“Until Now”

GOSPEL | JOHN 2:1-12

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.  Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.  He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.  When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom  10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”  11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there for a few days.

“My hour has not yet come.” (v.4)

“Now…” (v.6)

“Now…” (v.8)

“…until now.” (v.10)

In this passage, there’s a sense that this is exactly the right moment: it’s “the third day” (v.1), and there are ritual cleansing vessels on hand (v.6), and all eyes are on Jesus; but Jesus insists that this is not the right moment: “My hour has not yet come” (v.4). I get hung up here when I read this passage. What does he mean, “My hour has not yet come”? And why does he change the water into wine if this isn’t the right moment?

Lent is all about anticipating “the right moment.” In rhetoric, this moment is referred to as kairos, the Greek word for a distinct, particular season. It tells a public speaker where to pause for effect, or whether the topic is appropriate for “the moment.” There’s no formula for discerning the kairos; its all intuition, all about listening and waiting and sensing. And Jesus senses, “My hour has not yet come.”

Nevertheless, there is a kind of readiness, a kind of “right moment” here at this wedding, and Jesus feels it. This isn’t the fullness of time – the “hour” he knows is coming – but there is a climate of bated breath here, a wordless, soundless atmospheric anticipation. “Now.” This may not be the hour, but it is the beginning, the catalyst. “Now” is the moment we’ve been waiting for, “now” is the moment to pay attention, “now” is all we have. Lent may not always taste like the “good wine,” but it is a taste of something better to come.