John 2:1-11 records Jesus’ first miracle: turning water into wine in Cana. Jesus’ mother, Mary, came to him during a wedding party with the news that there was no more wine (a huge social faux pas in those days). Jesus tells her that it’s not his problem, but she tells the servants stick close, so Jesus relents and turns water into wine. I’ve been reflecting on this story and I have a few questions.
Why did Mary think Jesus should fix this problem?
Cana is about ten miles north of Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood home. Based on Mary’s response to the problem, the groom was probably a relative but at the very least a close family friend. Jesus had recently quit the family business and begun traveling and teaching full time. He had a few followers already, but he’s still pretty much under the radar of everyone outside the region. Mary had no idea who Jesus really was; she probably thought him to be a prophet, perhaps even the Messiah, but she couldn’t have known he was divine. So here’s Jesus, a recently unemployed traveling teacher with a couple of tag-alongs. No money. No miraculous power. No status in the community (outside of his reputation as a godly man). What gave Mary the idea that Jesus should fix this problem? Why didn’t she go to the groom’s father? Why didn’t she go to a rich uncle? What gave Mary the idea that this was a problem Jesus should fix?
Why did Mary think Jesus would fix this problem?
When Jesus told her, “Why do you involve me?” she didn’t appear to be too shaken up. She looked at the servants and said, “Do whatever he tells you.” She seems confident that Jesus is going to do something about this problem. What gives her the idea that Jesus will do something about this when he had just told her he wasn’t? What does she know about Jesus’ character that we don’t know yet? Why is she so convinced that Jesus is going to help this couple avoid a social stigma?
How did Mary know Jesus could fix this problem?
This is perhaps the most perplexing question to me. Mary comes to Jesus with the expectation that he can fix this problem. When Jesus says, “My time has not yet come,” there is an underlying assumption that I had missed before—Mary knows Jesus can fix this problem! Jesus is saying that wants to remain inconspicuous, but Mary is suggesting that fixing the problem is more important than being conspicuous. Had she seen Jesus perform miracles around the house? What does Mary know about the power of Jesus that she believes he can tap into that no one else has a clue about?
Mary may not have known Jesus’ true identity, but she knew he was a man who took responsibility for problems not his own, that he cared enough to get involved, and that he had the ability to accomplish the impossible.