I recently read the story about the wedding at Cana. Weddings in Jesus’ day, and culture were held in two steps. Two families would agree that a man, and a woman, would get married. They would have a betrothal ceremony, in which the agreement was formalized. Unlike engagements today, betrothals had legal standing. It required a divorce to break them.
In the interval between the betrothal and the wedding ceremony, the man began to prepare a home, and to prepare for the celebration, which he and his family were responsible for. And the celebration could last seven days.
[Stop. Rewind. Slow down.]
The man has agreed to take a woman as his wife. He goes home, and begins a building project. Either he begins a whole new house, or he adds a room onto his father’s house. And his father (and probably his father-in-law) will be looking over his shoulder, critiquing, and advising, the whole way.
Simultaneously, the family beings laying in supplies. Modern weddings average around $40,000. Imagine housing, and feeding two extended families for a week. Not counting close friends, and coworkers.
Then, when everything is ready, the man and his close friends go to the brides house, collect the bride, her belongings, and bring them to the new home. Apparently, the marriage was consummated, the couple were officially, and completely married. And they began a weeklong party.
Part way through this celebration, Mary, Jesus’ mother, tells him they are out of wine.
Since, Mary, and Jesus’ brothers, are at the wedding, it is not a very difficult deduction that Jesus is at a family wedding. And, since Mary knows about the supply problem, it is also not a difficult deduction that is Jesus is part of the groom’s family, who are responsible for the food.
When Mary tells Jesus about the wine problem, he basically responds “Yeah! What do you think I should do about it?” I don’t know if Mary expected him to do anything. Maybe she was just looking for sympathy. The groom, and his family, were given time to prepare (build a room, and gather food and wine) sometimes up to a year. And they blew it. Did they not know how much to get? Were they just not able to get it? What’s next? The house will collapse? Starvation?
If there are problems, do you go to the other family “Sorry! We need a little more time!” Do you go to your relatives for help? And does the entire groom’s extended family begin to worry about the family-wide embarrassment? Will the bride’s family become resentful? Will they spread this failure far and wide?
Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says. Jesus considers the situation. The groom‘s family will experience shame. The bride’s family will be worried, fearful, and perhaps, insulted, and angry. So, Jesus tells the servants to fill several tubs with water. Then, he says to take a pitcher of water to the emcee. The servants pour the “water” from the pitcher into a cup for the emcee. And the water is now wine. (When did the water become wine? Right when it was poured into the cup? And what about the rest of the water in the tubs?) And the emcee is grateful to have wine for the next toast. And he is amazed that the wine is of the finest quality.
I think the first miracle of Jesus is a demonstration of his heart for people. Jesus works a miracle to prevent embarrassment and shame for a family.
Jesus is focused on the heart\inner man of people. Shame, guilt, embarrassment do not further the purposes of God. God goes out of his way to communicate his love, compassion, and involvement to erase guilt, and shame. Love and mercy complete God’s purposes.