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some general prospect of brighter days to come. wise and true Comforter, He does not deny or conceal the grief, but leads them to look beyond it. He admits, and even declares, that while the world is rejoicing, they shall be weeping. While it is triumphing in its seeming victory, they shall be lamenting their unspeakable loss. He hides not from them that there is sorrow in store. They shall be full of sorrow.
cup of sorrow shall be filled to the brim. But He tells them,-what may well reconcile them to it,—that this is the prelude of joy. It is the beginning of their blessedness; as surely as the darkest hour of night ushers in the day. Grief shall not merely give place to joy, but shall itself be turned into it; even as the water of that first miracle was turned into wine. Let us remember it in all time of our tribulation. The sorrow we shrink from, the sadness we would shun, is part of the scheme of love concerning us, the necessary preparation for our joy. The momentary Cross is but a step to the unfading and eternal crown.3
THE SAME SUBJECT —continued.
St. John xvi. 21-23 (former clause).
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come : but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born
I “ How wilt thou then look back
Sun. after Trinity.
And all these woes shall serve For sweet discourses in our time to
Sun. after Trinity.
“ When the shore is won at last,
Ibid. St. John's Day.
We may compare the reflection in Romeo and Juliet (Act iii. scene 5):
into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow : but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing.
The Lord illustrates what He has been saying by a familiar figure, found also in the Prophets. Travail pangs were upon them. But these, He reminds them, are only temporary, and shall give place to a lasting joy, of which they can never be deprived." Nor are these words of consolation to be limited to those to whom they were first addressed. “ By this image of maternal sorrow suddenly exchanged for maternal rapture," ? He would sustain all His servants in the painful present, leading them to look for the blissful future.3 Here also we may see a reference to the mystery of our Saviour's birth, and also (to use a Scripture metaphor) of His second birth, that is, of His resurrection. We know how a Jewish mother, expectant parent of the promised Messiah, would forget her anguish in the joy that a man was born into the world. So from the womb of the grave would He return to bless His own. Now He tells them before it come to pass, and foretells the joy of that thrilling time. “And in that day,” He adds, “ye shall ask me nothing.” This is one of the effects of His finished work. It does not mean that prayer shall not then be addressed to Him. There is no contrast here between prayer to the Son and prayer to the Father. For to “ask” here is simply to ask questions. It is an altogether different word to that in the next clause, which means to make requests. “Prayer," indeed, “shall be made ever unto Him, and daily shall He be praised.” But as the Disciples before had asked no question out of sorrow, so now they should ask none out of joy. Or it may refer to what has just gone before. For whereas they had been desirous to ask Him to explain these things, it should be so no longer. His rising from the dead should explain the
| The present tense has this force- See Bp. Wordsworth on Acts ii. 24. None can take.
* Expressed in the original. 2 A Plain Commentary.
6 Vv. 5, 9 above. 3 Rom. viii. 18, 22, 23.
; V, 19 above. 4 Ps. ii. 7; Col. i. 18; Rev. i. 5.
difficulties, and resolve their doubts. Observe too that the Lord speaks of their time of joy as "a day,” 1 compared with their time of sorrow and trial, which was but as an "hour."
“ It is day-time too that He speaks of, and the cheerful dawn. For while He was speaking it was night,” and all was shrouded in the solemn darkness. But if now their Sun was darkened, on the coming Easter morn it rose never to set.
CHRIST CONCLUDETH HIS CHARGE TO HIS
St. John xvi. 23 (latter clause)-25.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name : ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs : but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.
“On the subject of putting questions, Christ engrafts that of preferring requests." He consoles them by a new consideration. He who before had said, 5“ Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do,” here says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you.” So complete is the Divine unity. Here is the warrant whereby the Church has learned from the first to conclude her petii St. John xiv. 20.
by the Spirit as to bave nothing 2 St. John xiii. 30.
further to inquire; the second half of 3 Bloomfield.
the verse begins the declaration of 4 Toletus. “ There is not in this altogether a new blessing, that whatverse a contrast drawn between asking ever they shall seek from the Father the Son, which shall cease, and asking in the Son's name, He will give it the Father, which shall begin ; but them.”—Abp. Trench, Synonyms of the first half of the verse closes the the N. T. p. 168. declaration of one blessing, namely, 5 St. John xiv. 13, 14. that hereafter they shall be so taught
tions with the sacred formula of the name of Jesus Christ. In His name, and through His mediation. Uttering that, trusting in this, ye may ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. There is no limit set to our desires. There is no limit, but what Divine love dictates, to their fulfilment. From such worshippers He will withhold “ no manner of thing that is good.” Gradually the Lord unfolds to His Disciples His mediatorial work. Hitherto they had been in the habit of praying to the Father, but not yet in the all-prevailing name of the Son; neither they, nor that Old Testament Church before them, except in so far as it was shadowed forth in obscure types and a mystic mercy-seat; and so their joy had hitherto been incomplete. Now He bids them not merely ask,--for this He had done before in His initiatory teaching in that Sermon on the Mount,—but so ask, in His name, that their cup of joy may be full, as now their sorrow is. The “ hour and the day
» 4 here spoken of refer probably to that approaching Pentecost, when the Lord would teach no more in proverb or in parable, but plainly by His Spirit. Not till His work was done could the Redeemer drop the veil.
THE SAME SUBJECT —continued.
St. John xvi. 26, 27.
At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you : for the Father him
I St. John xv. 7.
“Letting in the light by such Chrysostom (Ser. xi. In quatri. degrees as you were fit to bear.”— duanum Lazarum) likens it to a foun- Baxter, in his Paraphrase. tain, at which every vessel that is 6 Note that He who before (vy. brought to it is filled, according to its 13-15) had said, “The Spirit shall capacity.
shew,” now says, “ I shall shew." So 3 In v. 25 the word rendered time too we have “ of mine,” and “ of the in the E. V. is strictly hour.
Father," interchangeably, 1 V. 26.
self loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that
, I came out from God.
Again the Lord adverts to the style and manner of prayer in that coming day or dispensation of the Spirit. It is to be in His Name. This is the talisman that opens to us the treasure. Not of course that there is any magical charm or spell in those syllables, so that the mere sound shall suffice." But to those who know how to use it aright, in faith and trust and confidence, it is the pass-word, the very key to Heaven's gate, the sure inlet into the kingdom of blessing.? But here the Lord puts them on their guard against a possible error. Because “ His name, through faith in His name,' procures to them such blessings, because through His prayer to the Father the Comforter is given, let them not suppose that the Father is not forward to give. “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only-be
And to those who, as these Disciples, believe in Him whom He hath sent, He feels a special, an everlasting love. Therefore the Lord says not now, as before, “I will pray the Father;” for He desires to impress this other truth upon them, that the Father Himself loveth them. And though in the words that follow, the natural order seems to be departed from, and we find Him speaking of loving before believing, yet we may remember that, in a sense, love goes before as well as follows faith. The affection which the Disciples felt for the person of their Lord, prepared them for confidence in His Divine power. Their love to His humanity ripened into faith in His Divinity. Yet love is here put first, for the Lord was first speaking of love. And then He proceeds to speak of faith, and so leads the way to that profession of faith which afterwards the Disciples utter, and which He so puts even into their mouth."
1 Augustine (in 8. Jo. Tr. cii. 1) says, that whatever is asked that would be contrary to salvation is not asked in the name of the Saviour. He adds, that not the sound of the syllables, but what the sound signifies,
is what we are to understand by this
2 Phil. ii. 10.
* Bengel calls attention to the echo in v. 30 of our Lord's words in y. 27.