John begins the story of Jesus with an unexpected miracle. The first chapter of John tells us that we should expect Jesus to shatter our expectations. We are told that the very word of God, light from light, was — like superman becoming the unassuming Clark Kent — pitching his tent among us. In the second chapter of John, even his mother seems to forget that Jesus is special. She has been helping to organize a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and they are out of wine. Everything about a wedding celebration says new beginnings. To run out of wine is an inauspicious new beginning. She has always found her son to be handy. Perhaps he will make a run to the store. So, she asks him to just do what he can do.
“It’s not my time,” Jesus says. Note, he doesn’t say, I’m busy or disrespect his mother. It is instead a case of miscommunication, a common feature of John’s gospel. Jesus is operating on a different level. His concerns are not her concerns. This is a new beginning for the just married couple. Mary wants there to be wine. Jesus is at the beginning of a ministry that will lead him to the cross. He will, at the end of that painful road, bring to us the new wine of eternal life and the Holy Spirit. It isn’t the right time, though, for him to bring us that new wine. “It’s not my time,” is Jesus’ answer to a question that his mother isn’t asking. She doesn’t see Jesus as special. She isn’t on his level or considering the ramifications of his beginning his journey to the cross right now, in the insignificant village of Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ thoughts are in Jerusalem and contemplating his coming hour on the cross. Mary, however, is minding the concerns of her friends and the newlyweds.
“Do whatever,” she says.
What happens next is familiar. Water turns to wine. It is the first miracle of Jesus’ ministry. John will show us seven miracles. Each of them will have a mundane, “whatever,” practical side. They will fix an earthly problem.
John wants us to be an insider for these seven miracles and see what Jesus’ disciples saw. The guests simply were glad there was more wine. John and a few others, however, saw that Jesus was beginning his greater task of fixing all of humanity.
In the whatever of our daily problems, Jesus wants us to lift up our eyes and accept the new wine of a spiritual life in him.