22: The Mother of the Groom (John 2:4 & 12)
22. The Mother of the Groom
John has been introducing us to those people that are going to be important in his narrative, Jesus, of course, being the primary focus. We have also met John the Baptist, Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip and Nathanael. They are all going to reappear later in the gospel.
Now we meet the first woman. Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
John could have started his gospel with the birth of Jesus and how wonderful Mary’s heart and response was to the call of God on her life. He didn’t. This is perhaps all the more unusual because Mary had probably lived in John’s house and under his care since Jesus had died on the cross. John was her replacement son.
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:26-27)
John was the best placed gospel writer to tell Mary’s story to the world. But he didn’t. I’m sure it wasn’t because he didn’t love, appreciate and deeply respect her. Her story was worth telling. But John left that up to others, not so intimately acquainted with her as he was.
Again, John is making sure that Jesus is our only focus. Everyone else points to Him. Even His own mother. That is why John starts the life of Jesus with the wedding at Cana. It is the Mother of Jesus pointing the way to Jesus.
Mary knew Jesus better than anyone. She had watched him from baby to boy, from teen to man. As she watched, she treasured what she knew of Him in her heart. But she knew there would be a day when the truth would get out. And when it did, it would change her relationship with Him forever. It would cost her, dearly. A glory moment that would come at a price. A son that would never truly just be her boy again and a sword of grief that would pierce her own heart through as she watched Him suffer and die.
The day that Jesus revealed who He really was, was going to be the day she would have to let go of Him as a Mother. At that moment she would be giving Him away to another. Actually a world full of others, many of whom were not going to treat Him so well. She was going to give Him away to people He would woo with His love only to have most of them reject Him and turn their backs on Him. That moment, when He let Himself be truly known, would cost her dearly, but being a mother she probably wasn’t thinking about that. She was more likely to be thinking about what it would cost Him.
So, in the end, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Rather than wait and wonder when Jesus is going to reveal Himself for who He really was, she decided to do it for Him.
Fittingly, she chose to do it at a wedding. The wedding at Cana of Galilee.
He was thirty years old and she must have had the questions:
“So when is Jesus going to get married? Have any of the girls caught his eye yet? He is a good boy and will make someone a fine husband. Why is he so kind to all the girls and yet he is not interested in marrying any one of them?”
It would probably not have been wise to say what she was thinking. “Oh, He’s God and He won’t be getting married.”
No, she was never going to see her Son married, not as we understand marriage. She was never going to be able to give Him away to someone who loved Him as much as He loved them. She gave Him away instead to a world that would mock, beat, kill and destroy Him.
She knew what she was doing here. She knew where it would lead. She had been told by the righteous, devout Simeon that day she brought Jesus to present Him to the Lord at the temple.
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)
But she did it anyway. Typical mother. No thought for her own needs or desires. Her Son had a call on His life. It would cost Him everything. It would cost her her son. But she did it anyway.
She thought she had lost Him once before as a twelve year old boy becoming a man. They had travelled a full day back from Jerusalem before they discovered that He was gone. It took them another three days in the hubbub of a busy capital before they found Him. He was in His Father’s house, the temple, reasoning with the religious teachers and leaders, who were amazed at His understanding. He had been there four days, apparently so caught up in what He was doing that He had lost track of time. The time creator, losing track of it.
“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:46-47)
But on that occasion Mary got Him back. For another eighteen year Jesus lived and served at home.
“And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.” (Luke 2:52)
But, through that experience, His Mother had learnt a painful but valuable lesson. He was her son, yes, but He belonged to another. He was also the One and Only, the Only Begotten of the Father in heaven and there would come a time when He would leave her to be about His Father’s business and never really come home to Nazareth again. She was a thoughtful woman and she took the lesson to heart.
“And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:52)
She knew she would have to let Him go completely one day. It seems that Jesus was set to choose when that day would happen. In the end Mary chose the day for Him.
She gave her Son away at a wedding after all.
It all started with a lack of wine.
These people seemed to have been friends of Mary’s, to such an extent that Jesus and all His disciples were invited.
“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.” (John 2:1)
There was a lot of people there. Too many people. So many, in fact, that the wine ran out. That was a big social faux pas on behalf of the bridal couple and it threatened not just to spoil their special day, but forever tarnish their reputation in the community. People had come from as far away as Nazareth (a day’s journey). The gossip would be all over the region of Galilee.
We don’t know how long into the wedding the wine ran out, but obviously Mary was close enough to the action to know that it had happened. If she knew, probably many others did too. She probably could feel the pain and panic of the families concerned. They would never live this down.
She knew that Jesus was going to be revealed for who He really was at some point. He was already a travelling preacher with some disciples. But no miracles yet. Nothing that really showed people His true. Even His disciples didn’t really know. She decided that now was the time. Her friends needed Him. So without thought for herself, the cost she was personally going to pay, she called on the name of the Lord.
“When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”” (John 1:3)
It was clear to Jesus that she was asking for His help. It was clear that Mary knew He could do something about this, she had no doubt about it. Jesus’ response is equally clear.
“And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’” (John 1:4)
There it was. The distance that she had feared would come. “Woman” not “Mother” or “Mum”.
She would go to Him later with the rest of His siblings, to a house that was bulging with eager Jesus watchers. She wouldn’t be able to get near Him so she would send Him a message to tell Him that she was there. His response would be equally clear.
“Who is my Mother?” (Matthew 12:48)
But she had carried Him in her womb. He had already cost her a lot in gossip. Her reputation had already been tarnished because of Him. She would have counted that as nothing for the joy of knowing Him. She had fed, washed and cared for Him. He had eaten at her table for thirty years.
Now she needed Him, her friends needed Him and she was not going to be denied. She ignored His instructions and issued some of her own. Yes, she ignored God. She pressed on past His apparent reluctance to act. She interrupted His seemingly preferred time frame. A great picture of prayer.
“His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” (John 1:5)
There it is. The key to life. Right from the mouth of His own Mother.
Do whatever Jesus tells you.
Do you want the ordinary water of your life turned into the finest of wines? Then do whatever He tells you.
Jesus was waiting for the right time. His Father’s time. But ended up doing it on His Mother’s time anyway. A final act of public submission to a Mother He loved. It turned out to be what the Father wanted too.
The Logos spoke. Creation happened. A miracle occurred and a Mother’s heart was warmed by the kindest of Sons. All on the third day.
And so His glory was revealed and the faith of His disciples went deeper as a result.
“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)
And it all happened on the third day.
As we saw in the last chapter, another third day is coming. Right after the fulfillment of all the pain that Mary has been told to expect. There, in the worst grief and pain of her life she will discover that water into wine was just the beginning. This was the first of His miracles. There were many more to come. The greatest of which will happen when the Son that she loved and had to release would rise again from the dead for her. And not just for her but for the whole world.
This first third day, Mary releases Jesus to the world. After the next third day, she gets Him back after what she thought was her final goodbye and she gets Him back forever. Water into wine. And the best wine is kept for last.
How did Jesus respond to being revealed to the world by His mother? Would He straight away move into the ministry phase of His life and leave behind forever the home life He had enjoyed for thirty years? No. The opposite in fact. He left the wedding with his Mother and brothers for a little family retreat in Capernaum.
“After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.” (John 2:12)
It is true that when you let go of something for God, you never really lose out.
From now on He was going to concentrate on serving His Father, but He would never forgot the Mother who had loved Him enough to give Him away.Posted on: June 2, 2018Peter Todd