Below we have the latest installment of Bob Dunne’s book, 909 Days that Changed the World. We will post two chapters a week for the summer months. We suggest reading it quietly and putting yourself in the scenes. You might be amazed at how closer you can get to Jesus! Should you be interested in your own copy, the book ($14.95 plus sales tax) can be bought from his publisher Leonine Press, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. It is also available in Nook and Kindle. You may also get an autographed copy directly from Bob by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter 4: Wedding Feast at Cana
Having been reunited with her son, Mary watches and ponders as she sees and hears her son interact with these disciples of John the Baptist over the new few days. As she has spent much more time in Judea than she had originally planned, she reminds Jesus of the wedding feast in Cana to which they have been invited. Their original plan had been to return to Nazareth after the Feast of Tabernacles and then go to Cana a few weeks later, but now with time short, it seems best to go directly to Cana via the rougher yet more direct road through Samaria. Jesus agrees and suggests to some of his newfound friends that they return to Galilee with him and his mother via the Samaria route. It is a rugged journey from the Jordan River to Cana, but it passes quickly, as Jesus’ new friends very much enjoy traveling with him. They run into no problems with the Samaritans as they pass through the country. When they get to Cana, however, the wedding feast has already begun. The host graciously and warmly greets Mary and Jesus and invites Jesus’ friends to join the party. Weddings are indeed a thing of great celebration and the more guests in attendance the better. Being from Cana, perhaps Nathaniel had already been invited to the wedding. In any case, they all enter and enjoy the wedding feast.
As the party progresses, Mary, the delicate woman of details that she is, notices something. She sees a concerned conversation taking place between the bridegroom and the wine steward. She quickly realizes the supply of wine is running low. Knowing how embarrassing it would be for the bridegroom and his family to run out of wine, Mary approaches Jesus, touches him on the shoulder, steps up on her toes to reach his ear, and whispers, “They have no wine” (John 2:3). What is Mary expecting him to do? He obviously takes her comment very seriously. He turns and looks at her as he responds, “Woman, what is that to you and me? Don’t you know my hour has not yet come?” (John 2:4). But Mary, making the perfect prayer by just putting the issue in Jesus’ hands and allowing him to do what he wills, turns to some of the waiters and tells them, “Do whatever he asks” (John 2:5). Mary has asked, not for something for herself but for others. Her son will grant her wish.
Jesus asks the waiters to fill the jars with water and take the jars to the wine steward. The waiters feel foolish taking jars of water to the wine steward to taste. Likely it is those piercing yet friendly eyes of Jesus that convince them to do so. In any case, if the wine steward spits out the water, they can just say this man Jesus told them to do this. The waiters react in amazement when the wine steward tastes the wine, instantly calls for the bridegroom, and tells him, “Everyone at first serves the good wine and then, after all are well served, offers the lesser wine, but you have saved the choicest wine until now” (John 2:10).
This news of Jesus’ somehow turning the water into wine, an obvious foreshadowing of his turning wine into his own blood at his last supper some two years from now, spreads like wildfire among the wait staff. They all come by to surreptitiously catch a glimpse of this man. When the bridegroom realizes the wine supply is holding out, he approaches the wine steward to ask how he obtained the additional wine. Amazed at the story he hears from the wine steward, the bridegroom quietly pulls Jesus aside, saying, “I have no idea how you did this, but thank you for providing more wine for our wedding feast.” Word begins to make way among the guests that something extraordinary has happened with the wine. Jesus’ friends, his new disciples, noticing too what has just happened are also amazed and “believe in him” (John 2:11). As the focus of the party begins to shift more towards Jesus and what he has done, he gathers his new friends and his mother, bids good-bye to the family and the happy newlywed couple, and leaves the celebration. He does not want to take any attention away from the bride and groom on their big day. It is mid-December—day fifty-four of the 909 days that will change the world, and this is the first recorded miracle. Taking place as it does during a wedding feast, this miracle speaks volumes about Jesus’ concern for the importance and sanctity of marriage.
Although the gospel of John states that Jesus and his mother depart for Capernaum, on leaving the wedding feast they likely first turn west and go back to Nazareth, at least for a short while. Nathaniel stays in Cana, and Andrew, Peter, John, Philip, and the others go back east to their homes surrounding the Sea of Galilee. It is early winter, and the rainy season has begun. Jesus tells his disciples he will see them again in Capernaum in a few months when he will make the trip to Jerusalem once again for the solemn feast of Passover. For now, though, it is time for everyone to return to their homes, their families, and their normal work activity. We can only imagine how the hearts of these new disciples are burning within them as they say good-bye to Jesus. What thoughts about Jesus will they have in the months ahead? They will not be able to get him out of their minds and heart. Is Jesus indeed the Messiah they were all waiting for? Did he really turn water into wine?
On returning to Nazareth, Jesus takes up his carpentry tools, and continues his trade as he had been doing for the last fifteen years or so of his life. He has been away for a while, and there are now some stories circulating about his doing something extraordinary at a wedding in Cana, but Jesus just smiles and appears to be the same friendly, honest, competent carpenter he has always been. There are many people who are looking for him to do various jobs for them— after all, he has been away for some time. The stories die down, and life in Nazareth continues on as it has for years.