According to TheKnot.com, wedding budgets have grown over the past two years. That should not be surprising because the cost of everything keeps going up. The sticker shock for the average wedding has now risen from $29,858 in 2013 to $30,000. http://money.cnn.com/2014/03/28/pf/average-wedding-cost/
I assure you the greatest bargain in that expense is still the minister.
Even with all the hard work, there is no perfect wedding. All of us who attend weddings suddenly become wedding critics. We are going to find something about that wedding to talk about.
“I can’ t believe she had that many bridesmaids. I wouldn’t have chosen that color of dress. There was too much music. Well, that was short and sweet, wasn’t it? Did you see the Groom crying when he said his vows? Wasn’t the flower girl the cutest thing you ever saw? I loved the string ensemble. When the preacher said, ‘You may kiss the bride,’ I didn’t think they were ever going to stop. They went a little skimpy on the food, don’t you think? I noticed they didn’t serve any alcohol. That’s unusual these days.”
Weddings have been important for thousands of years. In every culture there have been customs, important traditions, and costs associated with a man and a woman coming together as husband and wife. This was true in the days of Jesus.
Cana was about 5 ½ miles from Nazareth and that’s where friends of Jesus’ family were being married. Jesus’ entire family was invited. There is no mention of Joseph so we assume that by this time he was dead.
Mary was at the house of their friends before Jesus and his disciples arrived. Perhaps she got there early to help prepare for the guests who were soon to arrive.
Jesus and his disciples arrived together. The people getting married were likely people Jesus had known since he was young, since Cana was only a short distance from his home.
While they were there, one of those wedding snafus happened –the one thing everyone was going to talk about after this social event was over. The wine ran out. Perhaps they underestimated the number of guests that were coming. After all, it was sort of difficult to RSVP in those days. Someone did not order the correct amount of wine from the local vineyard.
The celebration was about to turn embarrassing for the host. It would be a lot like standing in line to be served your meal at the reception after the wedding, only to be told there was no more food. How embarrassing!
That Mary felt obligated to help this family shows she was more than just a distant friend. She was a close friend. Saving their reputation in the community and keeping them from embarrassment and public humiliation was important to her. She knew someone who could help. She knew that someone was Jesus.
How did she know Jesus could help?
While it is possible that God had revealed to Mary Jesus’ power in some real way that she was privileged to witness, let’s not forget that Mary knew who Jesus was, the Son of God, because of the visit of the angel Gabriel at his birth. She knew that he is destined to do great things. I believe they had conversations about this along the way.
Whether she had witnessed Jesus do anything miraculous or not, she believed that Jesus could solve the problem of the host, so she said to Jesus, “They have no wine.”
Jesus’ response to his mother has raised some eyebrows through the ages. Some people believe he was disrespectful to her in the way that he responded by calling her “woman” instead of “mother.”
However, this Greek word for woman isn’t a word that is impersonal. In fact, the New International Version picks up the affection in this word and translates it as “Dear woman.”
While it was unusual even in the first century to address one’s mother this way, some have suggested that Jesus is indicating a new relationship between them now that he has entered into his public ministry. (1:51). (Morris, 1995, p. 159). http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=770
His mother is simply wanting to help a friend out of an embarrassing situation and she knows that Jesus can help. She does not realize that what she is asking has broader implications that could compromise Jesus’ agenda.
Jesus gives us a hint in his answer which he phrases in the form of a question. “Woman, (or “Dear woman”) what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” We might say, “This isn’t my problem and if I get involved it’s going to mess up my entire week.” For Jesus, news of a big miracle could have compromised the timing of his entire plan of ministry.
Jesus seems to have a clear understanding from the beginning of his ministry that once people began to embrace him as the Messiah, it would set in place a chain of events that could not be stopped and would eventually lead to his death. The timing of all of that was important to him. Thus the phrase, “My hour has not yet come.”
So there was the big picture to consider as well as the needs of the wedding guests. While he didn’t want to compromise the big picture, it didn’t mean he didn’t care about the problem of their friends that his mother had presented to him.
This is where this text intersects with your life and mine. We all have a big picture to our day, week, and life. We often have it planned in our minds how it’s supposed to go, what it’s supposed to look like, what we want to get done.
Then someone comes up to us and sets someone else’s problems in front of us and we know immediately that it compromises the big picture. What’s your first reaction?
Is it, “Thank you, Lord. I was praying for You to give me someone’s problems today because I didn’t have enough of my own.”?
If you are not in the mood for sarcasm, perhaps your response is more like that of Jesus: “What concern is that to me? It’s not time for me to be raising children again.”
“What concern is that to me? It’s not my place to be volunteering down there.”
“What concern is that to me? If that person had done his job, you wouldn’t be asking me to help him out.”
“What concern is that to me? If that person hadn’t squandered all her money and saved like I’ve saved, you wouldn’t be coming to me asking for assistance.”
“What concern is that to me? If he’d taken better care of his body, he’d be able to drive himself to the doctor.”
“What concern is that to me? If he hadn’t quit school, smoked pot, done petty crime, spent time in jail, and had instead worked for a living, he might be able to afford a place to live.”
“What concern is that to me? What can I do about people in Haiti, or Syria, or Peru, or Liberia?”
“So he miscalculated the number of guests. It’s not yet my time. What concern is that to me?”
Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus asked them to do.
In doing so, do you think Mary believed these were going to be Jesus’ final words on the matter? Mary had a mother’s intuition that Jesus was going to help.
Jesus may have no longer been in her house, but Jesus still had love and respect for his mother, but mostly, Jesus knew the Golden Rule. He realized that if he were in the shoes of the host, he’d want someone to help him, if possible.
Mary served as the one to persuade Jesus to action.
We have the same opportunity as Mary, to go to Jesus and petition him to act, to intercede on behalf of others, and ask him take action when it seems that no one else cares.
Also, God empowers us to act on His behalf, to step in and be Jesus to others, to use our gifts to help others in times of need.
All of us are given some power to act on behalf of others. In more cases than not, people are not deserving of our acts of kindness. Our actions for them and to them are actions of grace. In many cases, in order to serve others, we must set aside our own agendas. Rarely does our helping come at a time that is convenient to us.
Many times, what we do for others is not in our big picture of the day or the week.
So, what does that tell us as we play our big picture? Always leave room for acts of kindness. Ministry happens most often when we allow our plans to be altered. Sometimes the best ministry and the most valued moments are those that were not planned.
We don’t have to bring a lot of attention to ourselves when we act kindly to others. Notice how Jesus performed his first miracle. Only the servants who drew the water knew what really happened to the water they had been asked to draw.
The steward didn’t know. He just assumed they had been saving that good wine until last. When he tasted it, he was shocked because most people saved the poor wine until last, after people had already had too much to drink, but he said, “You have kept the best stuff for last.”
So, not only was the bridegroom not embarrassed, but people left the wedding talking about how he saved the best wine until the end. Who does that?
Only a few people talked about what Jesus did, because only a few knew what he did. This helped Jesus keep a low profile, which is what he wanted at that time.
So Jesus helped out without making a big announcement about who he was. The wedding didn’t become all about him, but the focus stayed on the couple, which was what Jesus wanted. The day was about them.
The opportunity to help others usually presents itself at the least opportune time – when we have deadlines approaching, when we have bills to pay, when we are running late for an appointment, when we don’t feel very Christian because we have unresolved issues in our lives, when we think it’s not our responsibility to help.
However, if we avail ourselves to God, He can do great things with us during these times and make a great difference in someone’s life.
Jesus found a way to minister to this family while keeping his attention on the big picture, that it wasn’t his time to announce that He was the Messiah. Jesus ministered to this couple without compromising the big picture.
He found a way to honor his mother and was compelled to do something for those who needed the gifts he had to offer because he could offer them and because the people who received them needed grace.
While his initial question was, “What concern is that to me?” we see that Jesus really answered his own question.
Jesus knew he could do no better than to have compassion and empathy for this couple at the encouragement of his mother. So he offered them what he had. Isn’t that all that God asks of any of us?
My friend Timothy Sangster delivers fuel around the Atlanta area. Last week a homeless man told him he was hungry and ask him for money and Timothy told him he didn’t have any money to give him and the man cursed him. So Timothy went back to his truck and pulled out his sandwich he’d made for lunch that day and bought it to the homeless man and gave it to him. The man hesitated at first, but finally accepted it and seemed very grateful for something to eat.
Monday is coming and the needs and concerns of others will bump up against our lives. Being compassionate and offering empathy will not likely fit into our big picture of the day or week, but because we are Jesus’ disciples we will find a way to offer people what we have, and when we do people are usually thankful which gives way to joy and celebration.