Friday, January 14, 2011

Dear Jesus, you are cordially invited . . .

I have never been one of those girls who got all mushy over weddings, but there are two weddings that are particularly noteworthy to me: my own and the one at Cana. Call me, if you want to hear more than you could possible want to know or ever will need to know about my and Ty's wedding. As for the wedding in Cana, if you don’t know the story, dig out your Bible and look up John 2:1-12. Go on, we’ll wait, because the rest of this is going to make a lot more sense, if you know the story.

Now, I don’t know how many favorite Bible stories a person is allowed to have, but put this one on my list, too. First of all, it happens at a party. You have to love that, the creator of the universe at a party! That alone gives me hope for a heaven that is way more exciting than any of my Sunday school teachers made it sound. We know that it couldn’t have been too solemn an affair because they drank up all the wine.

This is a major problem, and there are a ton of writings out there about the expected protocols and proper hospitality so I will spare you those details. Let’s just say, this was a major embarrassment to the host, and Mary tries to handle it discreetly by asking Jesus to help. Again, gallons of ink have been spilled over the significance of their conversation, and there are some good things to learn from it but let’s get to the part that makes this so cool for me – the jars.

The host had six stone jars which John explains are for Jewish purification rituals. These things were big, each one holding twenty to thirty gallons. And Jesus has the servants fill them up, to the brim. Now as modern readers, we think no big deal, the guy had stone jars to hold some water, but these jars are important.

A major part of the Jewish religion was purification. We call this washing up. The Torah records the significance of this act, and how God himself commands that his people purify themselves with water before and after certain activities. (See Leviticus and Deuteronomy for more details). We now know that the homes of the wealthy included private mikvahs, or tubs used to wash in, and pools surrounded the Temple so those who were entering could immerse themselves before doing so. Like I said, it was pretty important, but evidently this guy couldn’t afford a mikvah, so he did the best he could. He provided his family and guests with jars of fresh water so they could do what was right and proper before the Lord.

On this auspicious day something amazing happens.

I think we all get that if Jesus had not been there, there would have been no miracle. And Jesus’ very presence tells us something else about the wedding host, he desired to have relationship with Jesus. He wanted Jesus there for this joyful family event. How many times do we take time to consciously invite our Lord to the party? We are pretty good at sending up the bat signal when we are in trouble, but I think that sometimes he would like to have some fun. You know be in a relationship where he wasn’t just being used.

And when this host's desire for relationship collides with the his obedience, he receives a miracle. Because without his obedience, there would have been no stone jars, no place to put the water, and no means for the miracle. Jesus took what this man offered, a willing spirit and an invitation into another’s life and turned it into something amazing.

It was more than just wine. Jesus saved this man from humiliation and disgrace. He to care of the need before the host even realized he had one, and his obedience brought him greater honor than he could provide for himself. And I am learning that with God, our good enough is never enough for him. He always desires to do and give us more than we could imagine possible.

I think it is fitting that Jesus’ first miracle was one of almost whimsy, something that in the light of the rest of his life seems almost inconsequential. But it is such a bold declaration of who he is and what he desires to bring to our lives. He gives them wine, a symbol of God’s presence, his abundant provision, and his desire to bless us with joy through knowing him. In celebrating his nearness this tiny little act becomes so full of promise.

So my prayer for you today is that you honor the Lord with your obedience, you remember to invite him to the party, and when the wine runs out he will be there to bless you with the joy of his presence and provision.

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