Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
There is an intriguing possible parallel in this little passage with Jesus’ actions with the Canaanite woman. Recall, she too came up to Jesus begging for something, and recall, He also then rebuffed her, basically saying, “It’s not the time/place for that.” For Mary, it’s not the time. For the Canaanite woman, it wasn’t the place.
The Canaanite woman wanted “bread,” the bread of Jesus’ mercy intended for the “children.” She begged for just a crumb and got way, way more, the Lord praising her with great words.. Mary wants wine, and she too got way, way more than she expected. Both are symbols of the coming messianic age.
And in both accounts, the woman relies on Jesus’ Person despite His objections. The Canaanite woman laid the foundation for Jesus helping her by calling Him “Lord, Son of David.” The Son of David is the messiah, and if the messiah is anything, he is a champion and savior for the oppressed.
Although it doesn’t say specifically, we read between the lines in the miracle at Cana. Mary goes to Jesus and says, “They have no wine.” Why does she go to Jesus? She knows why; Jesus knows why; and we ultimately know why. It’s because Jesus is God in flesh and has the capacity to fix things.
Jesus implicitly suggests this is exactly what Mary was thinking by saying, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” Jesus knew Mary was going to Him to perform a miracle and essentially “out” Himself as the messiah. She had been keeping many things in her heart from His birth. What was it about this moment leading her to believe it was the time for Jesus to manifest Himself? The wedding? Jesus was recently baptized, and John was “outing” Jesus to his disciples; perhaps Mary knew the time was close.
Whatever the case, Mary shows a faith a bit more passive than that of the Canaanite woman, but no less great in terms of what it signified. She says, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
The Canaanite woman’s faith was active. “You are the Messiah! The Messiah is a promise for both Jew and Gentile to save! Whatever mercy you have for Jew, surely you have a crumb for me, and I demand it!” Note her faith rooted in Who Jesus is, not just the Messiah, but a Messiah come to save.
Mary’s faith was passive. “Here is my Son, God in flesh. He has the power to create. There is a problem here at the wedding, and I lay that problem in His lap. I also leave it to His devices to do whatever He will, and I trust it will be good. Why? Because I know He is good. Therefore do whatever He says to you, because it will be good.” Note here as well, her faith is rooted in Who Jesus is, not just God in flesh, but a good and gracious God in flesh.
Both women teach us much about faith. The Canaanite woman has always been the emblem of one binding Jesus to His word. There is a rhetorical crowbar we are given based on who Jesus is, that is, a good Savior. We can take the crumbs He gives us in the Word, and pry our way into the kingdom. The woman refused to let Jesus be anything other than Jesus for her.
Mary’s more passive faith is a bit like what Job should have had. “Whatever will be, let it be.” Jesus could have said nothing. Jesus could have turned the water into bitter water to make some prophetic point. He could have turned it to ice. But Mary trusted He’d do good, and He did.
Had Job cut out the middle chapters of his life, he could have avoided all foolish the yammering from friend and wife, and cut to the glorious last chapter. He could have said to the cosmos, “Whatever the Lord says, do it.” If the Lord taught him anything, it was that His creative powers are immense, but in the end, He uses them to bless those faithful to Him.
Mary recognized this without any fear the situation wouldn’t end well for everyone. “Whatever He says to you, do it.” If we run with the metaphor brought up in the previous devotion, that Mary represents the earth, perhaps the servants represent the powers of this world order, those under the “rules” of this world, namely, the law of scarcity. The “rules” of this world say that when you run out of something, you worry and fret and cry out to the cosmos, “What are we going to do?!!”
Mary, the creation waiting in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed, trusts her coming Lord to do good – it’s what He did when He first created after all – and simply says to this world order, as if speaking to a chaos and void not unlike that from the beginning, “Whatever He says, do it.”
Put another way, “When you hear ‘Let there be,’ let it be done. I represent the earth awaiting its renewal, and I recognize here the Lord of creation, come to create all things new.”
Again, the “Mary as earth” figure comes from Revelation 12 coupled with Romans 8. Here are the two texts:
From Revelation 12: “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. …She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.”
From Romans 8: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. …[It] eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
Mary was eagerly waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. Jesus was calling disciples – five had been called so far. He was recently baptized. It was time. It was time for the renewal, the rebirth of creation and its children.