The Beginning of Miracles
This, the first of his miraculous signs,
Jesus performed at Cana of Galilee.
Jesus was going to a wedding! And so were His disciples. Mary, Jesus' mother, was also there. In a week, Jesus went from Bethany where John the Baptist was baptizing, added five disciples (Andrew, Simon, Philip, Nathaniel, and John), and traveled to Cana for the festivities.
During the wedding celebration, the wine supply ran out. Having no more wine would have been a considerable embarrassment. Everyone would soon know what happened if they didn't already. Mary noticed the problem and told Jesus. Maybe Mary was helping out with the party, and that's why she took matters in her own hands or possibly she knew Jesus always knew what to do. He was the wisest, best at everything son she went to when she had a problem! Jesus had a solution every time. So, naturally, Mary went to Him now because she cared about the people and wanted the problem taken care of as soon as possible. The Bible gives us no indication that Mary was asking Jesus to perform a miracle. He had never done one before so there is no reason to believe she expected one now.
Jesus replied in such a way that may surprise us. He said, "Woman, why are you coming to me with this problem? My hour has not yet come." Mary wouldn't have known. His words seem so harsh and even rude. Let's break it down:
Woman was a term of respect. Today, saying "woman" instead of "mom," or "mother" sounds harsh. Jesus says it again while He was on the cross, "Woman, behold your son," referring to John. Jesus was telling Mary their relationship was changing. She was no longer the one He answered to. When Jesus was twelve, Mary got a glimpse of what would come when He left home to begin His public ministry. Jesus was now about His Father's business, and the Mother/son relationship was ending.
Why do you involve Me? Again, Jesus is no longer doing something just because His mother wants Him to. It's time for Mary to see Jesus as the Son of God rather than her own son. Jesus only listened to the Father now. When others gave Him suggestions such as Mary was doing, Jesus usually rebuked them. For example, when Jesus, later on, tells His disciples He will soon suffer and be killed, Peter suggests that Jesus is wrong. He replies indignantly, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." And what does Jesus say? "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me..." His response to Mary is much gentler. And yet Jesus seems to be letting Mary know that she doesn't get to bring her problems to Him as His mother and expect Him to solve them for her anymore. He only listened to the Father!
My hour has not yet come. Jesus is now on the Father's timetable, not his Mother's. He is telling Mary His time for revealing Himself as Messiah hasn't arrived yet. Mary appears to understand what Jesus is saying because she doesn't press the issue but simply tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. I'm not sure I would have bowed out quite so easily. Mary's response can be a lesson for us. If she had let pride get the best of her, she might have tried to argue with Jesus or gone off and pouted because she didn't get her way. Maybe Mary didn't react negatively to Jesus because she knew this day was coming, and she prepared herself ahead of time. When we know something difficult or out of our control is going to happen but aren't sure of the exact time, we can decide ahead of time how we will respond.
Jesus has just told His mother that His hour hasn't come yet so what happens next almost seems like a contradiction. Jesus tells the servants to fill the water pots with water. Jesus was listening to the Father, not His mother. The servants did what Jesus told them to do and filled the containers to the brim. Jesus then tells them to take a cup of water to the headwaiter, and they do. When the headwaiter takes a drink, he is surprised. He calls the bridegroom and asks, "Where did this come from? Everyone serves the best wine first, but you have saved the best wine until now." What? The servants had filled the pots with water! When did the water turn into wine? How did it become wine? Wine comes from grapes, not water. The servants knew they hadn't done it; they had merely followed orders. Jesus had turned the water into wine! It was the beginning of miracles!
John calls them signs rather than miracles because he wants us to know Jesus had a greater purpose than just the miracle itself. Every miraculous sign has a deeper meaning and points people to Jesus as the Messiah. John says, "These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31). And Jesus says in John 14:11, "Believe me when I say I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." When water becomes wine, the One responsible is worth listening to. Jesus is who He says He is. And He will now prove it through His miraculous signs over the next three years, culminating in rising from the dead!