Many Christians long to see miracles like the stories in the Bible. I’ve seen some in my life, but I’ll gladly see more! But before I get to miracles, I want to start with something that’s been growing inside of me since December.
The Christmas story often starts with Gabriel’s visit to Mary. Gabriel explained that she was going to conceive and become the mother of the Messiah, and her initial reaction reflected her natural confusion at how it was going to happen. When she understood what Gabriel was saying, her response seems simple at first. But I’ve recently come to understand the value and power of it. She purposefully responded to Gabriel and to God by saying, “I am the Lord’s maidservant. May it be to me as you have said.”
I love this response for two reasons.
First, it demonstrates the faith that Romans 4:21 talks about Abraham also having, because he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.” Mary clearly had that same simple trust. She was curious about the how, but it does not appear to have even entered her mind that God might not be able to follow through on what the angel said would happen.
But even more than that, I love how she embraced what God had spoken! There was still a lot she didn’t know, but she declared herself to be the servant of God. She was saying, “Whatever God desires, here I am. Without knowing all the details. Without knowing where this will lead. God is able to do whatever He says He will do, and I am willing for Him to do whatever He desires in my life.”
I am learning to echo Mary’s prayer. When I read a passage in the Bible that talks about what God desires of us or what He has promised to do in His people, I’ve learned Mary’s response is appropriate for me as well. For example, Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Even though I might be struggling with feeling equipped or with knowing what exactly He wants me to do in a situation, this verse says that He prepared them, so I respond with, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as You have said.”
Recently, I was listening to a message based on the story of Jesus’ first miracle, when He turned the water to wine in John 2. Perhaps because of my recent focus on servanthood, I found myself noticing in particular the role that the servants played in the story.
The servants did the work of filling up the massive water jugs. They may not have thought much about that initial direction from Jesus, but surely they had questions running through their minds when Jesus next told them to take some of the water to the headwaiter to taste. We don’t know if this was the first time they had ever met Jesus, but we do know that Jesus had never performed any miracle. They could easily have been thinking, “What? Bring him water? Why? He’s not going to appreciate a cup of water right now, and I might not be given a chance to explain. I could get in trouble for this!”
And yet they obeyed Jesus and drew a cup from the barrel that they had just finished filling with water.
Then we come to this part of the story:
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).
– John 2:9
Why is this significant? Because it means that the servants were the only ones who actually saw the miracle! They were the ones who drew the water from the well, and they were the ones who watched the headwaiter marvel over the quality of the wine.
Even the disciples most likely didn’t see it. What reason would they have had to follow the servants to the well or to inspect the water after it was drawn? They didn’t know what Jesus was about to do. It’s likely they drank some of the new wine, so if they had been aware of what Jesus had told the servants to do (like The Chosen portrayed), then it would have been easy to figure out, of course. And clearly John did since he told the story.
But the disciples played no part in the miracle.
It was the servants who, through their obedience, got to participate in the miracle.
It was the servants who got the front row seats!
There were other miracles where servants got the front row seats as well.
When Jesus told Peter to cast his net on the other side of the boat, and suddenly the net was full of fish, there were hired servants there with James and John, according to Mark’s abbreviated version of the story.
When a Jewish father came to ask Jesus to heal his son, the son was left at home with the servants. So when Jesus healed the son from a distance, it was the servants who got to witness the miracle according to John 4:51.
When the centurion came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his servant, he also left the sick servant at home with the other servants. The disciples weren’t at the centurion’s house to watch the servant be healed. No – once again, it was only the servants who were attending their sick fellow servant who got to see his sudden healing. Even the centurion didn’t see it!
The disciples did, of course, witness many other miracles, and in time, miracles happened at their command as well. But I think it’s interesting that Jesus taught them that they must be servants.
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me;
and where I am, there My servant will be also;
if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. – John 12:26
It is clear that the disciples learned the lesson, for in their prayer in Acts 4:29-30, they prayed as Mary did, committing themselves as bondservants to God. Their prayer also indicates a connection between their status as servants of God and His miracle-working power.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bondservants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.
Looking through the New Testament, I think it’s interesting to see how often the disciples identified themselves as servants of God. Look at these examples:
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way. – 2 Corinthians 6:3-5
Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle – Romans 1:1
Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Christ Jesus… – Philippians 1:1
Epaphras, our beloved fellow bondservant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf… – Colossians 1:7
Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bondservant in the Lord… – Colossians 4:7
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ… – James 1:1
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ… – 2 Peter 1:1
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James… – Jude 1:1
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bondservants… – Revelation 1:1
Even the evil spirit in Acts 16:17 referred to them as bondservants of God!
What about us today?
I believe that if we want the front row seats in watching miracles – if we want to be an active participant in the miracles that we long to see – then we need to make the same commitment to God that Mary did and that the disciples did. We must pray, “I am Your bondservant. May it be to me as You have said.”
Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. – The Lord’s Prayer
This is the way any person is to regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. – 1 Corinthians 4:1
And the hand of the LORD will be made known to His servants. – Isaiah 66:14