The way I see it, turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana should probably go on record as Jesus’ most subtle miracle. Since this wasn’t his hour to be glorified, he didn’t want to make a big show. If his goal was to keep his gift to the bride and groom on the down low, I’d call it a success. Think about it. How many wedding guests were even aware that Jesus had performed a miracle? Mary didn’t know. The guests didn’t know. Apparently, even after remarking on the quality of the wine, the headwaiter didn’t know. Even the bride and groom were kept in the dark on this one! So, who knew?
We know that eventually, the disciples were able to connect the dots on what happened because later in the narrative, John (one of the afore-mentioned disciples) tells us they believed on him because of this miracle (John 2:11). But for the moment, it seems that not even the disciples knew! There was, however, one small group of people in this story that was palpably aware of the miracle the very moment it happened. They alone had the joy of seeing it take place before their very eyes, and John really wants us to know it. In fact, he kind of taps the brakes on the whole story for a moment to drop a parenthetical that tells us who they are. Listen to John’s official record of the event (John 2:8-9):
“Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.’ So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’”
There’s an old English axiom that says, “The maids know all.” That is, even though the servants of the house occupy the lowest position in the social order, the performance of their duties in every room of the house makes them privy to all the family secrets. The same was true for the unknown servants at the wedding in Cana.
Could anyone doubt that the household slaves stood on the lowest rung of the social ladder? Their job was merely to serve the guests, perform the most menial jobs — set up, clean up, and shut up. Their presence was necessary only for the purpose of custodial service, and they were to be invisible as they performed such duties. Nevertheless, it was they, and they alone to whom the Lord granted the exclusive privilege of witnessing his very first miracle! And if that weren’t enough, these humble servants also got to be the people Jesus used to bring that miracle about. After all, it was they who had hauled the 180 gallons of water to fill the six large pots. They were the ones who carried the sample of the water-turned-wine to the headwaiter. And they were the only ones standing nearby when the headwaiter commented on the superior quality of the wine which just moments earlier had actually been nothing but water! The text clearly says, the headwaiter “did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew).”
What does this have to do with counseling? Well, like the wedding servants in Jesus’ day, biblical counselors get to be the privileged, unknown, invisible servants of Jesus as he ministers his good gifts to the people he loves. Who were the servants at the wedding? We don’t know! What were their names? We are not told! Did they know Jesus was going to perform a miracle? Not a chance! How did they become co-laborers in Jesus’s first miracle? They simply scooped, carried, and poured water when commanded to do so. That is, they obediently performed a duty they had probably done ten thousand times before. But it was while they were faithfully obeying the Lord in this menial task that they received the exclusive privilege of being first to know what Jesus had done. In fact, the miracle took place by the labor of their very own hands. What a parable this is of the privilege of obediently laboring as servants of our Lord!
By now you have probably figured out that serving your church as a biblical counselor is often a thankless job. Day after day, week after week you labor behind closed doors delivering God’s truth, tearing down strongholds, “admonishing the idle, encouraging the fainthearted, and helping the weak” (1 Thess 5:14). Unlike other ministries in the church, yours must remain invisible. No one sees your labor. No one shares the load. No one witnesses your success. Your work is often unnoticed and underappreciated.
Not in Vain
Moreover, as mere servants, you never really know the Master’s secret agenda. He isn’t obliged to inform us when he intends to do something amazing. He never announces his purpose to regenerate a dead heart, or rescue an unsalvageable marriage, or sever the bonds of secret enslavement. He doesn’t broadcast his plan to reconcile enemies, lift the clouds of depression or calm a panicked soul. But in the service of Jesus these are the kinds of subtle “miracles” counselors have the exclusive privilege of witnessing with their own eyes. And God brings them about by the faithful labor of their own hands.
The key takeaway I hope you will gather from these thoughts may be best summarized by the apostle Paul, who encouraged his friends in Corinth with the words: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58). To be sure, the labor of the unknown servants in Cana of Galilee proved not to be in vain. For by this most subtle of miracles the disciples were made to believe in him, and by it, John tells us, Jesus manifested his glory.
So take heart, fellow counselors! Keep hauling water and let your hearts be dazzled by the subtle “miracles” only counselors are privileged to see.
Dan Kirk is the pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth where he has served since 1994. He and his wife, Christine, have been married for thirty years and by God’s super-abounding grace have raised seven children. Dan is a graduate of Word of Life Bible Institute (N.Y), Tennessee Temple University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and The Masters University from which he received his Master of Biblical Counseling degree. He serves as the director of Calvary Biblical Counseling Ministries and Training Center, and is the vice president of the Fort Worth Biblical Counseling Association. He is also a certified biblical counselor and has been a member of ACBC since 2008.
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