My Journey From Confusion to Awe Over John 2:4

I’m fascinated at what God reveals to those who immerse themselves in His Word; even passages of Scripture that can throw us for a loop!

One Bible teacher I enjoy listening to frequently states, “If you don’t understand a portion of Scripture, put Jesus in the middle of it and see what happens.”  Puzzling portions of the Bible begin to make tremendous sense when we search for one or more of God’s unchanging attributes in it, coupled with His eternal plan of salvation for those who seek Him.

I decided to take that individual’s advice when I found myself again struggling over a portion of Scripture which has made me uncomfortable for years.  It’s when Jesus was interfacing with His mother, Mary, before His miracle of turning the water into wine. Whenever I read John 2:1-5, Jesus seems to come across as brusque. Yet Mary’s actions immediately following His statements were not even close to those of someone who felt marginalized:

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.'” [John 2:1-5]

At first blush, Jesus appears insensitive to His mother’s concerns. If we were in Mary’s sandals, wouldn’t we have hung our heads in shame and shuffled off, feeling humiliated and rebuked?  But she went the opposite direction.  Mary confidently began giving other people orders!

I knew there had to be something huge and holy going on in this passage that I was missing.

This ushers in the importance of Bible reading – tons and tons of it! But we also need to camp out in portions of scripture and make observations, compare what we’re reading to other Bible passages, and consider the culture and setting God chose to have it recorded in.  We should pray and take note of who is talking to whom and ponder what the eternal plans of God might have to do with any “byplay” we’re reading.

When doing this, I went from puzzlement to astonished joy and worship over John 2:1-5.  Let’s dig into this interaction between Jesus and Mary, shall we? I can’t wait for you to become awestruck over the marvel that took place before Jesus’ miracle!

* * *

First of all, we read the setting is that of a wedding and we can probably tell a few things about this wedding celebration by who’s present.  Mary, Jesus’ mother.  Jesus and His disciples. Not the wealthy elite. My guess is the marriage of this particular couple was a delightful, holy occasion in the sight of God and His followers.

Next we have a glimpse of compassion in the midst of a humiliating problem.  Mary is so inwardly agonized over the poverty of the bridegroom that she moves from an inward pain to a willingness to take a public risk.  Even poor people didn’t run out of wine at a wedding party in that culture. Family members knew the wedding was coming, generally, for years and planned for it. They would have made as many sacrifices as necessary to ensure the feasting and celebrations were adequately covered.  But this bridegroom?  He ran out of wine.  A terrible, embarrassing testimony to his lack of financial means. Know anybody who’s been there? Perhaps yourself?

My guess is Mary hadn’t participated in wedding celebrations for a long time without recalling her and Joseph’s own wedding, robbed of celebratory joy with their families and friends because of her shocking pregnancy. What we know for a certainty, however, is that Mary had empathy regarding the wedding party’s embarrassing lack of resources.

She knew her son was the promised Messiah and compassionate. She also knew He could do anything, as God.  Like come up with a lot of needed wine when there wasn’t any more available. It was Mary’s faith in Jesus as the Messiah which caused her to share with Him the unthinkable situation in which the groom and his family found themselves: “They have no wine.”

We have no record of what the eye contact between Mary and Jesus was like during this exchange, nor the tone of their voices. But the way Jesus addressed his mother, which used to confuse me, now thrills me: “Woman…”

I always wondered why He chose the word “woman”. This was His mom!  “Woman” sounds distant; unkind.  Why would He call His mother that? And in front of other people, no less!

Mary didn’t shuffle off in humility after Jesus’ reference to her, and here’s why: He had just acknowledged to Mary that she was properly coming to Him as her Messiah (not her biological son).  He affirmed her for that by referring to her as a woman, as opposed to addressing her as His biological mother.  It was a special, sacred moment.  Suddenly, Jesus transported His listeners back to Genesis chapter 3 after the sin of Adam and Eve, where God speaks to Satan, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.” The perfectly created woman in Genesis who succumbed to temptation becomes, through God’s grace, linked to the woman we find in John chapter 2 standing in front of the promised Messiah expressing a heartache. Wow!

Jesus said, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come” (NASB). Some translations indicate He asked what it had to do with Him or why she was seeking to involve Him. Regardless, Jesus affirmed Mary’s approach to Him as God Almighty and then asked how the groom’s problem correlated with God’s precise timing and plan.

Marvel with me over this! The God of the Universe is dialoguing with a mere mortal about her concerns in the midst of God’s plan!

Mary must have been tingling by now. She had just been publicly affirmed by God’s Messiah as the woman foretold in Genesis chapter 3 who would birth Him. He then included her in His thinking as that Messiah!

Jesus continued with the statement, “My hour has not yet come.” Please don’t miss this: Jesus articulated to Mary His focus on the pressing, eternal needs we as people have for a Savior.  More than a miracle of providing wine at a special wedding celebration. More than healing us or our loved ones from cancer. More than our need for financial stability.  Jesus was focused, as always, on our greatest need – for relationship with God made possible through the perfect, sacrificial Lamb of God.

Jesus didn’t refute having the ability to resolve the problem facing the bridegroom or care about the problem. He said nothing to dissuade Mary from having an intercessor’s heart on behalf of others who didn’t have the resources to help themselves.  To that end, the things Jesus said (and did not say) galvanized Mary into an astonishing, public act of faith in Him.  She told the servants, “Whatever He says to you to do, do it.”

You likely know the rest of the story. “Ordinary water” was turned into extraordinary wine. An abundance of it!  It was a blessing to the bridegroom, his family, and their guests.  They all had a joyful celebration.

Had the miracle of the water being turned into wine not occurred, however, the sun still would have come up the next day and God wouldn’t have loved the wedding party any less. But the miracle did happen – through God’s grace and compassion. And that miracle serves to showcase details of God’s plan of salvation; gems to the one who searches out the Scriptures!

I now wonder whether whether something bigger than the awe-inspiring, thrilling miracle of water being turned into wine took place that day. The more breathtaking of the two may have been the holy, intimate interaction of God with a mortal who knew He was not only compassionate, but able to deliver; deliver us from our temporary messes, pains, and anxieties (as He sees fitting and best) and, more importantly, to deliver us from being eternally separated from Him because of our sins.

This should affect us powerfully today.  Like the bridegroom who ran out of wine, we can never have enough goodness, works of service, kind intentions, or anything to pay the price for our debt of sin.  God is the only one Who can – and does – provide the grace to forgive us our debts, and exchange our sinfulness for His holiness (see Ephesians 2:8). 

Whether intense difficulties are in your rearview mirror, currently pounding you, or coming around the bend, God is compassionate and knows you don’t have the resources to handle them, in and of yourself.  Like Mary, communicate your heart’s concerns to Him.  But, like Mary, remember Who it is you are talking to. And listen to Him and learn from Him.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Even if you don’t see your “water turning into wine” – whatever the miracle is that you long to see God perform – worship Him for the marvel of intimacy He displayed in Mary’s life that is often overlooked.  It’s the “marvel” available to you.

Put your name in John 3:16 and be in awe of God’s love for you today, my friend!

For God so loved YOU that He gave His only Son, that if YOU believe in Him YOU shall not perish, but have eternal life!



People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.


  • Diana says:

    What a Savior we have!

  • Judi says:

    This definitely a different way of looking at this passage (also a passage that has been a bit confusing to me) and I appreciate your interpretation, June. Even more, I love the curiosity and contemplation your thoughts about it generated!

  • Penny says:

    I was so blessed again by your message to us all, Miss June! I just love your insight into God’s word. I had always been bothered by Jesus saying “Woman” to his mom also but what you said made complete sense. Son became Savior in an instant! I love it!

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