After Rachel’s post last week looking at how isolated and scared Mary must have felt while giving birth, we now focus on her as a parent. The verse we chose for this week was from the story of Jesus’ first miracle, when he turned water in to wine.
The context for this is quite simple. Mary and Jesus were at a wedding in Cana in Galilee. The wine was running out. Mary asked Jesus to intervene, and gets a fairly curt response:
“When the wine was gone, Jesus mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” John 2:3-4.
Poor Mary! I can completely understand why she pushes him forward here. At this stage, Jesus is 30 years old. It’s over 30 years since Mary first had the message from the angel. She’s brought him into the world and brought him up. Through all of those years, she must have constantly wondered, “When? When will he start his ministry? When will he show everyone that he is the Messiah?” She must have been so frustrated.
Joseph is not there – he is not mentioned in the Bible after Jesus’ early years, so he is presumed to have died by this point. Commentators seem to think that the wedding couple were close friends or relations of Mary as she is one of the first to know that the wine is running out. Whether she simply wants to help her friends avoid embarrassment, or whether she wants to encourage Jesus into action, we don’t know.
She is careful not to tell Jesus what to do. She uses a statement, “They have no more wine,” rather than a question or a command. He is her Lord and her God; she cannot command him.
However, her words do prompt him to respond. To me, his response seems dismissive, especially the word, “Woman,” rather than ‘Mother.’ But he is distancing himself; He is the Messiah, but his time has not yet come. He is reminding her of their real relationship – that of the Lord and his servant.
Mary tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Again, she leaves it open to Jesus. He could have said nothing – but I think she expected him to do something. Is it her persistence that pays off? Or is it something else?
Following Jesus’ instructions, the servants fill the jars with water, which then becomes wine. This is the first of Jesus’ public miracles.
I think it’s fitting that Mary should be there to witness – and to be a part of – this first miracle. After all, she’s been there every step of the way so far. Yes, she was incredibly blessed, but her life as Jesus’ mother has also had huge difficulties, not least becoming a refugee in Egypt and having to give birth in a stable. Can you imagine how she felt, seeing him perform this miracle?
A non-essential miracle
Studying this verse has made me think about my children, and how I encourage them. Do I leave things open for them to decide? Do I share the hopes and dreams I have for them? Should I share my hopes and dreams for them?
The final thing that I’d like to point out from studying this verse is something that I’ve come across as I’ve been researching. This miracle, of Jesus turning the water into wine, is one that many would call ‘non-essential.’ It’s not a miraculous healing or raising someone from the dead – something completely life-transforming. Instead, it’s a miracle that enhances the guests’ enjoyment of the wedding. God cares about our enjoyment, as well as our essentials.
Next week, we’ll be looking at Luke 8:19-21. This is a longer verse than usual, but I think it’ll be a really encouraging one for the New Year.
Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’
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