Do Whatever He Tells You January 19, 2014
As we all know, things can go wrong at weddings.
I remember one I officiated a few years ago. The wedding couple decided to use
recorded music for their service. They had done an excellent job of getting all the music
burned onto a CD. Unfortunately, though, they had not listened to the finished product
before the ceremony.
When the bride was about halfway down the aisle, the first song stopped. Jason was
doing the sound. He looked a bit panicked. Which increased when he did the logical
thing, hitting track 2, hoping the rest of the first song was on that track. But no, that
was the second song, which was scheduled for later.
With that, I tried to make my facial expression communicate that the plan was for only
part of the bridal processional music. But guess what. When it was time for track 2, just
about the time the singer was ready for the grand finale, that song stopped, just as the
first one had stopped.
And guess what. When it was time for the unity candle music, it, too, stopped.
And when it was time for the recessional, about halfway through - about the time half
the wedding part had recessed - that song also stopped.
Ever since then, I have encouraged couples using downloaded music to listen to what
they think they have before the day of the wedding. But yes, things can go wrong at
weddings. Including having people faint.
That has happened only once to me. Thank You, Lord, I was not the one who fainted.
In the wedding I am thinking of, the last groomsman passed out during the ring
ceremony. Fortunately, he was the last groomsman, which means he was on floor level,
so he didn’t have far to fall. Fortunately, Hilma, our wedding coordinator, has
experience as a nurse. She got the man moved to the fellowship hall, that happening
after I prayed for him, all that before returning to the ring ceremony.
But again, things can go wrong at weddings. Which reminds me of another wedding.
The groom’s name was Mike, the bride’s name Danielle. At the rehearsal - fortunately it
was the rehearsal rather than the wedding itself - but during the rehearsal, I somehow
got in my mind the names, not Mike and Danielle, but Dan and Michelle. Boy, was the
bride mad. Which really added to the pressure the next day when - whew - I got the
But yes, things can go wrong at weddings. Which was the case in what is recorded in the
first part of chapter 2 of the Gospel of John - verses 1 through 11.
To set the stage, let me mention very briefly some of what had gone on in the life of
Jesus before John 2.
Of course, Jesus was born. That is what we celebrated throughout December. He was
born in Bethlehem.
Sometime after that, Jesus spent some time in Egypt, where He had been taken by
Joseph to keep Him safe.
Upon returning from Egypt, Jesus spent the rest of His growing up years in Nazareth.
But one time, on a trip to Jerusalem, Jesus came up missing. He was missing for a
couple days until He was found by Joseph and Mary with some Jewish religious leaders.
Jesus impressed the leaders with His knowledge and His questions.
Then, at the age of 30, it was time for Jesus to begin His ministry. The ministry for
which He had come to earth. The ministry that would end with His death on a cross,
His resurrection from His tomb, and His ascension to Heaven.
Jesus’ ministry was preceded by Him being baptized. Jesus was near Jerusalem at that
time. As Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven and
alighted on Him. Right after that a voice was heard from Heaven. It was the voice of
God calling Jesus God’s beloved Son, with whom He was pleased. The second of those
two things assured Jesus of God’s favor. The first gave Him the strength He would need
to fulfill His ministry.
Jesus was then led, by the Holy Spirit, into a nearby wilderness. In the wilderness,
Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He was then tempted by Satan. He was tempted
three times. First, to turn away from sacrifice, choosing instead physical comfort.
Second, to turn away from His calling to become the sacrifice for people’s sins. Third, to
worship Satan rather than serve God.
All three times, Jesus survived. Then, very early in His ministry, He began choosing
I remember learning not too long ago that at that time in that culture, those wanting to
be disciples of someone applied for the privilege, hoping that maybe they would be
found to be smart enough or clever enough or promise to be loyal enough to be chosen.
But it was different with Jesus. He started the process. He sought out the disciples He
wanted. And there was no test of intelligence or loyalty. There was no surveying to see
if the disciples might be able to get along with each other. Jesus simply called each one
to follow, and in the group of 12 He ended up with, there were all sorts of personalities.
He simply called each one to follow Him, each one agreeing to do so.
Then, according to John 2, Jesus was at a wedding in the Galilean town of Cana.
Isn’t that a nice thought? Yes, Jesus was important. Yes, He already had a lot to do.
But He was not too important or too busy to be with a couple and their families
celebrating a joyous occasion.
Jesus was at a wedding. There is no indication there was any problem during the
ceremony part of that event. Apparently, nothing went wrong during the ceremony. But
according to verse 3, a problem did arise at the reception - the celebratory feast that
followed the exchanging of vows. The problem was that the wine gave out - they ran out
It is of course important to point out that back then in that culture, wine was weaker
than it is today, which means the reception was not a drunken brawl. Have you ever
been to that kind of reception? I have. I see no point in it myself. But that was not the
case in John 2. Wine was an accepted beverage. If nothing else, it was often healthier
than water. But the wine gave out.
That may not have been the most critical thing that could have happened. It was
probably not the worst thing that would ever happen to the couple. If it was, it could
likely be said they had a pretty easy life together. But it was an embarrassment for the
hosts of the feast, so it was a problem.
A problem that came to the attention of Jesus’ mother Mary, who was also at the
wedding. Since she did something to try to correct the situation, it is believed that one
of the wedding couple may have been a relative of hers, which would of course have
made Jesus a relative as well.
What did Mary do when she learned of the problem? She went to Jesus and told Him
the problem. She said to Him, “They have no wine.”
The sense I get is that Mary shared that information, not in idle conversation, and not
with a wringing of her hands, wondering what could be done. The sense I get is that
Mary, in sharing the information, simply assumed that when Jesus heard of the
problem, He would know what to do and would take care of the problem.
Interestingly, though, Jesus did not right away do anything to help. Instead, He asked
Mary a question and then made a statement. He asked, “O woman, what have you to do
with Me?” He said, “My hour has not yet come.”
“Woman.” That, rather than “mom.” That sounds kind of harsh to me. And I have
heard that the word “woman,” in this context, was not necessarily a positive one.
And, “what have you to do with Me?” That sounds less than positive as well. I mean,
Mary was His mother. And remember she knew who He was. She had been told by an
angel before Jesus was conceived. She had been told by a righteous, devout man on the
day Jesus had been dedicated. She must have at least heard what had happened when
Jesus was baptized - about the Holy Spirit descending on Him and about the voice of
God announcing Jesus was His Son, with whom He was well-pleased. Who else would
Mary go to?
And, “My hour has not yet come.” What did that mean? Neither does that make sense,
at least to me. Of course, I suppose it could have been He was not yet ready to start
doing miracles. Or maybe He wanted to wait a while for the need for wine to get greater
so the appreciation would be greater. Or maybe it was that Jesus was afraid it was only
miracles that would attract people to Him. Which in fact did happen in many cases
later. Maybe He was already objecting to those who wanted the benefits of His power
but not the call to follow Him spiritually.;
Jesus’ response is confusing on many levels. And as mentioned, it is interesting that
Jesus did not right away do anything to help with the problem Mary had shared with
But also interestingly, neither His delay nor His words deterred Mary. In fact, she still
assumed He would help. An assumption expressed in her words to the servants. “Do
whatever He tells you.”
And yes, that is interesting. Jesus had not agreed to help, but Mary had the faith to
believe He would help.
A bit later we are going to return to what Mary said. But before that, guess what. Jesus
did help. Here is what happened, beginning with verse 6.
Nearby, there were six stone jar. They were for the Jewish rites of purification. They
were for use when washing hands before a meal and between courses. Each one was
capable of holding between twenty and thirty gallons of water.
Jesus looked toward the jars. He pointed to them as He said to the servants, “Fill the
jars with water.”
You know what? I have read and even preached about this passage before, and I do not
ever remember reading that first instruction from Jesus. The instruction to fill the jars
“Fill them.” Did they not already have water in them? I do not know.
Of course, with even a moderate-sized crowd at the wedding feast, at least some of the
water in the jars would have been used up with the hand washing. Or maybe they were,
for whatever reason, empty.
The jars may have been empty. At the least, the water levels in them had to have been a
bit low. Otherwise, Jesus would not have said, “Fill the jars.” Fill them with water,
which is what the jars had been built for. What was in them or had been in them.
“Fill the jars with water.” That is the instruction Jesus gave to the servants. Which the
servants might have questioned. Remember? The problem was a lack of wine. What
good were six jars filled with water going to do?
But also remember that Mary, who had some authority during the wedding feast, had
told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them.
The servants obeyed. They filled the jars.
In fact, they did not just fill them. They filled them up to the brim. The point being that
nothing more - not even a single drop of anything else - could be added to any of the
jars, as in some changing agent, which will be important very soon.
Jesus then said to the servants - the way I read it, He said this right after the last of the
six jars was filled with water up to the brim - “Now draw some out. Remove some of the
water from each of the jars, and take it to the steward of the feast.”
Again, it did not make sense. Again, the need was for wine, not water. But again, the
servants did what Jesus told them. They drew some of what they assumed was still
water. They took what had been drawn to the steward.
I wonder. Were the servants nervous when they took the liquid to the steward? Did
they expect to get yelled at or corrected for bothering him with water when he was
concerned about the wine? I imagine the servants might have been nervous. But they
did what Jesus told them nonetheless.
Verse 9. When the steward of the feast tasted what he thought was water, what a
surprise he had because it was not water, but wine. And it was not just wine. It was
better wine than had been served earlier.
The steward of the feast called the bridegroom over. He said to the groom, “Every man
serves the good wine first. When men have drunk freely, after the senses are dulled,
then the poor wine comes out. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
I think the steward was looking for an explanation from the groom. But of course, the
groom did not have an explanation. The servants had some clue, but not the groom. It
was Jesus who was responsible.
This was, according to verse 11, “the first of His signs.” The first of the miracles
performed by Jesus. a miracle that manifested His glory and helped His disciples - the
close followers He had chosen right before this - to believe in Him.
As we know, Jesus went on to perform many, many other miracles. Many, many other
signs, causing many, many others to follow Him. Just a very, very few other miracles
• Jesus calming a storm,
• Jesus multiplying a little bit of food into enough to serve 5000 men once,
another time 4,000,
• Jesus healing people from a wide variety of illnesses,
• Jesus successfully ordering evil spirits out of people,
• Jesus being smart enough to thwart all the tricks His enemies used against
Him as they tried to get Him to say or do something that would get Him into
• one time, as His enemies tried to throw Jesus off a cliff, their hope being to kill
Him, Him simply walked through the crowd to safety.
Each one of the other miracles Jesus performed, just like the first one of changing water
into wine, manifested - each one showed - His glory and His power. Each one helped
lots of people to believe in Him.
And yes, that applies to all people. Including those who were considered by society to be
of little importance. Remember? Concerning His first miracle, it took place in Cana,
which was a small town in Galilee, which was the less-important, disrespected province
of Palestine. Galilee, and Cana in particular, were off the beaten path. No one of
importance was apt to even hear about the miracle. But Jesus performed it anyway, just
as He did miracles where other people would see.
Changing water into wine was Jesus’ first miracle. Because it was a miracle, it needs to
be proclaimed and remembered. But for today, let’s return to what Mary said to the
servants. She said, “Do whatever He tells you.”
What if what Mary said would be considered a challenge, not only for the servants at the
wedding feast? What if the instruction to do whatever Jesus says would be taken as a
challenge for us today?
And what if not only those servants obeyed? What if we, too, obeyed? What if we, too,
did whatever He tells us?
We are going to think about in the coming weeks. Next week, three passages in which
Jesus tells us He wants us to go His spiritual direction. The next week, three passages in
which He tells us to follow Him, in good times and difficult times alike. In future weeks,
passages in which Jesus tells us to share His love with others, to forgive others, to not be
afraid as we serve Him,
“Do whatever He tells you.” That is an instruction, not only for the servants at a
wedding feast a couple thousand years ago. It is an instruction for us as well. What if
we obey? Will we see miracles, as did those servants back then? What a wonderful
thing to contemplate.
Today’s closing song is the hymn Trust and Obey.
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear
Can remain when we trust and obey
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He does richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
As I thought about some of the things that have gone wrong at weddings I have had,
another one that popped into my mind was the very first one I officiated. It was about
30 years ago in the living room of our home. The wedding pictures were taken in our
back yard. The only ones there, other than the couple, Lynna Gene, and me, were the
best man, the maid of honor, and the two sets of parents. I think that was it.
That couple is still married today. With three grown children. Many, many other
couples I have married are also still together. Do you suppose those marriages have
survived because Tammie and John, and the other couples, did and do what Jesus told
them during their ceremonies? What Jesus told them about love and loyalty and
compassion and understanding?
Do whatever Jesus tells you. It resulted in a miracle 2000 years ago. It can result in
miracles now. Will you - will I - will we - take the challenge?