The First Miracle
The First Miracle
Madian waited nervously beside the wine table. Although the dinner was just well begun, the wine was already giving out! What should he do? Everyone would be so embarrassed, and the pleasant little feast would be completely ruined.
Madian’s cousin had just been married, and all his friends and relatives had been invited to the dinner. The young bridegroom was not rich enough to have hired to have hired servants, so Madian and other younger members of the family, as well as some of their close friends, were serving the feast.
The bridegroom and his bride sat at the head of the long table, and the guests were arranged along the sides. Among them were Jesus of Nazareth, His Mother Mary, and some of his disciples. Madian had seen Jesus with His group of chosen friends many times, but this was the first time he had ever met Mary. She was the most beautiful lady he had ever seen, he decided, and he could hardly keep his eyes off her.
Right now, however, his thoughts were about the wine. He had just poured the last drop into one of the pitchers that the servers carried around the table. Soon the other pitchers would have to be filled. What could he do? He knew that his cousin had bought as much wine as he could afford, and that he had thought it would be enough. Now the young bridegroom would be ashamed before his guests. If only Madian could think of something to do….
As he looked helplessly about, Madian’s eyes met those of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She seemed to understand what was the matter, for she nodded and turned to whisper to her Son. Relief came over Madian. He didn’t know why but somehow he felt that Mary would solve the whole problem for him. He couldn’t hear what she said to Jesus, but he did hear Jesus say in answer: “What would you have me do, Mother? My hour is not yet come.” Now what did He mean by that? Madian wondered.
But Mary did not hesitate. She quietly rose from the table and came toward Madian and the other servers, who were now gathered with empty pitchers around the serving table. For a moment Madian forgot about the wine and his cousin and the dinner; he could think of nothing except Mary. Something about her made him realize that she was really a great lady, even though her clothes were poor and simple. He felt that he ought to bow very low to her, but she was smiling at him with such graciousness that he stood quite still.
When she came near them, Mary said in a low voice, “Do whatever Jesus tells you.” Madian and the servers bowed politely, and Mary quickly returned to her place at the table.
She had hardly seated herself again when Jesus rose and came to the serving table. Every time Madian saw Jesus he felt breathless-just why, he didn’t know, except that Jesus seemed to represent everything that was good and gentle and loving. Madian would have liked just to watch Him always, for he simply couldn’t help loving Him.
As soon as Jesus came close, He indicated six large water-pots that were standing near. “Fill the water-pots with water,” He said quietly. Quickly Madian and his helpers filled them to the brim, carrying the water in from the large earthen basins that were kept in the yard.
When they had finished, Jesus said, “Now fill your pitchers from these water-pots and carry them to the chief steward of the feast.” In those days a chief steward was a man who supervised the serving of a dinner, and one of the things he had to do was to taste a little of everything before it was served to the guest. Madian’s cousin had asked his uncle to be chief steward of the wedding feast.
So, because Madian was in charge of the wine, he filled one of the pitchers from the water-pots and walked over to where the chief steward was standing. The other servers filled their pitchers also and formed a line behind Madian.
Madian held his breath as he filled the cup of the chief steward. He almost choked as he watched the older man take a sip, hesitate, sip again. When the chief steward laughed, Madian nearly fainted. But when the chief steward raised the cup to his lips finished the drink, Madian breathed freely at last. He was so relieved that he almost forgot to signal the other servers.
“How is it you have kept the best wine until now?” the chief steward called out to the bridegroom as the servers started making their rounds of the table. “Usually the best is served first.”
“So that by the time the poorest is served, we won’t be able to tell the difference,” another guest shouted. Everyone laughed.
Madian laughed too, from sheer joyfulness. No more worrying about the wine now: there would be more than enough. And his cousin would not be embarrassed; Jesus, his Friend, had courteously prevented the unpleasantness that would have interrupted the gaiety of the celebration. But that wasn’t all. The great happiness in Madian’s heart came from the fact that he had been close to Jesus and Mary and had seen an example of Their kindness to others. He, Madian, had been privileged to witness Jesus’ first miracle–a miracle of friendliness!