Fill the Jars | President’s Blog

June 3, 2022

John 2:7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”…


I recently had the privilege of attending the wedding celebration of one of my best friends and his beautiful new bride. The officiant, Fr. Tony Ricard, spoke briefly during the ceremony on a familiar gospel story, The Wedding at Cana. In the second chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus, his disciples and his mother are attending a wedding celebration. Jesus’ mother comes to him in the midst of the celebration to let him know that there is no more wine with the expectation that Jesus will do something to help. In the first of his miracles, Jesus directs the servants to fill the jars with water and then changes the water into wine.

Fr. Ricard did not share the story to create anticipation among the guests for the wine that would be served at the reception or to assure them of a plentiful supply. Instead, he highlighted a part of this story that I had given very little consideration. In John 2:7, before performing the miracle, Jesus directs the servants to fill the jugs with water, giving him something to work with. Of course, anyone with even passing familiarity with the gospel accounts of Jesus recognizes that Jesus, who raised the dead and gave sight to the blind, could have made wine out of nothing if he so chose. But the pattern Fr. Ricard identified is one that we see throughout scripture in which God takes our little bit and does a lot with it.

I am reminded of the prophet Elijah, who took a little jar of olive oil from a poor widow—all she had left—and, through the power of God, produced enough oil for her to sell and pay off all her debts. I am reminded of Jesus taking five loaves and two fish and feeding thousands with food left over (Matthew 14:13-21).

Over and over, we see this pattern of people bringing a little bit to God, and God taking that little bit and doing a lot—which brought me to the question of whether I am, in fact, bringing God all that I can and all that I should.

Empty glass jars lined up in rows
Lots of empty glass jars ready for canning - food industry background

Just as with the miracle of the wine at the wedding, we know God is able to do whatever he desires, with or without what we have to bring. Yet, he asks us to bring the water, bring the oil and the empty jars, bring our talents, bring our faith. So, I need to be absolutely sure that, as I ask God to do what only God has the power to do in and around me, for my family, in my community, at Houghton, and in the church, I am bringing everything that I can. I know that what I have to bring is not nearly sufficient, but I must bring it anyway as an act of faith, believing with all my heart and all my being that God can and will do a whole lot with my little bit.

President Wayne D. Lewis Jr.

About the Author

With 20 years of experience in education, higher education leadership is a calling for Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., President of Houghton University. He is recognized as being a champion for students; focusing on improving educational access, opportunities and experiences for students, including those who have historically been underserved.

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