It seems like the theme this last month has been "Burdens." All kinds of burdens for lots of people around me. & me. It's comforting to know we all have burdens to bear. & though no one's burdens are exactly the same, it's even more comforting to know that the Lord is "touched with the feelings of our infirmities" & cares about all the things that make us cry. He proved it to me this morning as I flipped right to John 2.
Jesus performed His first miracle at a marriage supper. Though He is the Miracle Worker, let's focus on the vessels that were used in the miracle - the servants. Nameless to us & most likely faceless to many of the guests, Jesus let them bear a great burden in order to be partakers in that first miracle & not merely observers. He calls us to do the same thing sometimes. To bear something hard so that we can be in the midst of His Great Work when the time comes.
Mary said, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." - John 2.5
Though she spoke to a group of servants, she used a singular pronoun to address them. Mary, whose wisdom caused her to ponder in her heart & accept a great burden of her a few years earlier, chose to see the servants as individuals. Maybe she looked them each in the eye. Maybe this stirred their spirits & caused their heart to be ready to receive the miracle that would come.
"And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece." - John 2.6
Enter the waterpots. Heavy. Burdensome. Holding between 18 and 27 gallons of water apiece. Purifying water that the disciples were condemned for not using according to religious law by the Pharisees, who did not recognize Jesus as the fulfilling of the law, making their vain traditions of no effect. (Matt. 15.2) Used to "make clean the outside of the cup and the platter" while the inner man remained "full of ravening and wickedness." (Luke 11.39) How fitting that He will turn this purifying water into wine, a symbol of His purifying blood.
"Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water..."
I wonder what was in their mind? Maybe Jesus misunderstood, they need wine, not water... But everyone here has already been purified, why do they need more water? Regardless of any silent doubt, they did as they were told.
"...And they filled them to the brim." - John 2.7
Have you ever been filled to the brim? No more breathing room, no more open spaces. In fact, you are almost overflowing. Overwhelmed. & you're not sure why you are in this place? Jesus may call us to exhaust our resources, but while we are busy looking at the fullness of our lives, He is right beside us making sure we don't have more than we can handle. But just enough to know our capacity. Trust Him. He won't give you more than you can bear. He is just showing you how much you can handle when you "take His yoke upon you." (Matthew 11.29)
"And He saith unto them, Draw out now..."
That's it. It's a lot, but not too much. It's enough. It's ok that you don't know what it will be used for. It has a purpose that the Lord knows perfectly.
If drawing out the gallons of water built their strength & proved their capability, the next part taught them perseverance.
"... and bear unto the governor of the feast..."
This can't be right. That would be embarrassing. That would be insulting. This doesn't make sense in light of the world. What will they think? Besides, this burden is too heavy to bear. What if I can't make it through the crowd, with the governor and the guests watching me? But then Mary did say, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it...
"... And they bare it." - John 2.8
These four words encompass all we need to carry our own burdens. The heavy ones. The seemingly nonsensical and meaningless ones. The painful ones. They bore it before even seeing the Cross that Jesus would bear. How much more faith should we have that our own burdens will not be in vain?
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." - II Timothy 4.7-8Why we bear burdens with perseverance, keeping our eyes on things to come.
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." - Hebrews 11:8 (emphasis added)
Why we bear burdens when they don't make sense, having faith that He works all things for our good.
"Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: Naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." - Matthew 25.34-36,40
Why we bear burdens that are ugly, hard, & possibly not ours to bear in the world's eyes.
"When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now." - John 2.9-10
The servants were unaware of the miracle until they had fully fulfilled their part in it. And when the wonder was wrought, they knew something the governor and the guests didn't know, couldn't know. They had an encounter with the Lord that was made intimate by the fact that they literally carried the vessel of the miracle on their backs. And just like the wine, things are sweeter as time goes on with Jesus. Our burdens can be made tolerable when we look forward to the day we can lay our crowns at His feet.
Like the servants, we may not know the miracle that came from our burden until we are standing in front of the Master of the Marriage Feast. We may never get a Thank You, we may never understand. But at that last Marriage Supper, much like the first, all will be made clear to His servants. We will know why. It will all be beautiful.
If we allow ourselves to be filled to the brim, if we bear our burden as unto the Lord, we will rest in His presence & we will hear those sweet words,
"Well done thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
- Matthew 25.21