The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up

John 3:14-15

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Jesus is referring here to a peculiar episode which took place during the time when Moses and the Israelites were traveling en route to the promised land. The people had grown impatient, and carelessly slandered both God and Moses, complaining that they’d been rescued out of Egypt in order to die in the wilderness. They complained of having no bread or water, disparaging the very manna which God was miraculously providing to them each morning in order to sustain them. So God sent poisonous snakes out amongst them, and the snakes bit the people, causing many of them to die:

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (Numbers 21:6-9)

“So the Son of Man must be lifted up…” – In this simile, Jesus compares himself not to Moses, but to the snake! Although Nicodemus may not have recognized it at the time, Jesus had just revealed to him a “heavenly thing” – indeed, this was the very reason for which Jesus had been sent into the world. That he, the Lamb of God, the one who knew no sin, would become sin for us. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Following this statement is probably one of the most well-known and oft-quoted portions of the entire Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

Some Bible translators believe that the above verses are part of Jesus’ response to Nicodemus, however given the abrupt change in style and terminology occurring in this portion of the text, we do not share that opinion. Rather, we believe that the gospel writer himself is pausing here within his narrative in order to expound upon the profound truth that Jesus had just revealed to Nicodemus.

Just like those people who had been bitten by snakes, we stand “condemned already” in our sin. But God, being rich in love and mercy, has sent his own Son in the form of sinful flesh as an offering for our sin. (Romans 8:3-4) If we will but lift our eyes up in faith and look upon the One who was sacrificed for us, we will live.

The One Who Came From Heaven

John 3:9-13

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man”

“How can these things be?” Nicodemus asked, still perplexed by Jesus’s assertion that no one could see the kingdom of God unless they were “born again.”  Jesus responded, “You are Israel’s teacher and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”

“You are Israel’s teacher and do you not understand these things?” – This is not an unfair question on the part of Jesus, for the concept of spiritual regeneration could be clearly found within the teachings of the Old Testament, such as in Ezekiel 11:19-20, Ezekiel 36:25-27, and Psalm 51:10. However, Nicodemus’s blindness to these truths was symptomatic of the mindset of the religious teachers of the day. Their focus was man-centered, emphasizing the outward behaviors of “do not eat” and “do not touch.” We can see this man-centered approach clearly in Nicodemus’s previous response to Jesus when he asked him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?” Notice that Nicodemus didn’t say, “How can God…?” but rather, “How can a man…” presuming that the burden of regeneration must rest on human effort.

“I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.” – “Earthly things” is not a reference to the natural phenomena of wind and water, but rather to all that takes place within the sphere of earth, including the spiritual interactions between God and men. We who are confined to this earth can have no concept of what heaven is like, for we have never been there. It is another world – a holy atmosphere where we cannot exist without undergoing a dramatic metamorphosis, such as the one described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.

“We speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen…” – One can’t help but notice that, midway through his response, Jesus mysteriously transitions from first person to third person. Who is the “we” that he is referring to? There are actually several theories regarding this. Some believe that Jesus is referring to himself and John the Baptist, or perhaps to himself and his disciples. Others believe that he is referring to himself and all the prophets who have preceded him. Another theory is that he is speaking as a representative of the Holy Trinity. Personally, I believe that Jesus is referring to himself and John the Baptist.

In John 3:31-32 it states, “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.” From the context it is clear that “the one from the earth” is a reference to John the Baptist. Both he and Jesus were testifying about the very same thing, namely the Kingdom of Heaven. However, John was testifying of things he had seen and heard on earth, while Jesus was testifying of what he had seen and heard on earth and in heaven.

Jesus Christ is the only one who has come down to earth from heaven. He is the one who emptied himself of his heavenly glory and took on human form, and who humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross; (Philippians 2:6) and he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

You Must Be Born Again

John 3:1-8

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

In the next few posts, we will examine some of the things Jesus said during a private conversation which took place between him and a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who was one of the members of the Jewish ruling council, also known as the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus had come to see Jesus at night, presumably so that he could escape observation and keep his meeting with Jesus a secret from the rest of the Sanhedrin. Few would have witnessed this conversation, other than a small handful of disciples (the Twelve had not yet been chosen).

There are some important factors to keep in mind when studying this passage. First, Jesus was not up on a mountaintop preaching to the masses, he was not even speaking to his own disciples; he was having a clandestine conversation with one member of an elite group of learned Jewish scholars. Second, Jesus knew what was in the heart of Nicodemus (John 2:23-25). We might be able to see both sides of the conversation in terms of what was said out loud, but only Jesus knew what Nicodemus was actually thinking, so there remains an unwritten thread to this conversation that we can never be privy to.

Nicodemus opens the conversation by saying, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” He says “we know” indicating that there were others among the Sanhedrin who were also impressed by the miracles they had witnessed, and he confers upon Jesus the title of “Rabbi,” a title of great honor and deference coming from a man of his rank. But Jesus was not flattered by any of this and quickly knocked Nicodemus down from any remaining claim to a position of spiritual authority by declaring to him, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”  In one fell swoop, Jesus negated all of Nicodemus’s efforts of intense study and the strict piety that was required to be a member of the Sanhedrin, and declared it to be essentially of no value at all.

Nicodemus, suddenly on the defensive, responded, “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered him, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“The wind blows wherever it pleases… so it is with everyone born of the Spirit – Jesus was using a play on words here that becomes lost when translated into English. The word he used for “spirit” was the same as that used for “wind.” Yet, even in English, the essential meaning still comes through – this “second birth” cannot be initiated or achieved by human endeavor, but only by the Spirit of God.

This must have shocked Nicodemus to the core. As a Pharisee, he had spent his life’s work instructing men on all that they must DO in order to please God. But here this “teacher from God” was authoritatively declaring to him that none of a man’s efforts in the flesh could possibly have any bearing upon his entrance into the kingdom of God.

This would be terrible news indeed for anyone who might believe that God is capricious in deciding whom to save and whom to condemn. But that is not the character of God. He is steadfast and unchanging (James 1:17), he is the Lord, “full of compassion and mercy” (Exodus 34:6-7) and he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Destroy This Temple

John 2:18-22

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

This was the week before Passover, and Jesus, in a flurry of zeal, had just purged all of the money changers and livestock merchants from the temple courts. Many of the local Jews were very surprised and upset by this. They wanted to know what gave him the right to come in and shut down these businesses, which several of them relied upon and did not find to be at all offensive. They demanded of him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Their response to him was scornful and dismissive, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple that Jesus had spoken of was his own body, though nobody understood what he was talking about at the time, including his own disciples. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples would recall what he had said and finally understand its true meaning. (John 2:18-22)

I find a striking contrast between Jesus zealously protecting the sanctity of the temple courts at one moment and then cavalierly discussing its destruction in the next. I do realize that he was actually talking about two completely different things – one was a building which bore God’s name (but did not contain his presence) and the other was the body of God incarnate. Still, the juxtaposition of the two concepts highlights the fact that they did have one thing in common. They both bore the name of God and represented his presence on earth. It was not the temple building itself that was sacred, it was the fact that God had once established his dwelling there and it represented his covenant with Israel. But the moment that Jesus died on the cross, the temple and all of the sacrifices and rituals observed there became obsolete.

“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” – Here Jesus is clearly foretelling his own death and resurrection, but it is only clear in retrospect – at the time no one understood what he was talking about! It is important to note that he did NOT say that he would build it again, he said that he would raise it. The Greek word, “egeiró,” translated here as “raise” is typically used to describe someone awakening from sleep, or rising up from a prone or seated position.

This statement, coupled with his actions in cleansing the temple, provided the opening salvo in Jesus’s ongoing conflict with the religious establishment in Jerusalem. This seemingly outlandish declaration would continue to reverberate in their minds throughout the next three years, fueling their anger and mistrust. They would remember and ruminate upon these words, misinterpreting them and twisting them in the process. Eventually, they would attempt to use their twisted version of his statement as evidence against him at his trial. (Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58)  And as he hung on the cross, passersby would hurl these words back at him in ignorant mockery (Matthew 27:40; Mark 15:29) not understanding that the very thing that Jesus had predicted three years prior was actually happening before their very eyes.

My Father’s House

John 2:13-17

“Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

The story of Jesus clearing the money changers out of the temple is well known. It has been the subject of numerous works of art, ranging from classic works to modern memes and, because of its inherent drama, the scene is almost always included in plays or movies about the life of Christ. But many may not realize that Jesus actually did this twice, once at the beginning of his ministry and once at the end. This is probably because the first incident is only recorded in John’s gospel and John makes no mention of the second one, so many people confuse the two separate incidents as having happened at the same time.

After having performed the miracle of turning water into wine in Cana, Jesus traveled to Jerusalem in order to celebrate the Passover. When Jesus entered the temple courts in Jerusalem, he found it filled with people selling livestock (both sheep and cattle!) and others selling doves in cages. There were also moneychangers sitting at tables stacked with coins, busily exchanging foreign money for that which could be used in the temple.

This would not have been an unusual sight for Jesus. The fact that he had lived in a devout Jewish family for his entire life meant that he would have traveled to Jerusalem dozens of times before this.  And these merchants did not just turn up overnight; their businesses had been going on for some time, and provided a convenience for devout pilgrims who had traveled long distances in order to fulfill their religious obligations. It was much easier for them to buy a sacrificial animal on site than to bring one from home, and in order to pay for anything in the temple, they must first have the proper kind of currency, so the moneychangers really came in handy.

But this time was different. This time Jesus took action by fashioning an impromptu whip out of cords, which he then used to drive out the sheep and the cattle and the people who had brought them. He overturned the tables of the money changers, scattering their coins onto the floor. He rebuked the dove sellers, telling them, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

Wow! What a dramatic scene! Nevertheless, the gospel writer is careful not to accentuate the drama in his narrative, and does not provide his readers with any descriptions as to Jesus’s demeanor or emotions. The only clue we are given in regards to these is in an oblique reference to Psalm 69:9, when he writes, “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.'” (John 2:17)

Let us go back and read the rest of that verse in context, for it will provide us with some further insight into the life of our Saviour as he stepped away from his former life of quiet obscurity, and set out to fulfill the purpose for which he was sent, even to the point of estrangement from those within his own family.

I am a foreigner to my own family, a stranger to my own mother’s children; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. (Psalm 69:8,9)

No Prophet is Accepted in His Hometown

Luke 4:16-30

“Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

In the early days of his public ministry, Jesus was invited to teach at the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus’ mother, Mary, would have also been there, and we believe that it was she who provided Luke with most of the details about this event. As we read Luke’s account, we can easily imagine Mary sitting there among the other congregants, listening to their whispered remarks, her maternal sensibilities heightened to the reactions of those around her.

At first the audience appeared to be responding favorably to what Jesus was saying to them. They expressed amazement at the gracious words falling from his lips, and said to one another, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” But behind their outwardly positive reaction there was a hidden inward resentment. Here was a man who had grown up in their midst, who had lived and worked among them for his entire adult life, yet never once had he performed the sort of miracles that they had heard of his doing elsewhere. How many among their own number had not suffered from sickness or disease, or had a loved one succumb to a deadly illness?

We do not really know what was in their hearts, but Jesus did, and he exposed their resentment by declaring openly, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’ Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” (Luke 4:22-24)

He then went on to back up what he had just said with examples from the lives of Elijah and Elisha, two of their most revered prophets: “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

In Proverbs 9:8 it says, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,” and that is exactly what happened when Jesus reproved the congregation at Nazareth. Jesus had not only wounded their pride, he had also challenged their deeply held prejudices regarding the Gentiles and their right to feel superior to them. Any fleeting sense of admiration that they might have had was immediately transformed into fury. They all rose up as an angry mob against him, and drove him out of town.

Their fury quickly escalated into a murderous rage, up to the point where they were about to throw him off a cliff at the edge of town. However, the timing and manner of his death was not going to be determined by this angry mob. Jesus simply walked right through the crowd and went on his way, leaving the small town of Nazareth behind him. It would never be his “hometown” again.

The Year of The Lord’s Favor

Luke 4:16-21

“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

In his sermon to the congregation at Nazareth, Jesus began by taking up the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and reading: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” and then he abruptly stopped, mid-sentence. The rest of the passage actually goes on to say, “and the day of vengeance of our God,” but Jesus didn’t read that part. Instead, he rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the attendant. Then he sat down.

An almost palpable sense of anticipation now arises from the text as Luke tells us, “the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.” Jesus had the entire audience on the edge of its seat, wondering and waiting for what he was about to say next. Then he announced, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Suddenly everyone in the room burst into spontaneous applause!  Well, no, that’s not what happened. That’s what would have happened if someone like me had written the story. But this isn’t a “story,” it’s a true account of something that actually took place, and the real reaction of the audience in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth was quite different.

Rather than focus on them, let’s go back and take a closer look at what Jesus just said. He said that he had been sent to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, and that he was going to set the oppressed free. (The Greek word translated as “oppressed” literally means “crushed, broken down, or shattered.”)

Jesus was about to spend the next three years of his life fulfilling this verse, although in a temporal sense. He would transform the lives of multitudes, casting out demons and healing them of all manner of diseases. The lame would walk, the deaf would hear, the blind would see. But the eternal fulfillment of this promise was to be achieved by his death. It was through his death and resurrection that he “led captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8) and achieved the ultimate victory over sin.

Sin is the root cause of these afflictions – captivity, blindness, brokenness – they are ALL the result of SIN. It is sin that holds us captive, it is sin that blinds us, it is sin that shatters us. But Jesus can set us free! We are still living in the “year of the Lord’s favour” and the message of good news that Jesus preached to that congregation in Nazareth continues to be true for us today. We can choose to reject the message, like the congregation at Nazareth, or we can choose to believe it. There is still time for captives to be set free, for the broken to be restored, and for the blind to receive their sight. The day of judgment remains in the future; now is the time of salvation.(2 Corinthians 6:2)

The Spirit of the Lord Is Upon Me

Luke 4:14-30

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

The Gospel of John tells us that, after the wedding at Cana, Jesus went down to the city of Capernaum with his mother and his brothers and stayed there for a few days before eventually travelling on to Jerusalem for the Passover. (John 2:12-13) We believe that the events which are chronicled in Luke 4:14-30 actually took place during this interim.

In Luke, we are told that Jesus returned to Galilee in “the power of the Spirit,” teaching in synagogues and performing great miracles of healing everywhere he went, until he reached his hometown of Nazareth. When it came time for the Sabbath, Jesus went to his local synagogue as usual, but on this particular Sabbath he was also given an opportunity to teach. He started out his sermon by standing up to read a brief selection from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2) and then sat back down, declaring, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Today’s focus will be on the opening statement from that portion in Isaiah, which Jesus had just unambiguously declared as a reference to himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” – Jesus, who was God in the flesh, was empowered by God the Holy Spirit. In the book of Luke we are told that when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him “in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22) and that after his baptism, Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1). This is an example of the inexplicable mystery known to us as “the doctrine of the Trinity:” God as three Persons in one being.

“But,” you may ask, “how could Jesus, who was already God in the flesh, be filled by God the Holy Spirit?” Unfortunately, we cannot provide a satisfactory answer for that question! There are some things about God that we are just incapable of fully apprehending with our carnal minds. But we can take heart in the assurance that all of these questions will be answered once we are with him face-to-face. Then we will know him completely, even as he completely knows us. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

“Because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” – The phrase “to proclaim good news” appears in the Greek as one word, “euaggelizó,” meaning “to announce good news,” and is derived from the same term from which we get the word, “gospel.”

This “good news” is the very same as that which was announced by an angel to those shepherds who were keeping watch over their sheep on the night Jesus was born (Luke 2:10). It is the same good news proclaimed by the John the Baptist in the wilderness (Luke 3:18), the same good news preached by the apostles after Pentecost (Acts 5:42), and the same good news that we proclaim today. This is The Gospel – it is, and always will be, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) In these times when all we ever seem to hear is bad news, followed by more bad news, how marvelous to know we still have a message of good news to share with the world!

Fill The Jars With Water

John 2:1-11

“Fill the jars with water”

John’s account of the miracle of water turned to wine is so delightful and simple that I thought it best to include it in its entirety, though it will make up half of today’s post:

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” John 2:1-11

“Fill the jars with water.” – The remarkable thing about these words of Jesus is that they are so unremarkable. He does not ask the servants to do anything out of the ordinary in order to facilitate the miracle, he simply asks them to do something that they had probably done dozens of times before. This miraculous transformation of ordinary water into extraordinary wine has nothing to do with the servants, or the jars, or the water, and has everything to do with Jesus – his power, his compassion, his grace.

“Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” – There is no dramatic fanfare in the execution of this miracle. Only the servants and the disciples know what has just taken place. Jesus keeps himself out of the spotlight and sends the servants to discretely deliver the wine to the Master of the Banquet, so that he can then distribute it to the guests. When the Master of the Banquet tastes the new wine, he marvels at its quality, not knowing anything about its origin. But his honest and unsolicited praise is actually a testimony to the nature and character of Jesus, who does all things well.

My Hour Has Not Yet Come

John 2:1-11

“Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.”

The very first public miracle that Jesus performed was turning water into wine. This took place at a wedding in the small town of Cana in Galilee. Given the apparent involvement of Jesus’ mother with the proceedings, and the fact that Jesus and his disciples were also invited, it is likely that this was the wedding of a relative or close family friend.

We sometimes tend to forget that Jesus had a family. It’s strange to think of Jesus living an everyday life at home all those years before his public ministry. And even stranger to think of what life must have been like for his family – his brothers and sisters, and especially his mother. However, the gospels do not provide us with much insight into those relationships.  What we do know is this: his brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5), but his mother most certainly did. She had heard the declarations of both men and angels, telling her that Jesus would bring salvation to Israel, and that he would rule over an everlasting kingdom. And all of these things were treasured away in her heart. (Luke 2:19, Luke 2:51)

Jesus would have known his mother’s heart, for he knew what was in the hearts of all men.  We must keep that in mind when examining the brief snippet of dialogue that occurred between the two of them at the wedding feast, when the wine supply ran out. Jesus’ mother approached him and said, “They have no more wine.”  “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother then instructed the servants, saying, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:3-5)

“Woman, why do you involve me?” – Although it was a perfectly respectful term in the language of the day, the fact that he addressed her as “woman,” and not as “mother,” might indicate that he was establishing some distance in their relationship. This quote is from the NIV, but other Bible translations vary wildly, ranging from “Dear woman, that’s not our problem” (NLT) to “Woman, what have I to do with you?” (AKJV). I happen to prefer the World English Bible version of “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me?” because it does not convey such an irritable tone, and appears to be a more literal translation of the Greek.

“My hour has not yet come.” – Of all the people in that room, it was only Mary who really understood who Jesus was. She knew that he was the only begotten Son of God, the promised Messiah who would bring salvation to all mankind, whose kingdom would have no end. But I doubt whether she realized this was all to come about through his death on a cross. I believe that his response to her is not a rebuke for approaching him with the problem, but rather a challenge to examine her own preconceptions regarding him, and his mission.

As we read of this interaction between Mary and Jesus, we must be careful not to attribute them with our own carnal stereotypes of mothers and sons. Mary was not a pushy “stage mother,” eager for her son to share his gifts with the world; she was a godly, humble woman who was full of faith. Jesus was not a recalcitrant son, reluctantly acting in order to appease his mother; he was the righteous Son of God, who lived his life in perfect obedience to the will of his heavenly Father. And, even though the Bible doesn’t provide us with any clues as to his facial expression or tone of voice, or even whether he was seated or standing, there still must have been something in his manner that made her think he was about to do something, for she proceeded to instruct the servants to do “whatever he says” – and the result was simply miraculous!