Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“The People Involved in Jesus’ Ministry”
I want to start with something funny. A couple has two boys: a fourth-grader and sixth-grader. The fourth-grader celebrated his birthday on crutches so he couldn’t carry the cupcakes into school without help. His mom asked her sixth-grade boy, Noah, to help his brother carry them in. He said, “I could, but I’d prefer not to.” Spotting a teaching moment, his dad asked Noah, “What would Jesus do?” Noah answered, “Jesus would heal him so he could carry his own cupcakes.”
We know Jesus. We believe in him and follow him. So, we call ourselves Christians. But, as much as we are all different, we have diverse interpretations of Jesus’ teaching. Even though it was a funny story, I wonder what you think about the dad and his older son in the story. We may guess the dad’s intention. Perhaps, he intended to teach his older son to help his younger son, as Jesus taught us to help the weak. However, the older son was also not wrong, technically, because it is true that Jesus would heal the sick. Therefore, it is essential to understand the background and meaning of the scriptures.
Today’s scripture is very important for those of us involved in Jesus’ ministry. Its meaning implies who we are and who we would be. We may find out these meanings. Furthermore, we may get a New Year’s resolution in Jesus Christ our Lord as the people involved in his ministry.
The Gospel of John describes Jesus’ seven miracles (John 2:1-11; 4:46-54; 5:1-8; 6:1-13; 6:16-21; 9:1-41; 11:1-44). Today’s scripture is about the first miracle (John 2:11). His first miracle was to make wine from water at a wedding party. Have you ever wondered why Jesus made his first miracle turning water into wine? It is because it implies his ministry’s purpose. His ministry’s goal was to save his people from sins and invite eternal life. God’s purpose to send Jesus to us and the purpose of Jesus’ ministry is the same as it says, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). The disciple John explains eternal life as an “invitation to Jesus’ wedding party” in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 19:7-10). As we are Christians, we have already accepted his invitation. So, we have somehow lived in eternal life “partly” in the world. As a wedding party’s purpose is “joy,” Jesus invites us into joyous life. Therefore, the Apostle Paul says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). According to God’s will, our lives should be full of joy and gratitude with prayers as if we are at a wedding party.
In today’s scripture, we see a wedding party. We don’t know whose wedding it was, but we know who was there. The people at the wedding party are involved in Jesus’ ministry in a particular character. There were Jesus, his disciples (2:2), Jesus’ mother (2:1), the servants (2:5), the steward (2:9), and there might be guests. We may notice who we are and how we are involved in Jesus’ ministry through these people. This wedding party is a parable story of our Christian life. Wine is a parable of the blood of Jesus, which means the love of Jesus. It is as if we join the sacrament of communion service drinking wine and taking bread as the symbol of Jesus’ blood and body. The sacrament of communion service reminds us that we are involved in Jesus’ ministry; that we accept Jesus’ invitation to his wedding party and to eternal life. Whether we notice or not, we are involved in Jesus’ ministry. As a wedding party may continue if food/wine is continually provided, our life never ends if we are united by the blood (love) of Jesus.
However, it happened that they finished the wine at the wedding party. The party could not continue without wine, and the joy would also disappear. Before the steward noticed it, Jesus’ mother noticed it and said to Jesus, “They have no wine.” Please pay attention. Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” It sounds like an illogical answer. However, think that Jesus was on a quest. As a guest, what could Jesus do at the wedding party? That’s why Jesus said, “What concern is that to you and to me? It is not my time yet.” But, Jesus’ mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus’ mother knew that he must be the master of the party and invited him to be the master. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And the servants did it without any questions. Jesus said to them, “Take it to the chief steward.” The servants took it to the chief steward without any questions. The chief steward tested it and noticed that it was the finest wine. He didn’t know where it was from, but the servants knew it. The servants who obeyed without any questions saw the miracles. And the disciples who were there didn’t do anything but believe in him.
Think of the people who were involved in Jesus’ ministry. Among them, which role do we practice in our life? I wonder if we live with Jesus, who is a guest. I wonder if we live like the disciples in this parable, who didn’t do anything but just believe in. I wonder if we live without noticing finishing the wine like the steward. Sometimes we know the feeling of burnout in our church work. That’s because we are just working hard without noticing where Jesus is. Jesus should be at the center of our work. If you don’t feel joyful in your life, please invite Jesus as your master. Jesus can make things happen for you. If you believe in Jesus and wish to see his miracle, please obey God’s Word like the servants. You may experience God’s miracle in your life. God is the Living God. Jesus is with us by the Holy Spirit. Our life without Jesus is like living in the wilderness without water. Only when we invite Jesus Christ as our Lord, can our life be full of joy, hope, peace, and love. You are already involved in Jesus’ ministry. But, it still remains your choice which character you would practice being in your life. Please choose one as your New Year’s resolution. Thanks be to God. Amen.