Week Five: The Wedding at Cana
Verse to memorize
“Do whatever He tells you.” (Mary, John 2:5)
On the third day, there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.
1) In this passage in the Gospel of John, we see Mary, Jesus, and his disciples at a country wedding. In Jesus’ time, wedding celebrations lasted several days, because guests sometimes had to travel a long way. This was a big enough wedding that the bridegroom had hired a wine steward and servants. Q: When the wine ran out, what does Mary do? A: She brings the problem to Jesus. Q: What does this tell us about Mary? A: She has compassion for the hosts and wants to help them. Q: How does Jesus respond? A: Similar to the “Finding in the Temple” story, He responds to His mother with a question: “Woman, how does your concern affect me?
2) Wait!! How can Jesus call His mother “Woman”??? In our English-speaking culture, this would be disrespectful. But cultural practices vary. In Jesus’ culture, it was a term of affection. For example, in Spanish today, ‘Mujer” means woman or wife. Husbands call their wives, “Mujer” with affection. The tone of voice matters. And wives who have been married a while call their husbands, “Viejo”, meaning old person!
3) Jesus also tells his mother, “My hour has not yet come.” Q: What does this mean? A: The word “hour” is used very symbolically in the Gospel of John. Jesus uses it to identify the moments in His public ministry when His “glory” or divinity is revealed, either through miracles or through His passion, death, and resurrection. It was the very beginning of His ministry, and Jesus let His mother know that this will be the beginning of him revealing who he is.
4) Q: What does Mary do when Jesus questions her concern for the hosts? A: She acts with confidence. She doesn’t tell Jesus what to do, she directs the attention of the servants to Jesus, leaving the question open. Mary speaks: “Do whatever He tells you.” These are her last words recorded in Scripture, but not her last acts. Her last words to the servants and to us echo down the centuries. We, too, are servants, and we, too, must do whatever He tells us.
5) Q: What happened at that moment? Jesus directed the servants to fill the stone jars with water. Q: Did Jesus change His mind about helping the hosts? A: We can only “ponder” this. Perhaps Mary’s concern touched Jesus’ merciful heart.
6) Math question: Six stone jars holding 20-30 gallons each. How much wine did Our Lord turn into wine? A: Between 120 and 180 gallons of “good wine”. That’s a lot of wine! Q: What does this tell us about Our Lord. A: He cannot be outdone in generosity. God provides abundantly.
7) Q: What spiritual effect did this first miracle have? A: Jesus’ disciples believed in Him. In modern times, Pope St. John Paul II took the image of wine—new wine, wine running out, and best wine last —as an allegory for marriage in his play (also a movie starring Burt Lancaster) called “The Jeweler’s Shop”.
Courtesy of The Bible Project