What images do you think of when think of Jesus and his mom, Mary? The young Mary holding the newborn Jesus? That scene is probably the most famous of all the Bible stories involving Mary and Jesus. But they had 30 years together after that scene. 30 years in which they probably saw each other most every day. I wonder what their adult relationship was like. We get a glimpse at what their relationship might have been like at a wedding.
The wedding took place in Cana, a town near Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Two very small towns just down the road from each other. If you grew up in one town, you pretty much knew everyone in the other town. If you were from Nazareth, it is highly likely that you’d be invited to a wedding of a family in Cana. We read in John 2:1-2 that Jesus’, his disciples and his mother were all there.
Weddings were festive occasions in ancient Jewish culture, often lasting a week. The celebration would go on and on. That brings us to verse 3, and the problem. The wine ran out.
In that culture, this is a major problem. Clean drinking water was not always easy to come by. There were wells, of course, but there was nothing like the easy access to clean water like you and I are used to with our indoor plumbing and treated water. So wine was extremely common, not just at parties like a wedding, but at all meals. When Jesus has the last supper with his disciples, and he said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, drink it in remembrances of me,” he was holding a glass of wine. As you can imagine, it was especially important for a family to have plenty of wine for a special wedding ceremony that could last a week. But at this wedding, the wine ran out.
In that culture of honor and shame, running out of wine would have been a significant embarrassment for the father of the bride. So Jesus’ mom, Mary, goes to Jesus, asking what seems to be a totally innocent observation, “They have no more wine.” But hers was no innocent remark.
Jesus could have said, “Oh wow, that’s a bummer.” Or he could have looked at her with a snide look, “Mom…everyone knows that.” He could have ignored her or answered her in any number of ways to show her that this situation had nothing to do with him. But he knew his mom. He knew exactly what she was getting at. Maybe it was her tone of voice, maybe it was a twinkle in her eye. Mary was communicating that she knew Jesus could do something about the wine running out. How does he respond? Look at verse 4.
Notice Jesus’ response, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” He totally knows what Mary is doing here. He knows that she wants him to do something about the lack of wine. She wants him to solve the problem that the father of bride is facing. I love what we learn here about Jesus’ relationship with his mother. It is so playful, so human. We see clearly the humanity of Jesus.
What Jesus says next is fascinating, “My time has not yet come.” Even after his ministry got started, we find him often saying things like “Please keep quiet about this, my time has not yet come.” Jesus was managing the pace of his ministry so that it stayed in line with the mission of God.
At the wedding in Cana, when Jesus says to her, “My time is not yet come,” he wants to keep his ministry on a particular pace, not too fast, not too slow, but reaching the finish line at just the right time. He’s concerned that if he does a miracle, like changing the water into wine, it could result in something like him becoming popular too fast. Or maybe The Chosen version is right, that Jesus here is evaluating if he is ready to start a mission from God that will end in pain. His comment about this not being the right time could be enough for Mary to shut down the conversation. Mary’s response is amazing. Read about it in verse 5.
Mary doesn’t seem to acknowledge Jesus’ concern that his time had not yet come. I don’t know if she rolled her eyes at him, shrugged him off, or just turned away pretending she didn’t hear him. More than likely she just smiled at Jesus, and with a twinkle in her eye, she basically dismisses him. This about that. She dismissed Jesus! The Messiah. Mary ignores his point of view. Is she being rude or sinful? No, I don’t believe so. She’s his mom. I find it fascinating that Mary chooses to disregard Jesus’ comment. You gotta love Mary in this story. I wonder if she was a bit of a fireball. She was invited by God to live on earth as the mother of Jesus, with the knowledge that being the mother of Jesus would involve both amazing beauty and deep pain. She had great strength and great character.
Glance back at verse 4, and notice that Jesus didn’t say “No, mom, I am not getting involved.” He simply said, “Why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” As he so often did, Jesus invites a discussion, asking a question. Mary interprets Jesus’ response as him leaving the door open, that he might possibly help. What is so amazing to me is that she doesn’t interact with him. She doesn’t attempt to reason with him. She doesn’t attempt to get him to say, “OK, mom, fine…I’ll do it.” In fact, she doesn’t even answer his question to her, “Why do you involve me?”
Instead, Mary turns to the servants and simply says, “Do what he tells you.” How does Jesus respond? With a “Woah…mom…I just told you, my time has not yet come. Why are you disrespecting me? I’m not telling these servants anything. Geez, mom, don’t you know I have to be about my father’s business? I’m not getting involved in some wedding party magic trick.”???
So how does Jesus respond? We’ll find out tomorrow.