“Woman, what do I have to do with you?” John 2:4
Men and Women are different. Hopefully you didn’t have to come to Mexico for a week to learn that! One of the most basic Bible words is Shalom which means to have peace that comes from relational balance. It is described as something that is innately in all of us through God but also often as a gifting endowed to us. It is the basic idea that peace and contentment is found only in our relationship with God at the center when we are in balance with him. Our goal is to be made complete in His likeness.
We should all strive for peace, harmony, and contentment (which means to be whole or perfectly complete) in Jesus and pray that we may also demonstrate this balance as a gift of the covenant kingdom to others. Did you ever notice that women seem to do this better than men? I know this is a very general statement and not true in every situation; but there are likely more examples of women attributed as gentle peacemakers in the Bible than men.
It seems that when situations arise, women do their best to calm the situation. Men, on the other hand, seem to be more stern or think they need to be strong or in control. In some ways men are always preparing for battle. We were created differently. One way isn’t necessarily better; we are just different, and we might learn something from the other.
Notice that John shares this story in the second chapter of his gospel which means He is making a point that is foundational to the rest of His story, and I am afraid much of His point has gotten lost in translation. We simply know this story as Jesus’ first miracle but that isn’t the point of the passage. The first miracle in the gospel of John is about hope and peace. Jesus’ mother is trying to keep the peace. Jesus attends a wedding where Mary is also there (but they took separate cars!) It becomes obvious to her that the wedding party will soon run out of wine. She observes and wishes she was gifted to bring peace and reduce conflict. She doesn’t have the ability but wonders if someone else that she is in covenant relationship might be able to.
I am going to challenge you that you have likely misinterpreted this story based on your cultural conceptions. You think like a western 20th century American, not like a first century Jew. We might think Jesus is insensitive, like a typical 20th century male, or too busy to care. You might even think his response is cold. You will be surprised to find out that when he calls her “Woman” the Greek word He uses is gunai and it usually meant wife. Strange Jesus would use this with His mother? That is our cultural interpretation. We interpret Mary as nagging Jesus and in reply we interpret Jesus likely with a harsh tone back to His mother because that is how we act in our culture, but that isn’t what the original language of the text conveys. Without getting too far into Greek, the English translation is correct but it opens the door for a “tone” to the interpretation of an unfortunate western audience that is typically not very nice to each other and especially the way we sometimes treat our mothers and wives.
I can relate to this verse personally. I lost my father many years ago. I was very close to Him and so was my mother. My mom has never remarried and in many ways I not only function as her son but also must fill the shoes that my father left. In our culture this sounds strange, in Bible times, it didn’t. Mary is relying on the man of the house at the wedding – Jesus (Her husband Joseph had passed by this time.) She turns to Jesus as the one who is gifted to take care of things. Does Jesus respond with attitude towards here? We want to read this into the story with our 20th century eyes as if Jesus is saying, “MOTHER PLEASE!” but in doing so we would be greatly mistaken.
When we look at the other times Jesus used this Greek word “woman” we learn something that may give us a better interpretation of the story. When Jesus is dying on the cross and asks John to care for Mary or when he speaks to Mary Magdalene at the tomb, He uses the exact same Greek word of intimate entreating tenderness. Rather than to interpret it cold or brashly like we do in English it reads more like a love language. In Greek, the phrase reads literally, “What to me and to you, woman?” I want you to particularly notice something that is lost in English, the solution involves both of them, its circular in Hebraic thought. – Me and You. What should “WE” do? But wasn’t it just Jesus that turned the water to wine? (Hold on I am not turning Mary into deity like the Catholics have done…)
By his expression “to me and to you” Jesus is inviting her into the solution. He seeks her cooperation as she has sought a gift in Him that she isn’t capable of. In Hebrew thought it is completing the circle 9which what a wedding ring is representative of.) Therefore, two are better than one and a picture from the beginning of John’s gospel that says to each of us need Jesus in our covenant intimate circle of relationships (and actually all of our relationships.)
In other words, this isn’t 20th century Jesus, and He isn’t carrying a sword to the wedding or barking commands, Jesus is not playing the stern male that we want to read into this. He is not correcting her or belittling her. He acknowledges her concern with tenderness. With tenderness, he honors her role in his life.
This week as a foundation I want you to ask the question, how can every experience be better together? How were we designed in a cord of three strands to function better than what we could by ourselves? What if you become conditioned that in every situation of life you ask a question that includes you and your spouse in the solution, a question that asks about your relationship to each other and Jesus before both of you decide what to do.
Jesus puts the same question before each of us and especially in our marriages. Something may not even be our problem but perhaps a situation in life. When we give these to Jesus and our spouse, the response shouldn’t be “What do you want me to do about it?” but rather, “How does this thing bring us together?” It’s about the willingness to enter into the circle of life together in the gifts that we have been given that complement each other. You will also start to find that as you approach life in this way, your gifts not only are strengthened, but by combining your gift set with your spouses, you will also create and find new gifts in the partnership that you couldn’t have had on your own. Have you experienced this in your marriage? Today I want you to discuss times that have emerged as giftings together. Jesus’ mother was perceptive and had the compassion to help, Jesus had the physical ability, together “they” made wine. What are you and your spouse together in Jesus capable of for the kingdom when you start thinking and acting this way, when you believe and speak life into each other?