When did I know for sure?
I can still remember the day—the day my suspicions about Jesus shifted to confidence—the day the light dawned in my heart and I knew that I knew God’s chosen Messiah stood before me.
My name is Andrew and I’d been following Jesus for a few weeks. One morning He woke us early and told us we were going to a wedding. It was before Matthew joined our group so there were only six of us then. It was early in the spring. I remember how crisp the air seemed as we packed up and headed to Cana. Mary, Jesus' mother, had some family in Cana. She told Jesus there was room for all of us to stay for the full week to enjoy the festivities.
That was a particularly rainy spring. When we arrived in Cana, we were a mess. At Mary's urging we found the stone pots set aside for washing. They were massive stone tubs filled with water. When we found them, there was a line at each one. Many others arrived as we did all caked with dust and mud from their travels. Each of us took care to get the mud and filth off our feet, hands and faces. Then Jesus led us off to present ourselves to the wedding party.
On the second day of the wedding celebration, John and I began wondering why we were spending the week here. Usually our days consisted of gathering groups to hear Jesus teach. Sometimes we’d go to a synagogue in a small town. Afterwards, Jesus would walk us through the passages they read in the meeting and share His amazing insights. It always seemed to me that He knew the scriptures far better than the local rabbi. He wouldn’t talk about some ancient rabbi’s thoughts, like they do in the gatherings. He would compare scripture to scripture. He’d point out the similarities in the messages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, or the final outcome for Nineveh in Nahum. I could never keep all those prophets straight in my mind, but it was as though He knew them—personally. For Him the history of our people, Israel, seemed to be recent memory, as if He lived through it with them. When I learned those old stories as a boy growing up, it all seemed so long ago and far away—like a story-book. When He taught us, it played out like He was in the middle of each event. He would bring the scriptures to life for us.
It is was mid-afternoon that second day when John said, “I thought He wanted us to see something. So far He hasn’t even done one of His—Let’s talk about…—things in the evenings. He just seems to be enjoying the wedding.
That’s when things started to get interesting.
One of Mary’s relatives and I sat not far from the cooking tent as she told me her story. She and Mary had been pregnant at the same time. I came to find out later that this was, in fact, the mother of John the Baptizer. He mentored me before Jesus came on the scene.
That’s when one of the waiters approached Mary. He looked nervous. I couldn’t hear what he said, but she went right over to Jesus. She started talking with Him, gesturing toward the waiter.
She seemed agitated when she approached Him. At first He turned away, as if ignoring her panic. She turned to some waiters who stood with her. At this point she was facing us, and I could hear her say, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” They followed Him.
That’s when He gathered us together and said, “They’ve run out of wine.”
Peter started right in. “What can we do about it? Do any of you know Cana? Is this even our problem?”
Jesus silenced Him with a turn of His hand and went on, “Help the waiters. They’re filling those stone washing tubs we used when we arrived. That should be plenty.”
Nathaniel, a little confused, asked him, “Plenty of what? What are you going to do with those filthy pots?”
Jesus moved on as if He hadn’t heard him.
In short order we brought Jesus over to 6 of those basins, full to the brim. These water pots—tubs, really—were used for the ceremonial washing before each meal and as a place to clean up after a journey as we had done. This washing was more than a practical cleanse. It indicated setting aside the spiritual filth we’d been walking in. We Jews like to keep short accounts with God. We wash before every meal to remind us of our need to stay in good standing with God. It keeps the corrupting nature of the world in the foreground of our hearts and minds.
There we all stood looking at those filthy tanks of water. I didn’t know what to expect next. Would He have us scrub them out, or dump them. What was He thinking.
But He didn’t do anything. He stood there quietly looking into one of the pots, and then looked up and said to one of the waiters, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
The two waiters who were there with us looked at each other, as if to ask why. Nothing had changed. We were still looking at one hundred eighty gallons of water sitting in six filthy tubs.
They stood there for a few beats. Jesus gave a sharp nod toward the water, and the server to the right reached over for ladle. He filled it with the water, and two of them turned and started walking toward the headwaiter. They went about three steps and paused to look back at Jesus. He motioned them on with a gesture. They again started toward their employer. One of them sniffed at the liquid in the ladle, hoping for something more, but disappointed. He shrugged and went on.
From where I was standing, I couldn’t see what was in the spoon. What I could see was the two men look at each other with a start, just as they reached their master. Then they held the ladle up to him, and pointed back to the water pots. That’s when I realized the pots that stood before us no longer contained water. They were brim full of deep rich wine, gallons and gallons of beautiful red liquid.
The headwaiter took a sniff, then a sip, then he swallowed the rest of the wine in the spoon. He started back toward us. It was then I realized the father of the bride, our host, stood beside one of the tubs. The waiter came to him and said, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”
The waiters began to fill bottles from the tubs so this new wine could take its place at the tables.
When I finally got a taste of the miracle wine, tears came to my eyes. Standing in the midst of these festivities I saw the picture He had painted for us, for me. Most of the guests enjoyed this good wine, but I saw the source. I knew this wonderful vintage, transformed from that vile water, looked a lot like my life. If He could make this water, contaminated with the offscouring of life’s filth, into this fine wine, couldn't He transform my life too? Couldn't he take the filthy water of my sin crusted past, and turn it into something beautiful and full of joy?
I wanted to tell everyone that it was Jesus, my mentor, my friend, who made this wine, but He pulled us aside. He did not want to make a big deal of this with the people.
I knew then. Jesus is the Messiah for whom we've waited.
To read the original story, see John 2:1-11.
Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017 all rights reserved.
If you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Jesus, you might enjoy my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.
See you again soon.