2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
2:2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
2:3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
2:4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”
2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
2:6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
2:7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
2:8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.
2:9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom
2:10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
2:11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.
Today is Mother’s Day, so my sermon is dedicated to our mothers. I remember seeing a medieval oil painting of baby Jesus standing by the manger and was apparently preaching. That would be a misinterpretation of what really happened. The Bible paints a different picture of baby Jesus. He was just as any newborn infants being totally dependent on his parents and others to meet his basic needs. Later, king Herod became aware of his presence, wanted to seek him out and kill him, God needed to mobilize His Angels to protect Jesus, to guide the wise men to return to their native land, so as to avoid leaking Jesus’ whereabouts to the king, and to direct Joseph and Mary to take Jesus to flee to Egypt.
Jesus had a humble beginning, and it formed an important pattern of his incarnated life: he had become a man. After he came out to begin his ministry in his 30’s, he lived humble and normal as a human being would. Even when he had begun his ministry with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, he was never abusive of the power that he could articulate.
In between his infancy and his ministry debut, the Scripture also gives us a glimpse of his childhood (cf. Luke 2). When he was twelve, he traveled with his parents to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. On their trip returning home, young Jesus left the band of travelers and remained in Jerusalem to spend more time in the temple and with the teachers. We see a Jesus then, who was eager to fulfill his purpose of coming to the world, and when his parents finally found him, his mother expressed her worry of missing him for the past three days, Jesus responded: “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
Indeed, Jesus was more concerned with the calling of the Heavenly Father than he was to tend to the worries of his earthly parents.
We may say that we are starting to see a new pattern in Jesus life that sets him apart from the rest of humanity. Certainly that new pattern of the son of God is in plain view, but I still see Jesus’ pattern of humanity, which the Scripture gives us from his birth. What I mean to say is that even as Jesus was eager to pursue his heavenly calling, mentally speaking, he displaced the disposition of a child when he was 12–when he was in fact a child. How he responded to Mary and Joseph then was not wrong, but there was still an air of immaturity in his humanity. Overzealous may be a strong word to use describing Young Jesus; perhaps a bit more empathy for Mary and Joseph was all he needed. He was unable to protect himself at birth, he did not stand by the manger to preach at birth, and he was still on his way to becoming a mature human being when he was twelve. The Bible continues to paint the son of man to be a genuine man needing a process of growing up and maturing.
The first miracle Jesus performed and was recorded by John was the turning of water into wine at a wedding banquet in Cana of Galilee (John 2). I believe that the greatness of this miracle can only be seen and appreciated by using our emotional faculty and with God’s blessing—not just our capacity to do Bible studies. We do need to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind—not just our mind. With God’s blessing, one can detect a subtle but yet significant transformation of Jesus and the laying of an important milestone in his process of maturing—which was only completed in the Garden of Gethsamane, as he yielded himself—as a man—fully to God.
At the wedding banquet, the wine ran out. Mary tells Jesus of that. Jesus responded, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” He had issued his decline to Mary’s subtle request asking Jesus to do something about it. By how Mary led the banquet waiters to follow Jesus’ instruction, we would deduce that what Mary asked, was to have Jesus do a little miracle (and the Bible did classify what Jesus later performed as just that–a miracle). Surely having lived with her son for thirty some years, Mary would know of Jesus’ supernatural capacity—even when we are not told much of that by the Bible. Jesus’ ground of rejection was that “his hour had not yet come”, namely, he was to live as a normal person; he was not yet made King of kings who had come in uninhibited glory and power (as well as in supernatural power).
Undoubtedly, Jesus was showing more concern for his calling and, again, for his heavenly Father.
Mary apparently did not catch that; she was oblivious to her son’s rejection. She had trusted him too much. There was a notable sense of entitlement in Mary, as any parents would claim, of their children. That sense of entitlement comes naturally to a parent, because one knows how much love one had conferred on one’s child. However, instead of labeling this sentiment as that of “entitlement”, maybe it is more fitting to see it as an extension of the love of a parent. It is a love that is naturally manifested as a strong faith in one’s child: one loves one’s child, and one could never anticipate anything else to be reciprocated from one’s child but love. God would say yes to that. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)
Mary was so certain that Jesus would meet her request, she failed to heed to, if not to even notice, Jesus’ rejection. She continued with excitement to lead the waiters to Jesus and asking them to follow what Jesus asks them to do. Jesus performed his first miracle.
What happened? What caused Jesus’ change of mind—or was it a change of heart? I did say “with God’s blessing” we would be able to see and appreciate the miracle. I consider myself to be blessed.
I left home in 1988 and had never looked back. I was 29, and I left my parents’ home in Vancouver to attend graduate school in Ontario. Even as I had never asked my parents for money again after I turned 16, it was a brave new experience for me to live away from home at 29. Dotted in my sense of trepidation, was a strong feeling of coming of age—which came late to me (at 29).
I applied for a CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) scholarship. To qualify, I had arranged through my former employer, the BC government, to be an exchange student in the province of Zhejiang (China), which is the sister province to BC.
I was to travel to China in the summer of 1989 and to spend my summer in China—my desire to go there was ultimately tied to my sense of calling to meeting the spiritual need of the people there. It was my first trip ever to China, and China was in turmoil–due to people’s cry for the nation’s democratic reform, which was accompanied by massive student protest and social upheaval. All signs indicated likelihood for the unsettled climate to turn unpleasant.
I was to depart from Vancouver, making a trip to H.K. and than to China. My father drove me to the airport, en route, he shared with me of his excitement for my trip and the fact that I would have the opportunity to meet my uncles and aunts there for the very first time. Then, he gave me an unusual assignment: “when you arrive H.K., buy two color TV sets, don’t take the goods there, take the receipts with you and pick up the goods in Beijing and give them to your relatives there.”
Instantly, I felt overwhelmed. I thought that there was no way that I could, or would, do that. I have never been to H.K. then, either; where do I find such an appliance store that I could buy two TV’s, not taking the goods but just leave with the receipts in good faith. I was a student, I did not recall that my father gave me the fund to buy the TV’s. Above all, my mind was already flooded with my own plan, my checklist, and my anxiety–that were really of a more lofty sort; I couldn’t deal with my father’s shopping errand—which appeared so out of touch with China’s turmoil, with that the my burden, and my sense of mission. Right away, I said to my father: “Let’s just forget about that.”
My father did not hear me, or was it a case like Mary in hearing Jesus’ decline, my father couldn’t anticipate me to turn him down. Was it also because my father loved me so much, so that he had so much faith in me—that I would love him back in the manner of buying two TV sets?
He continued his chatter about the TV’s, and I thought I needed to inform him again of my decision in a firm and unambiguous way. I was sitting in the passenger side beside my father; I turned my head towards my father and was about to open my mouth…
What I saw before me stirred my heart and shook me to the core. It was the first time, in a very long time, that I watched my father so closely and directly. The first thing that I saw was the white in his sideburn. I couldn’t recall when it had turned so white. I gazed on in awe to the wrinkles on his face, then to the glitter of excitement in his eyes, the way he held on to the steering wheel, and how all his fingers danced with the same joy. I saw, and I remembered, all the love that he had bestowed upon me in my life, as well as all the sacrifices he made in raising me. I put my hand over my mouth. I never said “No” to my father. I felt so much love for him; I made room in my heart for his wish, and I carried out the task with all of my heart.
That was God’s blessing to me, and with it I understood why Jesus did not reaffirm his rejection to Mary. I also understood why Jesus did not turn water into just any wine but the very best of vintages.
It was the first miracle Jesus performed in the Bible. It was significant as it showcased a milestone of our Lord who came to the world as a man, and who’s maturity as a man finally spawned that touch of subtle mellow sophistication. It can be likened as simply as the ripeness of a fruit, a gentleness that maturity adorns one’s character, but it was more. It was a love for God that was united to God’s love for humankind, a love that empowered one’s capacity for empathy, and a love that manifested a fuller essence of a selfless sacrifice Jesus was to make.
We did not see that in the twelve-year-old Jesus, but we do in his thirties. Jesus’ humanity went though a process of development and maturing. We as God’s children go through the same, and as Jesus, we work with God to unite his divine attributes to our lives, so that we could manifest more of him in us in time.
We do need God’s blessing to appreciate Jesus’ first miracle. I wish you would be blessed, and that we all make that transition from children to mature adults, so that we would begin to reciprocate the love our parents gave us with all of our heart and with substance—starting with our mother’s love on Mother’s day.