At the Wedding in Cana, the Servants Know First (John 2:9)
Have you ever seen the TV show Downton Abbey? Downton Abbey is a pre-World War I drama about the lives of a wealthy, aristocratic English family and their hired help. The wealthy family members often tell secrets and share gossip in the presence of their servants as if they were anonymous, inanimate background noise, simply supporting the wealthy family’s lifestyle. But the servants, like the viewer, don’t miss a single juicy tidbit.
The lowliest in the home are often privy to information that some of the ruling family members are not.
So it is with the famous wedding in Cana, a story captured in John’s Gospel. As I re-read it this morning, I was caught off guard by this verse:
“When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (John 2:9)”
Let’s review the story: Jesus was at a wedding celebration (wouldn’t you have loved to see him dance?) with his mom and some of his disciples. The wedding host ran out of wine much too early, and Mary alerted Jesus to the problem.
Jesus asked the servants to fill the empty vats with water, and as only Jesus can do, he transformed something common into something special.
After taking a sip of the water turned to wine, the master of ceremonies proclaims to the host, “You have kept the best until now!”
But the servants knew what really happened.
The elite might have tasted the goodness of the miracle, but it was in the midst of the lowly that it actually happened.
In Alan Hirsch’s book The Forgotten Ways, he studies the great movements of Christianity and finds that all of them begin in the same place: at the margins of society. Though it does finally catch the attention of the privileged, God’s miraculous work is always first experienced by the underprivileged.
This is proven in the Church’s recent explosion. Did you know that in our 21st century world, new followers of Christ are being added to the fold by the tens of millions? (Yes, tens of millions)
But this miracle is not happening in the rich, powerful, world-leading west. It’s happening amid the poor, weak, and third-world south and east.
I don’t point this out to bag on the elite, the wealthy, or the west. I point it out to remind you and me of two things:
First, God’s nature is to pursue the lost (Luke 19:10), to bless the humble (Luke 18:14, Matthew 5:3,5), and to call those who know they are weak and sinful (Matthew 9:13).
Jesus said that in his Kingdom those lowest will be the greatest (Matt 19:30) and the first will be last (Matt 20:16).
Second, our pride cannot exist alongside God’s miraculous work in our lives.
And this douses me with a giant helping of humility because I’m a very prideful man.
I marvel at my own knowledge, forgetting that I’m just an apprentice.
I hold others to my standard, forgetting that Jesus is the model.
I pridefully consider myself the “master of ceremonies”forgetting God is moving in the lives of others.
Yet, by the pure grace of God, I too experience his miracles. He’s doing amazing things in the lives of my wife, my family, my friends, and strangers. Like common water, he is even transforming parts of me into wine.
If Jesus works first among the outliers –if he always moves from outside in, back to front, weak to strong, and death to life –and if I’m experiencing his work, then I must not be as elite, as powerful, or as awesome as I so often think I am.
Just like that, my pride is replaced by humility.
Do you regularly get to see God’s miraculous work?
If not, maybe we should move to the margins where it’s happening, and maybe we should repent of our pride and recognize again that we are but the humble recipients of the grace of a holy God.
Then maybe –just maybe –we’ll be the ones seeing the water turned to wine.
Read an earlier post by Chris here.