The Purpose of His Miracles

In chapter 2 of his gospel, John continues the record of the early days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, an account that began in chapter 1 where John the Baptist introduced Jesus and baptized Him, and where Jesus called his first disciples.
At the beginning of John chapter 2, Jesus has called at least five of the twelve disciples, but He has not begun to teach just yet. He has not begun instructing them in the ways of the gospel. They’ve only been with Jesus for about 48 hours by the time we get to the wedding feast at Cana.
Jesus has not yet performed any miracles at this point, at least none that we know of. This would be the first. It should be noted that John never uses the word ‘miracle’. He calls them signs. According to most commentators, John was being careful not to cast a spotlight on the actual miracles – or signs – themselves. Instead, John’s intent was to direct our focus toward their divine purpose.
Before Jesus turned the water to wine, He and His mother Mary had an interesting exchange.When the wine ran out, Mary said to Him, “They have no wine.” And He responded in verse 4, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

It seems that Mary was more than just another guest. This may have been a family member who was getting married. It may have been a close friend who asked her to take care of all the arrangements for this feast. So the request she made of Jesus was not an unreasonable request.There are two schools of thought here. This could have been an instance of a mother asking her oldest son to quietly step out and go procure more wine. It’s also possible (and probable) that she knew Jesus’ abilities and was asking for a miraculous solution to this problem.
The response from Jesus indicates that she probably was asking for some sort of supernatural intervention. The host of this feast was in real trouble. In the Jewish culture of that day, running out of wine during a wedding feast was a very serious social blunder. The host could actually be sued by the guests for not properly providing for them. 
So she called on her son for help, but He gave what seems like a very strange response.  He actually reprimanded her, ever so gently mind you, for calling His attention to this problem.
On the surface, it seems disrespectful for Him to have called his own mother “woman”. But I think it’s safe to say that He did so with the utmost respect, and with a kindness and gentleness that was evident in his voice. When we hear someone address a female as “woman” today, it’s often spoken in a very disrespectful and undignified tone. I don’t believe Jesus was being disrespectful toward his mother at all because that was forbidden under the Mosaic law. And Jesus never sinned, He never broke one single law. Nonetheless, Jesus was asserting His authority. As man, Jesus was the Son David. He was the SON of Mary. But as God, He is Lord over David and Lord over Mary as well. So He gave her a very gentle reprimand which was intended to remind her of His authority. And the reason he gave was, “My hour has not yet come.”

Everything Jesus did, and everything that was done to Him had a fixed time. He was born at a predetermined time. He began His ministry at a predetermined time. He was crucified at a predetermined time. He rose from the grave at a predetermined time. He ascended into Heaven at a predetermined time. He’s coming back at a predetermined time.
In this instance, the time had not yet come for Jesus to begin performing miracles and signs……openly and publicly. That’s what He meant when He said, “My hour has not yet come.”

Mary took the reprimand submissively and did not respond directly to what Jesus said to her. Instead, she turned to the servants and instructed them to do whatever He told them to do.
It might seem that she ignored what Jesus had just said to her but in reality, she did not. She was in fact, placing her full trust in Jesus because she had no idea what He planned to do, or if He planned to do anything. He very well could have said, “Let everyone drink water for the rest of the evening.”
But He instructed the servants to fill the water jars to the brim. And without a word being said, without waving his arms or any physical gesture, He changed the water to wine.
This is from a website called the “Biblical Jesus”:
John’s gospel clues us in to the divine purpose for Jesus’ miracles. After narrating the miracle of the wine at the wedding feast, the apostle adds, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). This verse gives us three purposes for the miracles Jesus did: 1) that they are signs; 2) that they “manifested His glory”; and 3) they helped His disciples to believe in Him. They did attract attention to Him, but ultimately, God had deeper, spiritual purposes for them.
The Pharisees often asked Jesus for a sign that would prove to them that He was the Messiah. He never gave them a sign except when He told them, “The only sign this wicked and adulterous generation will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” During His trial the night before He was crucified, Jesus was sent to Herod  who, according to the scripture, wanted to see Him perform some sort of miracle. But never once did Jesus perform miracles for entertainment purposes. His miracles were not meant to be parlor tricks. His signs and miracles were intended for one purpose: To help people believe in order to advance the gospel and bring glory to God. 
Only a handful of people knew what Jesus had done. Though His hour for performing miracles openly and publicly had not yet come, He foresaw how this one very discreet miracle would affirm his identity in the eyes of those who had just begun following Him a couple of days earlier. They may have been second guessing their decision to leave everything and everyone behind at the spur of the moment to follow a man they scarcely knew. That would be a perfectly normal human reaction. But this miracle, this sign that Jesus performed at the wedding feast at Cana accomplished the same purpose his highly visible and more public miracles would accomplish later: It affirmed that Jesus was no ordinary man. It confirmed that He was indeed…..God who came to us in human flesh.



The Suffering of Jesus

A couple of years ago, a certain individual told me that a Christian should always be happy and joyful, regardless of any difficulty or hardship we’re faced with. That was his interpretation of that passage in Philippians chapter 4 where the Apostle Paul wrote about being content regardless of his circumstances. Yes, of course, we do have reason to be joyful because of our hope in Jesus Christ. We all know that. That’s not in dispute at all. But according to his interpretation, we as Christians are supposed to paint fake, plastic, phony smiles on our faces and never let on that we’re in pain. We’re never to let on that we’re hurting. We’re never to let on that we’re dealing with trials and hardship. It made me wonder if he truly knows our Lord Jesus as well as he claims. 
In His humanity, Jesus suffered many sorrows. Isaiah called Jesus a man of sorrows. When Jesus told His disciples that He must suffer many things, it wasn’t just the cross He was referring to. Jesus suffered grief, anguish, panic, anxiety, frustration, anger, pain. In fact, I believe the range of emotions and pain and suffering Jesus went through were necessary and here is why I believe that. Even though He is God and Jesus completely understands the troubles and sorrows we face in life – God often allows suffering as a means of testing and to strengthen our faith – there is something about having experienced suffering and sorrow personally, while walking the earth in the flesh, that draws us much closer to Him. It makes our relationship with Jesus much more personal. God came down from Heaven in the person of Jesus Christ and endured suffering, not as one watching from a distance, but as one of us. Now in that statement, I’m not talking about His suffering on the cross. That was His and His alone to bear. I’m talking about His life prior to the cross. 
Someone might say, “Jesus was never married, so He never experienced the pain of a cheating spouse, or a divorce.” In the Bible, His church is referred to as the “Bride of Christ”. That’s us. That’s you and me. That’s all believers. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that every time we sin, we’re cheating on Him. In the Old Testament God often compared Israel’s sins to adultery. In the New Testament, it’s called “grieving the Holy Spirit.” So don’t tell me He doesn’t understand the pain of betrayal. He understands it in a spiritual sense every time one of us sins. He understood it the night Judas betrayed Him in the garden. 
Again, someone might try to say, “But Jesus never had to deal with drug addiction or alcoholism.” How tempting do you think it was for Jesus not to indulge in and to partake in everything He created? The Bible says He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. After 40 days in the desert, Satan tried to tempt Jesus to turn a rock into a piece of bread. Jesus had not eaten in all that time. Do you really think the lure of drugs and alcohol are more powerful than the hunger Jesus must have felt in that moment? 
“Since Jesus never married, He never had children, so He never experience grief over the death of a child.” Every single person who has ever lived, is alive now, and has yet to be born is a child of God. Yet the majority of mankind will reject Jesus and forever be separated from Him, and will spend eternity in Hell. In the book of Ezekiel, the word tells us that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. God will mourn over those who choose to spend eternity apart from His love. He will mourn the loss of the children who rejected Him.  
“How can He know what it’s like to lose everything? How can He know what it’s like to suffer financial ruin? How can He understand the loss of a job or a home?”
The Bible tells that the earth and everything in it belongs to God. All the gold and silver, all the cattle on a thousand hills are His. It’s all His, yet Jesus gave it all up when He became man. He never once tried to lay claim to anything that rightfully belonged to Him while He was on earth. In fact, He pointed out that foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man did not even have a place to lay His head. 
“Does Jesus truly understand our frustrations when we can’t find a decent job, or when it takes forever to recover from an illness or injury? Does He understand our frustration when we have to deal with a  difficult child? Does He even understand what it is to be frustrated?” There were times when it seemed that His disciples could not grasp even the most basic principles of the Gospel. He was trying to prepare them to be world changers and they argued over which of them was the greatest. So yes, I would say it frustrated Him. When He was asleep in a boat in the middle of a storm, his followers woke Him up in a state of panic. What did He say after he calmed the storm? “You of little faith. Why are you so afraid?” When some of His disciples were unable to drive a demon from a young boy and Jesus had to step in do it for them, He said, “You unbelieving and perverse generation. How much longer must I stay with you. How long shall I put up with you?” Frustration is a human emotion, and that was part of His human experience.
“Did Jesus ever experience panic or anxiety?” Luke wrote that on the night He was betrayed, He was in great anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood. Judge for yourselves. 
He experienced anger when He drove out the money changers and those who were selling sheep and cattle in the Temple. He experienced grief when Lazarus died. The Bible does not say specifically that He ever had women approach him with intentions that were – how can I put this – carnal. But again,we’re told He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. So we can infer from that passage in Hebrews that He was tempted……in that way……at some point in His life. And yet…without sin. 
That same passage in chapter 4 of Hebrews tells us that because Jesus experienced the same life experiences and temptations as us, yet without sin, we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with us. I mentioned earlier that it was necessary for Him to suffer these things, but it wasn’t because God had something He needed to learn through those experiences. There’s nothing God needs to learn. Jesus went through what He went through for our sake, to help us understand that we worship a God who can relate to our troubles in a very personal way. He knows our troubles and sorrows because He is the all knowing God, of course, but we can take comfort in the knowledge that He knows our troubles and sorrows……….because He also lived it.