In my last blog (click here) I began writing about the Protestant perspective when it comes to praying to Mary and other saints. Here is Part 4…
In Part 2 of this blog series I unpacked the miracle at the wedding of Cana in John 2:1-11 from a Catholic perspective. This blog will offer a Protestant rebuttal. To begin here is the text:
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim… – John 2:1-7 (NIV)
Then a miracle took place. Jesus turned water into wine.
Catholics use this interaction between Mary and Jesus as a model for how we should pray (ask) to Mary instead of asking Jesus directly. Here are several reasons how Protestants read this passage differently:
More Compassionate? – In a Catholic reading of John 2, Jesus seemed unconcerned that the wedding hosts ran out of wine. That it was Mary’s compassion and persistence that got Jesus to do the miracle. Protestants are uncomfortable with the Catholic interpretation as it makes Mary out to be more compassionate than Jesus (God).
Why Pray to God? – Catholics believe there is great benefit to pray to the saints. Especially Mary. Because according to their reading of John 2, as Jesus’ mom, she has her Son’s ear like no one else, and the implication is she can get Jesus to do things He otherwise would not do. Protestants challenge this perspective. Because if you take it and extrapolate to its logical conclusion, you end up at a strange destination. After all, if the Catholic perspective is true, then why should anyone ever pray to Jesus (God) directly? Why not always go through Mary as it would give you the best chance at getting your prayer answered? And yet the Bible never says we should pray to anyone but God.
“My Hour Has Not Yet Come” – Catholics believe Mary’s persistence got Jesus to do a miracle He wasn’t planning on doing that day. They point to this phrase as proof: My time has not yet come. Protestants offer another perspective on what Jesus meant by these words. In a half dozen other places in John’s gospel, that same phrase always has to do with Jesus’ death. For example, “He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come” (John 8:20). See also: John 7:30, 12:23, 12:27, 13:1, 17:1. So when Jesus said, “My time has not yet come” at the wedding in Cana, He was not saying anything about whether or not He was going to do a miracle at the wedding that day.
Testing Testing 1-2-3 – Jesus’ interaction with Mary in John 2 could have been similar to Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28. In that passage Jesus was testing her faith to see if she really believed what she said. The same thing could be going on in John 2. Even though Mary knew Jesus was supernaturally conceived, she had far from perfect faith in Him (see Mark 3:20-35). So Jesus may have said what He said to test His mother’s faith.
As a result of the questions raise above, Protestants do not believe the interaction between Mary and Jesus in John 2 should be universalized into a doctrine of praying to Mary and other saints.
Stay tuned for the final installment of this series….
***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. My sermon is titled “Sign of the (End) Times” and will focus on the “End Times” — a fascinating topic that has captured the imaginations of people whether or not they normally go to church. The sermon will be based on Matthew 24:1-35 and focus on how popular Christian books describe the end of the world versus how Jesus described it. And they aren’t the same! Plus, we’ll be honoring our dads since it’s Father’s Day. Please come, bring your dad, bring your kids! June 16. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***