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Worship Message - Do Whatever He Tells You

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

names correct.

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

disciples.

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

of wine.

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

Him.

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

with water.

“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

were

• 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

trouble, and

• 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?

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