This passage and others, such as the account of the wedding feast (see Jn 2:1–11), show that Jesus, though he lived a simple life, was the “Lord of Delight.” So says theologian John R. Schneider, who goes on to propose that this is one of the ways in which Jesus embodies his prophetic role, setting “true delight in opposition to the revelry and evil of the ruling rich.” In so doing, the Lord shows a side of his character that reflects “the deeper presence of joy and celebration.”
Several episodes in Jesus’ life reveal his role as the Lord of Delight. There is the wedding feast at Cana, where the wine runs out (Jn 2:1–11). Jesus rescues the situation (at his mother’s urging) by turning the six vats of purification water into about 180 gallons of the very best [wine]. His very first public miracle, then, the beginning of the things he did to [reveal his glory] (Jn 2:11), is simply to preserve a precious moment of celebration and delight for his friends.
Author Randy Alcorn sees this celebrative Jesus as a counter-indication to asceticism (the practice of strict self-denial, voluntarily undertaken, in order to achieve a higher level of physical and spiritual discipline)—though Jesus doesn’t condemn the practice out of hand. Alcorn says that this behavior indicates Jesus’ acceptance of all God’s gifts and of all kinds of people, both rich and poor.
Our Lord lived simply, but was not an ascetic … He not only drank wine, he made wine for a wedding celebration (Jn 2:1–11). He moved with equal ease among the poor, such as John the Baptist and Bartimaeus, and the wealthy, such as Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, and Joseph of Arimathea …
Christ’s birth attracted poor shepherds and rich kings. A poor thief (on an adjacent cross) and a rich man (who donated a tomb for his burial) attended his death. His life on earth drew many—both poor and rich. And regardless of their means, he was pleased to accept into his kingdom all who would bow their knee before the Messiah.
Inclusiveness is to be a characteristic of our celebratory meals as well. And celebration is intended to be the spirit of our giving—whether we’re sharing a meal or other material resources. Expository preacher Stephen F. Olford (1918–2004) quotes the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7, and goes on to say, “Giving develops a capacity not only for fruitfulness but also for joyfulness. Misery is linked with miserliness, whereas merriment is associated with magnanimity.”
THINK ABOUT IT
- What is a good balance between enjoying pleasurable things and living a life of prudence?
- How can you as Christ’s steward imitate and reflect Jesus’ sense of joyful celebration of the Father’s gifts, his celebration of the coming of the kingdom of God and his welcome of everyone who accepts his gracious invitation to the great banquet (see Lk 14:15–24)?
- What gifts of God could you share with others?
PRAY ABOUT IT
Lord, help me to imitate your joyfulness in my own life. Sometimes it is difficult to discern the difference between those things you want me to enjoy as your good gifts and those things I should set aside as self-indulgent or excessive. I ask for the wisdom to see that difference—to celebrate as you celebrated and to live simply in the spirit of the way you lived simply.