Sometimes Timing is Everything

John 2:3-5 “When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’”

“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”


I am no Bible scholar, but I do know how to wonder about things and to ask questions. Sometimes that gets me into trouble. This little passage of the Bible really made me stop and wonder this morning.

Why did Jesus say that his “time has not yet come?” He was either parsing words or he really didn’t know what was about to happen. You could explain this away by parsing words. His time had “not yet” come, but moments later it would have. It was just a couple of verses later when he went ahead and performed the miracle. So, technically, in verse 4 his time had not yet come, but by the time we get to verses 7 and 8 that was no longer the case. It seems a bit of a stretch to explain it this way, however.


But if he really didn’t know that he was about to perform a miracle, that opens up a whole new set of questions. If you accept, as I do, that he was the Son of God, then it is hard to imagine him not knowing this. There are many documented cases in the gospels where it shows that Jesus knew, in detail, things that were about to happen – both in the immediate future and in the distant future. How could Jesus, the Son of God, have not known that his time really had come?

Could God the Father have kept this information from him? Jesus says elsewhere that he only does what he sees his Father doing and only says what his Father is saying. But that would seem to imply that the Father was willing to keep a secret from Jesus. That’s a bit of a stretch too, since the scripture teaches that the Son is the exact representation of the Father.

If Jesus wasn’t parsing words, and if the Father wasn’t keeping a secret from Jesus, then maybe we should turn our attention to the other character in this story – the mother of Jesus. This opens up a very interesting exploration. All she said to Jesus was, “They have no more wine.” Yet Jesus interpreted this as a request to get involved. Hmm. What is not recorded, and what may very well have been going on behind the scenes, is a conversation between Mary and God the Father. The Bible sheds very little light on the relationship that Mary had with God the Father, but what we do know is that God highly favored her. It is reasonable to think that he also listened to her prayers.

What if, immediately prior to Mary speaking to Jesus about the wine, suppose she had brought the problem to the attention of God the Father? We know that God listens to the prayers of his people. We also know that he sometimes changes his plans in response to the prayers of his people. (Think about the exchange between Moses and God when Moses seems to talk Him out of destroying the Israelites, for example.)  Isn’t it reasonable to suppose that God decided right then and there, in response to Mary’s prayer, that Jesus was going to perform his first miracle right then? In that case, Jesus wouldn’t have known about it in advance, would he?

To my small, non-Bible-school-educated mind, this seems to make a lot of sense. And if this is, in fact, what happened, it surely shows that God the Father and Jesus the Son gave a lot of respect and influence to the woman in the story. I think that’s pretty revolutionary for a middle-eastern culture of 2000 years ago.

I know I should probably consult some Biblical scholars and some Bible commentaries to see what they say about this, and maybe I will. But meanwhile, what do you think was happening in these verses?

2 thoughts on “Sometimes Timing is Everything

  1. James, interesting ruminations! Consider this… the Scriptures actually do teach that Jesus intentionally laid aside his prerogatives as equal with God and “emptied himself” (kenosis) to take on the form of a servant (Phil 2:5-11). It does not mean that he gave up anything about his essential divinity, only that he chose to come down and enter our experience, to participate in our own limitations.

    Though completely the Son of God, he limits himself to particular time/space to see, for a time, the life in Nazareth growing up, the frustrations of leading those disciples, even those most human moments of temptation. He even wished for a moment not to face the cross, though he did opt for his Father’s will.

    Jesus was 100% God and 100% man, so I expect in his condescension to live with us that I would hear his human side. And when he thinks about “his time” and the weight of that awful (and ultimately wonderful) calling to die for our sins, to hear even a hint of exasperation with his mother is to know that he was not aloofly divine but was nitty-gritty the god-man Jesus.

    Jesus was often edgy about public displays. He would tell the people he healed not to broadcast it; he would resist calls for miracles and signs; he would be coy about his status and calling, preferring the Twelve to know it as a kind of secret, while others turned away from him, thinking that his parables were riddles (Matt 13). Satan would tempt him to go for the big-time, to do crowd-pleasing miracles, as a means of dissuading Jesus from his ultimate calling. Even Peter would give voice to the same temptation, to which Jesus saw his mimicking of the evil one and told him to “get behind me, Satan.”

    So I find it a kind of word from his human side that he was testy with his mother when she, perhaps innocently, coaxed him to perform a public miracle.

  2. Could it be that Jesus,after saying that “my time has not yet come” saw the love,and compassion for others in His mother’s eyes,and out of His love and respect for her, performed the miracle?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s