Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 15, 1971

Whatever He Tells You"

James Sanders

"Do whatever he tells you" are the words of Mary to the servants of a marriage feast. (Jno. 2:5 NEB). It was here in Cana of Galilee that the Lord relieved an embarrassing situation by changing water into wine. (A shortage of provisions is considered humiliating throughout the world). This — the Lord's first miracle — was brought about by an appeal of His mother. After Mary had spoken with Christ, she urged the servants: "Do whatever he tells you!" The command was for unlimited obedience; obedience that was to be performed at once. The servants thus quickly complied. In the original language the idea of promptness is very paramount. The Greek (by tense and mode of the verb) indicates action which is both brisk and decisive. Mary used language which left room for neither slothfulness nor doubt. Her expression is preemptory; it is positive almost to the point of being dogmatic. Such was the obedience the mother of Christ urged. R. C. H. Lenski captured the thought exactly when he commented: "Do at once! do without question! However strange the act may seem to you, foolish even to your wise eyes, useless, trivial, whatever it proves to be — do it!" (John, p. 192). Because the servants did exactly as Christ commanded the water was turned into wine.

But what of obedience? Can obedience to Christ really be any other way than exact and prompt? Does a man truly obey from the heart when he is slow in doing what is commanded? The words of Mary indicate suddenness. Obedience must be alive and quick. It must be performed straightway. The Parable of the Talents plainly reveals that God will not accept the slothful servant. (Cf. Mt. 25: 14-30). The servants of Christ must be unresisting and prompt. Their obedience must be quick and without question.

The author of Hebrews expressed this same thought of submission. In chapter 5 the obedience of Christ and that of man are contrasted: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (5, 8, 9). As the Son obeyed the Father in all things, we must obey Christ. When we think of obedience, the complete submission of Christ to the Father should come to our minds. Having faith or trusting in God is not enough. We must make that faith come alive by strict obedience. God must be obeyed even when (and especially so) we do not understand the reason.

Perhaps this is why the Lord chose baptism as the act to remit sins. From man's viewpoint baptism should be unnecessary. A non-essential. "After all what does water have to do with salvation? Is there magic of some sort in water?" Man reasons, "It is faith and faith alone that counts for I can well see the need of faith." But Christ has said otherwise: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:15). It thus behooves man to obey. It is our role to "do whatever He tells" us regardless if we do not completely understand the reason. Suffice it to say that baptism is a like figure of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but exactly why the Lord has chosen this act to remit sins, we cannot know. We must but obey.

Ask yourself a good question: "Had I been a servant in Cana would a miracle have been performed? Would I have quickly done what this strange Man from Galilee commanded? Would the waterpots have been filled to the brim without hesitation?" The good words of Mary — "Do whatever he tells you" — would afford untold profit if man would but hear them today.

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