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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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

5 thoughts on “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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