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The Extravagant Bridegroom (the story of Jesus’ first miracle)

As I promised, here is the next excerpt from the devotional book I’m working on titled COME AND SEE.

In the future I hope to have a separate page for these excerpts, and I’ll let you know when it is in place. That way, you’ll be able to read all the chapters as I get them written.

Just so you know, I have good reason to believe that this particular chapter is very dear to the Lord. So, I hope it ministers to your heart as much as it did to mine.




The Extravagant Bridegroom


He thus revealed his glory,

and his disciples put their faith in him.

John 2:11b



Jesus, Heaven’s Bridegroom . . .


I’d been away from home for several weeks and my mother was glad to see me, although she had no idea how different my life would be from now on. I was to marry the world, it seemed to me. Even though I was prepared to sacrifice everything for her, my bride would be a reluctant one.  I thought this during the wedding ceremony in Cana as I watched the young couple pledge themselves to each other through sacred vows.  I silently prayed mine.


I had traveled to the wedding the day after I asked Nathanael to join us. The timing was perfect. After a month- long fast in the desert, I’d spent a few days in Judea with the prophet sent to prepare my bride for me and now I had several eager men following me. I sat at table with them until my mother put a challenge to me, “They have no wine.”


“What has that to do with me?” My adult son-to-mother tone did little to put her off and the look on her face continued the conversation. I glanced down at my hands, folded on the table in front of me.  I wasn’t about to discuss this in front of the others.


“My hour has not yet come,” I said in a lowered voice. I hoped she’d leave it at that. Instead, she looked from my face to those who sat beside and across from me.


My eyes followed hers and when I saw such open, expectant expressions, I felt overwhelmed. In that moment the idea came to me to make so much wine that our hosts wouldn’t know what to do with all of it. After the week long wedding feast, they’d need to tell the whole town to bring their own containers so they could give it away.


I began to laugh to myself at the thought. My mother wildly gestured to the servants within range. As it was, they were walking towards us with empty pitchers in hand, explaining to a person here and there that they had no more wine to give them.


I stood just as two servers stepped up to us. “Do whatever he tells you to do,” my mother said to them, and then she squeezed my arm to thank me.


“Take me to the water you have stored for the rite of purification.” The reality of the opportunity at hand thrilled me. This had everything to do with me. Who runs out of wine this early in a wedding feast? Since early childhood I had learned to pay attention to what my Father in heaven was doing, to notice things as special invitations to bless people. This was one of those times—of course, this should be my first display of Heaven’s love and power. What better way than at a wedding banquet?  I was beside myself with joy.





No one at the wedding banquet knew that the Divine Bridegroom was a guest there. Nobody realized what surprise the Father in heaven had in store that day. Neither did the two bridegrooms know beforehand what transformation was about to occur. The one just married sat beside his bride at the table, his heart sinking as the wine vessels were drained. The other unrecognized Bridegroom dreamed of his Bride as he quietly watched the wedding ceremony.

This was the setting for Jesus’ first supernatural sign. As with most miracles, this one came out of crises. It wasn’t a life-threatening need. It was a threat to the life of a party. The panic was in the eyes of the bridegroom and his family. It involved shame for them and disappointment for their guests. But was this just cause for Divine intervention?

What might Jesus have thought as he approached the six stone water jars, sitting in a row nearby? According to eyewitnesses, he had just changed his mind. At first, he hadn’t thought the time was right to work do a miracle.

It’s amazing to delve a bit deeper into the symbolism of this wonder he performed. At the start of the meal, the guests were provided with water to spiritually purify themselves before they ate. There was plenty of water left in the jars to serve Jesus’ purpose, but he instructed the servants to fill them to the brim. Then, without any dramatics, he told them to serve the water-become-wine to the headmaster, and then to all the guests.

Here, now, were gallons and gallons of this “purification” water turned into an inebriating beverage. The servants were in awe. The headmaster was puzzled. The bridegroom and his family were relieved and stunned. And all the guests had a good time.

Laughter and dancing faced off with religious legalism!

It is quite telling to think that Jesus’ first miracle was to give people a good time—and extravagance was part of it.  Let’s open our hearts to receive God’s extravagant favor and kindness! Two thousand years later, God’s gifts continue still, repeatedly, in many forms and ways. The Divine Bridegroom hasn’t changed a bit.


What a wonder . . .


Even as believers, sometimes the love of God escapes our grasp simply because it seems too good to be true. Often, we miss the real message and gift of Jesus’ first miracle: God’s extravagant, non-legalistic grace. As Christians, we know that we have been called out of darkness and into the light. Not sure how to respond, we become self-righteously pious, and our faith and love for God becomes a legalistic and idealistic taskmaster. God never intended this to happen.

There is nothing legalistic, boring, or even “religious” about Jesus. That’s not the life he came to bring us. If we truly knew God’s heart, we would realize that he is an extravagant, fun-loving, lively, passionate Person.

“God prefers mercy to sacrifice,” Jesus said, quoting a Scripture he had grown up with. Just what does that mean in our modern-day language? It means that God has a forgiving and loving heart and doesn’t require us to work hard to please him. It means his extravagant love is the religious expression God desires us to experience. It means God wants our hearts to become like his.

Well, what is he like? Look closely at this miracle. What did the Lord do? What was his purpose? How much wine did he make? Have you ever heard the argument that Jesus’ miraculous wine was unfermented? The people of his day would not have been impressed!  Anyone who believes this has completely missed the point.

God doesn’t want us to become drunks, that’s also not his message. He wants only good for us. His message is unmerited, extraordinary love. The reason Jesus performed this miracle was for one reason only—to give the wedding guests a good time. Jesus showed us that God delights to delight us.

Just think about how the Lord gave his all to and for us. This is the God who loves us and wants us to come near. If we would just relax and let him have what he wants. If we would place ourselves upon his breast, breathe deeply and listen intently, then we’d know. He’s crazy in love with us. That’s the truth. He’s not looking for us to perform or abstain from enjoying ourselves thereby pleasing him. This is the message of Jesus’ first miracle: because of his presence, people had a very good time. This is quite telling about his character, don’t you agree?


In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand

there are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11



Just imagine . . .


Enter into the story of the wedding banquet at Cana. Become one of the characters in the story. Watch and experience the miracle. What are Jesus’ reactions—his facial expressions when he sees how surprised the servants are when they witness this miraculous transformation of water to wine?  Watch Jesus as he interacts with the people who, because of him, greatly enjoy themselves. How does Jesus act during the party, especially after the miracle? Can you see him enjoying himself too? What do you think it was like at his table after the miracle. Can you hear laughter? Do you think Jesus might have danced? Ask the Lord to reveal his character, his true self and heart to you.



Journal Exercise  . . .


The wedding in Cana turned into a wonderful celebration with Jesus. Just imagine the banquet in heaven he has been planning for us. The miracle of Jesus transforming water into wine is all about freedom and God’s extravagant surprises he has in store for us. Let this reality sink in: Jesus is a bridegroom. We are, each of us, his bride—and the sum of all believers are his bride. If you love God and want to please him, then you can, in practical ways, follow your love for him. If you have God first in your life and love him above all else, then you can follow that inner leading, because your own heart is in union with God’s. He wants to be your number one love. He’s extravagant in ways you cannot fathom.

Write your thoughts and experiences from this chapter in your journal. What is God saying to you through the story of the wedding in Cana, Jesus’ first miracle, freedom from legalism, and Jesus’ intentions through a profound display of extravagance?