The Celebration Begins

         “This is one hell of a party, John.”

         “Yeah, Pete, these folks are doin it right.” John looked around at the crowd of people in the courtyard. Practically everyone in town had been invited. And since Jesus’s mom, Mary, was one of the primary organizers of the wedding, Jesus’s new friends had found themselves on the guest list.

John watched Jesus working the crowd. He was clearly the life of the party. Eventually Jesus made his way over to them.

“I see you boys are having a good time,” Jesus said with a smile. In his right hand he held a glass of wine. He put his other arm around John’s shoulders. “You know, there’s just something special about a wedding. The birth of a new family is so filled with promise and possibilities. Y’all met the new couple yet?”

         “No, sir, we haven’t,” replied Pete.

         “Well, here comes my mama. I know she’d love to introduce you.”

         John watched as the striking woman made her way through the crowd to where they were standing. Before anyone could say anything, Mary said, “Jesus, could I see you for a minute?”

         “What is it, Mama?”

         “We’ve got a problem, and it’s rather embarrassing.”

         Jesus looked at Pete and John. “Mama, these are my friends. You can talk freely in front of them.”

         “We’re about to run out of wine!”

“That’s terrible!” said Jesus with a smile, as he lifted his glass for another swallow.

“Son, I’m serious. It’ll be embarrassing for the new couple, their parents, and for those of us who have helped them with this wedding. We’ve still got two more days before the celebration is over.”

“Woman, what do you want me to do?” Jesus looked down at his glass of wine, then back up at his mother. He was suddenly serious. “My time has not yet come.”

Mary ignored her son’s reply. She turned to a servant named Sam, standing nearby. “Sam, do whatever he tells you.” She turned back and stared at Jesus.

Jesus held up his glass of wine, and looked intently at it for a moment. As John watched, Jesus’s mood slowly changed. His eyes brightened, and the corners of his mouth slowly turned up. Jesus put his free hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Sam, where’s y’all’s washing jars?”

“Our what?” 

“Your washing jars—you know, the jars used for ceremonial cleansing before religious ceremonies.”

Sam shrugged. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

Jesus looked at Pete and John. “Come on, boys. Follow me.”

As the four men made their way through the crowd, John said, “Sir, please don’t take this the wrong way, but wasn’t it a little rude to refer to your mama as Woman?”

“No, it’s an inside joke with us. You see, when I was about twelve, she and my dad took me to Jerusalem for the Passover. When the festival was over, they left to go back home. They thought I was somewhere in the group returning to Nazareth too, but I wasn’t. I was still up in the temple talking to the priests there. When they realized I wasn’t in the group, they got mad. I don’t know if they were mad at me or at themselves for leavin’ me. Anyway, when Mama found me, she grabbed me by the arm, and said, ‘Son, where’ve you been?’ Well, I bowed up, turned to her, and without even thinking, said, ‘Woman, you should’a known I’d be in my Daddy’s house.’ When I called her Woman, she got tickled. From that time on, it’s been a term of affection between us.”

Sam led Jesus, John, and Pete to the rear of the courtyard. There, behind one of the walls, stood six large stone jars. Each jar was about five feet tall and held about thirty gallons of water. Some of the jars contained water; others were empty.

Jesus turned to Sam. “Empty all of those jars, and then refill them with fresh water.”

“What’d you say?”

“I said, I need for you to empty these earthen vessels of whatever is in them and then fill them with fresh water.”

“Water?” said Sam.

“Don’t worry,” Jesus said with a laugh. “Trust me. Just do it.”

“Okay,” said Sam, shaking his head.

John looked at Pete. Pete just shrugged.

About an hour later, the three friends were talking to the newlyweds when Sam walked up to Jesus. “Sir, we’ve done as you asked.”

“Great. Where are the jars?”

“Come, and I’ll show you.”

The four men walked across the courtyard to the well. By it stood the six giant jars.

Jesus walked over to them and casually touched each with his left hand as he passed by. After touching all six, he turned back to Sam. “Now, Sam, if you would, please draw from one of those jars and take it to the Master of Ceremonies for his approval.”

Sam hesitated for a moment before he selected a glass and dipped it into one of the jars. When he lifted it, it was clear to all that it was no longer water; the liquid was now blood red.

John felt chills run down his spine. Was this an illusion? Was it magic?

“Go ahead,” said Jesus. “Take it to the Master to see if he thinks it tastes good enough to serve to the other guests.”

As Sam hurried away on his appointed task, Jesus grabbed a couple of glasses and handed one to Pete and the other to John. “Drink up, boys. Don’t be scared.”

John accepted the glass from Jesus and walked to another jar. He dipped into the jar and upon drawing the glass out realized that it too held a deep-red liquid.

“Go ahead. Take a swallow, and see what you think about my new vintage.”

John lifted the glass to his lips and took a sip. The wine was beyond delicious. Full-bodied and potent, it overwhelmed his senses. Even after the wine had gone down, the complex aftertaste lingered long in his mouth, throat, and nasal passages.

“Well, what’s the verdict?” asked Jesus.

“It’s fantastic. I didn’t know anything could taste this good.”

         “Well, I guess if times get tough, we can always go into the wine business,” Jesus said, with a smile.

A few moments later Sam came running back with the Master of Ceremonies and the groom in tow.

“Where’d this wine come from? It’s the best I’ve ever had,” said the Ceremonies Master.

Jesus turned to Pete. “Pete, you explain it to him. John and I are going back to the party.”

The look on Pete’s face was priceless.

As John and Jesus made their way back to the party, John turned to Jesus. “Teacher, I believe you are the Promised One who is to become King, but I didn’t realize you had special powers.”

“John, my boy, you ain’t seen nothing yet. But I want you to be perceptive. There is special meaning in everything I do.”

John thought about what he had just witnessed. A thousand questions swirled in his head. “Sir, those jars were meant for ceremonial washing. Why did you use them to hold the wine?”

         Jesus put his hand on John’s shoulder and looked him in the eye. “Wonderful question, my young friend. It’s too soon to try and explain it to you now, but one day I think you’ll understand. In the meantime, let’s have another drink.”

This fictional account is taken from John 2: 1–12.

Do you know why he chose those jars to hold the wine?