Conspicuous Anonymity

January 27, 2022

When the headwaiter tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from—though the servants who had drawn the water knew.


John 2:9

Written by Lee Swartz from the Brentwood Campus

The Wedding in Cana is a challenging passage of scripture. It’s a well-known story and one of our many human flaws is we find it difficult to see past what we think we already know.

In the English translation, we are puzzled by what seems to be Jesus’ impolite response to His mother’s earnest desperation. Some may feel “uneasy” that the first of Jesus’ signs John records in his gospel is not making the blind see or healing the broken but providing an over-abundance of top-shelf wine at a wedding celebration.

And not only is it challenging for what we think we know, but also for what we want to know. If you’re like me, and Lord help you if you are, you long to understand the symbolism behind the six stone jars, or you may find yourself enchanted by the Old Testament allusions (Genesis 41:55 and Isaiah 25:6 among others) that connect this story to the larger narrative.

You might even be curious about the conspicuous anonymity of EVERYONE in this story except Jesus and His mother. Until you realize maybe that’s the point.

The servants in this story were attendants at a wedding feast but they were, very likely, doing what was already a function of their everyday lives; waiting tables, filling water jugs and acting as runners. On the surface, they, themselves, did nothing miraculous. But what if their conspicuous anonymity is a miracle; the miracle of self-denial, or maybe said more frankly, getting out of Jesus’ way. And let’s be honest, it’s something of a miracle just getting out of our own way, isn’t it?

What if the wide-open secret to not overcomplicating the Christian life, blessing others, and giving glory to our Savior in our everyday lives is very simply summed up in the second chapter of John’s gospel; Believe (vs. 11) and do whatever He tells you (vs. 5).