Eating drinking and being merry with the Messiah?!
It seems uncomfortable to think of God coming to mankind in the form of a helpless baby wrapped in rags. As difficult as that is to wrap our minds around, it is even more perplexing to think of God having fun. Think of God With Us playing hide and go seek and never giving in to the temptation to peek before he finished counting. Imagine the Sinless One telling a joke that makes the room erupt or the Son of Man partying with his friends and family while drinking wine.
As the God-Man Jesus Christ was with us, but we have a tendency to fit him into a more comfortable 60/40 or 70/30 mold of otherness. We understand Christ was tempted as we are, yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15.) We often (rightly) focus on how Christ can free us from giving in to temptation through His power. Yet, somehow in an effort to wrap our minds around the fact Christ didn’t do so much as steal a cookie or give a lustful look we create a Jesus in our minds who is less than a man – an emasculated killjoy.
As a teetotaler myself I am somewhat uneasy with the image of a Jesus who could let his hair down. One time, Jesus went to a wedding celebration that was multiple days long. He was hanging with his friends and family feasting and there were people likely getting drunk (John 2:11.) In my wisdom it would have been a perfect time for Jesus to go public with a speech about the evils of alcohol. At the very least Jesus could have set up a chariot carpool plan to make sure the inebriated individuals got home safely. When the wine ran out I might have said, “It’s about time!” Mary said, “Jesus, it’s time for more.”
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’
‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’
His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’
They did so,and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom asideand said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” John 2:1-11 (NIV)
So let’s get this straight, Jesus’s first miracle was making approximately 150 gallons of wine so people at a wedding could let the good times roll?!
There is lots of controversy about the actual alcoholic content of the grape beverage, but it is safe to say it was a want and not a need. Sure it was culturally frowned upon to run out of drink at a wedding, but this does not seem like something the God-Man who created the world in six days would waste his first miracle on. Maybe that’s the reason he told his mother, “My hour has not yet come.” (Some commentators say this phrase refers to this not being the right time for his miraculous power to be on display for all to see, which is why it was quietly kept as a secret among the servants and disciples.) If I were to have chosen Jesus’s first powerful act it would have been feeding 5000 hungry people or restoring the sight of a blind man. In comparison making wine just seems so, well, trivial.
Maybe it really wasn’t trivial, but it brought a smile. This was the same Jesus who let children crawl on him when the disciples tried to shoo them away. This was the Jesus who nonchalantly walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee right past his disciples who were furiously rowing away. This same Jesus had Peter take a coin out of the mouth of a fish to pay Caesar his taxes. He could have been more conventional, but it was more playful and intriguing to mix it up.
“A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry…” Ecclesiastes 10:19.
At the time of the wedding at Cana, wine was considered a symbol of joy and satisfaction (Isaiah 55:1.) It was a wedding – a new start for the couple and a time of celebration. In a deeper sense this time of celebration with the finest wine was fitting because Jesus the Messiah had now come in the flesh. The newlyweds had no idea that the true gift was the wine maker himself. For now all they knew was the joy he brought them and the fun he enabled them to have. The Messiah kept them partying on.