Saturday, July 26, 2008

Book Review: Christ the Lord: the Road to Cana by Anne Rice

I L-O-V-E-D this book. I devoured it in a day and would read it again, and again and again. It brought to life stories and characters I have read about from the Gospels for years and years but never really gave thought about their histories or personalities. Ms. Rice did and did it very well. 

Her first book about Jesus' life takes place in Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. In that novel Ms. Rice ponders Jesus as a young boy, with his family returning to Nazareth from Egypt.

This second installment was more compelling. Pieces of the Gospel come together so smoothly and coherently in Ms. Rice's story. She invents circumstances in Jesus' past which aid in the depth of the Gospel stories like the woman caught in adultery or the rich young man Jesus challenges to give up everything, or the prodigal son parable.

In the story we see Jesus baptized by John, tempted by Satan in the desert (very reminiscent of the garden scene in Mel Gibson's Passion) and culminating with the wedding feast at Cana.

Here Jesus converts the purification jars filled with living water into the finest wine. The bridegroom comes to the bride and says, "Ah, my beloved, you were set apart for me from the beginning of the world." Now, I don't know if this is part of the jewish wedding vows but when I read those words I was cut to the quick. That is what God is saying to his people - we are set apart for Him - our groom, we are the bridge and He delights as a young groom taking his bride, the joy, the glee, the abandon. That is the intense and immense love God has for us. 

During one scene when Jesus' friends and family realize His time is come and that He is the chosen one, the Messiah, some are asking Him to take a stand against Rome, to physically, militarally, politically stand against the empire. Jesus  gently rebukes them and explains His purpose:
I want an innovation that will ignite the world. That wine is no less than the blood inside my veins. I come to bring the face of the Lord - to the whole world....Don't you know all battles fought with sword are ultimately lost battles. I want t victory that far surpasses anything that's been written either in ink or in blood. It begins now at this wedding and the wine you've drunk is the whole world. I wish I could open the gates for all to come and drink of this wine here and now, and that all pain and suffering and suspense would come to an end. But I wasn't born for that. I was born to find the way to do this through Time....We entered history for the whole of it.
Through Ms. Rice's story-telling we see Jesus' plans are again greater than ourselves, expanding through time and counter-intuitive to what we believe would logically be the best course.  I highly recommend this book!

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