"And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.'"
It was a beautiful service. And the couple looks so happy as they laugh with guests. The bride is beautiful and the bridegroom has scrubbed up well. Mary's attending the wedding with her Son, Jesus. As it often occurs at weddings people look around at potential young matches. Jesus is sitting with his disciples. He's now thirty years old and still single. Recently he's quit his carpentry business and is roaming around Israel unemployed with his twelve new disciples. He hardly looks like he's pursuing a bride. When will his hour come?
And with this awareness of singleness at a wedding, the exchange between Jesus and his mother might seem to some to be a bit awkward. "They have no wine.," Mary says. It was the duty of the Bridegroom to provide wine for his wedding reception. What is Mary hinting at? "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." It's as if Jesus said, "Mom, this isn't my wedding. My time to get married hasn't come yet."
But Mary isn't hinting at anything concerning that. Rather here the mother of our Lord displays her faith in God's Word and in her Son. The angel told Mary that her Son would be "great" and would "be called the Son of the Most High." (Luke 1:32) Mary believes her Son to be him sung about by the Psalmist, "You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart." (Psalm 104:14-15) Mary trusted her son could provide wine and save the wedding reception from disaster.
Of course we know Jesus does it. He turns water into wine, a miracle that only God can do. And so he revealed his divine glory and his disciples believed in him. Yet this wonder performed by Jesus was not Jesus' hour. His hour would come later. Yet this miracle was a sign.
It was a sign that Jesus loves marriage. Our Lord graced a wedding with his presence, saved the bridal couple from embarrassment and gladdened the hearts of the guests, and manifested his glory for the first time. He sure loves marriage. Of course Jesus is God. God loves marriage. He invented it. Jesus was there with the Father and the Holy Spirit when the Divine said, "It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." (Genesis 2:18) And so with pleasure God created Eve from the rib of Adam and presented her to her bridegroom in the first wedding ceremony ever performed. And so God provided man and woman companionship like none other within the bonds of marriage.
Jesus later defended this lifelong union between a man and a woman when he answered the Pharisees question concerning divorce, "Because of your hardness of heart [Moses] wrote you this commandment [concerning divorce]. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Mark 10:5-9) After thousands of years of difficult, broken, and failed marriages, Jesus still has the same view of marriage as he did when he first gave Eve to Adam. And so he blesses a wedding with God's blessing. Marriage is a gift from God, for a man and a woman to be each other's companion and to delight in each other, until death does them part.
Jesus loves marriage. Not only does he desire for it to last a lifetime, but he wants to bless it with children. Children are a blessing to marriage, just as marriage is a blessing to children. Children born outside of wedlock are still blessings of God, yet they have been robbed of the benefits of marriage God put in place for them. Marriage protects children, just as it blesses husband and wife with companionship and chastity. Motherhood and fatherhood teach husband and wife not to be selfish. Much more, it teaches them the great cost of loving another person. And yet, children are a blessing to their parents. You love your children in a way that is utterly humbling. And Jesus too humbled himself out of love for you.
Just as Jesus blessed a wedding, an institution he put in place to care for children, so Jesus calls, "Let the little children come to me and by no means hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." And he blesses them. God gives children to parents on loan. They don't really belong to the parents, they belong to God. God gives parents to children, so that they can teach them God's word, especially about their Savior Jesus. The number one duty of every father is to teach his children about Jesus, bring them to Jesus in baptism to raise them to visit their true Father in the Divine Service. The number one duty of every mother is to teach her children about Jesus, to give them that new birth her body of flesh failed to give them, and to bring them to the Divine Service. This is a responsibility of marriage, fatherhood, and motherhood, yet it is the greatest honor on earth. Because by the power of God's Word, you may lead your children to heaven with you.
So much does Jesus love marriage that he calls himself the Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15). In fact St. Paul describes the husband's duty to his wife by what Christ did for his bride, the Church. "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water and the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." (Ephesians 5:25-28)
And so Christ's example teaches how you husband ought to treat your wife. Love her even at the expense of your own body. Suffer for her. Humble yourself for her. Make sure she gets what she needs physically and especially spiritually. Give her Jesus. This command also includes your children, the fruit of your one flesh union. Love them. Care for them. Give them Jesus.
And here we are led to the second item signified by Jesus' miracle. Jesus' turning water into wine at a wedding is a sign that Jesus is the Bridegroom. He truly has a bride and a wedding feast for which he must provide the wine. And it is this wedding to which Jesus refers when he says, "My hour has not yet come."
St. John refers to Jesus' hour seven more times in this Gospel. Each time making reference to Jesus' suffering and death. Finally in chapter seventeen Jesus prays, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him." (vss. 1-2) And shortly thereafter our Lord is taken away and crucified. And it is nailed to that cross that Jesus lays down his life for his bride, confessing his marital vows to her with the shedding of his own blood. In agony and death he pledges himself to her for all eternity. They are no longer two, but one flesh. She is his body and he is her head.
This bride is his holy Christian Church: sinners washed clean and presented without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, holy and without blemish. On that cross Jesus bled for fornicators who make a mockery of marriage and endanger children as well as lechers, who can't control their lust. He died for adulterers and men who beat their wives, for divorcees and women who hate their husbands. He died for bad husbands and wives, bad fathers and mothers. He bled for the children. He died for single people too and for everyone captive to this world of sin. And he did this to join them to himself as his beloved bride. And Jesus has given a certain promise to you; he will never divorce his bride.
Those six stone water jars at the wedding were used for Jewish purification rites. These weren't washings commanded by God through Moses (although God did give Moses a number of washing regulations). These jars were for ceremonial washing before eating according to the human traditions of the Jews. This is the same tradition of which the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat." And Jesus replied, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" (Matthew 15:2-3) And so when Jesus turned the water in those pots into wine, he replaced the worthless traditions of men, which could never clean the soul, with wine, which gladdens the hearts of men. He declared the works of men to be worthless and instead gave them a gift by grace.
And likewise, Christ Jesus, our Bridegroom, provides wine for his wedding banquet (as any bridegroom should). Yet here Jesus turns wine into his precious blood shed when he won us as his bride. In the Sacrament we get a foretaste of that wedding celebration when our hour will come, when we are joined to our God forever. So let us enjoy this feast, by which Jesus forgives our sins and speaks those wedding vows afresh into our ears until our hour comes. Amen.