How to Launch a Ministry to Save the World, Jesus Style

I was recently at a meeting with a group of pastors from my community.  To open the meeting the leader asked us to all read John 2:1-11.  This is the story about Jesus at a wedding where he turns water into wine.  It’s the launching pad for his ministry and it’s his first miracle.  He asked us to read through this and then give feedback on what we noticed.  Part of his motivation was because he was preaching on that Scripture and wanted more ideas.  It was also a great way for us to have some discussion to build some community.

As I read through the story something brand new jumped out at me and has stuck with me over the past several days.  So here is the story:

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited tot he wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “they have no more wine.”  “Dear woman, why do you involve me? Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.  Then he called the bridegroom aside and said. “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Jesus was on a mission to change the world and this is the moment he used to launch it.

I never noticed this before, but this entire story is about the servants and Jesus’ disciples. His mother must have been helping with the food and drink for her to know they were out of wine.  She may have been helping prepare and serve people or she knew others who were serving.  She knew this could be a disaster and asked her son for help.  She told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do.  I can see her approaching Jesus with his followers around him and explaining the problem. He did not want to get involved, but he saw an opportunity.

Jesus knew that his disciples did not really know him and what he could do.  He saw this as an opportunity to develop the men that would be critical in leading this movement.  He also saw an opportunity to launch his ministry with the servants that where.  No one at the wedding knew that Jesus did this miracle except the servants and his disciples.  How powerful that moment had to be when they drew out the water and saw that it was wine.  Can you imagine the sense of awe and wonder that they had when they realized what Jesus did?

Here are some lessons I took away from reading this amazing story:

    • Jesus is always interested in building our faith.  How many of those servants that day became faithful followers of Jesus?

    • Jesus is focused on the individuals, the servants and his disciples, not the master of the banquet or the bridegroom.

    • Jesus wants to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

    • When we are obedient, Jesus works in unexpected ways.  The servants could have questioned Jesus or tried to solved this problem by themselves.  Instead they took a risk and followed his instructions without questioning why.

    • Jesus can take any situation and do something miraculous.

    • Jesus will ask us to do something before a miracle happens.

Can you imagine the conversations that happened after this wedding? The servants, telling their friends and families about this amazing thing that happened.  In a close community like that the word had the spread fast and I am sure it raised a lot of questions.

When the servants and his disciples saw Jesus’ miracle, they believed. The miracle showed his power over nature and revealed the way he would go about his ministry.  He came to serve and help people, He spoke with authority, and He was in personal touch with people. Jesus continues to do this today, using ordinary people to do the extraordinary and changing lives one person at a time.