Lately, I’ve been making my way slowly through the gospel of John in the mornings. Rather than racing to finish reading it, I’ve been taking the unhurried route, reading until something catches my attention, speaks to my heart or seems nourishing to me. It’s one of the ways I’m enjoying working with God in my life.
I’m seeking to read like a listener. You might assume that’s the only way to read the Bible, but it isn’t. I’ve read the Bible as a source for teaching somebody else. I’ve read the Bible to prove my own points. I’ve read the Bible because good Christians, especially leaders, read the Bible. There are many ways and many reasons to read the Bible.
Still, I’ve treasured the scriptures for as long as I’ve been a follower of Jesus. This Fall, that will have been a forty-year journey. But my relationship to the Bible has been changing over time. Most recently, I’ve gone back to picking up my leather-bound Bible and reading there. There’s nothing wrong with reading on my computer or smartphone, but it just feels more organic and simple to read on the physical page.
One day in the last week, I came to John 2 and the story of Jesus turning water to wine. I love that story. I love that John captured it when the other three gospellers hadn’t. I’m sure you’ll remember a key moment in the story:
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” (6-10)
Jesus, together with his disciples, is a guest at a wedding. Whose wedding? It just might be a relative since his mother and his brothers are in attendance (v. 12). Jesus and his disciples have been invited (v. 2). Mary might (v. 3, 5) have had some hospitality responsibility since she takes initiative when the wine runs out.
The image of 120-150 gallons of water being turned into fine wine is a beautiful illustration of God’s super-abundant solutions to everyday problems. Somewhere between pouring water into this large stone jars and bringing a sample of it to the master of the banquet, something happens. Jesus transforms a whole lot of water into a large vintage of fine wine.
What do you do when the wine runs out? How do you respond when your life or your efforts feel a whole lot waterier than you hoped? Where do you go when the outcomes of what you’d planned seem average, even insignificant?
Maybe we could just take our everyday containers of life, friendships, workplace, whatever and fill them with the simple water of our engagement, our effort, our good work. We could invite Jesus to touch the water of those intentions, efforts and work and make it something of fine quality.
It just might become a way to display his power, his goodness, his generosity, his attention to quality. We could welcome the touch of his hand and the sound of his voice to transform our often-watery efforts. Wouldn’t that be beautiful? Wouldn’t you love to offer fine wine to those you serve and seek to bless?
Let’s welcome God’s super-abundant solutions to our everyday challenges today. Let’s invite Jesus to turn our water into wine. Amen.
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