17 January 2016

John 2:1-11

“His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” (v. 5)

Psalm: Psalm 36


This is the first miracle recorded in John's Gospel and the first of seven signs in the first half of the Gospel. Yet although John carefully records these signs, he still appears to view their effectiveness rather ambiguously (see verse 11).

The position of this passage is significant. It comes after introductory material (the poetic prologue (John 1:1-18) and the gathering of the disciples (John 1:19-51)) and begins with a clear connection to the Resurrection - "On the third day" (v. 1). The public appearance of Jesus' mother, Mary, in this passage is also significant: in John's Gospel the ministry of Jesus begins and ends with the only stories including her.

If John's Gospel views belief that does not depend on signs to be greater (see the words of Jesus to Thomas in John 20:29), then here we see Mary as a disciple in her own right, through her faith, rather than depending on her family status. She believes before the sign and that is surely important to those of us who can no longer physically see Jesus. Mary demonstrates great faith and understanding as she leads them to Jesus as the one who can meet their needs with abundance.

I have often thought the way Jesus addresses Mary as rather rude (verse 4); however, I'm becoming persuaded that this is an issue of translation and culture. It does, however, add emphasis to the movement of Mary from family to disciple, which is a theme of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) as we shall see tomorrow.

In this passage we see wonderful imagery with the empty symbols of ritual (the stone jars used for purification rites) turned into abundant sources of celebration. Surely this is a prophetic foretaste of what is to come on the third day when the hour of Jesus arrives with hope of forgiveness, salvation and eternity. And Verses 9 and 10 show that hope is far better than what has gone before, even if it is not recognised.

To Ponder

  • Is seeing Mary as a disciple with faith helpful? Why?
  • How do you find the tone of Jesus' speech? Does it fit your understanding of him? In what ways is it helpful (or not)?
  • In what ways do you relate to Jesus as the creator of abundance for celebration?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dave Warnock

Dave Warnock is a Methodist minister in the Leicester North Circuit based in Syston, Leicester. He is passionate about lots of things (including Scripture, discipleship, gender/sexual equality, pacifism and cycling) and loves being part of the Methodist people.