The First of His Signs … at a Wedding
The Gospel of John, written by the apostle himself, speaks of our Lord’s first activities. And one of our Lord’s first activities was to attend a wedding. Though it may seem a little thing, it blesses my heart that our Lord was not so busy that he couldn’t attend this most basic of human institutions ordained in Eden before the fall: the joining of husband and wife in the lifelong commitment of holy marriage. Here, we see our Lord rejoicing with those who rejoice, just as he wept with those who were weeping (Romans 12:15). Though a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), our Lord was eminently capable of enjoying himself at such a wonderful occasion.
But there was a greater purpose for John’s memorializing this event. John tells us that this was “the first of his signs,” or we might say, his first miracle. It’s important that John gives us the definition for “miracle” by using the word, “sign.” Regardless of what people may think, the purpose of the miracles which Jesus performed was never to “Wow!” people; the purpose, as a sign, was always to show who this man, Jesus, was. And the answer to that question was, is, and ever shall be, the Christ of God. The second purpose was to meet human need; but, first and foremost the purpose was to “confirm the word,” to show to those who witnessed the “sign” that this was the Son of God.
I suppose now that I should speak of the account itself, which does have some humorous aspects to it. The host of the wedding has run out of wine. That was a big deal then; it is today. No one wants to run out of food and drink at a wedding. Jesus’ mother informs him, as if expecting him to do something about it. I’ve asked women to comment on this, and women, being sensible, tell me that Mary is simply telling Jesus that they’re out of wine – Go run and get some! I suppose. But Jesus’ answer to her, and her instructions to the servants, indicates that she wanted – and apparently expected – Jesus to do something, well, a little more out of the ordinary. Jesus’ response sounds to us somewhat disrespectful, but remember that he also called his mother, “Woman,” when he was on the cross. Furthermore, Jesus was always choosy about when and how he worked signs; that is, he didn’t have “healing meetings” as we have witnessed in our day. “My hour has not yet come,” was his way of saying, “I need to be careful how I proceed with this.” But his mother’s instructions to the servants is the key to the passage: “Do whatever he tells you.” That’s what Mary would say to us, what the Father is saying to us: “Do whatever my Son tells you.”