Gladness and Glory

By working a wonder at the wedding in Cana, Jesus reveals Himself to the world. We see His power: Jesus does something that is not humanly possible by transforming water into wine. We see His authority: He steps out from under His mother’s jurisdiction, and secures the devotion of his disciples. We see His purpose: in this miracle, Jesus takes what was used for Jewish purification rites, and transforms it into something better, a foretaste of the New Covenant surpassing the Old. When this miracle shows us these things about Jesus, we are seeing His glory.

In this case, the occasion for Jesus’ glory being revealed was human need. A problem was brought to Jesus, with the expectation that He would be able to provide a solution, which presented an opportunity for Jesus’ glory to be shown. Mary brings the problem before Jesus when she tells Him: “They have no wine.” For our problems to become places where God’s glory is seen, we need to turn to Jesus for the solution, rather than trying to fix them in our own strength, or turning to others instead of Jesus.

When Jesus answers Mary, though, He points out some potentially painful consequences for her. “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” If Jesus begins His ministry at the wedding, then Mary must allow her identity to shift from “mother” to “woman”, because Jesus’ mother and brothers are those who follow Him (Matt. 12:49). By referring to His “hour”, Jesus points ahead to the terrible truth that His ministry will end in His death. Is Mary ready for that countdown to begin? We, too, need to realize that Jesus’ solutions to our problems may very well involve a sword piercing our soul.

But Mary boldly responds in faith by instructing the servants “Do whatever He tells you.” This is not a meddling, manipulative mother badgering her Son into a party trick; this is a faithful woman who is more eager to see the glory of God revealed in Jesus than to cling to the joys of motherhood. Mary’s example calls us to desire the unveiling of God’s glory more than we desire easy answers to our problems.

Jesus then tells the servants: “Fill the jars.” Even when we don’t see how doing what Jesus says will solve our problems, we are called to obey. To paraphrase JC Ryle: “Our job is to fill the jars. God’s job is the make the wine.” When we live life the way Jesus says to live, God will make something glorious out of that obedience.

Next, Jesus has the servants offer some water to the master of the feast. God is interested in displaying His glory. God may do a glorious work in your life through your troubles, but unless His work is made known, no one will be able to taste and see that God is good. When God does wonderful things for you, give others a taste by making known what God has done.

When the master of the feast tasted the water-made-wine, he praised the bridegroom, not knowing where the good wine had come from. But we know that it is God who has done great things for us, and so we stand in awe of Him and direct our praises to Jesus. God is not indifferent to our needs, but He meets them His way, not ours, so that He deserves the glory. If His glory is more important to us than getting our needs met our way, then we will find our greatest joy in praising Him.

But just in case you think God is only concerned with spiritual solutions to life’s problems, don’t miss the fact that God’s glory was revealed by making many gallons of fine wine. It is no accident that Jesus’ first glory-sign is not a healing, a resurrection, or forgiveness of sins. As wonderful as those things are, they will be absent from the New Jerusalem. Instead, we will be sitting down to a banquet, a wedding feast of rich food and refined, aged wine, where our Bridegroom rejoices over His beautiful, purified Bride.

When Jesus turns water in wine at a wedding, He pulls back the veil and shows you heaven’s joy. By fulfilling His ministry when His hour comes, He allows Himself to be harvested, to be crushed in God’s winepress, and to have His blood poured out for you. By giving you that wine to drink, He secures your invitation to that great feast where the wine never runs out and gladness never ends. So give glory to Jesus, and be glad!

Posted on Thursday, January 21, 2016 by CJ Bowen