For me, the Wedding at Cana has always been one of the most troubling miracles. When I look at the text, I am first excited by the fact that Jesus seems to be some sort of party guy. Yeah! He’s turning the water into wine! But, then I’m troubled by the little conversation that he has with his mother.
Looking down at my journal, I can see that I am quite lost here. (At least, that’s what I wrote!) Allow me to show you the passage, and then I’ll give a couple of thoughts on it.
|Hebert Translation||Nestle-Aland 27|
|On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding and his disciples too. When the wine was lacking, Jesus’ mother said to him: “They do not have wine.” And Jesus said to her: “What is that to me and you, woman? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants: “Whatever he tells you, go and do.” There were six stone water jars there for the rite of purification of the Jews, each holding two or three measures. Jesus said to them: “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the top. And he said to them: “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water having become wine, he did not know where it came from (though, the servants who drew the water knew). The master of the feast called the groom and said to him: “Every man puts out the good wine first and when they are drunk he puts out the worse wine. You have kept the good wine until now!”||Καὶ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ γάμος ἐγένετο ἐν Κανὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ ἦν ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐκεῖ· ἐκλήθη δὲ καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν γάμον. καὶ ὑστερήσαντος οἴνου λέγει ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ πρὸς αὐτόν· οἶνον οὐκ ἔχουσιν. [καὶ] λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; οὔπω ἥκει ἡ ὥρα μου. λέγει ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ τοῖς διακόνοις· ὅ τι ἂν λέγῃ ὑμῖν ποιήσατε. ἦσαν δὲ ἐκεῖ λίθιναι ὑδρίαι ἓξ κατὰ τὸν καθαρισμὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων κείμεναι, χωροῦσαι ἀνὰ μετρητὰς δύο ἢ τρεῖς. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· γεμίσατε τὰς ὑδρίας ὕδατος. καὶ ἐγέμισαν αὐτὰς ἕως ἄνω. καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· ἀντλήσατε νῦν καὶ φέρετε τῷ ἀρχιτρικλίνῳ· οἱ δὲ ἤνεγκαν. ὡς δὲ ἐγεύσατο ὁ ἀρχιτρίκλινος τὸ ὕδωρ οἶνον γεγενημένον καὶ οὐκ ᾔδει πόθεν ἐστίν, οἱ δὲ διάκονοι ᾔδεισαν οἱ ἠντληκότες τὸ ὕδωρ, φωνεῖ τὸν νυμφίον ὁ ἀρχιτρίκλινος καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· πᾶς ἄνθρωπος πρῶτον τὸν καλὸν οἶνον τίθησιν καὶ ὅταν μεθυσθῶσιν τὸν ἐλάσσω· σὺ τετήρηκας τὸν καλὸν οἶνον ἕως ἄρτι.|
See what I’m talking about? The master of the feast is expecting cheap-o box o’ wine, and instead, Jesus has turned ordinary water into 1947 Château Cheval Blanc! Quite a guy, right!
OK, so the crux of this miracle, the first one performed by Jesus in the Gospel of John, is this conversation with Mary. Jesus seems reluctant to do anything in public, and his mother’s poking and prodding is not enjoyable. Eventually, however, he tells his pride to shove off and then takes care of business.
I think there are two interesting things that we can take out of this:
- Jesus’ willingness to obey the commandment to honor his father and mother.
- The idea that sometimes we need to be pushed into God’s service.
The first is obvious. Jesus’ is perhaps following the fifth commandment by doing what his mother asks him to do. This is a good example for us and we should consider taking it to heart.
The second idea is a bit harder to grasp. What is important about this story, in my mind, is that it is Jesus’ first public manifestation of his power (at least in the Gospel of John). Prior to this, we’ve only seen John the Baptist flapping his gums about Jesus, who he is, and what he’s here to do. Jesus himself has done very little up to this point.
In order to enter into the service of God, Jesus needs a coming out party, and faithful Mary, the handmaiden of God, helps Jesus find that moment.
I think it’s true that we all need a little push in the right direction from time to time. I know this is certainly true of me. I can’t always tell which direction I’m supposed to go. It takes the help of a person I respect to get me moving on something.
Perhaps that is what is happening with this scene: Jesus is getting a little guidance from a person he respects.
OR, I could be totally wrong about this passage!