Mary gently nudges Jesus into his public ministry. And as she does, she also blesses us with the best advice any mother ever gave. Mary tells the wedding attendants and through them, she tells us: Do whatever he tells you. It’s a simple, fail-safe shortcut to happiness. Just do what Jesus tells you, and you can’t go wrong.
There is not the slightest difference in what Jesus tells us to do and what God expects from us. That’s because John’s gospel goes on to reveal in great detail: Jesus Christ is, was and always will be both God and man. Mary, his first disciple, has all the proof she needs to confidently ask her son for his divine intervention.
From the Annunciation onward, she has kept it all in her heart. She has been the vessel of Incarnation. She has nurtured and protected him. Mary has a unique, first-hand, intimate experience with God’s great power. She has seen that power grow in her and emerge in her Son. And through it all, there is no record that she ever looked for any favor or special consideration for herself. But now in her compassion for a couple of newlyweds in a bind, she asks for just a pinch of divine intercession. And Jesus overcomes his reluctance and delivers.
This Mother/Son exchange is particularly endearing. She asks his help. He expresses his reluctance. But without another word said, she knows that he will not deny her… and that her Son has the power to solve any problem. So, she cuts right to the chase… and delivers a message that echoes down the ages: Do whatever he tells you.
In miraculously transforming water into wine, Jesus does not call upon the Father to summon up miraculous power. He doesn’t need to. He is not a prophet or a holy man who aspires to channel the power of God. Jesus Christ is God, the Second Person of the Trinity. As the soaring first chapter of John tells us, from the beginning, Jesus is: The Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In response to his mother’s request, this wedding at Cana suddenly becomes the impromptu, out-of-town opening for his mission of redemption.
At Cana, the Son duplicates in microcosm, the same divine power over Creation that the Father exercises on a grand scale every day. God created the vine and teaches it to draw water by its roots and with the aid of the sun turns that water into juice that ferments into wine. Jesus mirrors the process at Cana. He demonstrates his divinity by willing the water into wine… no sleight of hand, no magic tricks, no invocation of a higher power. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Creation is his to command. And if he wills that water to be wine, it is wine. And to add a little flourish to the narrative, the wine served at Cana is no vin ordinaire. It is the finest vintage ever served. And no wonder, it is the miraculous work of the divine vintner.
This gospel shows us Jesus in transition. It is a domestic slice of life. While Jesus is obviously still under his mother’s influence and probably still part of her household, he has begun to attract disciples. But after Cana, all that will be different. His divine nature and his mission will emerge. As John tells us, Cana is the first of his signs…and revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
So, what do we take away from this gospel? Three very important lessons: First … Jesus was, is and always will be God … Second… take a tip from Mary and: Do whatever he tells you…and you can’t go wrong. And finally… if you’re having a party, don’t forget to invite Jesus.