52 Weeks at the Table – Week 35
We know nothing of the circumstances when Jesus left Joseph’s carpentry business and went out to the river Jordan near Bethany to be baptized by his cousin John. We know from the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke that the Spirit immediately drove him into the desert, where Jesus fasted forty days and nights and was tempted by Satan. We also know from John’s gospel that the next day after returning, He recruited followers … and the day after that, He went with them to a wedding feast at Cana of Galilee.
What happened during that extraordinary span of preparation for ministry was that Satan flung the first of three temptations at God’s Son: a challenge for Jesus to turn stones into bread that would assuage His gnawing hunger. And He resisted, because – as He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 – “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” John’s gospel begins by telling us that Jesus was that Word (John 1); He was, therefore, self-sustaining and sustained by God.
John also tells us that Jesus was subtly challenged by His mother when the wedding party ran out of wine. The Son obliged … to the amount of, perhaps, more than a hundred gallons of what the wine steward called the best vintage. Jesus realized that the old was gone; the time when those set aside – priests of God, and Nazarites like His cousin John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) – would no longer be forbidden from receiving the wine that He would supply by virtue of His own blood. It was a new day; a day for the Bridegroom to seek His bride, to share His life with her, and to celebrate (Ephesians 5:25-33). Even at this early point, bread and wine were figuring prominently in His ministry.
A Prayer Over the Bread
Holy One of heaven, we adore Your Name and appreciate Your providence of this sustaining bread, the Word of God, the High Priest of Your temple, the Messiah set apart to give up His own life so that ours could be purchased with a dowry of unmatched value – His own body. That You would desire to have us brought into Your family at such price humbles us completely. Accept our own lives, we pray, as we accept this gift of bread and Your infinite hospitality through Jesus. Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
Father God: in praising You, we recognize that among us are children of Yours who have not had ideal marriages; the wedding cup holds only bitter dregs for them. Yet we also recognize that the we, the church, the bride redeemed by the blood of the perfect Bridegroom – Your Son – we have been washed in His baptism and this marriage has been made pure. And in sharing this cup, our hearts overflow with joyous gratitude for Your love shown to us in Christ. Amen.