Six years ago I wrote about the Wedding at Cana, but as it has once again come up in the reading rotation, I find myself yearning to say more. As my close friends can all attest to my inability to say anything new, this should come as no surprise.
John 2 has always had a special place in my heart. I remember when I first studied chapter 1, my eyes were opened to the depth and breadth of Christ’s divinity. But chapter 2 forever delights me with the intensity of Christ’s humanity. Walk with me.
You’re in the garden of a reasonably well-off family whose son has just taken a new bride, a cause for celebration in most any community. The wife of the neighboring town’s carpenter is a relative of the family and her son came to the festival accompanied by a dozen or so of his friends, including fishermen and tax collectors. Is it any surprise that this little band of merry men has managed to put the wine reserves in short supply?
It can be no shock that his mother felt obliged to intervene on behalf of the hosts to encourage her son to make things right. And how does he respond? Much as any gluttonous drunkard would. He rudely disregards his mother, and returns to his friends, mumbling about not having the time or some such.
His mother, the wise woman she must be, has sent him along with the servants to fetch more wine. But look, they have barely been gone long enough to make it around the corner, and can you believe it? They’ve returned with 150 gallons of choice wine, and in ceremonial jars no less. Don’t they know those jars are now ruined? But then, what do you expect from a bunch of free-loading ingrates…
But this is an outsider’s view of the story, and to be fair, one I just sat here and made up. What’s substantially more interesting to me is what this was like from John’s perspective. It is, after all, his book.
John remembered the conversation between Jesus and Mary that day. In the midst of all the wedding commotion, he thought it was memorable before the miracle even happened. And it was still memorable after the cross. This was the first time Jesus called his mom “Woman”, certainly not a title with the negative connotation we imbue today, but still not what a son would call his mother. And to follow it with the equivalent of “That’s your problem, what business is it of mine?” a rude statement to pretty much any concerned party at any time, and even more so at a wedding celebration where your buddies are drinking all the booze. This almost certainly stuck in John’s ears.
But then to follow it with “It is not yet my time”, which John alone records Jesus saying 12 more times, this phrase almost certainly resonated with him. In every other instance “It is not yet my time” points directly and specifically to Christ’s death and resurrection. That’s the only time Jesus lays claim to.
Yet in this one instance nearly every bible scholar believes it refers to the start of Jesus ministry. This is plain silliness, since in a sense he had clearly begun his public ministry as his disciples were present at the feast. But people will press on and say it refers to the miraculous portion of Jesus ministry, but this paints Jesus out to be a liar, as he says it is not his time and then proceeds to make it his time.
Could it be though that “It is not yet my time” even here refers to his death and resurrection? If so, then how?
This was the first time Jesus used “Woman” in reference to his mother. The second was while he was on the cross, when he gave John over to Mary as her new son. This miracle is clearly tied to the cross. The passage even starts with “On the third day”. Everything about this event makes John think of the resurrection, but why?
Jesus came to fulfill the law, to replace ceremonial washing with his own purifying blood, the blood poured out as the wine for the heavenly wedding feast. He is the groom and the wine and the feast. He is the miracle. He is the best wine saved for last, for the last day.
And the best part is that from the very beginning of his ministry, even in the midst of a giant party, he is focused on exactly one time: his death and resurrection. So much so that he even jokes about it flippantly and gives a visual parable so incredible that his disciples put their faith in him. I love this man, this God, this Jesus.
Posted with : The Way