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  • Dr. Jackie Minor

Empty Vessels

Weary. This is beginning to reflect how many are feeling these days. For educators, trying to navigate this time of uncertainty while simultaneously attempting to teach in an online environment can be exhausting. As self-isolation and social distancing drags on, our hearts are longing for connection. There is an emptiness of sorts. We have been emptied of daily routines, sense of normalcy, face-to-face connections, and for some, financial security. When emptiness occurs, we have two choices. We can live in the emptiness, or we can seek to fill the emptiness with something else. Most of us probably do a little of both. On the surface emptiness seems like an unwanted visitor, but this emptiness may actually be a welcomed guest. God often reveals himself during times of emptiness.


Most are familiar with Jesus’s first recorded miracle in Scripture, which was the turning of water into wine at the marriage feast (John 2). I have read about this many times, but this week the miracle took on new meaning for me. I know this is why the Word is referred to as “alive and powerful,” meeting us right where we are, exposing our thoughts, and allowing us to hear from God Himself. (Hebrews 4:12). There is much we could talk about in this miracle, but my thoughts this past week were drawn to the empty vessels.

First, there was a problem at the celebration—no wine. Mary (Jesus’s mother) knew there was only one person who could come to the rescue. While Jesus wasn’t concerned with the lack of wine, He was in the faith-building business. He had just chosen his disciples and knew their faith could use a boost. When we have a problem—big or small—Jesus should be our first “go-to.” No other person can ever substitute for the Almighty God. When we bring Jesus into our problem situations (instead of try to figure it out on our own), He always proves Himself faithful.


Next, filling the empty vessels required obedience. When Mary asked Jesus for help, He let her know it wasn’t the right time to reveal Himself to the crowd. Mary didn’t give up. She directly told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”


Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. John 2:6-8


No arguing. No questioning. Simple obedience. I can only imagine what the servants were thinking. “This is not going to work. This is only water!” They obeyed anyway. When we come to Jesus with our problems, and He gives us instruction through the Holy Spirit and/or His Word, it may not make sense. That’s okay. It isn’t for us to figure out. We are to be obedient. We fill our empty vessel with what we have, give it to Jesus, and trust Him to do the rest. Obedience is an act of faith, and obedience precedes blessing. Had the servants not obeyed, this story would have had a far different ending.


Finally, the Bible says Jesus took the plain water and turned it into the “best” wine. Isn’t this encouraging? When Jesus looks at you or me, He doesn’t see “water.” He sees all we could be. He sees His best in us. Why? Because He desires for God’s glory to be revealed and for our faith to be strengthened. The miracle ends with this proclamation in verse 11.


This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.


Are you a bit weary? Do you feel emptiness in any area of your life? Does what you have to offer seem insignificant? It’s okay. Jesus is always present in our emptiness, and through our obedience, our faith will be strengthened as God’s glory fills up our empty vessels. What you have to give is enough because He is enough!


Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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