The question is, why did she do this? She may have known her son was extraordinary, but why would she think he could solve this? Did she have an intuitive awareness of what he would become? Or of the power that he had?
And if he had these powers, why did he rebuff her? ‘What business of that is mine? My time has not yet come.’
Mary may merely have been prompting her son to do something to help in this crisis – like getting more wine from someone or some house nearby. It may be that guests, especially if they were close friends or relatives, brought along food and drink to supplement what the host provided.
But if so, what did Jesus mean when he said that his time has not yet come?
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Marriage at Cana, Gerard David. No attempt at historical accuracy here – this woman is definitely not a Galileean peasant. But what splendor, what sumptuous beauty, what lavish color. Notice the delicate cloud of her hair. The food looks good too….
Whatever the reason, Mary succeeded in nudging Jesus into activity. She was the traditional Jewish mother, unwilling to let her child remain inactive. She simply told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them.
There were six large stone water jars nearby. These were used for ceremonial washing – stone did not absorb impurities like clay, and so stone jars were used to store water was needed for ritual washing before a meal. They were apparently empty, the water in them used up by the many guests.
Wedding at Cana, Veronese, detail of the wine steward. The man is nearly as round as the barrel he holds, God bless him…
Jesus told the servants to fill six stone jars full of water, and they did so. Then he told them to scoop some of the water out and take it to the man in charge of the wedding. This they also did.
When the steward tasted the water, now turned into wine, he was impressed – not by the miracle, because he did not know about that, but by the quality of the wine.
This, you will remember, was on the third day of the wedding, and people had been drinking for three solid days. Usually the host would arrange for the best wine to be put out first; at that stage, people were cold sober, and could assess the quality of the wine.
Now it seemed that this custom had been ignored. Instead, the steward tasted high quality wine, something he did not expect at this stage of the wedding festivities.
Whether he ever found out the truth, we do not know.
It is at this moment that Jesus first allows the people around him to see what he really is: the Messiah, long-awaited and now here at last. The water is the past. He is the wine, the promised future.
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