Jesus spoke these words just before he began his public ministry by performing his first miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee.
When the wine ran out at the wedding Mary addressed Jesus with the words, "They have no wine." She somehow knew that Jesus had the power and the resources to save a situation that was in crisis. Jesus replied, "What is that to me and to you, woman? My hour has not yet come." (The Greek words are τι εμοι και σοι, γυναι; literally "What to me and to you, woman?")
These words have puzzled Bible commentators, because having said this Jesus almost immediately took action with a spectacular miracle to remedy the situation. Having dismissed the wedding crisis as of little apparent importance to him or Mary, he then performed the first miracle of his public ministry!
To Mary and the small group of disciples that had gathered round Jesus, it was a wonderful day. To Jesus this event, and, we may say, all the 3 years' miracle-packed ministry that followed were small compared with what he had really come to earth to do. He could not allow the miracle he was about to perform to be seen for more than it was. Glorious though it might appear to his followers, this was not his hour, nor his true glory. That was yet to come.
Many years later when John wrote his gospel, he saw, probably with hindsight, what Jesus had seen with foresight. He described this miracle and all the other miracles that Jesus did as signs. They were not the realities themselves, but signs pointing to greater things. He might have written volumes on the 3 years he spent in the company of Jesus, but instead he devoted over half his gospel to the last week of Jesus' life and the events surrounding his death and resurrection.
Later in John's gospel Jesus' brothers acted much like Mary had. The occasion was the great national festival of Succoth or Tabernacles. Jews from all over the country, and from further afield went up to Jerusalem to celebrate. It was an ideal time to make himself known publicly. "You ought to leave here and go to Judea," his brothers said, "so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No-one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world."
Again Jesus said, "My time has not yet come." He then delayed a few days, and went secretly to the festival. He spoke publicly in the temple. His words brought anger to some , and we read, "At this they tried to seize him, but no-one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come." (7: 30).
Soon afterwards we read the same words again: "No-one seized him, because his hour had not yet come" (8: 20). Now we begin to understand what he meant by his hour. He meant the hour of his death.
Four days before he died Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem on a donkey. The cheering crowds knew that he was fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy of their coming king. It was like a coronation. Now at last, it appeared, his hour had come. This was surely his great moment. But it was not.
Finally when all his public ministry was finished and his death was imminent, Jesus spoke the words: "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified". He went on to pray, "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" (John 12: 23, 27, 28).
He spoke similar words at his last Passover meal with the disciples. We read, "Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father" (13: 1) and later that evening he began his final great prayer with the words: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you" (17: 1).
His hour of glory was the hour of his death!
How different Jesus is from the great people of this world! When a president or prime minister is sworn into the highest office in his country, it is a unique and wonderful moment in his life. His hour has come! The world's attention is on him. When his 4 or 5 years in office are over, he disappears from public view. His work is finished. When 20 or 30 years later he dies he is just a name from the past. He has long since left the newspaper headlines and the TV broadcasts.
For Jesus the hour of glory was the total opposite of everything that word normally means. He died the death of a common criminal in pain and agony at the young age of 33, alone and deserted by all his followers with his mission apparently a total failure.
But invisible to human eyes Jesus achieved more in his darkest hour than all the world's heroes and benefactors put together. He met and conquered all the hosts of darkness. His hour of pain and agony brought unmeasurable blessing to the whole human race. In that great eternal moment, he turned all sorrow to joy, all sickness to health, all hatred to love, all darkness to light and all death to life. He changed the destiny of the whole creation, and set it free from its slavery to corruption.
When finally our eyes are opened and we see things as they are, we will worship God and know that he answered the final great prayer of Jesus, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you".