'When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”'
Now, this bit of scripture has often confused me. I know it's pretty straight forward, the words are clear. What has confused me though, is that this seems a bit rude. Doesn't it seem rude to you? Jesus, the one we are meant to follow and imitate in all ways, seems to be a bit rude to his own mother. I don't know about other members of the female population, but if someone were to call me, 'woman', I would be a little offended. It is not a polite way to speak to someone. Especially when you consider that this is not just anyone, but a mother!
So, I had to look a bit deeper into this, because I refuse to believe that Jesus would be intentionally rude to his own Mum.
This is what I have discovered;
The term translated for, 'woman' in the original language is a courteous term. Though, not a term usually used for a loving mother-son relationship. Some commentaries suggest that we may equate it to the term 'Ma'am'. It's probably not what you'd call your mother, but it is a polite and respectful term. So, Jesus, thankfully, isn't being rude. He is being polite, but not indicating an emotional, sentimental attachment to his mother
Isn't that a bit harsh?
Surely Jesus must love his mother right? They've had many years living together, Mary has watched him live and grow, he is her firstborn. Doesn't Jesus love her?
Well, if we fast forward to when he dies in the cross, he does provision for her, so he must care deeply for her. Some of his last words were concerning her, so he surely must love her.
Why then does Jesus seem not be responding as a loving son in this passage?
This extract from the account of the wedding at Cana is the first account of the miracles that Jesus performed (turning water into wine). So, for all of his life so far, Jesus had grown up as the son of Mary and Joseph. As with all children, they have to spread their wings sometime and establish their identity apart from their parents. Now, I'm sure Jesus knew his identity already, but he needed his Mum to know that identity too.
Mary had clearly been told that Jesus was the son of God before he was even born. Then she had: raised him, loved him, looked after him and protected him as any mother would.
Now, Jesus needed her to recognise that although he is her son, he is also her saviour. That's why he has to maintain some kind of emotional distance for her to begin to understand the developing nature of their relationship.
Jesus is Mary's saviour before he is her son.
Imagine, if you can, how that must be for Mary.
All those years of love and care poured out. Not only is her son grown up, and moving into his life's work, but he has to distance himself from her, and alter the state of their relationship. The mother-son relationship is formed, but now the relationship has to be borne out of a recognition that Jesus primary role is not as her son, but as her saviour.
I cannot imagine how hard that must be.
However, I love Mary's response to this. It is not how I'd respond.
Eventhough she has just been referred to as, 'ma'am', she doesn't go off and cry about it, become angry or sulk. In fact, she does not seem to take offence at all. Instead, she demonstrates complete trust in Jesus, AND she encourages others to do so too!
What an amazing woman!
She realises that she can depend on Jesus to make a difference and she expects him to (otherwise why would she address the servants in such a way?) Mary has no idea what is about to happen, yet she stands in faith. She overlooks the awkwardness, the perceived offence and gets on with the work at hand. Wow!
For me, I am quick to take offence to words, so how does Mary manage that?
I wonder if it's because, she recognises that this is not the big issue here. The problem she mentioned to Jesus is still there, getting offended in the process won't help the situation.
I wonder if we sometimes get sidetracked by becoming offended when there's a bigger matter at hand? I know I do. I pay too much attention to how words effect me rather than what the words are trying to communicate.
I admire Mary, she overlooks any offence she may of taken and gets to the important part, she realises there's still a matter at hand that needs hers and Jesus attention. She does not focus on who she is but who Jesus is. She doesn't respond in a way that shows offence, she responds as someone who knows Jesus.