“When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:3-4 NRSV)
I can make the admission there were times growing up when my actions as a child/youth left my parents, especially my mother, a little…shall we say exasperated. I wasn’t a complete menace to my parents, at least most of the time, but between me and my brother, I can say we added some gray hairs to my father’s and mother’s hair.
But I grew up and my relationship with my parents and brother got better. I can name on one hand the number of times we have yelled at each other since my leaving the house (a vast improvement from my time living in my parents’ home). There is no reason for our relationship not to improve with the passage of time: as I age, I begin to understand my parents more and more, just like I hope they begin to understand me more.
All of this is to say, I don’t think I can come up with any situation where I will say something like, “Woman, what concern is that to me?” I don’t think I could get away with it. But as is more often the case with John, something more than meets the eye is taking place here.
Jesus is being more than curt to his mother. He uses this similar tone with his brothers in 7:3-10 and his good friends in 11:1-6. Instead of being mean for mean’s sake, Jesus is separating himself from the wants, suggestions, appeals, and requests of anyone, regardless of its his beloved mother or not. Jesus is separating himself because his actions, and, in turn, God’s actions (for John, Jesus is the manifestation of God on earth), are not necessarily privy to the whims of human desire.
That doesn’t necessarily sound encouraging, but something is at work here: we get an insight into John’s understanding of how the Grace of Jesus works. Christ’s Grace is not dependent on anything we can do. It comes to us on its own. “This doctrine of grace says that time, place, proximity, and even family ties do not dictate the self-giving of God” (Craddock, John, 24). Even in the giving of himself to the world, Jesus does not adhere to the conventional societal structure where the wealthy and powerful get privileges while the poor and lowly are left for scraps.
Grace is for all people at all times, no exceptions. And that is Good News indeed.