John chapter two starts the stories. They’re both easier to read and more difficult to interpret. It’s easy to take a statement like, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and make a doctrine out of it. But when you read the stories of what happened, it’s more difficult. The first two stories that John lists here in chapter are extremely difficult. First, Jesus changes water into wine. And second, he makes a whip and drives people out of the temple.
We don’t usually take these actions and make a direct doctrine. “…We should all change water into wine.” “…We should all braid cords into whips for important times of… driving people places.” Well, someone somewhere has made those statements. But not usually.
Instead, traditionally, we take these stories and try to find broad themes and meanings behind them, and apply those to our lives.
But that’s where it gets tricky. Everyone who reads a story has their own point of view when they read it, and so we see things in the story that others may not notice. This can be good and bad.
On the one hand, the more you read the bible, the more you see new things and learn more about this God who is beyond understanding, but whom we try to know more and more. When you read and study with other people, you hear things you never thought before and learn things you’ve never considered.
On the other hand, sometimes people’s interpretations and conclusions are just wrong.
Sometimes, even yours.
In particular, it’s interesting that we all usually have some preconceived notion of right and wrong, and Who God is, and what He’s like, and when we come to the bible, unfortunately, we often filter the story to fit what we already believe.
THIS IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT WE SHOULD DO.
Because listen! The BIBLE tells the truth about God! We shouldn’t try to fit the Scriptures to our ideas… we should and let them re-shape and refine and just plain CORRECT what we think about God!
Okay. So are you ready? We’re going to read about Jesus changing water into wine. We are going to Cana, in Galilee, to see what the Mercy Man was up to. John chapter 2, verse 1.
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
(Wait, real quick: Jesus’ mother, of course, is Mary, who is not mentioned by name in this gospel so far. There’s no mention of Joseph, and in case you’re wondering, there’s some speculation that he must have died by this time. Jesus is about 30 years old when this story starts, by the way. Let’s go on.)
Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Dear Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
Okay, just THINK for a minute about all that this tells about who Jesus is, and what he’s like. Remember that we’re going through to find out what who the Mercy Man is, and we want to let what the Bible says outweigh what we think we know about him. So let’s make a list of what this story would tell us about him if we didn’t know anything else about him.
- He has a mother.
- He’s invited to weddings, and he goes.
- He’s living life. This tells us he’s not some a mystical god who floats on purple clouds. He’s very aware of normal life, because we see right here that he lived it.
- His mother goes to him with a problem. Hm. This is interesting.
- Here’s another interesting thing: She talks to him quite normally. Though he’s the Son of God, she doesn’t use any fancy language.
- He, also, responds to her normally, with kind affection. Some translations leave out the “Dear,” and it sounds really harsh and demeaning. But I don’t think that is the correct tone to read it in at all. It was definitely “dear woman.”
- It’s also interesting that she goes to him and doesn’t wait for him to notice.
Let’s hang out on that one for a few minutes. Now, we can’t take everything the characters in the bible do and say, “This is in the bible, so it must be right.” Not even Mary. The only person in the BIble, the only person in history, who did EVERYTHING right, was Jesus. So we can’t build a doctrine that says, “Mary went to Jesus and didn’t wait for him to notice, so we must always go to Jesus and not wait for him.” That doesn’t work. Instead, we just look at it and say, “That’s what she did. Should she have done this? Would I have done it like this?”
Anyway, okay. So here Mary comes with a problem. The wine is gone. The wine. Wow. What a controversial story to start out. If you had never heard this story before, you might think that Jesus would say some pithy proverb about how people shouldn’t drink so much, it’s not wise. But that’s not what happens. What happens is that he says,
“Why are you telling me about this? It’s not my time yet.”
This is a very interesting answer. This whole interaction shows so many things. First, it shows that Mary believed that Jesus was capable of doing something about the problem. I’m guessing she wasn’t expecting him to run to the market for more. Yet there is no other record in this gospel or any in our bible that says there was any other miracle before this, so how did she know he would be able to solve this problem?
The second thing that it shows is that Mary believed that Jesus would WANT to do something about this problem. She knew he would care. How did she know this?
I think the answer to both of these questions is because she knew Him. For thirty years, she had known Him. She went to him with a problem that she knew he could solve, and would solve, because after 30 years of knowing him, she knew what he was capable of, and what his character was.
This is so cool to me. We already know, from just this tiny conversation, so much about Jesus. We know that his mother related to him in a way that she knew- He can solve problems and he WANTS to solve problems. He cares, and he has power.
Okay, but that’s not even all.
The really fascinating thing to me is that Jesus initially says no.
Not no, directly, but come on. “Why are you asking me? It’s not my time yet,” is very, very, much, “NO.”
And yet… And yet.
Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
For thirty years and nine months, since the angel told Mary she would bear the Son of God, Mary has been anxiously waiting for Him to fulfill his purpose. For thirty years.
And up until now, how many times has he said, “My time has not yet come?”
Why does he say that anyway?
It’s because he is following God, his Father, He is leaning on the leading of the Spirit, and up until now, He has not heard the word, “It’s time.”
God’s time is perfect, we know this. Many, many times, we hear people tell us when things are waiting or delayed… “God’s time! All in His time.” It’s almost a doctrine. God’s timing. We shouldn’t push or press, God will do things in his time. When we don’t understand, well, “it’s just not God’s time.” It’s used to comfort people with unanswered prayers, it’s used to console ourselves when we are disappointed. “God’s Time” is something that we don’t understand and we can’t do anything about, right? That’s what we’re taught, that’s what we believe.
But this story flies in the face of that.
Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Mary directly hears the voice of God telling her, “It’s not my time yet,” and she turns around and says, “Get ready,” and you know what happens. He performs a miracle.
Mary knows him, knows his character, knows his capabilities, knows him intimately, and that changes everything.
Build your theology on that. Take your old ideas of “God’s timing,” set them next to that, and compare them. Does your doctrine align with what the Word says He does? Does your idea of how God acts compare to what this story says?
If not, what are you going to do about it?
I’ve already written so many words here, and the story isn’t over. But you just consider that for a little while, okay? And come back and we can read the rest of the story later.
In God’s time. 😉
This post is part of a series going through the book of
John. If you’d like to follow along, you can subscribe or head to the lead page and go at your own pace. Just click here.