Do whatever he tells you

Do whatever he tells you

Do whatever he tells you

Do whatever he tells you

March 1, 2020

March 1, 2020

March 1, 2020

March 1, 2020









Misunderstanding Obedience

It’s important to understand what someone is asking of you else you’ll offer the wrong thing. And this especially important in the area of obedience to Jesus. 

That’s what I want to talk about today. Obedience. Jesus invites us to obey him, but we have to listen to him carefully else we’ll end up like the lady offering tampons for tent pegs - which I’m pretty sure doesn’t work, I don’t know, didn’t try. 

Obedience Sounds Bad

And the thing is with obedience is that when we hear that word, it doesn’t exactly tend to inspire enthusiasm. I think part of the problem is that we associate Obedience with dog training, or being caned or scolded at school. 

But the obedience Jesus asks for us is very different. In fact its most defining characteristic is JOY! It’s possibly not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of obedience, but once you see it you can’t un-see it, all through the Bible obedience to God is marked with the overflow of joy. 

In fact obedience and joy are so intrinsically linked that in the book of Deuteronomy, God says to his people if you serve me but don’t serve me with joy then you’ll be prosperous but still get taken over by your enemies. 

Which is true right? We all know that person who has all the things, but they have them without joy, and so are unfulfilled. You can have the possesions, purpose, position -  but without joy you’ll still be unfulfilled. 

In other words you can’t serve the Lord, be grumpy...

Joy is so important its one of the fruit of the Spirit. 

Joy is so key the book of Philippians is nearly entirely dedicated to the subject. 


So today what I want us to think about is the JOY OF BEING OBEDIENT. We’ve heard of FOMO, the fear of missing out, FOBI the introverts fear of being invited, well this is JOBO - the JOY OF BEING OBEDIENT.

Because if when we think of OBEDIENCE it doesn’t come with joy then we’ve not understood what Jesus is Talking about.

Today I want us to hold our IDEA OF OBEDIENCE in our hands and ask “does it spark joy?” Because if our IDEA OF OBEDIENCE doesn’t spark joy then we need to throw it out and take another look at Jesus. 

And even if it does spark joy what we see in our reading today is that there is always more. He has saved the best till now! 

2:30 (4:30)


Reading: John 2:1-11

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

I just want to pause there for a moment, because this could come across as just a minor inconvenience, the wines run out, but this is a disaster.

It’s a health and safety fail - they used wine to purify water so people could drink, all these people arriving would have nothing to quench their thirst.

It’s a social fail - hospitality was the key virtue so this young man would have failed in the most public way and brought shame on both their families. 

It’s a symbolic fail - wine represents joy and so to have the joy run out before your wedding is even over does not bode well for the relationship. 

It’s basically a first century Fyre Festival. This is really bad news. “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. 

Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

1:10 (5:40)

The Joy of Being Obedient. 

Obedience produces joy because as you obey Jesus you discover he loves you, he’s got abundance for you, and he wants you to know him. 

That’s the purpose of this story, it’s why the Holy Spirit had it recorded down in the scriptures, the final verse said: 

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. v11

It is saying that the WINE is a SIGN, and this SIGN is going to show us what Jesus is really like. Which is fun right? He uses WINE as a SIGN to show us the Joy of Being Obedient. 

And while it’s not always easy obedience is quite simple, it’s Mary’s words to the servants: 

“Do whatever he tells you.”

Let’s have a look at it: 

‘He tells...’

The first thing I want to draw our attention to, in the JOY OF BEING OBEDIENT - is that we are called to obey a person. 


Mary is an amazing model of leadership in this story. It seems that she is the first person to spot this disaster, and rather than just commenting on it, or judging it - (remember Mary knows what it’s like to experience this kind of societal shame, she’s lived in the cloud of scandal and wouldn’t wish it on anyone) so rather than just being a bystander she takes ownership of the situation and brings it to Jesus. 

Leadership & Prayer

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine” v4

The focus of her problem solving is Jesus. She said to him.... It’s a picture of leadership - owning problems, but its also a picture of prayer - you encounter a problem you bring it to Jesus and call it out for what it is. 

But then she says to the servants, 

“Do whatever he tells you.” v5

And the key thing here is it is all about him. 

Divinity of Christ

Now on a side note this is one of the reasons I’m convinced of the divinity of Christ, that his mother believed it. I mean a mother knows their son better than any person. 

Do you know what, I am 33, a father of two, I am theologically educated, ordained by the Anglican Church and yet it would never even cross the mind of my mother to ever dream saying these words to you of me. 

“Do whatever he tells you.”

Yeah not so much, My mum loves me, she likes me, but she knows me. 

This is why Mary is so focused on him because she believes that he son is who she was told he was, that he is the one in whom we find what we are looking for. 

Focused on him

In the face of disaster, in the face of shame, Mary doesn’t point to the Law, she doesn’t point to best practice, she doesn’t even point to herself as a helping hand she points to Jesus. 

Do whatever HE tells you. 

Principle vs Person

See in Aristotle, or Confucianism, or Humanism or any other system of thought our obedience is to a principle, but we are instead invited to obey a person. 

A person who is not a faceless buerocrat, or someone far off, but to obey a person who shows up at our parities, and doesn’t come to sermonise but comes to celebrate like a close friend. 


And its not that principles are all bad but as much as you love a principle they don’t love you back. Our culture loves principles, little messages top live your life by, Pinterest/Instagram built for these things. 

There’s a coffee shop near here that writes little principles, motivational messages to live you life by on the lids: 

“Focus on the Good.”


Which is a good principle... 

But then the other day it was this: 


“Hard time teach you valuable lessons.”

And I was like ah, leave it out, I’m having a hard day... I’ll give YOU a valuable lesson... that’s the last thing I need. 

See a principle has no power to help so its either encouraging when you’re doing well or condemning when you’re not. 

Coach Monica

The obedience we are invited into is not to a principle but to a person. It’s more like: Coach Monica. 

Yeah, anyone else been watching CHEER? For those of you who have more self control on Netflix, Cheer is a documentary that follows the Navarro College Cheer Leading Team from Corsicana Texas, who under the leadership of Coach Monica - have won the National Cheerleading Championships 14 times.

Now whilst the show is about cheerleading, its not really about cheerleading its about how coach Monica coaches her team. 

And this team are not a team of natural winners they are the last, the lost, the lonely, and some aren’t even that physically fit, and she gives them strict rules, expects high standards, but she never gives up on them. And what you see is that these kids thrive under both law and grace, and she is this incredible practitioner of both, knowing when she needs to lay down the law and when it is she needs to give them grace. Across six episodes she never looses her temper or yells at them.

She gives them a goal of beauty and excellence but also a safety net of pure protective grace and intervening love that is reliable.

All of this happening in what seems like the opposite environment, because for many cheerleading represents the height of superficiality, one step away from beauty pageants but its in this context that she takes these people and builds a surrogate family for people who’s parents have died, or abandoned them, or disowned them, or abused them. 

And these kids give everything, they obey not because they have to but because they are beloved and because of love - its what grounds them, motivates, and inspires them. 

Obedience to Jesus like being led by coach Monica, a coach who doesn’t give up on you, a coach who knows you, and also a coach who models it for you. 

He himself is obedient

See we are invited to obey a person who is himself obedient. 

She comes to Jesus and his response is: 

“Woman, why do I you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” v4

Jesus doesn’t just do whatever he thinks is a good idea, later on in John’s gospel he’ll say the ‘Son only does what he sees his Father doing.’ 

In other words he never asks us to do anything that he is not willing to do himself. He invites us to obey him and he himself is obedient. Which means he understands what it’s like. 

We saw it in verse 4 he understands family tension where obedience to your father in heaven and your early parents seems to be in conflict - and he navigated it. And if he’s done that then he can guide you as you do to. 

That’s why Mary says to us: 

“Do whatever HE TELLS you.”


And that’s part of the reason we so often champion reading the Bible and in particular the Bible in One Year app - these are the words of God, this is what ‘he tells us’ And as you read it we don’t just encounter principles we encounter a person, who knows us and loves us and can guide us. 


The joy of obedience is not ticking off rules on a list, The joy of obedience is that in obedience we discover that Jesus is intimately involved in our lives, and is skilful at leading us. 


But I suppose that does leave us with a question... 

But why should I trust him?

Why should I obey him...

6:10 (11:50)

Do whatever


And the answer I think Mary would give, is that obedience leads to joy because what you get is always greater than what you give. 

Sandy & Annette

We heard a brilliant story this week, Sandy and Annette who were with us two weeks ago, having retired now live in a tiny village in England. And they decided that they were going to run an Alpha course in their home for their village. 

And so they put a notice up in the post office, put cards through people’s doors, they invited their friends and come the first night of Alpha one man came. 

Just one. 

And so they thought, okay Lord this is who you’ve given us, we’ll run the course just for him, so each week they had him over for dinner, watched the videos and then discussed together and over the ten week he decided to follow Jesus - which is wonderful. 

This was a while back, but we just heard that this man’s son is a head teacher at a school in India - and he told his son how wonderful Alpha was and so his son decided to start running it in his school. 

This week one of the Alpha team is planning take the four hour drive up into the mountains to go and train them. 

What can I do to share the gospel in Tamil Nadu, India? In my own strength nothing, but if I give my obedience to God in what I can do, then who knows! 

He takes what we give and he makes it greater! And that produces joy! 


Look at what they are asked to do, it’s two things: 


“Fill the jars with water.”

That’s a little bit of effort...

And Two: 

“Draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

Which is a small a step of faith...

And there is a barrier to being obedient in both of these areas, but as we see there needn’t be. 

Water Down

See that the fear is, deep down, we worry that God is a spoil sport, that he doesn’t have your best interests at heart and that he wants to water down your life.

I knew it Jesus, I come to you with my problems, and you give me a rubbish solution. I came looking for wine you’re saying lets drink water. 

He’s the guy who sees ‘Bring A Bottle on the invite’, and brings the mini free one he took from the plane. 

We think, I’m coming with wine and he’ll will water it down until there’s nothing left. That’s the fear. But the opposite is true. 

What we have isn’t that great

Firstly what we have isn’t that great to start with, look at verse six:

‘Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. 

These jars are used for washing, so drinking out of that’s a bit odd, and then he says fill them with water, and think less: EVIEN, more KLANG RIVER. One of the reasons they needed wine was to purify this water so they could drink it. 

So Jesus takes unhygienic containers, filled with unclean water, and he turns it into WINE! 


And not just a bit, this is 20-30 gallons, that’s 151 regular bottles of wine, x 6 that’s 906 bottles, or 5,436 glasses (for a traditional 4oz pour). 


And not just quantity, its also quality - its not just wine its the best wine the master has ever tasted. 

And that means it’s not just social joy, its economic joy. I don’t care how many times you shot YAM SING! The guests wouldn’t have been able to consume all of that wine, there would have been so much left over, Galilee would have become the Nappa Valley of the Middle East for the next few months.


I tried to do the maths on this, if you’re like me and the honest answer when the waiter gives you the wine list and asks what are you looking for? Is ‘Your Cheapest Red’ - then the value of this amount of wine is around RM 45k (more than the average annual salary in KL), but as a master of the banquet, he’d have had better taste than me, maybe a Chateau Lafite 45 (BC), very expensive which would have meant the value was around RM 3.5 million! (Four times the average house price in KL). 


Jesus took what they had which wasn’t very much, and he turned it into something that was beyond their wildest dreams... and outpouring of joy.

Jesus is not going to water down your life he is going to do the opposite. 

Give him what you got

And he is not going to ask you to bring anything except what you have. 

I don’t know what you need him to transform, maybe its your marriage, maybe its your emotions, but he only asks us to bring what we have. 

And the thing is, when you most need it, is when it is most available. 

It’s not give him your best, its give him what you’ve got... 

It’s precisely in the moment where you say: 


That is the moment when you can most expect God to provide. 

When you and your spouse are at a seeming impasse.

When loneliness seems to always creep at your door. 

When you just can’t seem to shift the needle, and change the situation. 

It’s in that moment when you say: I HAVE NO MORE WINE - that is where you can be sure Jesus is present and ready and will to guide you in obedience. 

The Best Thing

The great irony of the story is that running out of wine was the best thing to ever happen to this couple. Not because of their mistake but because of Jesus’ presence. 

Jesus is present here today, do you want his help? - because when he is present, dead things come back to life, water turns into wine. 

The resurrection of Jesus means there is no area of our lives that we can legitimately look at with out hope! 

He took the worst thing that could happen to a wedding and turned it into the best thing - we are still talking about this wedding 2k years later, that is every brides dream! 

As we obey we see him take what we have and make it greater and it produces joy. 

Marriage & Singleness 

And one area that I think this passage prompts us to think about in regards to obedience and in regards to joy is marriage and singleness. 

The culture we live in today kind of sees singleness as a problem to be solved but at the same time views marriage as an unrealistic solution. 

And culture is just falling over itself to celebrate the next new dangled approach that never leads to joy.


Jesus tells us in his word that the right place for sexual intimacy is within marriage and that means we can expect God to bless our sex life within marriage and bless our celibacy outside of it. 

This was the great irony of the sexual revolution, the end result of it was the majority of people having less sex and rating it as less satisfying. Why? Why, because the foundation of a healthy sex life is trust, and the foundation of romance is exclusivity - the greatest expression of these is made in the vows made within marriage. 

We should expect God to be blessing our marriages, and one of the ways I believe he does that is investing in your marriage - simplest way to do that is the marriage course, starts next month, Kate and I do it every three years - to say God we have this marriage, and we want you to take our water and transform it into wine. 


But as well as championing marriage and investing in this couples! Jesus also is the greatest champion of being unmarried. Jesus lived the most fulfilled life ever seen and yet was not married. 

But he did have amazing friendships, which he invested in - in fact it’s been said that the real miracle of Jesus’ ministry was a man having 12 friends in this 30s. 

But in both ways of life what Jesus asks us to do is be obedient to him, offer them to him and wait for him to turn our water into wine. 

Obedience to Jesus always makes life better. And so gives us joy. 




The last way that we see the Joy of being obedient is that Mary lands this firmly at our door. 

She says: “Do whatever he tells you!

It can be easy to get distracted thinking, but what about them, or what about all those around us. But this is about us, because obedience isn’t the end goal. The end goal of obedience is a relationship with our Father in heaven. 

The last reason why obedience releases joy into our lives is because obedience is like a ring side seat to the faithfulness of God. 

They take the water than had been turned into wine and give it to their boss and we read: 

“He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.” v9

The only people who witness the full miracle are the servants, how wonderful is that? And I think he does this for two reasons one is that RULE NUMBER ONE of any wedding is DO NOT PULL FOCUS. (It doesn’t matter if you are the Son of God, pull focus at a wedding and the bride will not be happy.)

But also because he loves to make himself known to those who are wanting to see him. This is why he involves us! Because he wants us to see what he’s like! 


It’s a bit like... I used to tease my mother quite about about her IT/Computer skills, and one day she came back at me with this brilliant retort. I was teasing her about not being able to find her email app and she said: 

“Don’t mock me that I can’t open my emails, I had to teach you how to use a spoon.”

Which is a good line, (she probably read it on Pinterest, mums love Pinterest). 

And I kind of understood it then, but now we have kids I really get it, because its so much easier to do things for the kids, its so much quicker to feed them ourselves, but its so much more joyful to include them and let them have a go. 

Sure there’ll be more food on the back of their head than inside their tummies but despite the mess it brings me so much joy to see them try. And when it doesn’t go quite right and the Weet-Bix goes on the floor 

(top tip on that, either clean up weet-bix immediately or incorporate it into the structure of the house, because once set it’s stronger than concrete). 

But when food goes on the floor and they ask me to help there’s not any part of me that resents them. 

And also I love the fact that I put them in the chair, I prepare the food, I give them the spoon, I do everything, they shovel in 5% and then look really pleased with themselves but again that brings me joy, and it brings them joy to see me delight in them.

It is the same with your Father in heaven, Jesus did not need to include these servants in the process of making the wine, but in doing so he gave them a front row seat as to what he is like: 

His Character

We see that Jesus is humble, he is compassionate, he is over the top generous, and when you see that that is what God is like, you can’t help but want to be joyfully obedient to him. 

...and really the question isn’t will you obey someone, but who will you obey. You’ll either obey someone in the world, or you’ll obey yourself - and neither of those options will bring you as much joy as following Jesus. 

Who gets the credit?

And where this all lands, is the closing verse of the story, the master of the banquet, calls the bridegroom aside and said: 

“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 

It’s amazing isn’t it, this bridegroom is totally unworthy, he had one job, provide the wine, and he doesn’t do it. And then he’s not even involved or seemingly aware of his failing - verse 6 he does nothing, verse 7 nothing, verse 8 nothing, verse 9 nothing. 

The only thing he does is receive credit for the work of Jesus. 

Isn’t that amazing, the bridegroom who did none of the work gets the credit for the work that Jesus did.

Jesus sees this shame - the groom’s shame of someone who got something wrong, the brides shame of being wronged, the families shame of being associated and he covers it all. 

And so instead of shame the groom receives praise. And this is a picture of what he does for us - this is the gospel, that we are the unprepared groom, who deserved nothing and received everything. 

He doesn’t wait for the groom to be worthy he loves him now, he saved them best for him for now. He loves the now you not the future you. 

See Jesus is not only the God who turns water into wine, He is the God who can turn our shame into joy. He takes our sin and he gives us his righteousness. And The joy of being obedient is that obedience gives us a front row seat on his extravagant grace and faithfulness. 

And that means that now is the best possible moment to put your faith in him.  

Now is the best possible moment to be filled afresh with this spirit. 

And now is the best time to lean into the fathers heart and receive the joy of being obedient.