Years pass away before Mary is again seen in the sacred record. Her last appearance was at Jerusalem, when Jesus was "twelve years old," whither she with her husband had gone to keep the feast of the Passover. Thence they returned to Nazareth, and for at least eighteen years there is no mention either of Jesus or His mother. During all this time in which He was hidden, she also was hidden: it is, or should be, the same with the Christian. Now our life is hid with Christ in God; but when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. (See also 1 John 3:2.) So, in this gospel, the moment Jesus commences His manifestation to Israel (chap. 1:31) Mary is once more introduced. But in order to rightly apprehend this and the subsequent appearances of Mary, it should be observed that her personal history is closed. If she is seen or mentioned afterwards, it is either in a typical way, or to be used to furnish some precious lesson in connection with our Lord. She must not, highly favoured as she was, arrest the eyes of God's people when her Son, Jesus, is upon the scene: it is His perfections, His wisdom, His devotedness to the will of His God, His glory, that must occupy the reader, though he may not forget the uniqueness of the relationship in which Mary stood to her Child.
On "the third day," we are told, "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." Few can doubt, if at least they have entered into the prophetic teaching concerning the future restoration of Israel, that this whole scene is emblematical. The statement that it was on the third day that the marriage took place plainly points to this, whether by the third day is understood the period of blessing (and judgment, if the purging of the temple is added) which follows upon the two days of testimony - that of John the Baptist, and that of Jesus Himself - recorded in chapter 1; or that it signifies, as so often, resurrection, and thus shadows forth the fact that the blessing of the earthly people, even as that of the heavenly, can only be established in resurrection. To comprehend the symbolical character of this marriage, a marriage which, while it actually took place, was selected for this purpose, is to possess the key to the narrative. It is necessary to say this much because men, and even Christians, have been betrayed into the discussion concerning the Lord's personal conduct to Mary on this occasion, forgetting, in their human thoughts, the glory of the One who manifests here, as everywhere, His perfection in every relationship in which He stood.*
*One well-known Bible has actually falsified the translation of v. 4, in order to conceal the real character of the words which Jesus spoke to Mary. It is given as if it were, "What is that to me and thee?" In the words of a writer, this "is not a mistake, because it is a wilful misrepresentation." A. solemn, but a true, accusation!
We read that "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." (vv. 3-5.) The following remark of another will help to elucidate the meaning of this scripture: "At the feast (marriage) He would not know His mother: this was the link of His natural relation with Israel, which, looking at Him as born under the law, was His mother. He separates Himself from her to accomplish blessing." This will serve to explain the typical nature of this scene to which allusion has been made. And truly it was so, that, if Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law, He had to die out from under all these relationships, having perfectly glorified God therein, and having redeemed those who were under the law by being made a curse for them, before He could effectuate Israel's blessing. The corn of wheat had to fall into the ground and die if it were to bring forth much fruit.
But there is another thing to be remembered. Jesus had already communicated to His mother, as we have before seen, that He must be about His Father's business; and having come to do His will, He did it at every step in communion with the Father, whether as to time or manner. As He Himself said, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise," etc. (Chap. 5:19-20.) It was impossible, therefore, for Him to receive a suggestion as to what He should do from Mary; and even by the making it Mary was intruding into a province which was exclusively confined to the Father and the Son. That what she said was the prompting of kindness, and that it was, at the same time, expressive of her belief in the power of Jesus, can scarcely be denied; but in the region of Christ's entire and perfect devotedness no voice could be heard but His whose will He had come to do. This will explain to us the words, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come."*
*Commentators are sorely perplexed as to whether these words contained a rebuke. What has been said above will suffice for the answer: it may, however, be added that if a rebuke, it was given in the manner which would best serve to make the desired impression upon Mary's heart.
That the words of Jesus to His mother had their purposed effect is clear from the fact that she attempted no reply, and that she still counted upon the interposition of Jesus and the display of His power; for she said to the servants, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." This is exceedingly beautiful; for if Mary had been tempted out of her proper place by her intense affections, and perhaps by her desire to see her Son publicly acknowledged, she, immediately the Lord had spoken, resumed her place of retirement, even while looking for some outshining of His more than human glory (v. 11), and bidding the servants to render to Him unquestioning obedience. The conciliation of her maternal affections with her faith in Jesus as the One who should be called the Son of the Highest, and the Son of God, must have been, in the routine of daily life as she beheld Jesus eating, drinking, and sleeping, ever a difficult task; but God Himself was watching over her, and was daily opening her heart to the needed instruction even as at this marriage at Cana of Galilee. Her concern at the deficiency of the wine was more than removed, as she remained a silent spectator of the subsequent proceedings, and she therefore enjoyed the inestimable privilege of witnessing this beginning of miracles which Jesus did, when He manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him. Any putting forth of what is divine is a part of the glory of God, which is the display of what He is, and consequently turning the water into wine by omnipotent power was this; and the effect was that His disciples believed on Him. They had received Him before, however feeble their faith, but now their faith was confirmed, as Mary's also must have been.
Jesus having accomplished His mission in Cana of Galilee, went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days.*
*It would seem from this scripture, and especially from Mark 2:1, that Mary had removed from Nazareth to Capernaum. It is also probable, for he is not mentioned after Luke 2:48, that Joseph was now dead, and this may have led to the removal. Nothing hangs upon either of these conjectures, although in regard to the latter one can readily perceive that there might be divine reasons for the death of Joseph before Jesus entered upon His public mission.