The Bible has subtlety. Tiny remarks can be overwhelmed by the main event and easily be dismissed in the mind of the reader as unimportant, but actually the information in them is there to convey something deeply important by subtle means.
There is debate amongst Christians about how the Bible should be read – literally? as metaphor? as a secular history? as a blend of accreted different things translated and edited over generations by many with motives?
I suggest all of the above.
I’m getting married in a few weeks time so have a particular interest in the story that contains Jesus’ first sign – the water into wine miracle at the wedding in Cana.
Reading the NRSV version it notes in the verse John 2:9 that the Steward did not know where the wine had come from although the servants who had drawn the water did. Yeah obviously, minor point, pass over move on nothing to see here… Whoa! Back up a little. WHY mention something so obvious?
Who at the wedding knows where this wine came from? Not the Steward, not the Bridegroom, but the servants do. Jesus only reveals Himself here to the lowly, those who serve.
He points up the inadequacy of the important people who have run out of wine by providing embarassingly better wine to them, and conspiratorialy lets those who serve see this, letting the servants know who’s side he sits on politically (with a lowercase p).
Doubtless the lowly servants were having a hard time dealing with a drunken wedding party short of wine – the story even mentions the drunkenness of wedding parties and the supply of wine.
So the story tells us about Jesus – His sympathies and pointed subtlety in how He handles a situation with Grace and kindness but gently making a point to all.
There is of course a depth of other meaning and symbolism in the Cana wedding story – water, wine, transformation, gifting in secret, the Lord’s provision, the importance of marriage – dig as deep as you like. I’m not unaware of the more usual and perhaps more important aspects of the story, but I am saying don’t miss out on the back-story atmospherics – God put them in your Bible for you for a reason. You can get to know our Lord better through them and discover better what a clever gentle funny meaningful cool guy He is.
I love patterns. The story of Jesus has a meal at the beginning where water turns to wine, and a meal at the end where wine becomes blood. Even as literature the story of Jesus is exquisite. He lived it so elegantly.
My Fiancee knows Him even better than I do, and He is certainly invited to our wedding.