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perfectly proclaiming the providence of that God who gave them life, He here applies to Himself. Infants which cannot. speak attest His providence and power. And those who in simplicity and teachableness resemble children, offer Him the most acceptable worship.' These little ones had learned from their elders. They did as they were taught. Let us in like manner learn from the good, and teach the young, who so readily pick up what they hear, and who can hardly be taught too soon to sing His praise.2
GENTILES DESIRE TO SEE JESUS.
St. John xii. 20–22.
And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
We saw the calling of the Gentiles symbolized in the manner of our Lord's entry into Jerusalem. They were signified by the colt whereon He rode. Greeks was a term common to all Gentiles. The word comprehends all who were not Jews. The special Gentiles here intended were probably Syro-Phoenicians. selves to Philip, who, as our
"These children, who had perhaps caught up the sound of the acclamations they had already heard, 'were regardless of the power of the Pharisees for their simplicity of heart gave them a courage which many weak believers, more advanced in age, had not; and inspired them to do what others would not have dared' Thus were little children at first His martyrs; next, the pattern
Hence they addressed them-
which He set before His Church; and now, at last, they are heard singing His praises in the Temple. His own priests are silent, or only break silence to blaspheme His name; but little children cry, Hosanna to the Son of David!'"-A Plain Commentary and I. Williams cited therein. 2 See the Poem entitled Catechism, in The Christian Year.
3 St. Mark vii. 26.
native of Bethsaida in Galilee, a place not far from their own country. Between these neighbouring parts there would doubtless be frequent intercourse; and (Philip, it might be, was not unknown to these particular Gentiles. So they express their desire to have an interview with Him to whose person Philip was evidently near, whose fame1 had reached even to them, and whose triumphant entry into the Holy City they had come from witnessing. "These men from the West, at the end of the life of Jesus, set forth the same as the Magi from the East at its beginning;-but they come to the cross of the King, as those to His cradle." There is something very natural in Philip's coming to consult Andrew, who, as we have already learned,3 was his fellow-townsman. Andrew was probably with our Lord in the inner court of the Temple, from which Gentiles were excluded, which none but Jews were allowed to enter. Philip was probably without, where these Gentiles would have readier access to him. "As there were two Apostles sent for the colt which represented the Gentiles, so there are two who now tell Jesus of the approach of the first-fruits of the Gentiles."4
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xii. 23-26.
And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve
1 Jesus in the orginal has the article.
A Plain Commentary. St. John, intent upon his main design, makes
no mention of the result of their application. He relates only so much as should give a clue to the discourse that follows.
me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
More than once have we heard from the Lord's lips those words of mystery, "Mine hour is not yet come." Now for the first time 2 He declares the contrary. Already He has entered, as it were, upon the last hour of His mortal day.3 It is an hour of darkness and of deepest humiliation, and yet the Lord calls it the time when He shall be glorified. So differently do things look to the eye of faith and to the eye of sense. The hour was come, and this was the sign of it, that the Gentiles were even now coming unto Him. So in reference to His own approaching death and its consequent fruits of more abundant life, in reference also to these first-fruits of the Gentiles, He takes up His parable, that apt and favourite figure of the seed sown,5 and sets forth therefrom the effect of His own death. How different the event of a grain of wheat laid up in the barn, and a grain of wheat sown in the field! That would remain alone, unmultiplied; whereas this, though it die, springs up again into fresh and fuller life. So should it shortly be with Him. By the death of one, many should have life. Now from Himself and His own case, He seems to turn to His would-be followers, to forewarn them lest they should deceive themselves and be disappointed. What should be true of Him might be true also of them. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master. They had come from seeing Him greeted as King, and the palms of victory were carpeting His path. Soon they shall see Him numbered with the transgressors. They had heard the people shouting "Hosanna," and the echoes were still sounding in their ears. Ere that week come to a close they shall hear these same cry "Crucify." And they shall enter into the fellowship of His sufferings. But none of these things must move them."
1 St. John ii. 4; vii. 6, 8. And see vii 30; viii. 20.
2 V. 27 below; St. John xiii. 1, 3, 31-33; xvi. 32; xvii. 1.
3 St. John xi. 9.
St. John iv. 35-38.
5 "From this saying of our Lord, St. Paul derives his argument on the Resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. 36."-Bp Wordsworth.
61 Thess. iii. 3; 1 St. Pet. ii. 21; iv. 12, 14.
They are not, any more than He, to count their life dear unto them. So He warns them against cowardice, against apostasy, against shrinking from the martyr's cross, against losing the martyr's crown. Not that any man is literally to hate, or wilfully to injure his own flesh; but it might be necessary so to act as though they hated it, by surrendering it for their Lord's sake. Observe that contrast between "life in this world" and "life eternal." To love life too well is but to lose it. To hate it rightly is to keep it indeed. Loving is losing, but proper hating is to guard' it well. If any man, these same Gentiles or any other, profess to serve me, this is the path he must make up his mind to tread. He will not repent it. For see the result, "Where I am, there also shall my servant3 be;" with Him in glory as in suffering. Twice the clause is expressed; first in connexion with the duty, and then with the promise. "If any man serve me, let him follow me;" and again, "If any man serve me, him will my Father honour."
A VOICE FROM HEAVEN.
St. John xii. 27-29.
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
From directing and exhorting others the Lord of glory turns again to His own case, and to that dark hour which was
1 St. Luke xiv. 26. 2 So in the original.
See the original. Words remarkably fulfilled in the case of St. Stephen, one of the first Deacons, and the first Martyr.
It is like His promise afterwards to His disciples, St. John xiv. 2, 3. It is like His prayer afterwards to the Father, St. John xvii. 24. See 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12; Rev. ii. 10; iii. 21.
nigh at hand. Here was a garden of Gethsemane." 1 that He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin; that He had a mind and body constituted like ours, which like ours shrank naturally from pain and death; but that He had also a divine principle, a sinless spirit, whereby He triumphed over these natural trials. He had the former, or these things would not have been any trial to Him. He had the latter, or He could not so have triumphed over them. Divines have distinguished in Christ two wills; a natural and human will, and also a purely spiritual and divine will; the former of which would shrink from, the latter elect and endure these sufferings. And this seems to be the scope of our Saviour's outspoken meditation. What shall I say? Shall I say, Father, save me from this hour? Nay, for for this cause came I unto this hour. Therefore He will not put up such a request as this which human nature would dictate. At all hazards let the name of the Father be glorified. Sudden and marvellous now is the answer to His appeal. A great wonder is brought to pass. God is heard again to speak from Heaven. He who once answered His servant Moses on Mount Sinai, here on the Mount Sion answers His Son Jesus, in a voice of thunder. Some indeed professed to think it no more.5 Others, nearer the truth, supposed, and said, An Angel has spoken to Him. All heard the voice, though not all, any more than St. Paul's
"foretaste of the scene in the This sad soliloquy plainly proves
6 So in the original.
Thrice was the Divine voice heard from Heaven: first, at our Lord's Baptism, when He seems to have been specially designated to His Priestly office: next, at His Transfiguration, when, by the departure of Moses and Elijah, He was discovered as the great Prophet of His people: lastly, on the present occasion, when He is... revealed to Sion as her King, and beholds the first-fruits of those Gentiles who should hereafter press so largely into His Kingdom."--A Plain Commentary.