“Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.”
John 2:2 (Common English Bible)
Here is a remarkable miracle, and a remarkable story of Jesus. Remarkable because it places Jesus right in the center of Jewish life, during the celebration of a wedding, when he performs his first miracle – the changing of water into wine. Jesus’ first miracle was not healing someone who is sick, casting-out an evil spirit from someone possessed, or raising the dead. Jesus’ first miracle was performed in the midst of an ordinary dilemma that seems, in many ways, embarrassingly inconsequential. During a wedding celebration, the host of the party runs out of wine for his guest. That is the dilemma. But, informs the writer of John’s Gospel, “Jesus and his disciples were invited to the celebration.” And because Jesus was present, he saves the party.
Before Jesus began his ministry, Satan provided several opportunities for Jesus to exercise his divine powers for the extraordinary. When Jesus grew hungry, Satan asked Jesus to simply turn stone into bread and eat. Certainly, Jesus could do that! Jesus refused. Then Satan suggested that Jesus “show-off” by throwing himself off a mountain, to be caught by the arms of angels. Again, Jesus refused. Jesus isn’t interested in using his capacity for the miraculous for self-aggrandizement or for his own creature comforts. That would miss the point of why Jesus came to earth. Jesus life’s purpose is to live for others.
This miracle announces that there is no moment of life that we ought to get along without God. It goes without saying that the moments of desperation or grief we all experience need God’s help. But so do the moments of celebration and joy. This early glimpse of Jesus ministry, his presence at a wedding feast, shows Christ most completely at home in any circumstance and occasion of life. Before Jesus would face the darker side of life, this story vividly reveals a happy Christ who knew how to have a good time. This is a side of Christ that is often overlooked.
Often the church seeks to spiritualize the work of Christ and conclude that he is only in the business of saving souls and renewing lives. The unfortunate consequence is the assumption that Jesus isn’t really interested in the commonplace events of life. Yet, this first miracle story announces something quite different. Jesus went to where life was, even ordinary moments, and brought blessings. Jesus is never out of place. This story catches Jesus being interested in everyday living, and taking seriously everyday conundrums. Jesus was invited to a wedding celebration and he accepted. And his presence transformed the occasion for everyone.
Doug Hood’s blog will not post next week. It will return the following week.