Monday, October 3, 2016

The Redemption of a Wrecked Reputation


When I was a girl, an unplanned pregnancy was a big deal. It was generally hushed up by a quick and quiet wedding, followed by reports that the baby had arrived "early". 

In the time of Mary and Joseph, it was not just a "big deal"; it was catastrophic. Harsh penalties. Public scorn. 

Jesus was born when Mary and Joseph were "espoused". I don't know if they had a wedding or not, but it would not have been the joyful occasion of the wedding in Cana.

You know how people are. We watch someone make a series of bad choices in their youth, then help the story of those choices follow them for years. Even when they have a turn-around and make good choices, we still recall the bad.

I've often wondered how it was for Mary, the mother of Jesus. She didn't make a bad choice. She didn't have a moral failure. She was the chosen one of God to serve as mother to the King of Kings. 

It was a place of incredible trust, but, to the world, it must have looked much different. People would've talked. They would've shunned. They would've kept their young daughters away from her, lest they "do what Mary did." Maybe they excused her because she was young, but that's not the way of humans.

Something turned, somewhere, during the next thirty years.

By the time we get to the miracle of Cana, Mary is more than a guest at the wedding. She's in charge of the servants in the kitchen. I don't know if she was there as a caterer or as a close family friend, but she clearly had a position of responsibility and trust. Hers is not the role of a "failed woman", but people probably still remembered.

What I realized today, for the first time ever, is that Jesus' miracle likely restored Mary's reputation in a way all her "good deeds" and acts of faith could never do. 

She'd likely protested her innocence, but you know how rumors spread. If she told a friend that she was carrying the Messiah, that friend likely told it, too. I can imagine it spreading like wildfire through the village. I can imagine people laughing at her for her grandiose ideas, her wild lies.

If I'd been one of the servants who topped off the wash water pots with water and carried a sample to the wine taster, I'd have told everyone I saw that it turned into the best wine of the day. You probably would have, too. 

That news spread. We can be sure of it, because it's human nature to talk about something so exciting. As it spread, the thought that Mary might have been telling the truth all those years ago likely spread with it.

She said she was carrying the Messiah, and now that child had turned wash-water into wine. No one who sampled that wine ever forgot the taste of the` excellent vintage. Nor the One who created it. Nor His mother, who'd been right all along.

I love it that Jesus' first public act of ministry helped His mother. I love it that His initial demonstration of power helped restore her wrecked reputation. Made her proud. Gave her joy.

I believe God has a special place in his heart for women in a mess (whether of our own making or not). We can be sure of it when we look at the women in Jesus' life. Mary Magdalene. Martha. The Woman at the Well. He loved them, changed them, kept them near as trophies of grace.

No matter what mistakes we have (or haven't) made, Jesus loves us. He cares about us. He longs to change us and make us more like Him. In a moment's time, He can move in such a way that He silences all the whispers, quiets the storm of public condemnation, redeems the years of a wrecked reputation. 

Have you made mistakes? Do you stuff your shame deep inside, hoping no one can see? Hoping no one remembers? Today, why not give it all to Jesus? Today, no matter what burden we carry, let's let Him forgive, cleanse, redeem.

"Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten..." Joel 2:25 nasb
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n case you missed the story of Sam's project, here's the link: Sam's Project: Rubber Boots for Barefoot Rwandan Children
If you'd like to give to help buy boots for the barefoot school children of Rwandan, you can go directly to the project page here: Help Sam's Kids. We're making good progress. More than 300 pairs of boots have been given so far. 10% of the need has already been met!

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Five Characteristics of a Miracle
#Jesus #redemption