11.This beginning of miracles. The meaning is, that this was the first of Christ’ miracles; for when the angels announced to the shepherds that he was born in Bethlehem, (Luk_2:8,) when the star appeared to the Magi, (Mat_2:2,) when the Holy Spirit descended on him in the shape of a dove, (Mat_3:16; Mar_1:10; Joh_1:32,) though these were miracles, yet, strictly speaking, they were not performed by him; but the Evangelist now speaks of the miracles of which he was himself the Author. For it is a frivolous and absurd interpretation which some give, that this is reckoned the first among; the miracles which Christ performed in Cana of Galilee; as if a place, in which we do not read that he ever was more than twice, had been selected by him for a display of his power. It was rather the design of the Evangelist to mark the order of time which Christ followed in the exercise of his power. For until he was thirty years of age, he kept himself concealed at home, like one who held no public office. Having been consecrated, at his baptism, to the discharge of his office, he then began to appear in public, and to show by clear proofs for what purpose he was sent by the Father. We need not wonder, therefore, if he delayed till this time the first proof of his Divinity. It is a high honor given to marriage, that Christ not only deigned to be present at a nuptial banquet, but honored it with his first miracle. There are some ancient Canons which forbid the clergy to attend a marriage. The reason of the prohibition was, that by being the spectators of the wickedness which was usually practiced on such occasions, they might in some measure be regarded as approving of it. But it would have been far better to carry to such places so much gravity as to restrain the licentiousness in which unprincipled and abandoned men indulge, when they are withdrawn from the eyes of others. Let us, on the contrary, take Christ’ example for our rule; and let us not suppose that any thing else than what we read that he did can be profitable to us.
And manifested his glory; that is, because he then gave a striking and illustrious proof, by which it was ascertained that he was the Son of God; for all the miracles which he exhibited to the world were so many demonstrations of his divine power. The proper time for displaying his glory was now come, when he wished to make himself known agreeably to the command of his Father. Hence, also, we learn the end of miracles; for this expression amounts to a declaration that Christ, in order to manifest his glory, performed this miracle. What, then, ought we to think of those miracles which obscure the glory of Christ?
And his disciples believed on him. If they were disciples, they must already have possessed some faith; but as they had hitherto followed him with a faith which was not distinct and firm, they began at that time to devote themselves to him, so as to acknowledge him to be the Messiah, such as he had already been announced to them. The forbearance of Christ is great in reckoning as disciples those whose faith is so small. And indeed this doctrine extends generally to us all; for the faith which is now full grown had at first its infancy, nor is it so perfect in any as not to make it necessary that all to a man should make progress in believing. Thus, they who now believed may be said to begin to believe, so far as they daily make progress towards the end of their faith. Let those who have obtained the first-fruits of faith labor always to make progress. These words point out likewise the advantage of miracles; namely, that they ought to be viewed as intended for the confirmation and progress of faith. Whoever twists them to any other purpose corrupts and debases the whole use of them; as we see that Papists boast of their pretended miracles for no other purpose than to bury faith, and to turn away the minds of men from Christ to the creatures.