Jesus was attending a wedding with the disciples and His mother, Mary, when she approached Him with a strange and seemingly irrelevant problem.
“They have no more wine,” she told Him. — John 2:3 NIV
Had I been the angel on call that day, I would have intervened. I would have placed a wing between Mary and Jesus and reminded her about the mission of her Son. “He was not sent to the earth to handle such mundane, day-to-day tasks. We are saving His miraculous powers for cadaver calling, leper touching, and demon casting. No wine? Don’t whine to Jesus.”
But I was not the angel on call. And Mary enlisted the help of her Son to deal with the problem: empty wine ladles. Folks in first-century Palestine knew how to throw a party. None of this wedding and reception in one evening, no sir.
Weddings lasted as long as seven days. Food and wine were expected to last just as long. So Mary was concerned when she saw the servants scraping the bottom of the wine barrel.
Fault poor planning by the wedding planner. Fault guests for guzzling more than their share. Fault Jesus for showing up with a troop of thirsty disciples. We are not told the reason for the shortage. But we are told how it was replenished. Mary presented the problem. Christ was reluctant. Mary deferred. Jesus reconsidered. He commanded. The servants obeyed and offered the sommelier what they could have sworn was water. He sipped, licked his lips, held the glass up to the light, and said something about their squirreling away the best wine for the farewell toasts. The servants escorted him across the room to see the six vats filled to the brim with fruit of the vine. The wineless wedding was suddenly wine flush. Mary smiled at her Son. Jesus raised a glass to His mother, and we are left with this message:
our diminishing supplies, no matter how insignificant, matter to Heaven.
I have a curious testimony to this truth. During one of my many less-than-sane seasons of life, I competed in Half Ironman Triathlons. The event consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. Why was a fifty-year-old preacher participating in such endeavors? That’s what my wife kept asking me. (Don’t worry. I didn’t wear a Speedo.)
During one of these races, I prayed the oddest prayer of my life. Four of us traveled to Florida for the race. One of my friends had invited a competitor from Indiana to join us. All told, I knew these three participants. There were at least two hundred people whom I did not know, a fact that proved crucial to my story.
I finished the swim, if not dead last, at least nearly dead and almost last. I mounted my bike and began the three-hour trek. About a third of the way into the cycling portion, I reached into the pocket of my shirt to grab some GU. GU is a packet of easily eaten essential nutrients. Well, guess who forgot his GU? I was GU-less with a good thirty miles to go. One doesn’t find any GU-selling convenience stores on the triathlon road.
So I prayed. Between puffs and pedal strokes, I said, “Lord, this very well might be the only time in eternity you’ve heard this request. But here is my situation…”
Did GU fall from Heaven? Well, sort of. The fellow from Indiana, the friend of my friend, one of the three people I knew out of the entire field, just “happened” to pedal up from behind me.
“Hey, Max, how’s it going?” he asked.
“Well, I have a problem.”
When he heard of my GU-lessness, he reached into the pocket of his biking shirt, pulled out three packs, and said, “I’ve got plenty!” He handed them to me, and off he went.
You may very well be thinking, Lucado, that is a lame example of answered prayer. I’m dealing with disease, debt, the threat of layoffs and letdowns, and you’re talking about something as lightweight as GU in a race?
That’s precisely my point.
Indeed, I think that is Jesus’ point. Of what import is a wineless wedding? Of all the needs of people on the planet, why would bone-dry wine vats matter? Simple. It mattered to Jesus because it mattered to Mary. If Jesus was willing to use divine clout to solve a social faux pas, how much more willing would He be to intervene on the weightier matters of life?
He wants you to know that you can take your needs — all your needs — to Him.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. — Philippians 4:6, emphasis mine
In everything — not just the big things — let your requests be made known.
Mary modeled this. She presented the need to Christ. “They have no more wine.” No fanfare. No drama. She knew the problem. She knew the Provider. She connected the first with the second.
So I ask, Have you asked? Have you turned your deficit into a prayer? Jesus will tailor a response to your precise need. He is not a fast-food cook. He is an accomplished chef who prepares unique blessings for unique situations. When crowds of people came to Christ for healing,
One by one He placed His hands on them and healed them. — Luke 4:40 MSG, emphasis mine
Had Jesus chosen to do so, He could have proclaimed a cloud of healing blessings to fall on the crowd. But He is not a one-size-fits-all Savior. He placed His hands on each one, individually, personally. Perceiving unique needs, He issued unique blessings.
A precise prayer gives Christ the opportunity to remove all doubt about His love and interest. Your problem becomes His pathway. The challenge you face becomes a canvas on which Christ can demonstrate His finest work. So
offer a simple prayer and entrust the problem to Christ.
We all know what it’s like to offer that prayer only to receive silence in return. It’s important to note in this miracle, Jesus hesitated at first:
Dear woman, that’s not our problem… My time has not yet come. — John 2:4 NLT
You’ve heard the same. In your personal version of verse three, you explained your shortage: no more wine, time, vigor, or vision. Your needle was on empty; the tank had run dry; the bank account was showing a negative balance. You pleaded your case in verse three. And then came verse four. Silence. Quiet as a library at midnight. The reply did not come. No deficit-erasing deposit was made. When no answer comes, how does your verse five read?
His mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you’. — John 2:5 NLT
Translation? “Jesus is in charge. I’m not.” “He runs the world. I don’t.” “He sees the future. I can’t.” “I trust Jesus. Whatever He tells you to do, do it.”
Something in the explicit faith of Mary caused Jesus to change His agenda.
Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, He said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed His instructions. (John 2:6-8 NLT)
Six water jars would create enough wine for — hang on to your hat — 756 bottles of wine!1 Napa never knew such a harvest.
When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (John 2:9-10 NLT)
The miracle of Christ resulted in not just an abundance of wine but the abundance of good wine. Cooking wine would have sufficed. Convenience-store vintage would have met the expectations of the guests. A modest sip-with-pizza-on-a-Tuesday-night quaff would have been enough for Mary. But it was not enough for Jesus. Something powerful happens when we present our needs to Him and trust Him to do what is right: He is
able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. — Ephesians 3:20
It simply falls to us to believe — to believe that Jesus is King of each and every situation. So make your specific request, and trust Him to do not what you want but what is best. Before you know it, you’ll be raising a toast in honor of the One who hears your requests.
Spend some time reflecting on what you have read by journaling your thoughts and answers to the following prompts and questions.
1. If you had been a bystander at the wedding in Cana, what would you have thought of Mary’s request of Jesus and why?
Compared to the other miracles Jesus performed during His ministry, such as restoring sight to a blind man and raising a girl from the dead, how do you think this miracle compares? Why do you think it’s recorded in the gospels?
2. What is the “smallest” prayer you’ve ever prayed, a prayer for something seemingly insignificant?
Do you believe that “our diminishing supplies, no matter how insignificant, matter to heaven”? Why or why not?
3. List some ordinary, everyday things you feel anxious about or need prayer for.
How do you feel about offering this list to God in prayer?
God’s Word for You
Allow these passages from God’s Word to remind you that God will help you in your everyday life.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” — Matthew 6:31-34
God knows what you need for each day, and He will provide it.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. — Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
In how many ways are we to submit to God? All. The small, the big, and everything in between.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV
Because of Jesus, we can approach God’s throne with any request and know we will receive mercy and understanding.
Pray through the list you made in question three, and then read the following prayer, silently or aloud. When you have finished praying, spend a moment in silence, listening for the voice of God.
God, I offer this list of worries and concerns to You. I don’t always believe that You care about the ordinary parts of my life, but I know that in any relationship, communicating about the small things is important. So, Lord, I lay these small things down at Your feet. I entrust them to You. May this offering deepen our relationship. May it teach me to trust You with the big and small parts of my life. Even if I don’t get the answers that I want, thank You for listening and caring about my needs, even the ordinary ones. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
- Six water jars of 25 gallons each equals 150 gallons. There are 128 ounces in a gallon, so 150 gallons would equal 19,200 ounces. A wine bottle typically holds 25.4 ounces, so 19,200 ounces would fill 756 bottles.
Excerpted with permission from God Will Help You by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
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Pray! God will help you. He’s listening and He cares about every detail of your life. ~ Devotionals Daily