Bible Study

Reading The Bible Imaginatively-Wedding Woes

We planned our wedding for the first week of June, not because I wanted to be a “June bride,” but because we felt assured that the weather would be beautiful.

The best laid schemes of mice and men…

In a previous post, I shared how I’ve been slowly working my way through Living By The Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard Hendricks.  I’m learning how to read the Bible in different ways with different eyes.  In today’s exercise, I was again faced with reading a very familiar passage imaginatively, John 2:1-11, the account of the wedding feast at Cana.

Hence, memories of my wedding day…

It was 104 degrees, and we were getting married in a church without air conditioning.  We stood in the receiving line in the church foyer, and I came very close to fainting.  My maid of honor had long, thick hair, and the back of her dress was sopping wet.

When we arrived at the reception, things were a bit chaotic.  Many people were from out-of-town and decided to go straight to the hotel.  They were all very early and place cards had not been laid out.  Everyone was sitting willy-nilly.  Our calculations were way off and we ran out of appetizers very early on.  The air conditioning was struggling to keep up with the high temperatures and the cake was tipping.  We had to cut it right away before disaster struck.

There was no wine, but instead…the kitchen ran out of food!  The last few plates served were definitely on the skimpy side.

When the Bible study lesson asked how it might have felt to have been placed in the embarrassing position of running out of wine during your wedding feast, well, let’s just say that I had a moment of perfect clarity!

As in the account of Daniel and the lion’s den, the wedding feast at Cana is one of those passages that I have read or heard many, many times.  I honestly have never thought of it in terms of my own wedding day experiences before.  Can you see how reading imaginatively can change things?

John 2:3 shares the calamity rather calmly: “And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Now, I picture a red-faced bridegroom frantically discussing the matter with the master of the feast.  Perhaps the parents were involved and the mother of the bride shared the situation with her friend, Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Knowing how important the day was for her friend, Mary may have decided to ask her son to intervene.  Oh, the shame of it all!

Jesus and his disciples were there to celebrate along with the other guests.  He wasn’t a recluse like his cousin John.  Why did he decide to get involved?  It wasn’t His responsibility, and it wasn’t his “hour,” as he told his mother (John 2:4).  Did He merely feel compassion for the newlyweds, or was there a deeper purpose? Why did He perform his first miracle at a wedding?  Just as the wedding is a celebration of a new beginning, was Jesus signalling the beginning of his ministry? Was Jesus placing his stamp of approval on marriage?  My purpose here is not to answer all of these questions but to demonstrate how reading imaginatively can give you insight into a particular passage.

We tend to look back on these major life events and remember only the things that went wrong, but we did have a great time at our wedding.   I’ve now been at the weddings of my three daughters, and the weddings of dozens of other friends and relatives, and now, their children’s weddings.  At every single one of them, I was reminded of my wedding day.

Now, perhaps, I will also remember a wedding day long ago where they ran out of wine.