The passage about the wedding feast at Cana has given Bible scholars trouble. Did Mary really force Jesus into public ministry? Does that mean we can force God to do what we want? I don’t know that I have the answers to these questions but we will look at the passage and see what the text says:
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. (John 2:1-12)
The text starts out, “On the third day.” We are now three days after Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael and we find Jesus attending a wedding. It was probably a family member or close family friend of Jesus. We don’t know too much about how weddings worked in the first century but we do know that a huge feast was part of the ritual. This feast could last for a whole week and keeping the guests entertained was important. Some Bible scholars suggest that the host of the wedding may have had a legal obligation to provide enough food, wine, and entertainment for the guests. They say that if the host failed to meet these obligations, that guests may have been able to take legal action against him. Others say that the guests may have been obliged to bring at least some of their own food and wine. Jesus and his disciples being poor couldn’t afford to contribute any and that is why they ran out of wine. The real reason in unknown. What we do know is that Mary, upon learning that the wine is gone, comes to Jesus and tells him about the situation. Notice, she doesn’t ask him to do anything; she just makes a statement. She is not merely just telling Jesus there is no wine, however. There is some implication that she expects Jesus to do something about the fact that they are out of wine. We know this because of Jesus’ reply- “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.” His reply is actually quite interesting in that he doesn’t address Mary as mother as we might expect. He said woman. Now this may sound harsh when we read it but the original word has a softer connotation. We would do better to read it as Dear woman. It was a term of respect and affection but it’s still strange that he didn’t refer to her as mother.
The next part of his passage puts scholars in a tizzy. They don’t really know what to do with it. In fact, as I was preparing for this Bible Study and reading commentaries and exegetical studies, most of them just glance over this brief interchange between Jesus and Mary. Let’s take a look at what goes on here. Mary tells Jesus there is no more wine, implying that Jesus needs to do something. Jesus doesn’t say no. He basically says, “This is none of my business.” Some scholars say that “My hour has not yet come” foreshadows the events of the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was about to be arrested (Matthew 26:45). I don’t know that this is the case here. In fact, like others, I’m not sure what to make of Jesus’ response.
Mary seems undaunted by Jesus’ response and tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Obviously Mary knows Jesus has some kind of supernatural power as she expects him to come up with wine somehow and chances of Jesus having access to a bunch of already made wine are slim to none. So we can assume that Mary has faith that Jesus can miraculously fix the problem.
It says that there were large water jars used for ceremonial washing nearby. I don’t know if it was a big deal back then or not but I find it a little funny that Jesus uses these “religious” jars to make wine. I’m sure the Pharisees would’ve had a field day with that one. I think it shows Jesus as setting aside the laws and rituals that didn’t matter, such as ceremonial washing. Now that Jesus was here, there was a to be a new order. The ritualism of the Old Testament was made complete in Christ and therefore, things such as ceremonial water jars were no longer needed.
What I find interesting about this miracle is that it doesn’t say that Jesus prayed over the jars or laid hands on the jars. It just says that Jesus told the servants to draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet. It just happened. Jesus is just that good, I guess, lol. And not only did he save the day by changing the water into wine, it was of fine quality!
Here’s something else I find interesting- It says the miracle he performed “revealed his glory.” I would go so far as to say all of his miracles were done to reveal his glory. And yet, many people were just looking at the miracle itself as, “What can Jesus do for me?” instead of “Glory to God for the things he has done. We will see later when we discuss the time Jesus healed the ten lepers that only one even bothered to come back and say thank you to Jesus. That is pretty sad. How often do we do this today? I know I tend to ask God to help me out when I need something but how often do I ask him to do his will so that he may be glorified? Might I suggest that the next time you pray, you try to chase the will of God instead of trying to change the will of God and ask that in the process, he might be glorified.
Dear God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus. Thank you for fulfilling all the promises you made about him. Thank you for making him the new covenant with your people so that we don’t have to depend on rituals for salvation, but on a relationship with your Son. I ask that you be with us as we go about our daily activities. Show us the people around us who need your love. Give us the courage to speak to them about your love and forgiveness. Embolden us to seek your glory, even if it means doing something we don’t like so that you become more and we become less. Fill this earth with your amazing presence, Amen!