Thursday, March 24, 2011

Probably One Of The Most Difficult Lessons To Learn

Mothers can be a bother sometimes, dragging us into things we don't want anything to do with. I remember my mom dragging me over to meet people I didn't want to meet or volunteering me to do what I didn't want to do. Yet, at the end of the day, we would do whatever our moms asked because we love them. Moms can do any amount of wrong but we can't stop ourselves from loving them. They could be the worse mother in the world and we would still love them, defend them, protect them, stand by them simply because they are our mom. So we should be able to understand how Jesus felt about the first miracle.

Perhaps on the surface the events at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee may not look like they contain a universal theme but I think submission to authority is pretty universal. We are going to assume that the bride or groom were either somehow related or otherwise connected to Jesus. Jesus is not a famous figure in Galilee yet and his mother was also present so it is safe to assume a connection simply because of their presence. We can also see it in Mary's concern over the lack of wine.

Some of these traditions get lost in our North American cultural experience. It was a grave matter to run out of wine before the end of the celebration and could financially ruin this young couple as they started their life together. In this culture great gifts were brought to the wedding. If guests did not find the celebration worthy of their gift they could sue. It was also true that if a gift was brought that was not equal to the celebration the couple could sue the guests. So financially and reputation wise this could be a major disaster. Thus, Mary turns to her son.

Obviously Mary had seen some evidence of what her son was capable of but Jesus knew it was not yet time to reveal such things to people:

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:3-5)

You have to love the persistence of a mom. Mary totally ignores her son's objections and gives instructions to the servants. Again we see that Mary must have had some importance here that she would have some say over the servants and why would she know they were out of wine before anyone else was informed? Nonetheless, Jesus submitted to his mother's request.

Here is Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ, the agent of creation, God's Word made flesh and he is submitting to his mother even though he disagrees with her. There is a certain order that God has created and, even though he is the ultimate authority, he has placed other authorities over us as well. As a child we were given instructions to obey the authority of our parents. Right or wrong, agree or disagree, they are our parents and the first level of obedience we had to learn:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

If we do not learn the lesson of submitting to authority as a child then we will have difficulty in our adult years because in our adult years God has placed other authorities over us. We have the government, which is responsible for making and upholding social laws.The Word explains that it is God who has given them authority over us and he is the one who raises up and brings down governments. This may be a hard one for us to grasp but we obey God because we love and trust him and we obey governments because God told us to. He has also placed over us people of spiritual authority:

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)

In our current age most people do not want to hear this because we are free and responsible for ourselves but just because we think this way does not mean we are right. We have to re-learn God's expectations for us when it comes to authority, even when they are wrong. It is not so much the person as it is the office that they hold. Even if you do not like the Prime Minister, even if you disagree with him, you must respect the fact that he is the Prime Minister. It is the same with you in the United States. Even if you disagree with your President, according to God's order, you must respect and submit yourself to his leadership. I think this is more difficult for Americans then Canadians and it is also biblical. When Jesus was addressing a crowd of people about the Pharisees who were plotting to kill him, Jesus told them:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach." (Matthew 23:2-3) 

We emphasize the latter without much thought to the former. Jesus taught that obedience must be given simply because of the position they are in. Yes, he warned the people not to become like those leaders but he did not give them permission to rebel against them. That is hard for us to understand because we are rebellious by nature. In fact, it is much easier for us to rebel then to obey, but this goes against God's order and also comes from our sinful nature. However, those of us in Christ have been re-born with a new nature, so we should be able to understand God's order, and even though it may be difficult at times, we need to obey him.

Jesus obeyed his mother and God the Father prevented too many people from finding out about Jesus' glory. We are told only the servants and the disciples knew about it and it resulted in the disciples placing their faith in Jesus as his glory was revealed to them. Some might be tempted to say "mother knows best" but I think in this case it was a matter of God's grace. Even if Mary was wrong Jesus revealed the Father's heart by submitting to her authority. Jesus never led a rebellion. He never called for the downfall of the politicians. He did not attack the king as his cousin John did. He did not even call for the overthrow of the Pharisees but he did challenge their teaching. Perhaps this is a difficult lesson to learn but as disciples of Jesus Christ we must learn what it is to submit and respect authority.

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