Jesus was invited (“called”) to a wedding, both He and His disciples. Not only was Jesus’ mother there, but the suggestion is that His whole family was there (2:12), leading some to believe that this was the marriage of either a close friend of the family or a relative. This view seems strengthened by the fact that Mary had intimate knowledge of the logistic problems of supplying the feast (2:3) and she appears to have had some power or authority over the servants, who obey her commands implicitly (2:5). It is a view further strengthened by the fact that the early disciples, Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael and probably James and John, all knew one another and Jesus and the one being married was likely familiar with them all.
Some have even gone so far as to suggest that John, Mary’s sister’s son (cf. John 19:25; Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40), was the one who was being wed, but there is no real proof of this. John does relate the story with first-hand, eyewitness knowledge (cf. 2:11). But other than these facts, all questions as to who was married are just speculations. Jewish practice required virgins to marry on a Wednesday, but the festivities lasted a full week (cf. Judges 14:12,15). Whether Jesus was called from the beginning or came later with His disciples is not clear, either (at least to this author).
The wedding was in a little village called Cana of Galilee, just under four miles north of Nazareth, Jesus’ home town, if the traditional site is accepted (and we do). Joseph was not mentioned as being present at the wedding, having died some time after Jesus’ twelfth year. This left Jesus responsible for supporting His family, being the oldest male, and He undoubtedly continued in the trade of Joseph, being Himself called “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3), until Mary’s other children were old enough to start helping support the family.
Mary’s statement to Jesus seemed designed to solicit His help in some way (John 2:3). Her subsequent command to the servants that they should do whatever Jesus told them seems to suggest that she expected Him to do something extraordinary (2:5). Perhaps Mary, who had hidden in her heart all of the remarkable incidents concerning His birth and all the things that were said about and by Him (Luke 2:19,51), was eager for Him to make known who He really was. She was attempting to insinuate herself, albeit out of love, into matters she could not possibly understand.
Jesus response to her was not mean, but stern. While Jesus had been subject to Mary and Joseph as a son in their household (Luke 2:51), now He was going to be executing the Father’s will. This expression, “Woman,” is the same term of respect He used in addressing the woman He healed which had been afflicted of an infirmity for eighteen years (Luke 13:12), He used it of the woman at the well (John 4:21), of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:10) and when addressing Mary Magdalene after His resurrection (John 20:15). This was not a term of disrespect but of honor and esteem. But He did not address her as “mother” either indicating something was different (cf. Mark 3:31-35).
Indeed, there was going to be a difference in their relationship from that moment on. Jesus said, “What have I to do with thee?” (2:4). This was not meant in a ugly, vicious way but, as Shcaff observes, “whoever makes use of the phrase rejects the interference of another, declines association with him on the matter spoken of. Hence the words reprove,—though mildly” (cf. Josh. 22:24; Judg. 11:12; II Sam. 16:10; 19:22; I Kings 17:18; II Kings 3:13; 9:18; II Chron. 35:21; Ezra 4:3 Matt. 8:29; 27:19; Mark 1:24; 5:7; Luke 4:34; 8:28).
Neither was “Mine hour is not yet come” meant to say “I will do nothing.” At least Mary did not understand it this way for she immediately commands the servants to do whatever Jesus commands them (2:5). Apparently Jesus did not mean it that way for He actually does do something about the situation. We are not told when He did something and it may have taken time for Him to do something, waiting until the exact moment that was appointed. But he was going to obey the Father.
Much has been written on the miracle of turning water into wine. It is not even clear that this miracle was widely known at the time it occurred. The servants knew about it, as did Mary, and the disciples but the governor of the feast did not know of it even after it was done (2:10). Perhaps the people did know exactly what happened at first. Undoubtedly, it was spoken about after by those who knew and news of it probably spread abroad very quickly. This act, His first miracle, demonstrated His power over the natural world.
Some have used this miracle to justify drinking alcoholic beverage, but Jesus would not have created well over one hundred gallons of intoxicating alcohol to give to His neighbors (cf. Hab. 2:15). Furthermore, it took many hours to become inebriated with the wine of the first century (cf. Acts 2:15). Rather, Jesus blessed this house and marriage with His presence, and manifested His glory. More today need to invite Jesus not only to their wedding, but also to their homes.
Eric L. Padgett