If You Are Going to Have a Wedding, Make Sure You Invite Jesus!
An old priest was driving down the road sipping wine that he had put into his water bottle. He had sipped a bit too much and his car was weaving a bit as he drove. A local policeman noticed the erratic driving and pulled the priest over. Noticing the water bottle that the man was holding the policeman asked what was in the bottle, “what are you drinking?”
The old priest answered, “water. This is my water bottle.”
The officer asked to examine the bottle. The priest obliged and gave it to him. Opening the bottle and smelling the contents the officer confronted the priest, “this is not water. It is wine!”
The old man exhibited a shocked look and exclaimed, “He did it again!”
There is a legend which states that in the late middle ages, the Russian Czar had come to the conclusion that in order to unite his country, there would have to be one state religion to which everyone should belong.
He considered carefully all of his options. Finally, he settled on a short list of three, Islam, Buddhism or Christianity. He called representatives from each of the three religions to his court in Russia, and asked them each to state the case for their religion before himself and his advisors.
The Muslim representative spoke first. He spoke of the humaneness of Islam, of its tolerance for others, its respect for science and culture, and how it came with a complete legal system that had been refined and perfected through the centuries. When he had finished his pitch, he asked the Czar if there were anything else he would like to know. “One thing,” the Czar told him, “Does Allah look favorably upon Vodka?”
The Muslim emissary shook his head and told him no, that alcohol was an abomination to Allah, and was not permitted.
So the Czar, commanded that the Buddhist missionary be ushered in. The Buddhist monk explained the basic teachings of the Buddha, how all of life was suffering and how the Buddha showed the way to end suffering. Finally the King was getting bored and said, “I’ll tell you how I stop suffering. Vodka! What does your Buddha have to say about that?”
The Buddhist monk told him that intoxicants were a hindrance to enlightenment, and were not permitted in Buddhism.
“Next!” cried the Czar, and a Christian Orthodox monk was ushered in. But before he could even begin teaching his elementary catechism, the Czar stopped him short. “Just tell me one thing, does your Jesus allow vodka?”
“Are you kidding?” the monk said, “We will give you wine and bread at every service of worship.”
The Czar knew his choice was clear!
Turning water to wine.
(cf. Don McLeans’s American Pie lyrics… “the day the music died…” & the wine ran out.)
Jesus is invited to a wedding feast. Mary, His mother also attends the wedding. Jesus’ disciples come too. This is a typical Jewish wedding that lasts over the course of a week with a lot of food, dancing, laughter and wine. All is good until the wine runs out. Mary tells her Son, “the wine has run out.” She must know what Jesus is capable of doing. And maybe wants to set the stage for Him to show Himself. Jesus doesn’t seem to like the idea, but when Mary tells the servants, “do whatever He tells you,” He takes charge.
Close at hand are six large mason jars that are used for Jewish purification rites. Each holds between twenty to thirty gallons. They are huge. And, they are empty. Jesus tells the servants to fill the empty jars with water. They do. Then Jesus simply tells them to take some of the water—now turned to wine—to the host of the wedding. A very simple, yet stunning miracle. It is not magic. It is Jesus’ first public display of miraculous power.
The servants do as instructed. The host or chief steward, who is like the head butler, is amazed. He calls the bridegroom and compliments him. “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper more inferior wine after people have become drunk. You have saved the good wine until now.”
Mary knew what happened. The servants who served the wine knew. Jesus’ disciples also knew, but no one else knew about the miracle. This is Jesus’ first public miracle. What did it mean? What is its significance? Is it fable, fiction or fact? What do we make of it today? Why did Jesus choose this setting and this miracle as His first?
- Maybe Jesus wants us to see possibilities and abundance instead of problems and shortages. We can be overwhelmed with problems and negative “stuff.” What do you think?
- Maybe Jesus wants us to know He cares about the little things of life, not just the life and death crises we find ourselves in. He even intervenes in a simple wedding feast for an unknown couple and their families and friends. We matter. We are important to God. And even the insignificant details of our lives are important. That should help us know God cares even when everything seems to crash and burn around us.
- I believe in miracles. Don’t you? I believe that the God who created heaven and earth—no matter how we believe that creation took place—has power over the natural world that is creation. To be sure, it is a miracle for grape vines to draw water and nutrients from the soil, draw it up into the stem and plant above ground and produce grapes. It is also a miracle for grapes that have been harvested and turned to juice to go through a fermentation process to become wine. Maybe our call is to pay attention and have our eyes open!
Jesus’ miracle sped up the process. More than that, He instantly made good quality wine from simple water. Better than Boons-berry Farm wine. This is top shelf wine. Maybe Jesus turned water to wine as His first miracle to show the extravagant abundance of God. One hundred and eighty gallons of wine when the wedding party was running out of wine. God’s love is extravagant. It is beyond measure. It is past our ability to comprehend. God’s love also gives us joy and pleasure in life. Joy beyond our human comprehension. Joy that can transform our bored and dehydrated human relationships where we have become tired and weary of each other. We need Jesus in our lives!
Years ago when Johnny Carson was the host of The Tonight Show he interviewed an eight year old boy. The young man was asked to appear because he had rescued two friends in a coal mine outside his hometown in West Virginia. As Johnny questioned the boy, it became apparent to him and the audience that the young man was a Christian. So Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday school. When the boy said he did Johnny inquired, “What are you learning in Sunday school?” “Last week,” came his reply, “our lesson was about when Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine.” The audience roared, but Johnny tried to keep a straight face. Then he said, “And what did you learn from that story?” The boy squirmed in his chair. It was apparent he hadn’t thought about this. But then he lifted up his face and said, “If you’re going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus!”
In Jesus’ name. Amen.