Miracles Do Happen

By Rev. Heidi L. Barham |  January 27, 2019

Read John 2:1 – 11 (RSV)

For our time together this morning, let us reflect on the theme:

It is not uncommon to encounter someone who, for whatever reason, thinks that miracles stopped happening after the Bible was printed.  They fail to recognize the miracles that continue to occur on a daily basis -- if only we would stop and pay attention.
All anyone has to do is think about the miracle of birth to know that this is true.  And while I have never actually given birth to a child, just the idea that God designed such an intricate system of bringing together microscopic elements that fused with each other to form embryos that became fetuses that grew into babies who then came out of their safe little chambers into a world where they continued to grow and mature until the end result would all be all of us sitting right here together in this sanctuary… well, I don’t know about you but I call that pretty miraculous.
But before we delve into this notion of miracles, it might be a good idea to define just what a miracle is.  Well, according to Webster’s Dictionary, it is, “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”
It seems like a pretty straightforward definition, but I thought I might dig a little deeper, so I consulted Easton’s Bible Dictionary.  It was there that I found this definition of a miracle:
an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God, operating without the use of means capable of being discerned by the senses, and designed to authenticate the divine commission of a religious teacher and the truth of his message (John 2:18; Matt. 12:38). It is an occurrence at once above nature and above man. It shows the intervention of a power that is not limited by the laws either of matter or of mind, a power interrupting the fixed laws which govern their movements, a supernatural power.
Frankly, if you ask me, it’s a miracle that anyone could even understand that definition.
But for purposes of reflection today as we focus on this idea that, MIRACLES DO HAPPEN, let me just say that, in a nutshell, miracles are the events that occur in our lives that cannot be attributed to or defined by virtue of human intervention and must therefore be the work of God.
Or perhaps even more simply put, miracles are those things that defy human explanation and therefore it just has to be God.
 Just think about our text for a moment.  How else do you explain how six 30-gallon barrels of water became wine?  And not just ordinary wine, but top-shelf wine at that.
And while it may not seem like that big of deal to some, there are many others who give so much credence to this miracle that it has become the argument by which people rationalize their drinking on certain occasions.  After all, how many times have you heard someone say, “Well if Jesus turned water into wine, it must be okay…”
But if that is all that someone takes away from this text, there is much more that they have missed.
So, what else is happening here beyond just the recording of Jesus’ first miracle? 
The first thing we can take note of in the text is the IMPORTANCE OF FELLOWSHIP WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Some people might wonder why Jesus was at the wedding in Cana with His disciples in the first place.  Well, according to verse 2 of our text, it was because He was invited.  Although Jesus was on a mission to save the world, He still always took time to be with the people.
The more we look at the stories of Jesus life and ministry, we will find that the majority of His time was spent in the company of other people.  He was not sitting up on a mountaintop somewhere in solitude waiting for the people to come to Him. 
It was just the opposite.  Although He did take time away to pray, Jesus made a habit of showing up wherever the crowds were gathered.  Be it in the synagogue or in the town square or even by a well in Samara in the heat of the day.  If there was a place that people were likely to show up, Jesus was likely to show up there as well.  Including at a wedding celebration in Cana.
And in the same way that Jesus felt it was important to take time for fellowship and family, we should as well.  Jesus shows us that ministry cannot be done in a vacuum.  It is only effective when we are in fellowship or relationship with other people. 
It is when we are in the midst of our friends and family, that we may find ourselves with appointments for ministry and opportunities to share the love of Christ with the people who mean the most to us. 
It is often the people closest to us who need to feel the love and compassion of Jesus the most and He uses us to be the conduits of that love and compassion.  And when we have shared that love and compassion with our family and friends, we can take it even further and share it with others who come across our path as well.
But not only does this text highlight the importance of fellowship with family and friends, it shows us that THERE IS HONOR IN HONORING TRADITIONS.
Weddings in biblical times were a HUGE affair.  It was not as simple as a small ceremony in the church sanctuary or in a backyard garden with a light reception to follow.  Traditionally, the weddings in Jesus’ day were weeklong festivals.  And it was not uncommon for the entire town to be invited AND to actually show up, as it was considered an insult to refuse an invitation to a wedding.
The week would be spent celebrating the new life of the married couple and that meant a lot of planning went into the wedding celebration.  There were multiple banquets that were held throughout the week… and running out of wine would have been embarrassing for the host. 
So, Mary turned to Jesus and handed the problem to Him to address in order to help the host to save face.  After looking at this text, it struck me that Mary neither asked Jesus to fix the problem nor directed Him to do so.  She simply said, “They have no more wine.”   But as only a mother is able to do, the message was conveyed without her actually having to say it, “They have no more wine.  Do something about it.”
To which Jesus gave what some consider to be a somewhat confusing response, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?  My hour has not yet come.”
And in typical motherly fashion, Mary seems to almost ignore Jesus’ question and instead turns and gives the servants the directive to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.   Indicating that she knows and trusts that Jesus will do the right thing.
Which brings us to the next principle we can take away from the text.
There are two simple rules of life that we would do well to remember.  Rule number 1 – God is in the small stuff.  And rule number 2 – it’s all small stuff.
Because in the grand scheme of things, what circumstances are there in our lives that are too big for God to handle?  The answer is easy – none.
And what situations will we find ourselves faced with that are too small to be of any concern for God?  That too has an easy answer – none.
God loves us so much that He wants to be involved in every moment and every aspect of our lives.  But if the host of a party finds themselves running low on wine, it is probably not something that they would likely turn to God to handle.  (They would just send someone to the corner store.)
And yet, in the text, Mary, the mother of Jesus hands the problem to the Ultimate Problem Solver. 
It is important to note that at this time in history, Jesus was just beginning His earthly ministry, but it had been roughly 20 years or so since the day He came up missing and His parents found Him teaching in the synagogue.  It was then that He told His mother, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
So, presumably Mary had quite a bit of time to come to understand and accept that the young man she raised was more than just her human son – He was the Son of God.  And that is probably why when it came to the matter of a diminishing supply of wine, Mary simply told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
Unlike those of us who have a habit of bringing our problems to the Lord along with a complete set of directions on how we think He should fix them, Mary recognized that Jesus would have the answer to the problem and they just needed to follow His direction.
And when the servants did as Jesus directed, something miraculous happened that surely exceeded their greatest expectations.  After all, what could they have expected would happen when they filled those stone jars with water?
Maybe they were as naïve as I was when I was a teenager and thought that no one would notice that I had tried to cover my tracks after trying some of the rum from the liquor cabinet and put water back in the bottle in its place.
As the master of the banquet himself commented, most people would bring out the choice wine first and bring out the cheap stuff after all the guests had already had too much to drink, figuring they would not notice the difference.  So, maybe the servants thought Jesus just figured they would not notice if they were given water to drink instead of wine…
But when the master of the banquet tasted the wine, he was surprised to find that the best had been saved for last.  And just as Jesus made the best wine for the banquet, He gives us the best life we can ever hope to live when we surrender our lives and our problems to Him.  But the key is to do it sooner rather than waiting until everything else has run out.  Turning to Jesus should not be our last resort but our first call for help.
Now, the last verse of our text says that changing the water into wine was the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs which revealed His glory and as a result, the disciples put their faith in Him.
So what miraculous signs do we need to witness in order to put our faith in Christ?  Perhaps it bears repeating here that MIRACLES DO HAPPEN.  We just need to keep our eyes and our spirits open to see them.
Miracles come in many shapes and sizes, but we often fail to recognize them as miracles and just chalk things up to accident or coincidence.  And yet, throughout the scriptures we find multiple accounts of the miracles that Jesus performed. 
In fact, in John 20 (30-31) we read, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Let me encourage you to keep looking for the miraculous things that Jesus continues to do in our lives each day, trusting that MIRACLES DO HAPPEN.
And each time you discover one of those miracles, no matter how big or how small, be sure to offer a prayer of thanksgiving.
And as we offer our prayers of thanksgiving for the miracles, let us also give thanks and praise for the Miracle Worker, the greatest friend we can ever hope to have, the One who gave His very life for us that we might have eternal life… Jesus the Christ.
And what better way to do that than by joining now in singing our Hymn of Discipleship: What A Friend We Have in Jesus #585