Woman, What Have I To Do With Thee?

Would you please explain the significance of Christ's words to his mother in John 2:1-5.

John 2:1-5 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

The relationship of Jesus to his mother, Mary, had to be one of the most unusual in the history of man. Here was the God-man being brought up by a fallible human mother. Yet, Mary was indeed His mother. She is called the mother of Jesus before His birth (Luke 1:43), while He is a child (Matthew 2:11; Luke 2:33. 43), during His adult ministry (Luke 8:19; John 2:1, 3, 5, 12), and after His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:14).

Jesus submitted to Mary while He was a child (Luke 2:51). However, He separated Himself from Mary’s rule when He began His earthly ministry. We can see this from a couple of things in this passage. Jesus refused to let Mary lead (John 2:3-4) and He called her by the title, Woman (John 2:4). One interesting fact about the text of the gospels is that we have no record of Jesus calling Mary, Mother. This does not mean that He never called that; only that this was not the emphasis of the Bible record. He identified the faithful followers of the Father as His mother and brethren (Matthew 12:46-50).

Much speculation has been made about why Jesus called Mary, Woman. To modern ears, this sounds very harsh. On the other hand, Bible scholars try to make it a name that has no harshness at all. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Though “Woman” was not a demeaning name, it is not the sweetest of names either. Jesus used it to put a distance between Him and Mary. It is the same title that Jesus used in reference to the Samaritan woman (John 4:21) and the woman taken in adultery (John 8:10). Jesus used it again of his mother when He made provision for Mary after His death (John 19:26-27). It was not an endearing name of love but a statement of fact. It was often used by the people of the time to refer to a woman in a neutral way. When Jesus used it of His mother in Cana of Galilee, He was letting her know that this was not the place for familiarity and that He would do the will of His heavenly Father, not the will of His earthly mother. Her influence on Him was not what it was when He was a child.

However, after Jesus made His point about not following Mary, He was free to do something anyway, either out of love or from the fact that the time for acting was right. Mary was allowed to give this proper command to the servants: “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (v.5; Deuteronomy 18:15; Luke 5:5-6). Being put in her place did not keep her from doing all she could to help her son take His rightful place. Now, He allowed her to help and performed His first earthly miracle. The work of the Lord was done.

Unfortunately, most people today cannot handle the humbling remark or event that puts them in their place. They pout and often quit serving God. They are not going to let anyone treat them that way. Mary was a godly lady. She accepted the gentle rebuke she received from the Lord Jesus and just kept on serving. We could all learn something from Mary.

David Reagan
Daily Proverb

Proverbs 23:26

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.