John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 2:4 - 2:4

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 2:4 - 2:4

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4.Woman, what have I to do with thee? Why does Christ repel her so rashly? I reply, though she was not moved by ambition, nor by any carnal affection, still she did wrong in going beyond her proper bounds. Her anxiety about the inconvenience endured by others, and her desire to have it in some way mitigated, proceeded from humanity, and ought to be regarded as a virtue; but still, by putting herself forward, she might obscure the glory of Christ. Though it ought also to be observed, that what Christ spoke was not so much for her sake as for the sake of others. Her modesty and piety were too great, to need so severe a chastisement. Besides, she did not knowingly and willingly offend; but Christ only meets the danger, that no improper use may be made of what his mother had said, as if it were in obedience to her command that he afterwards performed the miracle.

The Greek words ( Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοὶ) literally mean, What to me and to thee ? But the Greek phraseology is of the same import with the Latin — Quid tibi mecum ? (what hast thou to do with me ?) The old translator led many people into a mistake, by supposing Christ to have asserted, that it was no concern of his, or of his mother’ if the wine fell short. But from the second clause we may easily conclude how far removed this is from Christ’ meaning; for he takes upon himself this concern, and declares that it belongs to him to do so, when he adds, my hour is not yet come. Both ought to be joined together — that Christ understands what it is necessary for him to do, and yet that he will not act in this matter at his mother’ suggestion.

It is a remarkable passage certainly; for why does he absolutely refuse to his mother what he freely granted afterwards, on so many occasions, to all sorts of persons? Again, why is he not satisfied with a bare refusal? and why does he reduce her to the ordinary rank of women, and not even deign to call her mother ? This saying of Christ openly and manifestly warns men to beware lest, by too superstitiously elevating the honor of the name of mother in the Virgin Mary, (45) they transfer to her what belongs exclusively to God. Christ, therefore, addresses his mother in this manner, in order to lay down a perpetual and general instruction to all ages, that his divine glory must not be obscured by excessive honor paid to his mother.

How necessary this warning became, in consequence of the gross and disgraceful superstitions which followed afterwards, is too well known. For Mary has been constituted the Queen of Heaven, the Hope, the Life, and the Salvation of the world; and, in short, their fury and madness proceeded so far that they stripped Christ of his spoils, and left him almost naked. And when we condemn those horrid blasphemies against the Son of God, the Papists call us malignant and envious; and — what is worse — they maliciously slander us as deadly foes to the honor of the holy Virgin. As if she had not all the honor that is due to her, unless she were made a Goddess; or as if it were treating her with respect, to adorn her with blasphemous titles, and to substitute her in the room of Christ. The Papists, therefore, offer a grievous insult to Mary when, in order to disfigure her by false praises, they take from God what belongs to Him.

My hour is not yet come. He means that he has not hitherto delayed through carelessness or indolence, but at the same time he states indirectly that he will attend to the matter, when the proper time for it shall arrive. As he reproves his mother for unseasonable haste, so, on the other hand, he gives reason to expect a miracle. The holy Virgin acknowledges both, for she abstains from addressing him any farther; and when she advises the servants to do whatever he commands, she shows that she expects something now. But the instruction conveyed here is still more extensive that whenever the Lord holds us in suspense, and delays his aid, he is not therefore asleep, but, on the contrary, regulates all His works in such a manner that he does nothing but at the proper time. Those who have applied this passage to prove that the time of events is appointed by Fate, are too ridiculous to require a single word to be said for refuting them. The hour of Christ sometimes denotes the hour which had been appointed to him by the Father; and by his time he will afterwards designate what he found to be convenient and suitable for executing the commands of his Father; but in this place he claims the right to take and choose the time for working and for displaying his Divine power. (46)

(45) “En la vierge Marie.”

(46) “De bosongner et desployer sa virtue Divine.”