January 20, 2019: “Do Whatever He Tells You”

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

With these words (John 2) to a servant about obtaining wine for a wedding party, Jesus’ mother offers practical instruction for all who are servants of Jesus. There was a wedding party in process, but no more wine. Mom saves the day. The son obeys his parent. The servant obeys the son. Problem solved.

The Son’s instructions for his followers are pretty straight-forward. Love God, self, and neighbor fully. Feed the hungry. Care for the sick. Welcome the stranger. Announce that a new reign of God’s salvation (deliverance) is at hand. Forgive your enemies. Overcome evil with good. Go and make disciples. Jesus even tells us (Matthew 25) that such actions have eternal significance.

Yet we are often prone to give God the leftovers after serving self-interest first. We find Jesus’ simple instructions to be impractical. We have been set free by Christ but resist doing what he tells us.

Years ago I served as a mission worker in rural Africa for two years. I was amazed by the radical simplicity, and radical obedience, of followers of Jesus in that context. On one unforgettable day an African friend came to my house asking for food. I knew that he had had food just days before. “What happened to your food?” I asked. He replied, “I just gave all my food and my money (a few dollars) to a man who hadn’t eaten in a good while.” He then shared that he takes the Lord’s Prayer literally. God has always provided him his daily bread. So he is free to give to others who are hungry.

My African friend was doing what Jesus was telling him to do. Jesus’ mother speaks to us. “Do whatever he tells you.” Amen.

Jeff Coppage. pastor, Fries Memorial Moravian Church,
Winston-Salem, North Carolina