Does Jesus ever do anything just as we’d expect?
If God became human and entered our world to save us—something we would certainly never expect . . .
If we realized (and we surely didn’t see this one coming, did we?) that God had actually entered the world as a baby in the village of Bethlehem . . .
If we could begin to wrap our heads around such amazing realities . . .
Well, then it is conceivable that we just might expect him, at the right time and at the right place, to begin to do some amazing things. We often call them “miracles.” In the Apostle John’s Gospel, in particular, they’re specifically called “signs.” They are evidences pointing to the power and, yes, deity, of the One performing the signs.
What venue would “God in the flesh” choose for such signs? When? How? Questions abound.
Modern politicians would put a gaggle of handlers to work trying to answer those questions to maximum effect.
Some mega-church pastors, at least the largely plastic type without a pastoral bone in their bodies, would put large staffs to work picking the place, promoting the event, positioning the cameras.
I’m afraid they’d be busy as bees falling, with incredible efficiency, to every temptation Satan once pitched to Jesus in the wilderness. To use power selfishly. To pull out all the stops to achieve the sensational. To (as William Barclay well writes), “try to change the world by becoming like the world,” making a very effective pitch to consumers rather than running off crowds by lifting up a cross.
So when and where would we moderns showcase the very first of the “signs”? Maybe on a huge feast day attended by as many as possible of society’s rich and famous. Maybe at a palace in a great city such as Jerusalem.
Time and place settled, we’d soon face a larger question. Miracles are by definition astounding, but we’d want the very first “sign” to be especially eye-popping, something on the order of restoring sight to a man blind from birth, casting out a legion or two of demons, maybe even raising someone from the dead. Cameras rolling, of course.
But Jesus does it all wrong.
When the time comes for his first miracle, Jesus argues that it’s probably not the right time. And, to us, the little village of Cana surely seems like absolutely the wrong place.
Instead of storm-stilling, or blind-lighting, or dead-raising, Jesus breathes new life into a simple village wedding feast about to run aground due to a lack of wine. He turns ordinary water into the finest wine, an act every bit as surprising as it is miraculous.
But once I’m over my surprise, I find myself loving Jesus’ choice. It points me to a Lord who cares about little events, little places, and ordinary people of precisely the sort the mighty in our world strategically blow right past and never even see.
That’s wonder-full indeed!
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Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.