Honor and shame is a big deal in the Middle East. You strive your whole life to bring your family and village honor. If you shame your family and village, the stain can last a lifetime. A wedding feast was one of the most important events in the life of a village. It was a situation ripe for honoring the village or, if it goes poorly, to bring shame upon yourself.
Jesus’ mother is trying to avert a shame crisis when she approaches Jesus to help with the wine shortage. Jesus’ response seems distant, but helps us understand his purpose. As Pastor Jeff Manion explains in the video clip below, when Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come,” he is looking past Mary and referring to his death.
In Encounters with Jesus, Tim Keller paraphrases Jesus’ response as, “Mother, for my people to fall into my arms, I’m going to have to die. For my people to drink the cup of joy and festival blessings, I’m going to have to drink the cup of justice and punishment and death” (page 74).
Jesus understands his role is to not simply turn the shame of the families hosting the party into joy, but to offer joy in the place of shame for all people. As Messiah, Jesus offers joy where we have shame. But, that offer came with a great cost. Jesus had to endure the shame and punishment we deserved so we could be forgiven.
Today, as you reflect on the work of Jesus taking our shame and turning it into joy, taking our punishment and offering forgiveness, listen to the song we sang this weekend, “Look to the Son” by Hillsong United.