What did Jesus mean when he said to Mary, "Dear woman, why do you involve me?... My time has not yet come" (John 2:4)? Did Mary know Jesus could perform miracles at this point in time? -- Jacob (Houston)

Yes, Mary knew. And that is the whole point. She was pressuring Jesus to take matters into his own hands, to "do something." We see a similar scenario in John 7, where Jesus' brothers are pressuring him to go up to Jerusalem in a highly visible manner. Jesus again refuses, though very shortly thereafter does in fact go.

A major theme of the gospel of John is Jesus' timing. (There are a couple of dozen verses on this theme.) He was on God's time, and refused to allow men to dictate what he should do. As the gospel draws to a close, we hear Jesus say in John 17:1, "The time has come," and of course on the next day, "It is finished" (19:30).

"Woman" (here translated dear woman) is the same term Jesus used in John 19:26, and there was nothing disrespectful about it in ancient times.

"Why do you involve me?" renders a common Greek construction. There is nothing inherently disrespectful about it, though to our ears it may not "feel" appropriate. The expression ti emoi kai soi? (literally, what to me and to you?) can be used to show positive or negative attitudes. See Judges 11:12 and 2 Chronicles 35:21.

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