by Elizabeth Hunter

CAN YOU REMEMBER A TIME when a mom or another mother figure turned and gave you “the look”? That look may have communicated something like, I’m not worried about what you just said. And you are going to help me with this now.

At the wedding at Cana (John 2), Jesus’ mama, Mary, seemed to expect a miracle. This issue’s Bible study, “Salvation now,” (p. 32) looks at this passage as well as others from the Gospel of John, to explore how Jesus’ presence, not at some far-off time, but in the present moment, changes lives.

Interestingly, at this wedding in Cana, Mary is just a guest. Despite her lack of an official role, she puts herself in this other family’s shoes, and acts to help them. She doesn’t gossip about their lack of wine, or wait to see what will happen, shaking her head. These are not her kids getting married, but it ’s clear she will work to ensure they have the same things she’d like for her own children: no shame or bad memories, just joyful celebration.

We can’t forget that Mary, this woman we remember each May 31 (see story, p. 16), who passionately sings about justice, mercy and filling the hungry with good things (Luke 1:46-55), is the same woman who helped raise Jesus. Like many moms, she doesn’t seem to need to say a lot when the wine runs out. Four words in the ear of Jesus—“They have no wine”—are apparently enough in the family shorthand to convey both problem and request. She boldly stands up for people in her community.

Jesus’ response may have been serious (not being ready for his ministry to start) or possibly humorous (not being ready to wed), but Mary just lets it go by. Her five word reply (“Do whatever he tells you”), lets Jesus and the servants know that Jesus will be taking care of the situation.

Mary is Jesus’ mom. She knows who he is. She knows what he can do. And he does. Jesus turns water into wine. Jesus’ presence in that moment brings abundance where they lacked, and friendship instead of shaming. Jesus’ presence now, in our moment, also changes everything.

This issue’s Bible study includes many favorite Bible stories.

The author, Anna Madsen, helps us look at Scripture and the word “now,” against a background of Jewish traditions, original Greek wordings, the meanings of words like “Messiah” and “synoptic,” and thoughtful discussion questions.

Elizabeth Hunter serves as editor of </em>Gather<em>. She enjoys spending time with family, walking in the woods and kayaking along rivers where a quiet peace can be found.

This is excerpted from an article in the May/June 2023 issue. To read more articles like it, subscribe to Gather.