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the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
Bethany by night, Jerusalem by day. After that brief interval of rest, He returns betimes to His work of teaching in the Temple. Here we find the envy of the rulers breaking out ever and anon. The people however are not yet found ripe to carry out their base designs. The people for the present are wiser than their teachers. By and by they work upon their spirit of fanaticism to lash it into fury. Meanwhile the Lord continues those Divine discourses of which St. John gives us the summary. He "cried and said." Here was the manner of His teaching. It was in public. It was in all earnestness. He was the Angel of the Covenant, the Messenger, the Sent of the Father. Then we have the substance of His teaching. He reminds them of what He was ever proclaiming. Again He appeals to the Father which sent Him. He that believes on Him, believes not on Him only, but on Him also that sent Him. To believe in the Son is to believe also in the Father.* "It is as though one should say, He that taketh water from a river, taketh it not from the river but from the fountain." And still further to show the union between the Father and the Son, He adds, in words which we shall hear again," he that seeth me seeth Him that sent me." He is the brightness of the Father's glory; one with Him as the beam with the sun. Again He brings in that radiant figure, so often referred to; the very form of the expression showing "first, that Christ existed before His Incarnation, even as the sun exists before it appears above the Eastern hills. Secondly, it is implied that He
1 St. Luke xxi. 38.
2 St. Luke xx. 19.
* St. John xviii. 19-21.
4 St. John x. 30.
Chry. in S. Jo. Hom. lxix. Com
pare St. Mark ix. 37.
6 St. John xiv. 7--11.
St. John viii. 12; ix. 4, 5; xi. 9, 10.
was the one Saviour of the world, as there is but one sun. Lastly, that He came, not to one nation only, but to all.”1 And again He points out the danger of unbelief. Two periods are here spoken of, a present and a future. It means not that Christ will never judge, but that He judges or condemns not now. Now is the day of salvation. And though He shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead, yet the work, so to speak, shall be already done. As we say of a manifestly guilty and justly convicted criminal, even before the judge opens his mouth to pronounce upon him the awful sentence of the law, that he is self-condemned. So the Word of Christ shall be the witness in that dreadful day. Christ may be rejected by neglecting to receive His words. And this enhances the crime, that the word is the Word of God. He was not, as the Jews feigned, speaking without authority. The things which He spake were, as here He twice asserts, given Him in charge by the Father. The two modes of expression, "what I should say, and what I should speak," seem intended "to comprehend every class of discourse, as well the words of familiar intercourse, as the grave and solemn addresses of the Saviour." And the commandment of the Father, and the carrying out of it by the Son, were for our eternal life. Christ for our comfort affirms it with a formula of conscious truth, "I know." Who should know better than He?
1 A Plain Commentary. The "everyone that believeth" of v. 46 implying not only the universality, but the individuality also of the benefit.
2 "It is usual in the Gospel for a comparative negation to be expressed positively; as, I judge him not, that is, not chiefly; Labour not for the food that perisheth, that is, compara
tively; let it be least and last. Many such there are."-Baxter.
3 There may be allusion here to Deut. xviii. 17-19.
A Plain Commentary. the former may refer to the matter, the latter to the manner of His discourses. See St. Matt. x. 19.
JESUS INTERROGATED AS TO HIS AUTHORITY.
St. Mark xi. 27-33.
And as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people : for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
The Temple of the Jews had its courts and its cloisters. The Lord was walking in one and another of these, and teaching as He went, according to the manner of wise men in those days; addressing the different groups of people in the different parts of the spacious building;-when there suddenly came upon Him 1 a deputation from the Sanhedrim or Council of the Jews, composed of members of its various parts. Here is the first manifestation of that spirit of mischief which we have already noticed. These things concerning which they thus presume to question Him were His recent entry into Jerusalem, His purging the Temple, His Miracles and Teaching there. Their question "would have been just, had He not anticipated and rendered it unnecessary by such evident proofs of His extraordinary mission." 4 For "we have always a right to ask this question, where no true miracles appear to warrant such a
1 St. Luke xx. 1.
3 St. Luke xix. 47, 48.
Compare St. John i. 19.
mission." Here it was asked with a base motive," with a view to make our Saviour declare Himself to be a prophet sent from God; in which case the Sanhedrim had power to take cognizance of his proceedings. . . The question was the result of a combination to destroy Jesus."2 Therefore He declined to answer it directly, but proposed to His inquisitors, with an air of authority they could not resist, that dilemma which for the time effectually silenced them. By the Baptism of John is meant his whole mission. Did he act by Divine authority, or was his only a human enterprise? We are admitted to their deliberations how they should answer this question. How un-candid the conduct of these men! They cannot give a straightforward answer. Truth is the last thing they aim at. They "had so far made an insincere confession to the people's persuasion as to allow John to pass for a Prophet." But if now they admitted him to be this, they feared the just retort implied in the obvious question which must have followed, as to why they did not believe his Divine mission and his testimony to Jesus. If on the other hand they publicly repudiated him, they feared the popular violence that might follow; feared lest that lawlessness which they themselves had encouraged in the mob, those stones which they had put into their hands," might recoil upon themselves. They thought therefore the safest way was to decline to answer the Lord's question. They say, "We know not ;"8 which was false enough. In any case it was to their discredit that they, masters of Israel, usually so self-confident,' knew not
3 This conduct of the Son of God can by no means serve to justify the refusal of heretics as to the proof of their mission; since they never wrought any miracle, as Jesus Christ did; since they were never foretold by the Prophets, as He was; since they have no John for a witness; since they reject the authority of the Church which asks them this question, a thing which Christ did not do.
Christ does not tell these men
whence his authority came; but His miracles tell them very plainly."Quesnel.
In St. Matthew's account (xxi. 26) there is a pause after the word men, a sort of aposiopesis. In St. Mark, there is a passing from what Grammarians call the direct to the oblique narration.
St. Luke vii. 30.
So in the original.
these things. The Lord is thus exempted from answering them. They cannot compel Him to do what they decline. They have witnessed to their own unfitness to be judges in the matter of His claims.
THE TWO SONS.
St. Matthew xxi. 28-32.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
It is now the Lord's turn to be interrogator. He who had been so wantonly attacked no longer stands on the defensive, but becomes Himself the assailant, and carries the war into the enemy's own country. Now begins" that series of parables, in which, as in a glass held up before them, they might see themselves." He asks them what they think of the following case. Out of their own mouth He convicts them. Under this figure of two sons bidden to work in their Father's vineyard - one of whom refused but afterwards repented, the other promised but did not perform,-He describes two classes of people among the Jews, whom the God and Father of all had called to walk in the way of
Rom. ii. 19, 20. "These men undertake to judge of the mission of Christ, and yet are found to own that
they cannot tell whence was that of John."-Quesnel.
2 Abp. Trench.