Denise and I flipped on the Gospel of John video today as we relaxed together on the couch, enjoying a restful Sabbath afternoon. Soon came the scene of the wedding in Cana. Most of us know the story. Yeshua turns water into wine, the first of His miracles. But today I saw something new I wanted to share. I saw something that demonstrated a glimpse into the Messiah’s purpose.
Yeshua, His disciples, and His mother were all present. The celebration was underway when Miriam (Mary) came to Yeshua and told him the wine had run out. After ordering the servants to fill up the six massive stone jars used for purification rites, He told them to take some to the host of the celebration. The host tasted it, called to the bridegroom and said to him,
“Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when they have drunk, then that which is poorer. You have kept the good wine until now.” –Jn 2:10 ISR
Being married to a woman who grew up in Asia, I have learned much about eastern cultures and their value systems. Many times I’ve heard her describe situations where it was vital that a given person or party “save face”, which means to spare one’s reputation and good standing of character, avoiding being put to shame.
Imagine the host of the celebration in our story, or the bridegroom. Imagine the years of planning that went into an ancient, eastern engagement and marriage arrangement. Imagine all the friends and family present and suddenly the festivities were threatened with being cut short by the shortage of wine, a vital component. I imagine there might be a sense of embarrassment or shame once all the guests recognized the host’s lack of foresight, planning, or maybe financial stewardship to make adequate arrangements for the wedding feast. But in doing what He did, Yeshua removed the shame from this family and He did it quietly, humbling Himself in order that they would “save face”.
I’ve been studying sin recently. One foundational element that can be seen from the first incidence of sin in the Scriptures is that it requires a covering (Gen 3:21). Sin damages our relationship with Yehovah, instilling fear of judgment rather than drawing near in fellowship. Sin separates us from Him and we are left naked. We want and need a covering, reaching for many things in this world to make the substitution and often rejecting Elohim’s only sure covering. One such counterfeit covering is shame. We cover ourselves with it. We recognize our guilt but rather than turning toward Him in repentance, we turn inward and meditate on the enemy’s lies of unworthiness, ugliness and self-loathing. It’s a strange form of pride in which our lives tell Yehovah that the magnitude of our sin is greater than the power of His forgiveness.
But this is not the desire of our heavenly Father. A loving father makes provision for his children. He covers their nakedness. He removes their shame. This is exactly what He sent Yeshua to do. Regarding our Messiah’s sacrifice, the author of Hebrews proclaims that Yeshua,
“for the joy that was set before Him endured the stake, having despised the shame,” –Heb 12:2 ISR
And Yeshayahu (Isaiah), in his famous Messianic prophecy says of the suffering servant,
“He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” –Isa 53:12 ISR
Could it be that Yeshua’s first miracle was about more than wine? Could it be that in His first miracle was more than the demonstration of power over creation? Could it be that even from the earliest stages of His ministry the Son of Elohim was proclaiming the purpose of His visitation: to intercede on our behalf, to bear our burden, to take our shame, to “cover” us?
“Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered, blessed is the man to whom יהוה shall by no means reckon sin.” –Rom 4:7-8 (quoting Psa 32:1-2) ISR