Do the Events at Cana Justify the Worship of Mary?

By Wayne Jackson

“In John 2, at the wedding feast of Cana, Mary asked Jesus for a favor and he complied. Does that not show her power over him and hence justify the praise and worship of her?”

Such a conclusion is a vast “stretch,” far beyond the bounds of both scripture and logic. Let us give consideration to the following factors.

  1. Mary did not “ask” her Son for anything on that occasion. Her comment was a simple, declarative statement. The most that could be said is that it was a subtle suggestion. Phillip Schaff called it a “modest hint” (John H. Lange, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Translated and Enlarged by Phillip Schaff, New York: Scribner, Armstrong & Co., 1874, p. 104). Certainly it did not suggest that she in any way had “authority” over him.
  2. The Lord’s reply is most significant. He said, “Woman, what have I to do with you? Mine hour is not yet come” (v. 4). The Greek text literally reads: “What to me and to you, woman?” Charles Williams, in his translation, rendered the clause as follows: “Woman, what have you to do with me?” What actually is meant by the expression?

    The use of “woman” is entirely respectful (cf. John 19:26; 20:15), though it was not common for one to address his mother as such.

    Clearly, the statement is a “disclaimer of communion,” as if to say, “What have I in common with you?” Compare similar phrasing in Joshua 22:24; Judges 11:12; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28). Phillip Schaff noted that it implies “slight reproof” (p. 105). Noted Greek scholar, Nigel Turner, comments as follows: “The remark of Jesus to his mother appears to be a polite request to refrain from interference and to leave the whole matter to him” (Grammatical Insights Into The New Testament, Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, 1965, p. 47).
  3. The testimony of some of the early church “fathers,” whom Roman Catholics consider to be as authoritative as the Scriptures (and even more so), considered Christ’s response as a rebuke.

    Irenaeus (c. A.D. 140-203) wrote that the Lord was “checking [Mary’s] untimely haste” (Against Heresies, 1.3.16.7). Chrysostom (c. A.D. 347-407) said that Mary “desired through her Son to render herself more conspicuous. . . to gain credit through His miracles. Therefore He answered her somewhat vehemently, saying, ‘Woman what have I to do with you, my hour is not yet come?’”(Homily on John, XXI; emp. WJ). It is obvious that the current attitude toward Mary, characteristic of the Roman Church, was as yet undeveloped.

There is absolutely no support for the “adoration of Mary” as such is practiced by the Roman Catholic Church. That ideology did not evolve until the 5th century A.D., far too late to have the sanction of Scripture. “Cardinal” Gibbons conceded that Mary was not venerated as the “Mother of God” until the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431 (James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, Baltimore: John Murphy Co., 1917, p. 168).

As an angel once instructed the apostle John, “Worship God” (Revelation 22:9).

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.