Need

Need…I know you’re probably going pastor did you forget your meds today? But stay with me. I know that no where in that passage is there even the word need. Not in English, Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic is the word need in this passage. Yet it’s every word a whisper of necessity, every sentence a conversation about the essentials and the whole passage an impassioned cry for the needs of the world. On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (NRSV John 2:1-3) The needs of the world seem a bit extravagant when it’s obvious all they really need is some more wine. I know it’s hard to see the needs of the entire world in a beer run. Excuse me wine run. But I see more than just a need for something to drink. The first thing that comes to my mind is the wedding, a joyous time for all. It’s a party. I know we’re Christians and…we never party. Right? Why not? As a child of God, do we not have a right to be happy? You know I’m taking a class in personal relationships this semester and happiness is not only something that everyone desires. In fact, it is not just a desire but a requirement for a long and healthy life. So why does your average Christian go around like he’s attending a funeral when he’s pronouncing the word of God. People don’t like to go to funerals, they do like to go to weddings. The great theologian “Charles Spurgeon once wrote to his students: “Sepulchral tones may fit a man to be an undertaker, but Lazarus is not called out of his grave by hollow moans. … I commend cheerfulness to all who would win souls.”. Happiness is needed in our lives and not just at weddings because they aren’t very common and even then, as today weddings were very expensive.

So, I see a lot of needs here, I see a need for good weather, for food, for health, and of course wealth to pay for all of the food and the wine. I see a need for family and friends to help celebrate. I see a lot more need than just some wine. We all need more than what is apparent on the surface, we need more than others realize and it often feels that God is not giving us what we need. And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” (NRSV John 2:4) This may seem a little callous even disrespectful. However, woman is a common way to address someone at this time in this context and it’s correct, much like we would address someone as lady or madame. You see even Mary had a need. The need that every mother has. The desire to see her child fulfill their destiny. Do not do like some and put Mary on a pedestal of holiness. She was first and foremost a woman and a mother. She had needs and desires the same as you and I. The need for the love and respect, for the understanding of her child and the community. Everything that you want and need that is important to you spiritually and physically on a personal level would have been just as important to Mary. Maybe Jesus senses this or perhaps like any good son when your mother tells you it’s time to go to work you get up and you go to work. Whatever the reason Mary didn’t take no for an answer. Instead she “said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So, they took it.” (NRSV John 2:5-8) Tell me did you think that Jesus had no needs. The difference is that Jesus has different needs than we do, that makes sense after all he is the living God, the Messiah come to earth to save us from ourselves. Jesus is asking us for our obedience and our faith just as he asked the servants and the steward. When I say Jesus has different needs, I don’t mean for you to take that to mean obedience and faith are a requirement for Jesus to operate in our lives, it’s not. If we have no faith or even if we fail to obey Him. Our sins are paid. We are forgiven. But Jesus does not need our authority to operate in our lives. Indeed, His needs are not our needs and yet our needs are his. Doesn’t make much sense does its Jesus does not need us. God does not need us. Still He desires us and came to us as one of us with those same needs and wants, to experience our need because Jesus said “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. (NRSV John 6:44)

God desires us, we are drawn to Jesus, and we need Jesus. And we have to be drawn by the father to be saved by the Son. Fortunately, he desires a relationship with us, and it is our needs that draw us closer to him. Because we have found that we cannot satisfy our own needs. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (NRSV John 2:9-11) Everybody has a need. The steward needed to prevent his boss from becoming a disgrace. You see in those times parties would go on for days which is one reason they cost so much. But in the beginning when everybody’s sober they would bring out the good wine so that you could praise the host and tell him how wonderful he is and how generous he is with his wealth for buying such good wine to commemorate the occasion. Now the more you drink and the longer that you drink the more taste buds you kill and by the second day I would think that no one would have known the difference between a fine wine and mad dog 20/20. So, it was the custom in those days to do exactly that towards the end of the feast you were not bringing out those expensive bottles of wine you were bringing out wine coolers. And this was acceptable it was expected. What was not acceptable was to run out of wine completely. The host would have been shamed and lost face and probably position in the community. It was the job of the steward to make sure that that did not happen. So, when the wedding party ran out of wine it was a serious thing indeed and while I may have made a little bit of a joke about making a beer run it was far more serious than that. I won’t say that people’s lives would have been ruined but certainly their reputation and standing in the community would have been damaged which would have translated into even greater problems and possibly financial loss down the line so you see it was not just the guests that needed Jesus it was everyone at the wedding feast. Even his disciples had a need. Their need was to have faith in Jesus. Which is why “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (NRSV John 2:12) So now you see why I see the need of the world in a wedding party that does not have the word need in it. Because everything at that party everyone at that party needed Jesus to fulfill their purpose. And we are no different.

Our lives are no different than that wedding party and no matter where you wanna be in that wedding party as a guest, the steward, the host, the servants, or the disciples none could serve their purpose until unknown to most of them Jesus had transformed the water to wine and their entire lives at the same time. At that very instant in time nothing would ever be the same as Jesus transformed the wine, he would soon transform the world. So, as you leave here today ask yourself what is it that you need from Jesus and are you sure that he has not already provided it for you. Be patient you won’t always see the miracle. You may never know how close you come to disaster and it may seem that your needs are being neglected. But remember when we receive our inheritance it won’t be just a cup of wine it’ll be a 30-gallon jar filled to the brim and we won’t have any more needs, because all we really need, is Jesus. Amen!

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