How Jesus Failed to Capitalize On His First Miracle (and thats OK)

Last week during our study at Simple one of our readings was Jesus’ first miracle where he turned the water to wine. Everyone knows that one. A few things struck us.
First of all, it was either a pretty big party, or else an ill-planned party, since they ran out of wine (probably huge, due to the fact that Jesus made maybe 115 liters of wine– almost 150 bottles of wine!)
Second, as far as first miracles out of the box, it was somewhat undramatic. It seems like it was almost an inadvertent miracle– Jesus wasn’t trying to get involved. In fact, it was his mother who pulled him into the problem– telling him that “they have no more wine”. Jesus, like many young men whose mothers try to get them to do stuff they weren’t planning on doing, responds “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” so he seems to be a reluctant participant in this miracle. Its almost like it wouldn’t have happened had he not had a mother who was making others business his business.
Of course Mary, like most mothers, ignores his appeal to leave him out of it, and tells the servants by him to “do whatever he tells you”. So now he’s stuck, with the servants wanting to know what to do, so he tells them to fill up the washing jars nearby with water, and to take some to the master of the banquet.
The servants bring the MC the wine, and he has no clue where it came from, but commends the groom for doing things backwards, and saving the best for last.

But as miracles go, it was a semi-private miracle, apparently more or less for Jesus’ disciples who, seeing what he did, “put their trust in him”.

Hard to know what the servants thought. Would have been interesting to be one of them. So Mary gets Jesus to solve the problem at the party, the disciples see that Jesus is pretty awesome– able to make wine out of water. Who wouldn’t follow a guy who can do that? Pretty cool.

It wasn’t Jesus time, but Jesus made the most of it, and helped out the groom, who had no idea how it happened. Its almost like the anonymous miracle.

Many contemporary church movement/management theorists would proably chastise Jesus for not capitalizing on this potential seeker-attractor event. I mean, can you imagine how many people who generally are not interested in religion would listen to a guy who can make water wine? A lot, thats how many! But Jesus doesn’t capitalize, the miracle goes underutilized for evangelistic purposes, and thats OK, because what Jesus does is the right thing to do, regardless of Church growth theory.

One thing I take from this miracle is that God has timing, and you want to go with that timing, and not just do what seems to be most efficient or effective. Second, if even Jesus seems to get pulled into situations he wasn’t counting on– like when his mother gets him involved to help solve a local wine shortage at a party– which lead to good and to blessings for others (the party and his disciples) then we should sort of expect that God can work in the weird situations we find ourselves in, and expect that whether we can foresee it or not, we are here for God’s purposes, whatever they are.

This will always be one of my favorite miracles, not only because Jesus turned water to wine, but because it seems almost happenstance, although it had a purpose, and good came from it. That seems to be the way much of life seems: it appears happenstance, although it often has a purpose, and good can come from it. Especially when we are living by faith…

May God have mercy on us all, and may God bestow on one of my friends the ability to turn water into wine…



3 responses to “How Jesus Failed to Capitalize On His First Miracle (and thats OK)

  1. Write on!

  2. Becky Nuesken

    I will be borrowing from you “what Jesus does is the right thing to do, regardless of Church growth theory.” So true! I hate to see such theories elevated too high.

  3. iluvtheword

    This miracle has far more significance for us today as it is a picture of the future work and ministry of Jesus.
    It is a picture of Jesus coming to destroy religion and religious rituals.
    It is a picture of Jesus as the new Moses, coming to herald in the new covenant.
    It is a picture of the new covenant we can have with God; a covenant of love and relationship insread of law and works.
    It is a picture of how Jesus works through people.
    It is a marvelous miracle.

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