The Greatest Miracle
On Sunday, we took a look at the first miracle of Jesus, according to John’s Gospel, when Jesus turned water into wine. Since I am allergic to wine, for most of my life I just figured that this was another miracle that didn’t really apply to me. After spending 3 months in and around Bordeaux this past spring, perhaps France’s most popular “wine country,” the miracle is starting to make more sense to me…and there are definitely some lessons in this parable even for me.
First of all, it occurred to me that a welcome miracle to one person might be a very unwelcome miracle to another. To someone who would spend $225,000 on a prize-winning bottle of Chateau Margaux—or even a more moderate $7,000 Petrus—this might actually be their favorite of all of Jesus’ miracles. But for people like me who get physically ill just from the vapors of a glass of wine, it takes a little extra thought and effort to embrace this as a great miracle—or even a good one.
A second lesson is that Jesus was constantly surprising people. Changing water into wine in order that the best was served at the end was a radical change from standard behavior in that culture. This miracle sets the tone for the teachings and actions of Jesus that constantly challenged his followers to expect the unexpected and to change their behavior from what was standard, normal and expected, to behavior that is completely unexpected:
- Loving your enemies
- Welcoming strangers who show up in your community—even if they are from another culture and religion and speak a different language
- Taking care of the poor and the sick—even if they don’t have the means to pay you back for your kindness
- Touching the “untouchables” in society
- Turning the other cheek
- Breaking the law in order to help people
It’s as if Jesus did this first miracle to say to his disciples and his “would-be” disciples: “Your world is going to be very, very different if you choose to follow me. So expect the unexpected, and be ready for your world to be turned upside down.”
And then Jesus went around doing miracles of compassion that helped people—people who were not being helped by anyone else and and people who gave up all hope because no one ever helped them. Yes, indeed, those who would follow Jesus found that they were living in an entirely different world than the one they were living in before they met him…and that continues to be the case today.
Of course, the greatest miracle of all is God’s deep, deep love for people. Even when people ignore, disobey and outright rebel against God, it doesn’t stop God from loving them. In fact, when people betrayed and denied Jesus, when they beat and crucified him, he returned to love and forgive them—and offered them a life of love in abundance. Indeed, the best wine is saved for the end. No wonder John’s Gospel tells us that the disciples believed in Jesus. May the miracle of God’s kind and tender love find its way into the deepest part of our hearts and lives. May we fully embrace it, and may we freely share it with others.
Click HERE to see a video of the message from Sunday morning. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.