Jesus’ first miraculous sign in John is one of my favorite stories in all of the Gospels! In fact, I love it so much that I plan on blogging about it from several different angles over the next few days.
And to get things started I want to look at this story from Mary’s perspective. Spoiler alert — Mary’s perspective is defined by one word: trust.
The story of Jesus turning water into wine has been interesting to me for decades. When I was younger, I was surprised to learn that Jesus’ first miracle in John involved him creating wine because the religious context I grew up in taught that all alcoholic drinks were to be avoided at all costs.
Later, while in college and seminary, the sociological background of this story began to intrigue me, specifically the elements of honor and shame that are part of this story. And that’s right where I want to start, with the honor and shame system and how it impacted Mary.
So in the story what we see is that Jesus, his friends, and his mom attend a wedding. This wedding was in the town of Cana, which is a neighbor city to Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. And one of the first details that we learn about this wedding is that the wine was gone.
Why is this detail important? Why would John include it? For one main reason, at least in my estimation: the wine running out brought shame on the family organizing the wedding.
Since I didn’t grow up in an honor/shame culture, this part of the story is hard for me to understand. So maybe an analogy would help…
Imagine that you were invited to a wedding. When you arrive at the venue, everyone is standing outside because the venue has been double-booked! Everyone is in their best clothes. The bride and groom are ready to go. But the family who booked the venue is embarrassed and frustrated.
These feelings are similar to what the family in this story would feel if they were made aware of the problem of the wine running out.
And who is the person to step in and prevent this shame from coming to fruition?
And who does Mary turn to in this time of need?
Mary trusts Jesus. Maybe she remembers what she was told about Jesus when she was pregnant (Luke 1.26-38). Maybe Joseph has passed away, as is commonly believed, and Jesus was her nearest male relative to whom she could turn, which was the societal norm of the day.
Trust in Jesus
Whatever the case, Mary trusted Jesus. She asked him for help.
And despite Jesus’ strange response, which we’ll talk about in a future blog, Mary tells other people to do whatever Jesus says.
So Mary’s trust doesn’t just stay private, she shares it with others.
Friends, whom or what do we trust? Many of us would say that we trust Jesus, but our actions sometimes say otherwise.
From our obsession with our stuff, it could be said that we trust our possessions.
From our constant pursuit of more things, it could be said that we trust in our ability to consume.
From our protection of our autonomy, it could be said that we trust ourselves first.
From our focus on our families to the detriment of those in need around us, it could be said that we trust our families.
This list could go on and on.
The truth is that we seem to be willing to trust just about anything and anyone except Jesus. How do we know this? Because we aren’t doing a great job of following Jesus. If we trusted him, we would follow him more closely.
If we trusted Jesus, we would be centered on his mission to make disciples and bring about justice for those most in need.
If we trusted Jesus, we would spend less time judging the sin of others and more time loving them.
If we trusted Jesus, we would be like Mary, letting our trust move from being private to becoming public.
And if we trusted Jesus, we would demonstrate less and less that we trust other things and people more than him.
What do you think about Mary’s trust in John 2.1-12? And how do you think that we, as followers of Jesus, could demonstrate our trust in him more and more? Let me know in the comments below.