The Road to Cana
Did Jesus ever have a crush on any of the pretty, young maidens in Nazareth? Was his heart ever stirred by romantic love? Was Jesus ever tempted to fall in love, have a family and live a normal life? That was basically the idea behind the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis entitled The Last Temptation of Christ, made into a movie by Martin Scorsese in 1988. The Jesus of Last Temptation was one filled with self-doubts, fears and depression about his identity and mission. The last temptation was rejecting his mission and living a normal life, settling down with (who else) Mary Magdalene. The problem with Last Temptation is not that Jesus was tempted by love, sex and marriage; the problem was that the Jesus Kazantzakis and Scorsese envisioned had no real awareness of himself as Christ the Lord.
So... What if Jesus grew up with his heart in a tug-of-war with the prettiest girl in Nazareth (let’s call her Avigail)? What if thoughts of her torment his dreams? What if he was the only man his age in Nazareth that wasn’t married with a family? What if his unmarried status caused gossip about his dealings with women... and men? What if the pull of love and family was not the last temptation of Christ, but the last temptation before he began his ministry? And what if the woman that was married at the wedding feast of Cana was the girl Jesus had to give up in order to begin his public ministry? And what if Mary pressures Jesus to turn the water into wine because their family was responsible for part of the wedding arrangements?
Now THAT would make a good book! I know, because I just read Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. And it was a very good book! Anne Rice is famous to most people for books like Interview with a Vampire. After years in the wilderness (her memoir is Called Out of Darkness), Rice came back to faith and has dedicated her career to Jesus. Her Christ the Lord series tells the story of Jesus from his first person perspective. The first book is narrated by a 7-year old Jesus just returning to Nazareth after leaving Egypt (see Christ the Lord).
One reviewer says about Rice’s two books (thus far) in the Christ the Lord series, “These two books are to all other Jesus fiction what “The Passion of the Christ” is to all other Jesus movies.” I didn’t know “Jesus fiction” was a literary genre, but these are two very good books. Yes, they are fictionalized. If you want to write about Jesus at age 7, then you have to make stuff up! These books both caused me to stop and think about some of my assumptions about Jesus. Any time an author gets people doing that, it is a good thing.