Christlike ministry is directed by God and His Word and involves co-laborers in communicating the gospel message. This is the pattern of Jesus’ earthly ministry from the very beginning.
In this Wisdom Journey, we find Jesus’ ministry is beginning to launch into the public arena. A number of events are highlighted in John’s Gospel that are incredibly significant. One of them is a conversation between John the Baptist and the religious leaders of Israel in John chapter 1.
John hasn’t seen Jesus since He walked off into the wilderness after being baptized. But John faithfully continues calling Israel to prepare for her Messiah. And his preaching is giving the Jewish leaders a serious case of heartburn.
So, the Jewish leaders send a delegation of priests and Levites to John the Baptist, asking him, “Who are you?” (verse 19). I love that—“Who in the world are you?”
John is quick to say in verse 20 that he is not the Messiah. “Are you Elijah?” they ask in verse 21, and he answers, “I am not.”
Their next question is, “Are you the prophet?” This refers to Moses’ promise in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you . . . it is to him you shall listen.” So, John, are you that prophet? John simply says, “No.”
These Jewish leaders are getting frustrated at this point. They ask, “What do you say about yourself?” (verse 22). In other words, “Well, then, who are you?”
John answers in verse 23, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (see Isaiah 40:3). These leaders immediately know that John is declaring himself to be the Lord’s forerunner; and if John is the forerunner, then Jesus is the Messiah!
I can imagine these men racing back to Jerusalem to figure out the implications of this announcement—according to John the Baptist, the Messiah is already here!
Then in John’s Gospel, we read of this wonderful, incredible moment:
The next day he [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” (verses 29-31)
He then adds in verse 34, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
By the way, beloved, that is the ultimate goal of your testimony and mine. We might not be eloquent, and we might not have comprehensive knowledge of the Word of God; but we can introduce to our needy world the Lamb of God who came to die for our sins.
Now the day after John introduces Jesus, verse 35 tells us two of John’s disciples are with him as Jesus walks by. John again says, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (verse 36), and those two disciples immediately leave John and begin following Jesus. I don’t believe that bothered John one bit.
One of these two disciples is Andrew; the other is more than likely John, the author of this Gospel. Eventually, Andrew races home to tell his brother he has “found” the Messiah. His brother’s name is Simon, whom Jesus will rename Peter, or Cephas in the Aramaic language.
The Greek word for “found” here is euriskō, which gives us our word eureka! It’s as if Andrew has found a hidden treasure, and he’s shouting to Peter, “Eureka! I have found the Messiah! I have discovered the greatest treasure ever!”
The next day, Jesus walks over to Galilee. There He finds Philip and calls this man to follow Him. Then verse 45 tells us that Philip seeks out his friend Nathanael and brings him to Jesus. So, in a matter of a couple of days, Jesus has five brand-new disciples.
Let me tell you, this band of followers will keep on growing because they are telling everyone about the treasure they have found in Jesus. We need people like this today who just cannot keep the Lord to themselves.
To this point, then, we have the first testimony from John the Baptist, as well as the first group of disciples. Now we’re going to see the first miracle.
In the opening verses of John 2, Jesus and His disciples arrive at a wedding “at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.” Most likely the couple getting married are friends of Mary and Jesus.
But to the embarrassment of the host family, the unthinkable happens—the wine runs out. Mary informs Jesus in verse 3, simply saying, “They have no wine.” In this culture, hospitality was a sacred duty. It would be terribly humiliating for the bride and groom to run out of food or drink for the wedding guests.
Jesus’ response to His mother seems to make Him appear uncaring. He says to her in verse 4, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” You need to understand that when He addresses His mother as “Woman,” He uses a term that can be translated “Dear Woman.” But in the Greek world this was never used by a son in addressing his mother. When Jesus calls Mary “Dear Woman” instead of “Mother,” He is indicating a different relationship exists between them now as He moves into His messianic ministry.
And His response to Mary—“What does this have to do with me?” (verse 4)—is another way of Jesus saying, “Dear Woman, if I am going to do something about this, let Me handle it the way I want to handle it.”
One more point here—when Jesus adds, “My hour has not yet come,” He is correcting Mary. Jesus is not interested in performing miracles just to solve embarrassing problems. And He certainly is not under obligation to her to do so either. He is depending on the leading of the Holy Spirit as to whether or not He will demonstrate divine power.
Mary’s humble response is simply to tell the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. Now that’s more like it. In other words, she is saying, “If Jesus wants to do something, He is in charge—you obey Him.”
By the way, there are millions of people today who have been led to believe that Mary is in heaven receiving prayers and influencing Jesus to do what she asks Him to do. Well, this first miracle ought to silence that false teaching. Mary is not in charge here, and she certainly is not in charge of Jesus in heaven—Jesus is in total command.
At some point, the Spirit of God leads Jesus to perform His very first miracle. We read in verses 6-7:
Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
Jesus then tells the servants to draw from the water jars and give it to the master of the feast. Can you imagine the look on those servants’ faces when they realize what they are now pouring out is wine? In fact, the master of the feast says to the bridegroom, “You have kept the good wine until now” (verse 10).
This first miracle sends several signals. It is a signal to Mary that Jesus is not going to be influenced by maternal ties but by His Father’s design. To His brand-new disciples, this is a sign that Jesus has divine power over the elements of nature. To the wedding party, this is a sign that Jesus has come to bring joy to those He touches. And finally, to these servants who are obeying the commands of Jesus, this is a sign that Jesus often performs His mighty works through willing and obedient people.