Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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“My Hour Has Not Yet Come”

In John 2:1-11, the apostle records Jesus’ miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. There are many important things to note regarding this event, where our Lord first “manifested His glory” (cf. vs. 11), but we are here most interested in the words spoken on this occasion. Specifically, we wish to examine Jesus’ words to His mother, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come” (vs. 4).

The remainder of Jesus’ spoken words in the text consist of His instructions to the servants, which led to the miracle itself (cf. vs. 7,8). The words are straightforward, and need no further explanation, so we will focus our comments on His words in verse four.

Jesus said what He did in response to His mother’s declaration, “They have no wine.” The wine at the feast had run out, and Mary clearly expected or desired Jesus to do something about it. It is equally clear by His response that her expectation was He would perform a miracle to remedy the situation. Even after Jesus’ response, she remained confident the miracle would be performed, as she instructed the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (vs. 5).

This statement of Jesus is admittedly a difficult one. First because of the apparent tone of His response to His mother, and second because of the ambiguity surrounding the phrase “My hour has not yet come.” We will address each in turn.

First, the tone. The English translations we use seem to indicate a harsh rebuke, but such is doubtful. First, the term translated woman (gune), was often used as a term of affection. It is the same term Jesus used in tenderly addressing His mother as He hung on the cross (cf. John 19:26). Such greetings have different connotations depending upon culture and time period. What we might think of as a jarring and disrespectful term was apparently a term of affection in His culture.

While it is accurate to consider this a reproof, it should be understood more as a mild correction rather than a strong rebuke. Mary, as the apostles, did not have a full understanding of the nature of Jesus’ work and ministry. The apostles themselves were sometimes guilty of trying to direct Jesus’ actions, not realizing the full impact of Jesus’ ministry, “Behold, I have come to do Your Will, O God!” (cf. Hebrews 10:9). Mary had to be reminded here, as in the temple (cf. Luke 2:49), that when it came to the Father’s business, she had no authority or influence.

Second, and more difficult, is a correct interpretation of the phrase, “My hour has not yet come.” The phrase is variously understood by commentators. David Lipscomb indicates it may have reference to the beginning of His miraculous demonstrations, saying “It is generally considered that he means that his hour for manifesting his power had not come. If so, it soon did come.” (Commentary on John, pg. 36). Albert Barnes takes it to mean that it was not yet time for Him to intervene in that circumstance. In effect, the wine was not yet all gone, and He was going to wait until it was before performing the miracle. (Personally, I find that explanation unsatisfying). William Barclay believes that Jesus was simply telling His mother not to worry, that He would handle things in His own way, and in His own time.

G. Campbell Morgan’s explanation of the text is interesting, though it contains some speculation that can’t be dogmatically asserted. He contends that Mary was anxious for Jesus to show the world who He truly was, and that Jesus’ answer indicated that a miracle on this occasion would not be sufficient. Later, He told his brothers who demanded in their unbelief that he show Himself “to the world,” “My time has not yet come” (7:6). When Jesus taught in the temple to an unfriendly crowd, we are told “…and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come” (8:20).

In effect, Morgan claims that Jesus was telling Mary that only His death and resurrection would be a sufficient witness to prove Him as the Son of God.

Whatever the case, the words, and the events that followed, establish two things. First, Jesus was doing God’s will in Gods way; and no man, not even His own mother, would influence that work. Second, the changing of water into wine was His first demonstration of the miraculous power that constituted God’s witness that Jesus was His son (cf. Hebrews 2:4). As the text states, “The beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (vs. 11). With this miracle, Jesus began his visible ministry among men.