Jesus starts getting to work in John 2. The intro material of creation, recognition by John the Baptizer (not the writer of the gospel of John; remember that John the Baptizer gets beheaded partway through Jesus’ ministry), and gathering of the disciples is all recounted in the first chapter of John. That stuff is all out of the way, and the rubber hits the road at a wedding feast. I have been a part of my share of weddings now, and they are usually great parties. This one is no different. You probably know the story fairly well… They run out of wine, so Jesus turns water into wine. But not the cheap stuff, the steward is impressed with the quality of the vintage. It is kind of an odd way to open the story of Jesus’ active ministry. It is not really a healing story. It is not really a teaching story. It is not really a story of confrontation with the religious leaders (although that comes in the second half of chapter two). What is going on here? I think the first item is in verses four and five. Mary asks Jesus to do something about the lack of wine at the party, and he refuses. But she orders the servants to carry out his instructions, seemingly oblivious to his refusal. We could read this as Jesus following the commandment to honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12). It seems more likely that we are seeing a first example of what it looks like to (as the old hymn says) trust and obey Jesus. John tells us this is the first sign Jesus works. I think it is clear from the other gospel accounts that Mary knows that there is something special about her son (understatement alert). She chooses to trust him, in front of all of his new disciples. Then she invites the servants to be obedient to him, which they do and it leads to marvelous results. There are other places in the gospels where people trust and obey Jesus: sometimes reluctantly, as in the rolling of the stone from the tomb of Lazarus, and sometimes joyfully, Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water. Trusting and obeying Jesus has remarkable outcomes.
The other item to note is the way that the servants who are obeying Jesus know what is happening, but the steward is ignorant of the origin of the wine and mis-attributes it to the generosity of the groom (verse nine). This is a reminder to us that even from the beginning the wondrous goodness of God must be shared as a combination of words and deeds. One without the other leads to confusion.