For a change of pace around here, let’s talk about water . . . plain old water. Living in the Willamette Valley, we are blessed with, literally, some of the best drinking water in the entire world. Seriously. We go on vacation and I can hardly choke down their H2O. And, if I’m gone from Oregon for too long, I start craving Salem-water. No joke. Yes, I am spoiled. A longtime friend went to college out of state and would ask her mom to bring her Salem-water in gallon jugs when she came to visit. There’s just something about it that is so good.
2000 years ago in Israel, not so much. The staple drink was almost always water mixed with wine -- even for children. Water was always brought from a well and carried back home in a vessel of some sort. Water’s origin, mixed with the hot climate, made it unsafe to drink because of bacteria growing in it.
In the second chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus is at a wedding and the wine runs out. (Now, don’t tune out here just because you’ve heard this story a million times. I had too! But I noticed something totally new reading it this time around.)
Mary asked Jesus to do something about this wine crisis. Jesus asked the servants to fill six 20-30 gallon stone jars with water. Not only that, but these stone jars were jars used for the rites of purification. Not something that the people would generally drink out of. [And notice that there were six jars - one short of seven, the number of perfection.]
You know what? The servants did it. They obeyed Jesus. It was crazy, but I’m sure they were desperate for a solution. They were likely not looking forward to approaching their master with the news that the wine was gone, the bottles were empty, the party was about to come to a screeching halt.
In his divine nature, Jesus performed a miracle. He took that bacteria-growing water, in six stone jars normally used for ceremonial cleaning, and he made wine. Not just any wine, either. Wine of the best quality. Somewhere between 500 and 700 liters. Y’all, that equals somewhere between 600 and 900 bottles of top quality wine.
Jesus allowed these servants to experience his deity, his power, a miracle with their own eyes. All they did was fill jars with water. They did what Jesus asked them to do. They knew this wasn’t a magic trick because they had just done the hard work of lugging that water with their own hands.
Do you see what else Jesus did? Jesus let the servants in on the miracle. He gave them a part to play. Jesus let them bring the water. Jesus is God, the one who created the earth and everything in it out of nothing. He had the power to create this wine out of nothing, too. He didn’t need the servants to do anything.
Yet in His Grace, He let them. In His grace, he let them sweat and toil and work. Maybe as they filled those jars, the servants were wondering what good all of their work was doing. How could filling jars with undrinkable water do anything to solve their problem of a lack of wine.
Sometimes, I feel like the servants. I feel like I’m filling jars with undrinkable water when what I really need is wine.
Jesus has called me to be a wife, a mom, a home manager, to educate my children, to share the Gospel, to love those around me, to make dinner for families with new babies, to offer my life as a living sacrifice to Him.
But, the day to day can seem so mundane. And all of the time, I feel my depravity. I feel how short I fall from the glory of God. I know my sin. I know that sometimes I yell or snap at my children. I know I can be lazy and selfish. My own cup runs dry and I feel like I’m just going through the motions. Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing most of the time and I wonder why life (and children) doesn't come with an owners manual.
I feel like the servants who probably wondered what in the world to do now that the wine was gone. I begin to wonder how in the world the things I do are supposed to become what they need to be.
But, here is the best news!! The good news of the Gospel! Jesus takes all of that mess and by his grace covers it all. His grace covers all my sin. In short, he takes the undrinkable water and he turns it into wine. So often, I want to make the wine by myself. In my pride, I want my life to be like top quality wine pouring out of me, without Him.
Yet in His grace, Jesus lets me bring just the water. Just the undrinkable, bacteria-growing water.
Isaiah 64:6 says this: "All of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags . . . "
All. our. righteous. acts. are. like. filthy. rags.
What hope is there if our righteous acts are like filthy rags? I mean, I could understand our evil deeds being like filthy rags. But, our righteous acts? If what Isaiah says is true, then what?
Then . . . Jesus . . . Jesus who turned the water into wine. Jesus can take our lives - our jacked up, sinful, broken lives -- and turn them into what they are supposed to be. Oh what joy!!
One last thought before I end. Instead of taking credit for the wine Himself, Jesus says to the servants "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." (John 2:8). Jesus lets the servants present the wine to their master that He just made, amazingly good wine. Can you envision how things had just changed for them in a split second? They had gone from delivering bad news to delivering amazing wine.
Just like the servants had the privilege of taking that wine to the master of the wedding, we get to go before the Lord with our lives redeemed. Jesus came and died on a cross, that we would not have to go before Him with our lack, with our brokenness, with our emptiness, lives ravaged by the Fall. Because of the miracle that a sovereign, holy, all-powerful God would give up Heaven to come to Earth and die for sinners while they were his enemies, believers approach the throne of grace with confidence knowing He sees the best life of all - Jesus.