Book review: ‘Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana’
Vail CO, Colorado
Some know him as Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Some know him merely as a learned man, but not as their personal savior. Some know him as the most widely recorded prophet in history.
Anne Rice, however, seems to have a window into Yeshua bar Joseph’s soul in her newest novel, “Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana.”
With her simplistic storytelling, Rice weaves the story of Yeshua: a carpenter, a man, a son, an intellectual. She also tells us the story of his awakening to his powers as the son of God.
The story is set first in Nazareth, the place of Yeshua’s birth. He lives a simple and comfortable life there. He resides with his mother and father, Mary and Joseph, and his other relations who did not have homes of their own.
Through his eyes, we see his village and his family. We see how he views the world and how he, even though he is the son of God, has temptations and follies.
In particular, his focus is on a young woman named Avigail. She is the beauty of the town. He cannot help but notice her beauty and grace. If he were to make a marriage, she would be perfect for him.
However, Yeshua can feel that marriage is not the path God wants him to embark upon. Even though he loves Avigail ” for he is only human, and a man of flesh and blood ” Yeshua knows in his heart that he will never marry.
The thing that truly makes Yeshua pure is that he contemplates the nature of his desire and refuses to submit to it. I was left wondering, however, how he overcame his desires. Was it because he was the son of God that he could tell he was meant to do things in the future that would only be harder with a family to take care of? Did he have a sixth sense, one that guided him in his decisions?
Rice writes his character in such a way that his mind is uncluttered by common thoughts. He is constantly viewing the world around him and assessing what is right and wrong, and why they are defined as such. He is truly a holy man in this way.
During the course of the novel, however, Avigail is shamed by brigands. They come to the village and try to kidnap her. However, when they are pursued, they drop her and leave her in the road. Yeshua comes to her aid.
Her clothing is torn and disheveled. He merely tried to protect her by covering her up and comforting her. However, this action is highly suspect during these times, as men and women did not have any physical interaction before marriage.
Avigail is under suspicion. Her father, who is possibly deranged, believes she is a broken chalice, and decides to lock her up in his house and starve her because of the shame she has supposedly brought upon herself and her family.
However, Yeshua cannot stand to see this girl, who he knows is blameless, die for no reason. He undertakes a pilgrimage to Cana to see Hananel, Avigail’s wise and rich uncle.
He pleads with Hananel to come and take Avigail away from her father and send her to her kind aunts in another town. Yeshua uses his straightforward ways and learned opinions to convince Hananel to do just that.
Many other events happen in the novel, not all of which should be revealed to keep from spoiling it, but during the portion of Yeshua’s life that is explored, he is also baptized by his cousin John. He then spends 40 days in the desert resisting Satan and fasting.
When he returns from the desert, Yeshua fully realizes that he is the son of God and that his life will never be the same. He brings his first disciples into the fold and continues on his way, healing a woman possessed by demons for seven years and an old woman who is dying. He gives a young girl who is deaf and dumb her hearing and speech back.
He returns to Cana one last time ” for Avigail’s wedding to Rueben, the son of Hananel. If you’re wondering why this place and this wedding sounds familiar, it is because Cana is the site at which Jesus turned water into wine.
It was for Avigail’s wedding feast that he performed that miracle. Brigands had stolen the wine for the feast from a merchant caravan headed to the wedding. To run out of wine during the day-long wedding feast is considered shameful for the host family. Yeshua does this act not only to save Hananel and his kin from shame, but as a gift for Avigail. He says his final farewell to her in his heart.
Not only do we get to see a bit of Yeshua’s divine side in this novel, but we see that he was a man as well. He did have his failings, if that is what we wish to call them, but the thing that made him infallible in this novel was his choice not to act on his thoughts.
Rice writes that he was pure, that even though he was scorned for it, he never gave in and married just because he was expected to.
She writes about the miracles he performed and about his holy thoughts, but she also writes that he was a human with human cares and human sensibilities. It’s this dichotomy that makes the novel so interesting. Yeshua’s life, even if you don’t believe in his divinity, is worth exploring merely for its historical value and for his wisdom.
Rice captures something about his indomitable spirit and writes so eloquently about his sacred experiences in this novel that it’s worth reading even if you only view it as fiction.
Daily Staff Writer Kelly Miles can be reached at 970-748-2966 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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