it will work for your eternal good. It may not be water to wine obvious, but Jesus loves you enough to control the weather for your benefit. And he cares about your relationships and marriages. Jesus was at that wedding, gracing it with his presence. And the moment the wine ran out, it was a moment for him to shine. To reveal his glory, show himself as the Savior. What power he used to reveal his glory in a small way, would allow him in his life to obey perfectly, never sin once, and eventually show glory to the whole world.
Jesus quietly creates an abundance of wine where there was shortage before. This sign pointed more to the one doing it than to what was done. “My time has not yet come.” He wasn’t talking about the water into wine. His time for glory would come later. Because the world needed more than a miracle at a wedding. You needed someone who could come into your life, control the weather, care for your marriage and relationships, but do more. Jesus would take your sins in action and attitude. He would step into your place. Face the punishment and judgment, go to the cross. And there show his full glory. In suffering. In sacrifice. That would be his time. Light shining into your life right where you needed it. Forgiving your sins and giving you hope. Showing signs of the Savior you needed and the Savior Jesus came to be.
It seemed like such a little thing, having no wine wouldn’t destroy or ruin the new happy marriage. But Jesus demonstrated he cared about the little things of life too. Remember that when you see the sun rising on a new day, that Jesus cares enough for you to give you light and warmth and rain too. That Jesus cares enough to take interest in your relationships. Working a desire in spouses to do nice things for the other. Plan date nights, give small gifts, remember anniversaries. Jesus cares about you so much he brings friends or other contacts to encourage you in whatever situation you’re facing. To warn against going a bad way, to encourage couples who need counseling to get it. Jesus loves you enough to be there, in these everyday things. Extending his mercy into these little signs of his love. Little signs that point back to him and his glory.
Parents and grandparents, stay in the background at soccer games and other sporting events. It’s just right. Thankfully Jesus didn’t stay in the background at the wedding he attended. The wine ran out and Jesus used that situation to perform a sign of his glory. Powerful in that this sign showed how much Jesus loves you and me. Powerful in that it revealed his true glory to come, pointing to the cross. There and here you get to see Jesus’ love as the Light shines on a wedding.