Can We Ignore God When He Says No?

Jesus turned water into wine. It’s his first miracle.

Literally, I’ve been thinking about this story for two months. It started back in May when Kris and I talked about it over our podcast. (You can find and listen to by clicking on the pic below.)


Since then, every time I read it or have a conversation with somebody about it I feel like I gain new insight. What has really gotten my brain gears cranking is the simple exchange between Mary and Jesus. (Paraphrase ahead: click here to read literal text.)

Mary: “There is no more wine.”

Jesus: “Not my problem.”

(Mary side-steps Jesus and speaks the servants)

Mary: “Do whatever he says.”

(Jesus makes more wine.) 

Essentially, Mary brings a concern to Jesus, Jesus says no, and Mary ignores the “no.” Why is Mary doing this?

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 11.37.39 AM

To do this story justice, it should be noted that the problem of this story isn’t simply that a wedding party ran out of wine. The problem is much bigger. Running out of wine is a scandal. (I know, I know, some of you are all like, “Duh. We know running out of wine is a scandal.” LISTEN. It’s bigger!) This very happening will bring shame on the family. Running out of wine at a wedding signifies that the family can not perform their necessary duties. These people are set up to experience disgrace and failure.


Some of you may relate to this story because you could never imagine the horror of running out of wine. Some of you may relate to this story because you understand the depths of things like scandal, shame, missing the mark, and feelings of disgrace.

This is why Mary steps in. She sees these people. She cares for these people. Their disgrace and embarrassment, their missing the mark matters to her. She takes the problem to Jesus. I see her words as a prayer. “Jesus, they are out of wine.”

What would it mean if that was your prayer? “Jesus. I am out of wine. I am at my wits end. I have no extra amount of hope here. Jesus. I am facing disgrace and shame and a situation where I have no control left. Jesus. I am out of wine.”

“Jesus, I am out of wine…”

And Mary, the mother of God, has her prayer answered with the words no. Jesus says it’s not his time. He asks why he should get involved. Mary prays. Jesus says no… Sit with that for a moment. Jesus tells Mary no. This would be such a discouraging story, but is it possible that Mary is teaching us something about prayer? Is she teaching us something about her son and something about God?

She has faith despite the no. She presses on and essentially asks again. She is not satisfied with the answer Jesus gives so she pushes. I feel scandalous even typing this. Is Mary really challenging God? Can we pray like this? Can we pray for more even when we feel like God says no?

Mary seems to think it is okay.

This story is such a life-giving story. It gives me confidence that we can say to Jesus, “I am out of wine.” And if it’s a no the first time? We can say it again.  “I’ll do whatever you say, Jesus. I am out of wine.” (It is worth noting that Mary instructed the servants to “do whatever Jesus says” which may hold significance for our prayers as well.)

This type of prayer is a prayer of hope and a prayer of boldness. It’s a prayer that believes Jesus can do amazing things and a prayer that teaches us to keep asking.

I’d love it if you read this story with me. (John 2:1-11) What are your thoughts? Let’s talk about it!

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 6.12.54 PM


  1. This article reminds me of something from a sermon a couple weeks ago. The moral was that God wants you to ask for BIG things. Like little kids asking for a life sized Barbie dream house, or a slip n slide covered entire of chocolate. Asking for world peace, or an end to world poverty, or to have a fleet of Navy ships at your command is kind of ridiculous but even if He says no, it is not with rebuke. “No” might mean “Not right now.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s