I didn’t eat at my own wedding, did you? I was remembering that fact last Saturday when I attended the nuptials of a young man and woman in Virginia. Here we guests were all sitting comfortably in pews, while the bride and groom had to stand through the entire ceremony and sermon. (Ever thought of that?)
Then after the exchange of vows, while I along with 200 others were helping ourselves to a feast and engaging in casual conversation, wearing comfortable clothing, the bride and groom were making the rounds of the tables, being careful not to overlook a single invitee.
In When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson tells of an even more extreme case of marital self-denial:
“On a cold and rainy Saturday, church buses were sent to the neediest parts of our city, Redding[, Calif.], to find the homeless and the poor. The bride and groom eagerly anticipated their return and prepared a meal in their honor. The needy were to be the distinguished guests of their wedding.
“Ralph and Colleen met while working in our ministry to the poor. They shared a passion for God and a love for the needy. Although it is common for the bride and groom to register for gifts at fine department stores, Ralph and Colleen did so at Target; and all they put on their wish list were coats, hats, gloves, and sleeping bags … to be given to their guests.”
Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding. He had gone to the affair with his newly chosen apostles, intending to be a guest, and perhaps to be a wallflower—casual, at ease, out of the limelight, able to come and go as he pleased. But a catering crisis catapulted Him into a serving role he did not expect. We detect his initial hesitance upon being recruited for a public duty. Jesus the son of Mary and Joseph became Jesus the saver of the day.
It would seem that ever since that abrupt ministry beginning of our Lord, attempts to blend into the woodwork and be a spectator would be futile. Jesus would henceforth be serving, not served. And here we have the paradox of last Saturday’s wedding, displayed to extremes: The ones whose special day it is are also more than anyone required to be selfless. The Lord whose Wedding Banquet we are all invited to has laid His table out with victuals paid for by his blood. The Master of the feast became its Servant.