Jesus timed elements of His ministry carefully, though people often seemed to challenge His timing. For example, very early in His ministry, Mary requested that Jesus perform a miracle at a wedding at Cana. Jesus responded by saying, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). But, immediately after that, He performs a miracle, which John calls “the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory” (John 2:11).
Jesus had recently called His disciples, and He and they were invited to a wedding at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1–2). Because Jesus had so recently recruited His disciples (compare the time stamps in John 1:29, 1:35, and 2:1), it was unlikely that the host was prepared for that many people, and they ran out of wine (John 2:3). It seems that Mary, Jesus’ mother, may have been involved in hosting the wedding, as she gave instructions to those who were serving at the wedding (John 2:5). When Mary discovered that the wine had run out, she told Jesus (John 2:3), as if asking Him to rectify the situation with a miracle.
Perhaps Mary wished for Jesus to make Himself publicly known at that time. Jesus responded first by respectfully addressing her as “Woman” (John 2:4). He used the same term to address others with whom He was conversing and to whom He was ministering (Matthew 15:28; Luke 13:12; John 4:21; 8:10; 20:15). He also used the term later when looking after Mary’s care at His crucifixion (John 19:26). While Jesus ultimately honored Mary and her request, it may be that, in saying, “Woman, why do you involve me? . . . My hour has not yet come,” He was gently reminding her that it wasn’t her place to direct His ministry.
After Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4), Mary instructed those serving to do whatever Jesus told them (John 2:5). Jesus told the servants to fill the waterpots that were used for washing hands (John 2:6–7). After they filled the pots with water “to the brim” (verse 7), Jesus told them to draw out what was in the pots and take it to the headwaiter (John 2:8). Sometime in the process, the water was turned to wine.
Without realizing where the wine had come from (John 2:9), the headwaiter expressed his amazement that the best wine had been saved for last (John 2:10). Most people at the wedding were not aware of the miracle—only the servants who drew the water-turned-to-wine and the disciples knew what Jesus had done. John further narrates that this act confirmed Jesus’ identity as the Christ, the Son of God, and “his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11).
Jesus’ words, “My hour has not yet come,” indicate that He was working on a divine schedule and that He was managing the pace at which people would be confronted with the reality of who He was. When Mary suggested that Jesus do something at the wedding, she likely wanted a more public miracle that everyone could see and glory in. Jesus knew it was not time for that yet. He did perform a miracle, but discreetly, and only a select group of people saw it.
Jesus knew His message that the kingdom of God was near (Matthew 4:17) would ultimately be rejected. He knew that He would die (Matthew 12:40–41) to pay for sin and to provide all who believe in Him with eternal life (John 5:24; 6:47) and entrance into His coming kingdom (Matthew 5:20, 48; 6:33). On some other occasions when Jesus performed miracles, He instructed those who were blessed by them not to broadcast what He had done (e.g., Matthew 8:4; 9:30; 12:16; 17:9; etc.). It seems that Jesus managed the momentum of His ministry so that things would happen according to God’s timing and not according to the will and whims of people. Even Jesus’ mother could not hurry things along. When Jesus said to Mary, “My hour has not yet come,” but then performed the miracle anyway, He demonstrated respect and compassion for Mary, but He also prioritized the scheduling in which the work of God was to be done.