How do we handle our anxious moments? This is a question that is common to most of us. God’s Word speaks often to this question. Today Jesus teaches a mighty lesson on anxiety as it relates to his first miracle, which was performed in Cana of Galilee.
Strong biblical evidence exists that Jesus was a social person. He liked to be around people. Because of that, people liked to be around him. This is one of those times when Jesus was socializing. A friend of Mary was hosting a wedding for one of her children, and she invited Mary, Jesus, and his disciples.
These wedding receptions did not last for only a couple of hours; some of them lasted for days! It was in the midst of this entertainment that the person in charge of food told Mary they had run out of wine and did not know what to do. Mary said she would take care of the problem.
She told Jesus that their friends had a real problem; they had run out of wine. Jesus looked at his mother and said, “Woman, why do you involve me in this problem? My time has not come.”
That was the end of Mary’s conversation with her Son. However, she turned to the servants and said, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus pointed to the six stone jars, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. He commanded them to fill them to the brim with water. When the master of the feast tasted the water, it has turned into wine, and he did not know where it came from. So he commented to the bridegroom: “Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus had changed water into wine. This is his first recorded miracle.
Is this not a fascinating story? Do you recall when you first heard this story? I was in my Sunday school class of ten children. Our teacher was a very pious, formal person who was having trouble talking to us about wine. In our church, it was a sin to drink any alcoholic beverage. In addition to this, it was during the prohibition era, and no alcohol was supposed to be brewed. One boy in the class asked, “What was Jesus up to, turning water into wine? Those people who drank that wine could have gotten drunk, and it would have been Jesus’ fault!”
What happened after the boy asked that question, I cannot remember. However, his comments made a lasting impression on me, and I am sure the teacher never forgot that Sunday school lesson.
Back to a more serious note Ð Jesus had two purposes in performing this miracle. First, he solved the practical problem of providing wine for the wedding. Second, those who witnessed the miracle saw with their own eyes that Jesus was no ordinary person. He had divine power to do things that go beyond human understanding except to say that it was a miracle.
Now, to run out of wine at a wedding feast was a minor problem in relation to the many other problems people were facing in that day. Still, it was a major problem for the bridal party. So it is with us. Your problems might not seem very large to me, and you may feel the same about my personal concerns. The point is that we all have our anxieties.
It was interesting to have six of our grandchildren with us at Christmas. Each of them has their own life with its own problems. My wife and I sat back and listened. “What small concerns they have,” we thought. But then we had our own concerns, which are primarily aches and pains that are a part of being four score years old. The point is, all of us have our anxieties. What do we do with them?
The disciples experienced times when they were in danger of being killed by those who were trying to blot out the Christian faith. The religious leaders told Peter and John not to teach in the name of Jesus. Should they promise to refrain from mentioning the name of Jesus? It could save their lives. Those were anxious moments, but God answered their prayers and directed them to be faithful. They received power that was beyond their own strength. Their words were, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Christ had performed another miracle in their lives. He turned frightened spirits into courageous voices for the Gospel.
Regardless of what our anxieties are, this is the lesson: Take your cares to Jesus; he will direct you! The sooner we accept this teaching of our Lord, the happier our lives will be.
How will God help us with these anxieties? Following are three possibilities:
He can take away the problem that is making you anxious. That is what he did when he turned water into wine.
He will enable you to live with the problem and still have peace of mind. Maybe you have real anxieties related to your marriage, but you know how important it is for you to remain in your home for your children’s sake. God will give you strength.
God will direct you to make some changes in your life. Imagine you that a strong conflict exists between you and another person. We are admonished to love one another, but that does not mean we have to bury deep convictions simply to get along. We do not all think alike. A good example is St. Paul and his friend Barnabas. When they were preparing to start on their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take Timothy with them. Because Timothy had left them on the first missionary journey, Paul was not willing to take him along. What did they do? Did they pray about it and each getting a different answer, therefore concluding it would all work out? No. Instead, Paul found a man named Silas, whom he made his missionary partner. Barnabas took Timothy, and each went his own way. Was that God’s will? I think so. Neither one was wrong. It just worked out well this way.
“Cast your anxieties on me.” That is what Jesus invites us to do. What a marvelous invitation to take into the new year! We should listen to our Lord as individuals, as congregations, and as a nation. Do not misuse prayer by insisting that you have prayed about a problem and now have the answer. What if my answer is different from yours? Who then is right?
We are often inadequate, as were the people serving the wedding banquet. However, God is adequate, and he will lead us in one way or another. Amen.
Rev. Homer Larsen