Jesus: Sarcastic? Yes. Coy? Not so much.

There’s some things that are strange and surprising about the following:

3When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

 4“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.”

 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

 6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[a]

 7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

 8Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

The most noticeable wierdness is the transition between verses 4, 5, and 6.  It’s clear that there must be something going on between the lines of the text.  Because if you just read the words themselves, they don’t really connect.

In verse 4, Jesus seems to indicate that he won’t be doing anything to solve the problem.  In verse 5, Mary seems to ignore the content of Jesus words and seems to believe that he’s going to do things despite his words.  In verse 6, Jesus proves Mary right: despite his apparent words to the contrary, Jesus provides more wine.

The more I think about this, the less it lines up with everything we know about Jesus based on the rest of scripture.  Suggesting that Jesus was somehow guilted into this by his mom, for example, is questonable.  It implies an error in judgement on Jesus’ part.  Similarly, the idea that he was being coy just doesn’t work either.  It’s hard to imagine Jesus words being said in a wink-wink nudge-nudge kind of way.  Though he often uses sarcasm, irony, and crazy reversal of expectations elsewhere, this example isn’t like anything else in the bible.  The reversal is just so straightforeward.  The sarcasm is so obvious.  I don’t think that there is much hope in the idea that Mary said what she did to the wedding staff in the mere hopes that Jesus might change his mind, either.  If she did this, it’d be a manipulative set up.  If Jesus did nothing, then everybody would have been let down by him, after Mary’s implication that Jesus could do something if he wanted.

This all brings us back to the question: what’s going on?

One possibility is that Jesus is speaking metaphorically and that Mary is speaking quite literally.   But I’ve been trying to keep these posts short.  So I think I’ll say more about that next time.

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5 responses to “Jesus: Sarcastic? Yes. Coy? Not so much.

  1. The only other Scriptural reference that’s this confusing as far as Jesus’ stated words and later actions is that time when his brothers tell him to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, and he declines . . . and then goes anyway, “in secret.”

  2. I’m a little hazy on it. I definitely think the motivation the brothers were using was, if not sarcastic on their part, at least not the tack Jesus was taking for any of his ministry (“no one who wants to become known acts in secret . . . show yourself to the world!”).

    And, at least in one version Jesus responds with, “My time has not yet come, but for you, any time is right,” and “You go on up to the festival. As for me, I’m not going up to this festival NOW, because the right time for me has not yet come.”

    I guess you could argue for a very short span of “now,” although that seems like a stretch. Less of a stretch is the “my time” (to be famous and admired or something) “has not yet come.” But it still does feel like Jesus was pulling the wool over their eyes, a little bit. I don’t know. It’s confusing to me. But I have to say, in spite of the American evangelical focus on the ideal “Biblical” family, I think Jesus’ was a little dysfunctional.

  3. hmmm. One thing that occurs to me is that both times that Jesus’ words seem to directly contradict his actions, there’s a time element involved. In both cases, he says he’s not going to do something because it’s not the right time, and then he does it.
    I wonder if there’s anything wierd about the translations we get of any of the words like “now”

    Interesting stuff.

  4. I just re-read it. While I don’t have answers, I do have some observations. It almost seems like Jesus’ own family is wanting to send him to the people who are waiting to kill him.
    When Jesus says it is not time, maybe he’s referring to that: it’s not time for him to be handed over to the authorities and killed.

    This view doesn’t solve everything thoug, because it still appears that Jesus is acting quite deceptively.

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