Wine of Joy

The sun had already gone down and the darkening sky seemed to magnify the voices and laughter coming from the house. Jesus stood outside, soaking in the fresh air and trying to catch his breath from the last round of dancing. As he wiped the sweat from his brow, he couldn’t help smiling. Today was […]

The sun had already gone down and the darkening sky seemed to magnify the voices and laughter coming from the house. Jesus stood outside, soaking in the fresh air and trying to catch his breath from the last round of dancing. As he wiped the sweat from his brow, he couldn’t help smiling. Today was significant. Today was his first miracle.

He was reluctant at first. Now was not the time to go public. Not everything was in place. He only had about half of his students gathered. And after this there would be no turning back.

But now in hindsight, it was a good decision. Good call, Mom! What happened today set the pattern for the very message he would be proclaiming. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”

The kingdom of God. How many times had he heard that phrase as a young boy? It was always talked about as something far, far away. But now it was here! And it was breaking into the lives of God’s people. But like everything his Father seemed to do, it was coming in unexpected ways.

So why not here in Cana? What better place for God’s kingdom to display itself than at the wedding of an obscure young couple in some backwater village in Galilee, miles away from the temple in Jerusalem where everyone would expect such a show. But isn’t that like the Father? Choosing obscurity over publicity; a party over a ceremony; the boondocks over the religious center. It’s as if the Father enjoys revealing himself to little children rather than to the wise and learned.

And doesn’t it show how involved the Father is in human life? Aren’t even the little sparrows in the sky important to him? So wouldn’t this young man and woman, who are beginning their lives together, find greater importance in the Father’s heart?

Certainly, some might criticize Jesus for pettiness. There were always critics. The way to hell is paved with them. Weren’t there people in greater need – the sick, the dying, the destitute? But that’s the beauty of today. God’s kingdom encompasses them as well. There’s nothing or no one too big or too small for the Father’s embrace.

Jesus almost laughed out loud. There’s over 120 gallons of wine! In purification jugs no less! I hope no one tries to wash their hands in them. That’s going to raise some eyebrows. But again, isn’t that like the Father? Transforming the bland water of purification into the crisp wine of celebration. It just seems right. Like listening to a story you’ve heard over and over, and then discovering it ends in a completely wonderful and unexpected way!

That’s the way it has to be if there’s any hope. Sure, there would be people who would try to force him to tell the Story they had heard over and over. And they would want their particular ending on it. Messiah would cleanse God’s people of their sins with adherence to the Law and cleanse God’s land of the foreign oppressors with power and might. What an ending – God’s people vindicated with their self-righteous foot on the throat of the nations.

But Jesus had a different story to tell. Messiah would cleanse God’s people and the land, but with the righteousness, peace and joy of the Father’s kingdom. Carrying a cross and turning a cheek have far greater cleansing power than a scroll or a sword. Wine over water any day! And what began today in obscurity in the hills of Cana would eventually find its full expression in public on the hill of Jerusalem. For out of this living vessel of purification would one day flow the red wine of celebration for everyone…

But that’s not for awhile. Today is today. Tomorrow will worry about itself. One thing is certain: Today his new students looked at him differently. They believe. He saw their looks. He heard their whispers. “Is he the one? Is this the time?” Yes and no! Right story, wrong ending. And like any good story, the ending will actually become the beginning. Like wine springing out from jars of water. But they would have plenty of time to figure it out.

Jesus emerged from his thoughts as music and cheering erupted from the house. He was ready for another dance and another drink. He wanted to dance and drink the wine of joy.

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