Back in John’s telling of the first recorded miracle of Jesus, turning water into wine…
So yes, On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The third day as in Tuesday, as in Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…also as in the doubly blessed third day from Genesis, a doubly blessed day that must be the day the Jews in Israel would have to be married on. But never forget…and John will not let you forget, the third day is also the day Christ himself rose from the dead…
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Cana of Galilee. Funny thing about Cana of Galilee is, we know exactly where this is. You can still visit Cana today. It’s only 5 miles from Nazareth. Which probably tells us exactly why Jesus was invited to this wedding. Because he was known in the community, he was local. Yes, let’s invite Yeshua, the carpenter, remember him, he fixed our steps and built the gazebo a couple years ago. Let’s invite him. Jesus was invited, his mom was invited, his disciples were invited. Not because they were Jesus’s disciples but also because they, too, were known.
But Jesus only has six disciples at this point. This is the very beginning of his ministry. He’s got Andrew, Peter, James, John, Phillip, and Nathanael. Nathanael specifically has just joined the day before. He has just become a disciple of Jesus, and Jesus had told him “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” John 1:50 NIV. Better hold onto your hat, you’re going to see some awesome things. And sure enough, the next day they are at the wedding in Cana, and Nathanael will something truly amazing.
It’s a Jewish wedding of the first century. And we need to understand about Jewish weddings, or we might be confused. When we think of a wedding, we think of a quick ceremony followed by a wedding reception. But this is not a reception with mints and nuts and cake and punch in a plastic cup. This is a feast that will go for days. This is not a 20 minute ceremony followed by an hour long reception. You would have the ceremony, the bride and groom would disappear for a short time (not for pictures), the happy, blushing couple would return and the feast would begin!
It sounds crazy, but that’s how it was done. Jesus is at one of these first century weddings. They’ve had the vows, the happy couple has disappeared into the tent, now they’ve come back, and now it’s time to start several days of feasting. But no sooner had they got started, a real catastrophe happened. In a shame and honor based culture, which is typical of the east, including first century Israel, things like weddings have to come off right or it brings great shame upon the family. What happened here was, they ran out of wine. If you run out of wine, it is a catastrophe. Because when you have a feast that’s supposed to run for three days, if you run out of wine, people go home. Well, that’s that!! People begin to drift away, and what’s supposed to be a several day feast is over by the afternoon. It’s very embarrassing, the shame could linger within the family for generations – “That’s that family that tried to have a wedding! That didn’t work out, they ran out of wine and everybody left!! LOL”
So they ran out of wine and are the verge of a social catastrophe. Jesus’s mother is there with Jesus, her eldest son, and simply observes They have no wine. Notice that she’s not requesting for Jesus to do anything. This is not a request. Mary is not saying “Jesus fix this.” She’s simply making a whispered observation laden with pity. “Oh my goodness. They’ve ran out of wine, I feel so sorry for them. How embarrassing. How did they let this happen? They have no wine.” In our English translations Jesus’ response is rendered like this – Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come. What is actually said here in the Greek is apparently at least a little enigmatic, obscure, and difficult to understand. This comes across in our translations as a rebuff, but I don’t think that’s what happening at all. It doesn’t fit, Mary has not asked Jesus to do anything, she has just observed that they were, in fact, out of wine. NT Wright says we would benefit greatly from a simple punctuation change – Woman? What! Has this to do with me? Or how about this. Jesus response is really, if we could understand, more like this – “What’s that for us? I’ve got time. I can take care of that.”
Jesus says My hour has not yet come. Jesus knows that an hour will come when he can not work. The hour of darkness. The hour that he’s betrayed and turned over to the Romans. The hour that he’s crucified. But Jesus knows that’s a ways off. So Mary says oh no They have no wine, Jesus responds and says “What’s that for us? We can take care of that. I’ve got the tine. I’m not in a rush. I can handle this.”
Here’s an example so we can better understand. Imagine you’re in the grocery store, heading home after church to get your true worship on and watch some football, and at the front of the line is a young mother buying groceries, formula and diapers for her baby. Except she is coming up a couple of dollars short of being able to pay for what she has. And now she’s embarrassed, because there is a line of people in line behind her. She’s slowing the line down, and I mean, kickoff is in fifteen minutes! The back of her neck is white hot from the glowering stares behind her. This young mother is both embarrassed and a little desperate, because she needs those groceries. At which point your spouse whispers “She has no money.” So you grab a couple of bucks out of your wallet, discreetly head to the front of the line and give it to the cashier. “Here’s the rest of the money. I’ve got this covered.” Because, after all, what’s a couple of dollars? What’s that for us? We can take care of it.
That’s what’s happening here. That’s exactly what Jesus is doing. Mary says They have no wine. Jesus says No big deal. What’s that for us? He’s not saying “That’s not my problem.” What Jesus is saying here is “That’s no problem.” It’s all in how you hear the idiom, and there’s all the difference in the world.
How many times do we see others in certain situations and walk away without helping, telling ourselves “That’s not my problem. What’s that got to do with me?” But really, “Whats that for us?” It’s so easy for us to turn our backs and walk away. I do it everyday. But, again, “What’s that for us? We can handle that.” Can’t we?
“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 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, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” John 2:1-11 ESV