Mary of Nazareth: In Service at the Wedding Party

I am known as Grandpa John because that is what Anne has always called me. I own a basket making business in Cana of Galilee where we enjoy a good supply of reeds. My baskets are sold in Cana and throughout the surrounding area. Traders travel the thirty miles from Caesarea Maritima, the Roman port city, to buy my baskets. They also bring with them ribbons of cloth cut from fine cotton. Last week I purchased some and am now adding it to five of the flower baskets for the wedding party of Anne and Joel at his father's house. Joel's grandfather and father are my good friends, so I am looking forward to becoming part of their family.

Soon the ribbons were all tied, so I wrapped the baskets in a small piece of fish net, swung the bundle across my shoulder, and headed for Joel's house to meet his mother, Edna. She would add the flowers and distribute the baskets throughout the house and in the garden to add a decorative touch to the festivities.

As I sauntered down the hillside near Joel's house, I thought about my granddaughter. We have always been close. When she was just a little girl, I remember holding her on my lap. When she became a little older, I remember taking her by the hand and showing her the flowers along the side of my house. When she became old enough to learn to weave baskets on her own, I remember teaching her how to make the simpler designs. Once she reached the age of elgibility, however, she began to think more about marriage than baskets. When I saw how well she and Joel always got along together, I thought they might marry someday. As it turned out, I was right, and now she is the beautiful bride of one of the finest young men in our town.

As I approached the doorway, Anne caught a glimpse of me and excused herself from the group she was talking with then headed towards me. In her hair was a flower she had picked from my yard and on her face was a radiant smile. When she reached me, she greeted me with a kiss. Joel was right behind her and gave her a quick kiss on the neck then told me that his mother had been watching for me at the gate. Since I had slipped in the back way, I had missed her altogether.

When Edna entered the room and saw me, she looked relieved and quickly escorted me to the alcove where she had all of the flowers. After I told her where I had put the baskets, she sent a servant to get them. As we stood there, I asked Edna, "Who are those two attractive women across the way that I have not seen before?"

"They are Mary from Nazareth and her daughter Bernice. I hired them to help me with the wedding party."

I couldn't take my eyes off of Mary. She stood out for she was more beautiful than any other guest. Her features were delicate. Her hair was coal-black as were her eyes, and her smooth complexion radiated beauty. From where I stood, she could be the sister, rather than the mother, of her equally beautiful daughter. Wanting to know more, I moved to where Mary stood to introduce myself.

"I am John, grandfather of the bride. Do you and your daughter often help with wedding parties?"

"Yes, ever since my husband died."

"Your daughter is so beautiful. Has she not married?"

"Bernice, my next born after Jesus, helped me raise her four younger brothers and two sisters. As a result, she wasn't really available for marriage when her time should have come."

"Possibly you shouldn't give up hope so soon for one so pretty."

"I suppose only Jehovah knows what the future may hold."

"Edna told me she invited your son, Jesus, and His disciples. Both she and Anne have known Jesus as a friend ever since He first spoke in our synagogue."

Suddenly one of the servants interrupted our conversation to say, "Mary, we have run out of wine! We must not embarrass Joel. He didn't know how much would be needed."

Mary turned back to me, "Come, let's find Jesus."

So I followed Mary to the alcove where Jesus was telling stories to those gathered around Him. Jesus looked relaxed sitting on a bench in front of the window. The bright daylight lit the faces of the attentive listeners who appeared to be enjoying the storyteller. There was something about Jesus that made me like Him right away. Mary called her son aside to say, "They have no more wine."

Jesus said, "I can't help you now. It isn't yet my time for miracles." Still He immediately spoke to the servants saying, "Fill the six stone waterpots with water."

I glanced at the waterpots, estimating that each pot would hold twenty-five to thirty gallons. Then I heard Mary tell the servants, "Do whatever He says."

When the servants finished, Mary's son said, "Dip some out and take it to the steward."

Mary and I followed the servant to where the steward drank from the cup. I was amazed when the steward called Joel over and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the best for the last."

I was surprised to hear that the water had been changed to wine, so when Mary and I stood alone again, I asked, "Was the wine from water some sort of a miracle?"

"What we saw we must believe."

"Has he performed miracles before?"

"No, this is the first."

"Can you explain it?"

"I can't. But let me share some things I have treasured in my heart for many years. Jesus' birth was miraculous in itself. Then, when Joseph and I took Jesus as a baby to the temple in Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, we were met by an old man, Simeon, who told us that Jesus would be the Savior of the world and that a sword would pierce my soul. When Jesus was twelve, He remained in Jerusalem when our family was returning home after a journey there for the Passover celebration. When Joseph and I went back, we found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers."

"Did He willingly go home with you?"

"Yes, He returned to the carpentry shop where He worked diligently, first with his father, then later alone, until just a few months ago when He gathered around Him twelve disciples and began teaching the people about God."

"You must feel sad in a way to no longer have your oldest son with you, but as a good Jewish mother you seem willing to release Him for the Lord's work."

"Yes, I feel a sadness but at the same time much joy, for from the time I became pregnant with Jesus until today I have known that He was set apart by Jehovah for a very special purpose and I wait with a certain expectation to see the plan unfold."

Based on John 2:1-11; Luke 2:28-35,41-52.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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