Scripture: John 2:1-11
Purpose: The best for last
Title: Mother of Jesus
Happy Mother’s Day! If you are a Mom or a Grandma or a soon to be Mom would you please stand up? Let’s give these ladies the credit they deserve for all of the tireless hours and thankless work that falls under the job title of being a Mom. How about y’all make a little noise if you love your Momma? Since it is Mother’s Day it seems appropriate to begin this morning’s message by talking about Jesus’ relationship with His Mother, Mary.
We’re gonna focus on the Gospel according to John. The Gospel According to John chapter 2 vs 1-11. Jesus has traveled with his mother and his first three disciples to a wedding at Cana. Wedding receptions in the first century could go on for days; maybe even a week, but by the third day of this reception there was a problem. The mother of Jesus turns to Him and says, “They have no wine” (John 2:3). They have no wine. They have no wine. (pause) Y’all hold on to that statement. We’re coming back to it.
In this morning’s narrative Jesus is a grown man. There is no mention of the earthly father of Jesus. The gospel writer of John is not concerned with an earthly father. For John’s gospel, the only father we need to be worried about for Jesus is The FATHER. Now in the gospels of Matthew and Luke we read Jesus’ earthly father is Joseph of the house of David. There are stories of Joseph in Jesus’ life up until Jesus is about twelve and then Joseph fades from Jesus’ story. We don’t know what happened to Joseph. We don’t know whether he was killed, or got sick and died, or was slain. What does seem evident is Joseph is not in the picture. It is Jesus, the mother of Jesus and Jesus’ half-brothers and half-sisters. Jesus is the head of the house – the patriarch. Judging by the interaction between Jesus and the mother of Jesus in this passage, Jesus seems somewhat distant from his mother – perhaps even disrespectful. I can hardly imagine what my mother would say or do to me if I referred to her as, “woman.” Jesus follows with, “what does this have to do with me?” Jesus almost seems to be saying mind your own business, and stop minding mine.
As I said before the only parent who has authority over Jesus is God the Father. This may be difficult to hear on mother’s day, but the mother of Jesus no longer has any control over her son. Jesus is grown, and Jesus is the patriarch of their family household. However, I suspect both Jesus and His mother know a time is coming when Jesus will take up the ministry for which Jesus was sent to earth. Jesus says to His mother, “My hour has not yet come.” However, in the very next sentence Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.
If Jesus really is the patriarch or patron of His family then the news Jesus’ time had not come yet might be good news. The family would have looked to Jesus for specific patriarchal obligations. Who would look after the family of Jesus if something happens to Jesus? Who steps in as the patriarch of the family? Who protects the family if someone has to sell themselves into slavery because they are too poor to pay their bills? Who serves God by taking care of their family in sickness and in health? Who speaks for the family before others? These are the responsibilities of the patriarch. As the oldest son of Mary and Joseph, Jesus should be the patriarch of that family. There is just one problem. Jesus is not related by blood to Jesus’ earthly father. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is absolutely the patriarch. (pause) Jesus is the King above all kings. Jesus is the Lord God Almighty. Jesus is not the patriarch of one family. Jesus is the patriarch of all families; Jew, Gentile; black, white, Hispanic, Vietnamese, young and old, male and female. Jesus is the King! I wonder if when Mary says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” if she didn’t already know what Jesus’ purpose was – not a patriarch of her family, but the patriarch of all creation (John 2:5).
Mary said, “They have no wine.” (pause) What if,… What if Mary was not talking about wine? What if Mary was talking about something so much more important? In the first century nearly everybody drank wine. At a time when water filters and Brita pitchers were not around clean fresh water was hard to come by. Wine was often mixed with water to kill off contaminants. The Apostle Paul advises Timothy to drink a little wine to ease his frequent stomach sickness (1Tim 5:23). We might say in those days a good wine was any wine that wasn’t watered down. At a wedding feast in the first days the wine was usually much less watered down. However, as the reception went on for days and days, and the people became more and more inebriated the host would put more and more water into the wine to make the wine last longer. If the people are already inebriated they are not as likely to notice. However, in this morning’s passage Jesus turns water to wine with a command for the servants to pour water into six empty purification jars, each holding 20-30 gallons a piece. At a word from Jesus the servants carry the water to the master of the feast who publicly declares to the bridegroom they have saved the best wine for last.
I wonder if the wine is not some kind of metaphor or analogy for the Church today. We start off alright in the beginning. The wine like our faith is good and strong, but then something happens. Our enthusiasm fades. We get comfortable. We allow the work of the Church to shift into neutral. Some of our friends graduate on to glory. Others just seem to fall away. Very often I find this hard to understand. And then I read this passage and I begin to see. The wine of our faith gets watered down. Sometimes I think we don’t even realize how our faith becomes watered down. However, it doesn’t take much to see it. Our prayer life fades. Our tithes and offerings shrink. Where did the money go? I don’t know, but I have this new cell phone. We have upgraded our cable or internet. We go out to eat a lot. Our tithes and offerings shrink as the wine of our faith becomes more and more watered down. We see and try to ignore the poor in our midst. We stop calling on and caring about the sick and homebound in our congregation. We stop sticking up for the rights of others. ALMOST without realizing it we find ourselves saying to the community in which we live, “It’s none of my business. ‘Woman, what has this to do with me?!’”
Sisters and brothers today is Mother’s Day, and right here in our community there are those who are telling us in plain language there is no wine. They are the poor. They are those who cry out for justice. They are the children of a single mother working two jobs who simply need encouragement and to know there are people out there who care about them. They are the shut-ins, the folks in nursing homes, the people who feel completely cut off from friends and family. They are telling us in plain language there is no wine. (pause) And here we are – a congregation scratching our heads wondering how to make our church grow. Please hear me. A church is not supposed to be about fundraisers. A church is not supposed to be about a building and keeping the lights on. A church is supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ carrying out the responsibilities of the patriarch. They have no wine! They have no wine! Woman! This has everything to do with us! We have to stop playing at being the posterior of Christ and get back to being the hands and feet of Christ.
Now, I’ve been asking with hat in hand for the church to become involved with communities in schools. I’ve mentioned it at Admin Council meetings. I’ve talked about it at the WH UMW, and the Women’s Fellowship. There is no cause more in women’s ministries wheel house than the ministry of nurture and encouragement for kids in schools. I am not asking any more. It’s Mother’s Day! I don’t care we never do another fund raiser. I don’t care if our building’s doors close. We are going to find out what it takes to get involved with the kids in these schools. Stay by your phones. I’m going to be calling for volunteers this week. We are going to get involved in these kids lives. And the reason we are going to do it is because it is no longer going to be okay in this church to live with a watered down faith. I am certain neither my Momma nor yours would let us get away with doing a half hearted job. That’s what serving with watered down faith is. (pause) So are we Christians in name only? Are we a bankrupt church with no wine? Or, are we going open our eyes to the need right here in our back yard? There is no excuse for the church to tell the community it’s not our business. Being the hands and feet of Christ is our business. Let’s do our Momma’s proud and stop making excuses. Let’s get up off of our pews and get to work being the hands and feet of Christ.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen