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John 2:1-12….Mom, It’s Different Now.

June 28, 2012

As miracles go, the first one out of the box for Jesus didn’t have much “bang” to it. It’s Mom. You do things for your Mom. And besides, a lot could argue that giving people free wine doesn’t help them very much whether we have the power to do it or not. Jewish wedding feasts could last days and involved families provided all the food for almost the whole town. Jesus and the gang happened to be at a wedding when His mother came up and simply said, “They have no wine.” This meant a huge public embarrassment for the families involved; they ‘d simply underprepared. (It could also mean that the families and the town were filled with people who excelled at cramming food down their pie hole and being sponges who could soak up free booze for days – a wedding phenomenon continuing down to this day.) This would be talked about and remembered for a long time.

But it was Mom peddling this situation to Jesus without even asking Him to do something. “They have no wine.” It’s like she just knew. The Bible says that she’d been filling scrapbooks in her heart for years (Luke 2:19,52). So while Jesus had no miracles to His name, no healings, no water walks, Mary came to Him like only Moms can. They can both ask us to do something and tell us to do something at the same time without actually doing either. “This bedroom looks like a tornado hit it.” Thanks for the weather alert and damage report, Mom. This situation exists (“They have no wine.”) and simply being told means both that we know what should be done and are the ones to do it.

His strange reply says something’s changed and they both know it. “Woman“, not really disrespectful, but actually a respectful address to a woman outside of family and not well-known, would tell Mary a lot. New boundaries were being drawn; old claims diminished or erased. “What does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” “Mom, this one is because I love you but it’s the last time that anyone, even you, will lay any claim on my power on their terms and initiative. My Father in heaven now lays down the drumbeat that will be the operating rhythm of my life.” Jesus later would say as much in places like Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” On another occasion, Mary and the family (all of whom thought that the cheese had slipped off Jesus’ cracker) came looking for Him only to be left cooling their heals on the sidewalk outside while He taught. (Matt.12:46-50)

Maybe some of us walk through a difficult summer because Jesus calls us to redraw some boundaries for people who don’t want them redrawn. We live with parents, siblings or other relatives who either just don’t get the Jesus thing we’ve found and some are actively against Him. My Dad wasn’t sure. He was a Christian but this looked and smelled different that what he knew. “David,” he said, “if this is some kind of a cult, I’ll yank you off that campus so fast it’ll make your head spin.”  Watching both my life (If Jesus inside us is real, the people at home will know first and see it the deepest.) and the lives of others on campus, Dad liked what he saw and became my spiritual lead blocker. He’d proudly buttonhole his mill buddies as they walked through the mall, turn to me and say, “David, tell these guys what you’re going to do…They need it!”  Whether the people being chafed by Jesus in us come around or not, they’re still looking. William Wilberforce, the great English abolitionist, became a Christian as a student and went home for the summer. All the families’ aristocratic friends shared their sympathy that William had become a Christian and, even worse, a Methodist. As the summer came to a close, a friend of his mother asked her, “How has the summer gone now that William has descended into this madness?” Wilberforce’s mom said, “If this is madness, I hope he bites us all.” Someone’s watching and may be hungrier than they’ll admit behind their contempt and hassle. Even if not this summer, the Holy Spirit can plant a snapshot deep in their heart that He can pull up anytime He wants to remind them of Jesus. Even in tough circumstance, we should live so it can be a good one.

Ever been envious of people in a Christian family? Sometimes having Christian family doesn’t spare us this. Back to my Dad and I. Christ had stirred my heart appetites to where I could not imagine doing anything else with my life than serving Him; I was headed for the ministry without knowing all the details. We hadn’t discussed it much but spring break my senior year would change that. One day the phone rang and on the other end was a school principal offering me a job. Understand that teaching jobs were scarce in the area at that time and that I had not put out any application for this or any other teaching position.  The vice president of my school and a supervising professor wanted to do me a favor and had spoken for me on this opportunity. Boy, was I flattered but declined saying that I would be doing something else. When Dad got home from work later that day, I told him about the phone call.

“David, that’s great!!! This thing with you and Jesus Christ really is something! I’ve never heard of anything like this!”

“Me neither…Dad?”

“What, Son?”

“I turned it down.”

“YOU DID WHAT ?!?!?!?!?!?” To paraphrase Acts 15:2, we had no little dispute (meaning we had a big one). As Louis Armstrong would say, “Now it’s startin’ to get warm.”

Scripture says we’re to honor and respect our parents. (Exodus 20:12) But as Christians, we must obey and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Some parents aren’t easy to love, honor or respect. Some times we must move against the expectations and/or desires of good Christian parents. When Jesus called James and John to follow Him, they did leaving Dad standing right in the boat (Mark 1:18-20). Zebedee simply wasn’t consulted either by Jesus or by his sons. He might have said, “You guys are walking away from a secure lifetime income here with no indebtedness. People would give their right arm for this. You can do that Jesus thing on the weekend with a youth group or something.” To update: “We didn’t spend all that tuition money for you run off to some God forsaken (No place but hell is really God forsaken.) corner of the world. You’re going to get a job and build a secure life. You can go to Nicaragua on your vacation time when you’re not visiting us.” I spoke at Hillsdale College, a bastion of conservative thought. All the heavy hitters of conservative politics, economics, education and media pass through regularly. Many will move on to high-powered grad schools and will influence the world. I said to them,”What if Jesus wants something different for you than a nice career, a nice family lined up in the pew of a nice church and a nice cat and dog? And they all vote Republican (including the cat and dog.)” The students got the point and laughed. A few Zebedees (read parents) in the crowd gave me the “Italian Spit-Eye-of-Death” – a curse of some kind.

The evil one uses two powerful ploys on everyone but students seems particularly vulnerable. He allures us with something good and culturally respectable which seduces us away from God’s best. And second, the voice he uses will often be that of someone close to us, maybe even a parent or sibling. We must be careful as to whom we allow to speak into the cream of our lives. We live in times when people think their opinions are important simply because they have them. Or that their voice has clout because of some prior emotional/family/friendship claim. Redrawing those lines and sifting the voices from the Voice often places family and friends outside the new circle where only Jesus can be the center. It stings. I think Jesus felt a twinge in His exchange with Mom and that Mary felt more than that.  We might feel like we’re living against sandpaper this summer with family and friends who don’t get this Jesus thing. Turning down the static and chatter of other voices can make for rough summers and have us longing for our campus and the friendships there. An old Puritan prayer includes the line,”…All faculties of my being vibrate to thy touch.” Like the Stradivarius made to be stroked with the bow, Jesus tunes so that His voice becomes the operating rhythm of Who we are. This tuning means tightening for now.

If this said something of Jesus to you, please share, follow, like, tweet, subscribe and all that other Facebook and social media stuff. The “geezer” will be back around July 9th after chasing all his grandchildren up and down the beach at the ocean.

Please return your seats to the upright position and hand your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant at the rear as you leave. See you next time at

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