There’s some things that are strange, surprising, and mysterious 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 mystery 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?


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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.

6 thoughts on “huh?”

  1. i don’t know.

    What i do know is that in the OT, God threatens to act mercilessly to ge Abraham to understand a whole bunch of stuff (i can’t be bothered to find the passage at the moment). God is obviously challenging Abraham to develop a merciful heart, yet the outcome of the conflict is foregone as God indicated from the beginning.

    So what we might have in the Wedding at Canaan is a situation like i might have with my children: the eldest wants something really badly and i catagorically say “no” because i can; it isn’t that i’m opposed to her request, what i often want is for her to be an advocate.

    Yes, i want her to argue with me to prove the worth of her request!

    What we may have missed here with Jesus and Mary is the wrangling much like that which occurred between God and Abraham. i doubt very much that an exchange like that would have escalated to the point of ear-shot… especially at a wedding!


  2. First off, I’d like to encourage folks click on Romanós’ link. It’s really good stuff.
    I hope you are well, my friend.

    As for my good friend Garret. That’s an interesting observation. I just want to make sure that I get the thing you’re suggesting:
    Your position is that some conversation went on between Jesus and Mary, that went unheard by the disciple writing the account?
    If I’ve got that right, it seems like a good possibility. One thing that this position would seem to need to contend with is the fact that this goes unmentioned: the account doesn’t say “They talked among themselves for a moment.”
    I can think of only one case where it seems that the gospel writer simply didn’t know a detail of the goings on; this is the idea that where never told just what it is Jesus writes in the sand before the woman who is almost stoned.
    That said, my own suggestions are quite speculative. Further, I guess we have to trust that the holy spirit would ensure whatever details are necessary for us do make it into the bible.


  3. Jeff, I think that Jesus making water into wine in spite of the fact that he had said, “My time is not yet come,” is an act of obedience.

    We are commanded to honor our fathers and our mothers, are we not? Even being the Son of God, he had a mother who had to be obeyed. All he did after that was to honor the father, so it may well be that he had to obey the law in order to fulfill it.

    I have been a Christian all my life. I’m now trying to deepen my faith and better understand what I am supposed to understand. I know more will be revealed as my understanding deepens, and I look forward to being able to learn and to teach.

    Thanks for your blog. I enjoyed what I read, and I’ll be back.


  4. Thanks, Dan. And please feel welcomed here.
    You point out a possibility worth seriously considering. I’ll ponder them, but share some off the cuff responses (knowing that sometimes I end up regretting these off the cuff responses as I come to see the wisdom in what was pointed out to me.)
    #1 if the issue is one of parental respect, isn’t Jesus kind-of undercutting this with his words? I’d grant you that his actions lessen the disrespect, but it still seems like there is some disrespect there.
    #2) Can the account of the young Jesus being left behind in the synogogue be squared with this idea that Jesus was hyper-respectful to his parents? At this point he comes across as rather… cold to his parents.
    #3) I still come back to that unrecorded interaction between Jesus and Mary that occured between verses 4 and 5… Something lead Mary to the knowledge that Jesus would do it.

    It’s an awesome journey we’re on, I love getting to learn and run my mouth… I look foreward to further comments from you.


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