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Lent and Lovers

I couldn’t help but marvel this year that Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, fell on Valentine’s Day. It felt to me like a clash of kingdoms: romance and repentance, chocolates and fasting, roses and ashes.

Maybe it was a clash of kingdoms. But maybe it was a holy clash.

John records that Jesus’ first miracle took place at a wedding in Cana. Why do you think that is?

Somewhere during the wedding feast, Jesus’ mother comes to tell him that the newlyweds and their guests have run out of wine. Jesus’ response stumped me for years: “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

I used to think Jesus meant that it wasn’t time for him to start his public ministry. But reading it this way made the back and forth between Jesus and Mary weird to me:

      “Son, they’re out of wine. Don’t you think you ought to…”
      “Mom, shhhh! It’s not time for me to do miracles yet.”
      “Jesus, you’ve been putting this off for too long. It’s time you show the world what you can do.”

At which point she effectively pushes Jesus into His first miracle—a literal party trick that ensures the feast can carry on all night.

Today, I don’t think this was it at all. I do love Jesus’ lavishness, but I think something much more meaningful than meets the eye is going on for Jesus.

At Cana, as at every wedding, all eyes were on the newlyweds, and their guests were drinking their fill of wine in celebration of the new bride and groom. As Jesus celebrated and looked on at the bride and groom, could it be that their wedding brought to mind His wedding?

Absolutely.

The most repeated metaphor God uses throughout Scripture to express His relationship with His people is that of a Bridegroom to a Bride. And here at this wedding sits Jesus, God in the flesh, the great Bridegroom come to rescue, woo, and win His Bride.

In this light, His otherwise puzzling response to Mary becomes more clear: “Woman, what does this have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

Jesus’ “My hour has not yet come” is speaking of His wedding—when He will give Himself bodily, naked on the cross, pouring out His life for His Bride.

Could it be the lavish, delicious, priceless wine wasn’t a party trick at all but a first sign (John 2:11) pointing to who He is and the “richest of fare” (Isaiah 55:2) He has for His Bride? Could it be He didn’t do it because of His mother’s eagerness, but because He “eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15)? Could it be he didn’t do so just so the party could go on all night, but as a foretaste of the “everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3) He has for His Bride?  

I think so.

Leave a comment here.

Gratefully,
Josh

P.S. If you live in the DC Metro area, I hope you’ll join us this Saturday for our annual Northern Virginia sweet and savory fundraiser!

3 thoughts on “Lent and Lovers”

  1. It did seem odd that Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fell on the same day this year. And at first glance it seems contradictory to celebrate romance and do penance at the same time. But perhaps this is not a coincidence after all. Perhaps instead it is God’s way of illustrating to us this incredible truth: all true love has an element of romance and an element of self-sacrifice in it. They are not mutually exclusive, they are two sides of the same coin. Jesus is crazy-in-love with us—-that’s the divine romance. But he loved us so much that he was willing to empty himself and be crushed under the weight of our sin and our rejection of him—that’s the divine sacrifice. In order to possess us in love, he first had to abandon himself and become obedient even to the point of dying the death that we deserved. This was a romance that cost him everything, yet he rejoiced in paying the full price for us. And if we truly understood that, then perhaps we would begin to understand how much our loving obedience means to him, and then we would see how easy is the yoke that he has laid upon us, and how light are the burdens that we are called to carry, in comparison to what he willingly laid upon himself for the love of us all.

  2. Josh,this is very insightful. I wasn’t going to read it until you hooked me with the Clash of Kingdoms illustration. Then you segued into the story of the first miracle. These are great thoughts about the “richest of fare”. Your ideas resonated and clarified this wedding miracle for me and the odd sequence of events.

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