Early in his ministry—he’d only been ordained by his baptism shortly beforehand—Jesus was invited to a wedding in Cana. The account is only recorded in the second chapter of John but it is significant for being the first sign, according to John, about the purpose of his ministry.
We are not told whose wedding is taking place in the story but, at some point, Mary the mother of Jesus approaches him with the exclamation that the groom is out of wine. The term used here is oinos, which is the Greek word for wine (not juice). That’s a story for another blog.
Jesus responds to his mother with a sentence that appears strange to us in modern terms. “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Try calling your mother “woman” and see how that works for you. In his time, it was not an insult like we would interpret it today.
Scholars debate on why Jesus said it was not his time. His ministry began at his baptism, so why was he claiming his hour had not come? Perhaps it is because they were at the wedding of a friend, or family member, and it was their day to be the center of attention. Jesus, in that instance was demonstrating humility and respect. This might explain why he simply commanded the servants to gather the pots and fill them with water.
Jesus didn’t make a grand gesture to draw attention to himself. He didn’t wave his arms over the pots, pray loudly, yell “shazam,” or distract anyone from the celebration. He just asked for obedience.
It is significant, and symbolic, that Jesus asked for the water jars used for Jewish purification rituals to be filled for the task (John 2:6-7). Jesus replaced the ritual purification of the old religion with the new covenant represented in the wine of communion.
When the wine steward tasted from the jars, he remarked that the host had saved the best wine for last. The groom was glorified as a good host. When Jesus returns at his appointed time, he will return as the bridegroom for his church and he will be glorified as the Lord of hosts. He has also reserved the best wine for us.
“Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!” Psalm 24:10
As we begin the Lenten season, I pray that the peace of Christ comforts you in this time of fasting and contemplation.