17 March 2017

Picture1In the Second Chapter of John, verses 1 through 12, we find Jesus’ first miracle. It was a healing miracle, but not a physical healing miracle.  It was a healing that prevented a family from enduring shame that would have followed after them for generations.

The account of Jesus’ first miracle as recorded by the Disciple John does not tell who is getting married and does not share very many details about the wedding feast except that someone really messed up!  So please allow me a little creative license to paint the story as it possibly COULD have happened in order to teach on the damage caused by emotional bruises.

In our modern times we would say,  “Oh no big deal, the caterers messed up.  Just send someone to the grocery store and pick up some more h’orderves and drinks.”  But 2000 years ago in the small village of Cana of Galilee, a wedding was a much different story.

The small village of Cana was located in Palestine in the province of Galilee, an agricultural area between the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the Sea of Galilee on the East in Israel.

The bride, Eliana, is the elder daughter of hardworking Jewish parents.  She has two older brothers and a younger sister.  Eliana is an awkward teenager with tons of patience with children and with animals.  When you get to know her, she is wise well beyond her years.  The villagers often accused Eliana of not paying attention, when in fact, she just finds herself in deep contemplation of the wonders of the world.

Eliana is frequently compared to her younger sister, Shayna.  Shayna is vivacious and stunningly beautiful, but a little too loud at times. Shayna wants what she wants when she wants it.  She is bold and definitely not afraid to let everyone around know where she stands without a moment’s notice.

The groom, Udi, is handsome with a small frame and a big bright smile.  He recently turned 20 years old.  Udi is compassionate and friendly with a keen interest in business.

The bride and groom have never talked, but they did get a glance at each other by accident a few months back at the market. They have communicated for one year by passing notes back and forth using Udi’s best friend, Thomas, as their carrier.

The one year betrothal period is a legally binding engagement. The contract between the families is so binding that calling off the wedding would require getting a divorce. The groom and the groom’s family have paid the dowry to the father of the bride. For the bride’s father has spent much time raising and training his daughter and will experience a great financial burden by not having Eliana contributing daily to the household workload.

The bride and groom did not choose each other. Udi’s family chose his bride. Sometimes the groom does suggest to his parents whom he would like to marry, but in this case, the choice was made without Udi’s input.

It is necessary for the elder daughter, Eliana, to be married prior to the younger daughter, Shayna.  Shayna is very excited for her sister.  She is also very excited for herself. She can now get married to the love of her life, Simon.  Shayna definitely has met and talked with Simon.  She made sure of that!

It is an exciting time as the entourage of people make their way to the home of the bride.  There are people on foot and on beasts of burden. Several carry torches to lead the way.   The joyous caravan retrieves the bride and the procession makes their way back to the home of the groom which is attached to Uni’s parent’s home.

The bride and groom steel glances under a canopy provided for the purpose of their initial meeting.  The bridegroom’s best friend stands outside the rolled entrance of the tent to try to catch a whisper of Udi’s expression of satisfaction the first time he talks face-to-face with his wife.

Eliana silently utters a prayer and thanks God for answering her heart’s desire for a kind man.  She thinks that he is handsome and will be a good provider.  Udi is checking out Eliana, but is trying to not be obvious.  She is glowing in her bridal gown, she is almost pretty, but not beautiful.  She is bright and seems kind and thoughtful.  She will make a good wife.  Both are relieved.  It’s going to be okay.

There is a governor of the feast; a wedding planner if you will.  This governor of the feast is selected to take charge of all the details. This governor of the feast is not a hired servant, but a distant cousin in Udi’s family insistent on taking charge of the festivities. The Governor of the Feast’s responsibilities include preserving order, but at the same time, keeping the wedding lively.  He chooses the place settings. He decides what proportion of water is to be mingled with the wine.  He determines how much each person is allowed to drink.  The governor of the feast also oversees the servants as they work to make every detail perfect.  The governor of the feast will taste the wine before giving it to the guests to make sure that it is adequate.

The community is obligated to attend. It is a joyous occasion for all. Not to attend is considered a great offense. The marriage activities lasts for one full week.  It is a week of eating, drinking, laughing, socializing, dancing, and being merry.  Friends, family and neighbors stay for hours and then pop back in often for more catching up on the local news and for more food and wine.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is helping out at the wedding today.  She is excited to see Jesus and several of his disciples as they walk slowly down the dusty road toward her. They are tired from their three days journey from Nazareth.  They arrive on Saturday afternoon, the fourth day of the feast.  Mary greets all and gives Jesus a tight hug.  Cana is Nathaniel’s hometown. Nathaniel is excited to show Jesus and the other disciples around Cana after visiting with friends for a while at the wedding feast.

Udi has been saving and preparing for years. The couple will not be living with Udi’s parents.  Udi is able to provide for Eliana in the same meager way in which she is accustomed to living.

The excited procession plays music and lights the way from Udi’s parent’s home to Elaina’s home.  At Elaina’s home, she nervously joins the procession and they walk her to Udi’s home.  The bride and groom continue to sneak peeks at each other. They are not disappointed. Their families have chosen well. She is a nice person with long thick hair and dark radiant eyes.  He is a slim young man, but slightly muscular, in the prime of his life.

They talk nervously under the canopy but mostly smile at each other.  Tonight they consummate their marriage.  After busy days of socializing, the remaining private hours of the wedding feast are full of private giggles, smiles, and reluctant touches.  This will be a good marriage. They are compatible and kind. He will work outside the home in the village. She will take care of many duties including grinding flour, cooking, caring for the animals, spinning yarn and raising the children.

The wedding party is going well and all is in order.  The chores are done for the day and everyone is talking, laughing and having fun. The scorching afternoon is transforming into a very hot early evening.  The visitors have dressed in their most festive attire in varying hues of browns and grays.

Uni’s Mom is busy making sure everyone is well cared for.  His Dad is joyfully attempting to keep the candles and lanterns lit. Uni’s Mom calls to her husband and demands sharply that he pick up the pace.  There’s a lantern that just went out.  He lights it quickly and shoots her a playful wink.  He knows she is stressed.

The governor of the feast is laughing loudly with his many friends.  It is evident that he has had more than his share of wine.  His friends haven’t left like most of the guests who work during the day and drop in when they can.  The jolly crew are raising their cups asking for more juice of the vine.

Uni’s Mom is the first to respond to the request for more wine.  She addresses the governor of the feast and reacts in disbelief when she learns that all the wine in gone.  She had carefully figured the amount that was needed and then added a hefty amount to it.

The seriousness of the situation begins to become clear and her face turns a shade of bright pink.  This is disastrous!  She had heard that her nephew likes to drink, but she never imagined that she should have been monitoring more closely the person who was in charge of monitoring everyone and everything else during this wedding week.  Her nephew had been so insistent that he was experienced and would take good care of everything as the governor of the feast.

“What a great mistake I have made!  I should have known better”.  Her mind races.

Uni and Eliana!  I don’t want to ruin their wedding.  They are so happy.  Eliana did tell Uni that she feared something bad would happen before the week was out.

The neighborsOh, THE neighbor!  “Mrs. Blabberstein” will tell the entire Judean countryside!  Everyone in all Israel will think we are destitute and unable to provide a proper wedding.  We have saved for years and now we are the embarrassment of the community!  How could this have happened?  No one runs out of wine on the fourth day of the wedding feast!

What will Eliana’s family think?  Will they think we are too poor to care for their daughter?  Could they back out now?  No, it is too late for that.  Then the worst realization of all.  Eliana’s family could sue us for bringing shame on them for running out of supplies at the wedding!

Uni’s Mom sat down quickly before she fainted.  Mary came to see if she was feeling okay.  Uni’s Mom explained that there was no more wine.  Mary understood the significance of the situation immediately and reassured Uni’s Mom that everything will be okay.

Mary goes quickly to Jesus and explains that the supply of wine is exhausted.  Jesus responds in disbelief that Mary is asking him to do something to solve the problem.  “Woman, what have I to do with thee?”, Jesus asks.  In our modern language, this would be translated, “Mom, we have such a close relationship, why would you ask me to do something that will bring attention to myself?  The timing is not right.”

Mary does not acknowledge Jesus’ comment.  She hurries and tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.

Jesus tells the servants to fill the six large stone pots used for purification of the guests with water.  These pots are used to hold water for washing the dust from the hands and feet of wedding guests who have traveled the dry, dusty roads to attend the festivities.

The servants fill the large clay pots to the brim.  Jesus tells the servants to draw out wine and take a sample to the governor of the feasts.  The governor of the feast calls Uni and exclaims that Uni is a hero for saving the best wine for last.  The bridegroom is honored instead of shamed.

Jesus averts a major social catastrophe.  This miracle is a emotional healing and a sign to reveal that Jesus is like no other.  This sign was also a way to increase the faith of his disciples.

It is nearing the Jewish Passover; the time of Nissan.  Therefore, Jesus, the disciples, Mary and Jesus’ younger siblings travel on to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

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