The Guest List

I’ve long held that a wedding comes about because of what happens during the relationship of the bride and groom. The event itself reflects what the journey has been to that point. The people involved are already part of the story. Do you notice how we don’t attend weddings of strangers? Being invited is part of the celebration. The guests are playing witness to something important and sacred.

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with his disciples. (John 2:1-2, ESV)

I like that we get to read about Jesus going to a wedding. It is a gift of Scripture to see Him participate in the norms of society and culture, for Jesus to attend a party with friends and family. We get to see Him attend festivals and practice traditions. We see Jesus walk through the “normal” parts of life. Doesn’t that make Him seem more approachable? Just a little closer to something I can emulate? Cana, in John 2, is often where I go back to meet Jesus when my heart feels far away from Him.

Let’s view a bit of context. Weddings were a big deal in Jewish culture. There were social obligations to uphold for the community, especially in smaller towns with lots of connections. What was served, how the event went and who was there all mattered very much because it was rooted in their community of faith. To run out of wine could bring enormous shame on a family. Insane things happen at weddings. Who’s to say what brought about this impending catastrophe, but now we need a problem-solver. Enter the quintessential Mother.

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”. . .His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:3,5, ESV)

Mary knows her Son is a good man and capable of great things, whether they be spiritually imbued or not. She cares about the family holding this wedding and will do what she can to support them. The commanding grace of a Mother moves her Son to action. Sure, He resists, but the English translation mistakes the response for impertinence. The address is actually just a formal response, noting that Jesus’ purposes may not align with the request made here. Something happens in those moments of decision, though. I wish we could see His face. You know, the way we want to see the groom’s face when His bride enters. I want to see how Jesus looks at these precious friends and waiting servants when He changes all of glory with some stone jars and water.

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, . . .Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” (John 2:6-7, ESV)

There’s a lot of spiritual layers to this story. The jars being made of stone matter because that points to purification rituals instead of simple storage. New wine coming after the old is gone is foreshadowing of Jesus’ ministry. The coming of Jesus to captivate his bridegroom of humanity being compared to a wedding feast is weighty imagery in this moment. Even where John chooses to tell this story, in a chapter including another moment of spiritual cleansing by the hand of Christ, points to a bigger meaning. But what if there is a smaller reason?

Celebration is a good thing. It takes dark and light to get through this life, and we need reasons to expand joy, eat lavish food and drink deep from rich glasses. When Jesus steps to the very edge of His human role of wedding guest and blends in the role of Messiah to keep a party going, I feel God reminding me He loves all the parts of my life. He values the parties and the social obligations because they are not only part of who I am, but they are part of who He wants me to be in the world. Christ wants me to live and love and celebrate, and He wants me to include Him in those moments. The promised Messiah isn’t too important for my guest list. He knows the rituals and the norms, and Jesus wants to expand joy among our loved ones right alongside me.

It is a gift of Scripture to see this simple moment and know all of my moments catch His eye, like six stone jars filled to the brim with what is yet to come. . .and that it will be delicious.

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11, ESV)

Dana Spivy Children`s Minister Maury Hills Church Columbia, TN