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men,' men of this world, whose minds gravitate downwards,3 who are for ever putting a carnal construction upon His spiritual sayings, giving an earthly meaning to His heavenly words. Still their imagination, and reasoning, is of this world, baser even than before. So they proceed to more ungodliness, and ask the blasphemous question, "Will He kill Himself?" A strange question in the mouth of the men who were about to kill Him. The Lord proceeds, not to gratify their carnal curiosity, but to convict them of their dangerous unbelief. He says not now, as before, your sin; for this was a many-headed monster, the fruitful parent of an evil progeny; but, as pointing out its effects, He says your sins; the brood of errors bound up in that one pregnant mischief, unbelief. It was putting aside the remedy for their mortal sickness. It was rejecting the hand stretched out to rescue them from their perilous position. The twiceuttered saying is not so much a prediction of what should certainly happen, as a merciful warning lest such thing happen. It is conditional. It depended on their reception or their rejection of Him who showed unmistakable marks of the Messiah."
THE SAME SUBJECT continued.
St. John viii. 25-27.
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those
1 Rom. viii. 6, 7.
2 Ps. xvii. 14; St. Luke xvi. 8. 3 Compare St. John iii. 12, 31, 32, 34, 35; 1 St. John ii. 15-17.
St. John vii. 35.
5 St. John iii. 16-18; vv. 24, 25, 40; xii. 46-48.
The "I am He" is another of those assertions of His Divinity of which this Gospel contains so many instances, vv. 24, 28, 58; ch. i. 18; iii. 13; iv. 26; xviii. 5, 6, 8. Compare Exod. iii. 14.
things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
The Jews here care not to consider their own case, their duties and their dangers. They ask again about Him. Catching at His incidental statement "I am He," they inquire captiously, "Who art thou?" As though He had not already given them proof enough. But the object of these men was not to satisfy their own minds, but to induce Him to make such a formal statement of His claims as they might distort into a charge of blasphemy.' The Lord strives to draw them off from such captious questioning about Him, to consider their own case. They required Him to speak and to pronounce about Himself. He has rather for the present to speak and to pronounce concerning them. And again He appeals to His Divine mission; showing that He does these things not without authority; showing that He has the highest authority for what He does. For He comes from Him that is true, even from the true God; using as before,2 by reason of their malice, this mode of expression. And again He declares plainly that what He proclaims on earth is what He has heard in Heaven.3 His testimony too and His teaching was public, challenging examination.* The phrase points also to the world-wide character of His office and His teaching. The Evangelist adds what we may well marvel at. Though He had twice spoken of the Father which sent Him, yet were they so dull of hearing that they failed to recognize the application. Yet from this must we take occasion not so much to cry out against these Jews for their obduracy and unbelief, as to examine ourselves, whether the same spirit, in some other of its manifold forms, be not lurking among ourselves; or whether we may not be incurring the still greater danger of knowledge without obedience, of profession without practice, of" light without love.”
Ps. lvi. 5, 6.
2 St. John vii. 28.
3 St. John iii. 32.
Vv. 16, 18 above.
• The Christian Year, Advent Sunday.
St. John xviii. 20, 21.
THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS.
St. John viii. 28-30.
Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him.
The Lord refers them to a coming time when they should know for certain what they will not now believe. He refers them to a coming event which should extort from the Roman centurion the admission "Truly this was the Son of God," and when all the house of Israel might know assuredly that God had made that same Jesus, whom they crucified, both Lord and Christ. So He repeats His saying; again affirming His eternity, again asserting His union with the Father, again appealing to His Divine mission. His uplifting on the Cross, which He from the first foretells,' seemed unlikely enough. It seemed not improbable that He might perish in a popular tumult,2 or be stoned as Stephen, or fall by the hand of an assassin; 3 but that He should suffer a punishment which the Jews never used, and which the Romans of themselves would not have cared to apply, had not as yet entered into their minds. It was another proof of His foreknowledge and of the justice of His claims. The force of His expressions here argues no inferiority on His part. He simply asserts that so far from His saying or doing, as the Jews would have it, anything contrary to the will of God,* He did nothing independently," but both spake the Father's words,
1 St. John iii. 14; xii. 32. "Our Saviour's words on this occasion are alluded to by the people in St. John xii. 34.”—A Plain Commentary.
2 St. Luke iv. 28, 29; St. John v. 19; viii. 59; x. 31.
3 Acts xxiii. 12-15.
4 St. John ix. 16, 24.
5 St. John v. 19-23; vi. 38; vii. 16, 28; vv. 16, 19 above.
The word for speak in v. 26 is different from that so rendered here,
and did His pleasure.
Nor was it possible or conceivable that He who is one with the Father could do otherwise. At this stage in the hitherto gloomy scene comes in as it were a little gleam of sunshine, a glimpse of heaven, the dawning of a brighter day. There was something so convincing in His words, that the minds of many were persuaded that this could be no impostor, that He must be even what He claimed to be.
St. John viii. 31-36.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
However imperfect, however long delayed the faith of those Jews which believed on Him, the Lord, we find, rejected it not; but turning now from those who were yet rebellious, to those who at length seemed ready to surrender themselves to Him, He addresses to them words of encouragement and counsel. Yet forasmuch as some who had before professed
v. 28. There we have the result of hearing, simple testimony; here, the fuller word, signifying the effect of teaching, communication, intimacy. Compare ch. xii. 49.
1 The Lord refers both to His sayings and to His doings, to His words and to His works; especially to His claim to be the Son of God, and to
His working on the Sabbath-day; the two subjects of their especial indignation. One or other of these appears to be ever in their thoughts, rankling in their minds; and the allusions to these, as perpetually recurring to them, are frequent in our Lord's answers and observations. Ch. v. 18; vii. 23; ix. 16, 24; x. 33.
themselves disciples "murmured," and "went back," and "walked no more with Him," " therefore He urges them to continue in the faith.2 This endurance is a sign of true discipleship, and leads to further discoveries in divine knowledge, even to freedom of the soul. The Lord had spoken of spiritual freedom; the Jews, as usual, understood Him literally. He spake of the soul; they can think of nothing but the body. Of what advantage, they ask, this offer of freedom to those who were never in bondage? They are not slaves either by birth or conquest. They judged indeed as erroneously concerning themselves as concerning Him. The Lord replies calmly to their boastful question. It is one of His solemn sayings, ushered in with redoubled asseveration. Whatever a man may boast himself, whatever his parentage,' whatever his privileges, the commission of sin undoes him. The son of Abraham becomes the slave of sin. He is thereby degraded from the state of sonship to a state of servitude. He is heir no longer; not now Isaac who shall inherit, but Ishmael who is cast out. The Lord, it would seem, was referring to the typical teaching of these Scripture characters, to that allegory which His Apostle afterwards draws out. Thus He leads them to Himself, of whom in a special sense Isaac was the type; who had the power of translating them from the one condition to the other, from a state of degrading servitude to a state of essential freedom. Above He said, "The truth shall make you
1 St. John vi. 60, 61, 66.
2 Col. i. 23; Acts xiii. 43; xiv. 22; St. John xv. 4-7, 9, 10; 1 St. John ii. 28.
There is a paronomasia in the original which may be preserved by rendering the original word in v. 31 truly instead of indeed, and by rendering the words in vv. 34, 35, bondservant.
St. John viii. 17; xiv. 21, 23; Hos. vi. 3.
5 We can only understand their saying of the then generation. Those who understand it of the race must account for the manifest historical falsehood. Moreover it is a present
benefit the Lord offers, and they declare themselves in no condition to require it. They were speaking of themselves, not of their fathers. And their subjection to the Romans could hardly be called bondage. It was certainly very different to being carried away captive into a strange land; very different to the condition of their fathers in Babylon.
6 v. 48 below. The Lord gives them the truer pedigree. They were the aliens, v. 44.
St. Matt. iii. 9; Rom. ix. 6-8.
See the original word in v. 36.