And Jesus said to [Mary], “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4
One of the things that set Jesus’s ministry apart was the way He interacted with women. We touched on that briefly in an Easter post, but it’s worth a more in-depth look. In-depth, but not exhaustive. However, each encounter was chosen because it teaches us something about Jesus and our relationship to Him. It is important to notice in each case, Jesus treated these women with dignity and respect that was unheard of at that time and in that culture. That in itself is instructive as we interact with people now.
Today, we find the first encounter between the adult Jesus and His mother, Mary. John 2:1 tells us Mary was at a wedding in Cana, and that Jesus and His disciples were invited guests. Jewish weddings were joyous, festive, community celebrations lasting several days. At some point the groom’s family ran out of wine. We don’t know whose wedding it was, but the fact that Mary was privy to the situation with the wine suggests that she was close to the groom’s family.
Running out of wine, failing to provide and care for the invited guests was a serious breach of hospitality. Mary was, no doubt, very sensitive to the sting of gossip and public humiliation. In her compassion for the family, she goes to Jesus, because she believes He can do something about the situation.
There’s our first lesson. Mary acted as the intercessor went to Jesus first on behalf of the groom’s family. We should also be sensitive to the needs of others and ready to carry those needs to the one who can act.
Jesus’s response to His mother seems almost disrespectful, but let’s think through it. Would Jesus have spoken to His mother in a tone of anything but respect? Of course not. He’s not annoyed with her. She’s not bothering Him. But His response is very formal, rather than familiar. Why?
Jesus had officially entered His ministry. Remember when Mary and Joseph found twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple discussing theology with the religious leaders? He was puzzled by their worry and explained: “I must be about My Father’s business.” Then Luke 2:51 says He went home and “was subject to them.” Those days were over. Now Jesus answered solely to His heavenly Father. Jesus’s exchange with Mary here was a gentle, but unmistakeable, reminder that things between them had changed.
That’s our second lesson. Mary’s close family relationship with Jesus doesn’t grant her special access or favors. The upside, though, is this means we have the same right to approach Jesus for an answer to our petition as Mary does.
Then instead of pleading further with Jesus or outlining the merits of her requests, Mary turns to the servants in verse 5 and says, “Do whatever He tells you.” She walks away with the utmost trust that Jesus has heard and will act.
We too need that same confident faith that our prayers have been heard and that Jesus will intervene according to His will and His character.
Of course, we know that Jesus turned the water into wine in a very low-key miracle, His first recorded sign. Only a handful of people knew about it. In the larger picture, His glory was manifested and His disciples believed in Him. There is always a greater purpose behind the miracles.
This reminds us to give Jesus the praise and glory He is due when He acts in our lives.
From the time Mary understood she would give birth to the Messiah, her response was “Behold, the servant of the Lord.” She maintained that humble devotion to her Son and then reckoned with the reality that He was her Savior and Lord. She has much to teach us.