Red Letter Year: 10/1

John 2.1-12

1The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, what is that to me and you?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, 8 he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.

9 When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”

11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.


Jesus’ response to his mother here sounds pretty harsh. Most of us don’t call our mother “woman” if we mean to show love and respect. But in John’s account of the cross, Jesus is going to entrust Mary to John’s care, saying, “Woman, behold your son.” (19.26) Since we are easily able to read a loving, respectful tone in the second instance where Jesus calls Mary, “woman,” it should be possible to read this one that way too. Perhaps this was a common way Jesus addressed his mom, perhaps it was more culturally standard, or perhaps John uses this word specifically to make a point – highlighting the humanity of Jesus to complement his emphasis on the divinity of Jesus. Any of these are possible and make better sense than a snippy reading.

Especially since Jesus does the miracle. He tells Mary his hour hasn’t come yet, but then he does it anyway. It’s easy to get the idea of Jesus waiting for the right time, but he has already been baptized at this point and the next thing we will read is Jesus clearing the Temple. If it wasn’t his hour in Cana, it was sure close to it. More than whether Jesus was being snarky, I think we need to pay attention to his initial refusal to do a miracle and then his response to Mary’s trust in him to do it anyway. This is not unique in Scripture. God wanted to wipe out Israel after the gold cow incident, but relented thanks to Moses. God refused to travel with Israel, but relented thanks to Moses. God gave Cain a harsh punishment and then showed leniency when Cain asked for mercy. Over and over in the Bible we find stories of God responding to people who won’t take no for an answer.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a name it and claim it guy. I don’t think we have whatever we say, I don’t think God always gives us what we ask for in prayer. All that is false teaching, dangerous teaching that leads to a lot of hurt. Many people have broken off their relationship with God because of stuff like that. But, God does answer prayer sometimes, and for whatever reason, God often answers prayer positively after seeming to refuse at first. I see this all the time. Just this past weekend, my daughter twisted her ankle. Amy and I prayed for her. I prayed first. Nothing. Amy prayed. Nothing. I prayed again. It felt a little better. Amy prayed again. Completely healed. Why? I don’t know exactly, but it is the same dynamic that we see here in Cana. Mary doesn’t even technically ask and she ignores Jesus’ semi-refusal altogether. The result? Over 150 gallons of the very best wine. I’m telling you, God still answers prayer. Try it for yourself. What do you have to lose?

The other thing that gets me here is the trust shown by the servants. Jesus tells them to do three simple things. Fill the jars, draw out the wine, serve the wine. John makes sure we get the picture – the servants knew where this came from. They had just filled wash basins with fresh water. I don’t know how much trouble they would have been in for bringing water instead of wine. It would have been disgraceful at the very least. While the actions they were given were mundane, doing them trusting in a miracle had to make them quite hard to carry out. The same is true of us. Touching my daughter’s ankle and saying a few words was easy. No real effort required. And we pray for each other a lot, so we’re used to it. Still, there is always a hurdle to get over when you say, “Can I pray for you right now?” You’re just talking. Very easy to do. But doing it trusting God will do something is not easy at all. And it doesn’t really get much easier. But this is what faith is – taking action that demonstrates trust. Easy work. But hard work. And the payoff is extraordinary.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.