This story recorded for us in John holds some interesting thoughts for us. We have to be careful to understand them without letting them carry our imaginations too far afield.
Jesus had just completed an intensely spiritual event in His life. He had moved from the shadows of anonymity into the scrutiny of flawed man’s expectations. In the scriptures recording part of Jesus’ life, we were able to begin to see who He was, and who He is to us today.
After such a spiritual episode, we find Jesus enjoying some rest and participating in people’s daily lives. Even in this setting, He still manages to maintain His spiritual standing without dampening the festivities. From that, we can surmise that we as believers are expected to enjoy ourselves as we go about our lives. There are things in life worth celebrating, and we shouldn’t become so stodgy that we suppress the enjoyment for others. Believers, I encourage you to laugh a little, lighten up, and enjoy fellowship with other people. I have seen too many Christians who think they should be stiff and “spiritual” in everything they do. Just because it’s fun doesn’t make it wrong. I love getting together with Christian friends over a friendly board game. It gives us a chance to visit with each other, laugh over events of life, and how fickle the game can be. There is a comradery in the fellowship because of a common Savior.
Of course, there are activities that I believe Christians shouldn’t be involved in. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a believer to drink. Some Christians have no problem with it, and they point to occasions like the one in our story to support their perceived freedoms. There are a lot of reasons why I discount their argument, but the main one is that we as believers are to be different than the world. When we allow our daily lives to be so mingled with worldly activities that there’s not a distinction between us and the world, then how are people supposed to recognize we have something they don’t? Besides that, what does drinking get you that you can’t get with a heart full of joy? And joy is a blessing from God, not something you can manifest from a worldly perspective. You can have fun without participating in something that some people would find objectionable. I will be the first to admit that this is a personal conviction, but I also believe that it is based on sound Bible study and principles.
Another thing I thought was interesting was the interaction between Jesus and Mary. Before His earthly ministry began, I expect that Jesus subjected Himself to His mother’s leadership. I would expect nothing less considering several admonitions in scripture that children are to obey and honor their parents. When Mary brought the need to Jesus, it’s hard to know what she expected to happen, but it’s clear she thought Jesus could do something about it. Jesus’ response can seem a bit off-putting, like He was dismissing her. I want you to consider, however, that what Jesus said was not necessarily mean, but it did have a tone of rebuke in it. It was like Jesus was saying, “We need to begin to separate the roles we’ve played in the past. Yes, I am your son, but I have moved into an important phase of my earthly ministry. It’s not appropriate for you to make the kinds of demands on me that you’ve made before. In the grand scheme of my work, you are no more than any other believer.”
Before you say that I have read a bit more into this exchange than was meant, I think it’s important to remember a couple of things. Mary is not the holy one here. She’s important only in that she was a righteous young woman that found favor with God so was tasked with baring and caring for His only Son. She had fulfilled that role admirably, and now it was time for her to move out of the spotlight and let go of her control. Just as David recognized Jesus as Lord, Mary must recognize Jesus as her Lord.
We also have to remember that God is no respecter of persons. Had Jesus shown more deference to Mary, it would’ve given the appearance that He does play favorites. What would that do to our doctrine of the availability of salvation to everyone? Some might take the favoritism to mean the God has already chosen who is to be saved, and that moves a bit farther toward Calvinism than I am comfortable with.
Notice that the men involved in this event promptly did what they were instructed to do. They didn’t know the outcome when they filled the barrels with water. They only knew that it was what they were supposed to do, and they accomplished their part. We as believers are expected to use our hands and feet for the work of God. Since we know that is our purpose, why do we hesitate so many times before taking the steps that are required of us?
As with any portion of scripture, there are positive things we should take from this story. Each time a passage is studied, it has more to teach us. In just this short discussion, there are three things we as believers can glean.
1. It is OK, and we are expected, to enjoy life. After all, it was God who gave life to us and He wants the best for us.
2. Our goal should be to make Jesus the Lord of our lives more and more each day, just like Mary was expected to.
3. We should be responsive to do the God directed actions we know are right, and we should do them promptly.