companions, the words uttered.' That name which was glorified in the creation of the world, is glorified again in the world's redemption.



St. John xii, 30-33.

Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

At the grave of Lazarus, Jesus spake aloud to the Father for the people's sake; in the Temple at Jerusalem, the Father, still for their sake, spake aloud to Him. There the Son uttered His prayer of thanksgiving; here the Father proclaimed His word of promise; and in both cases for the sake of them that stood by. Christ needed not this confirmation, but the people needed the instruction. Not for His sake therefore, but for their sakes,3 came there such a voice to Him again from the excellent glory. After this marvellous parenthesis, this pause in which God is heard to speak from Heaven, the Lord resumes. He had spoken of an awful and mysterious hour. Here He describes what that hour is. It is the crisis of the world. As once through every avenue of pleasure, so now through every avenue of pain "5 will the prince of this world seek to shake from His steadfastness Him who for this purpose was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil." More than once does the Lord in this Gospel speak of the 5 A Plain Commentary.


1 Acts ix. 7 with xxii. 9.

2 St. John xi. 41, 42.

3 See the original. It is the same

preposition in both cases.

See the original.


6 St. John xiv. 30; xvi. 11; 2 Cor.

iv. 4; Eph. ii. 2; vi. 12.

1 St. John iii. 8.

[ocr errors]

wicked one by this title. For though it be an usurped dominion, yet unhappily men are too willing to become hist vassals; unwilling to submit themselves to Him who came to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God. But here our Lord anticipates his victory.' And He points out the way in which it shall be accomplished; a way that would not enter into the heart of man; a way which seemed an actual triumph to the enemy. But life issues out of death, and victory out of apparent defeat. "The Saviour crucified is in fact the Saviour glorified." And that this should prove the judgment of the prince of this world, however it might appear as a momentary triumph to him, would be seen and acknowledged when the promised Comforter should come, who should convince the world that the prince of this world is judged. Here too our Lord predicts the peculiar manner of His approaching death, and He declares the event of it, the attraction of the Cross. Thus would He, when uplifted, draw all men unto Him; not Jews alone, but also Gentiles, of whom some were offering themselves at that very hour.





St. John xii. 31-36.

The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

From the people's answer it is clear that they sufficiently understood His claim; and as their Scriptures asserted that the Messiah should endure for ever,' and Jesus had stated that the Son of man (which they understood to be another name for the same personage) was about to die, they thought they could convict Him of inconsistency. If you claim to be the Messiah, how come you to speak of dying, when our Scriptures tell us that the Messiah shall never die? Can you, whom we have thus heard foretell your own death, be identical with Him who, as we have heard out of the Scriptures read in our Synagogues, is to live for ever? And then they ask, petulantly, Who is this Son of man of whom you are evermore speaking? Can He be the same with Him whom Daniel speaks of by that name? 3 But He, so David declares, endureth for ever. They had just enough knowledge of the Scriptures to render them captious and critical; not enough really to enlighten and instruct. The Lord, as His manner was, takes no notice of their captious question. He tells them that which it was much more needful for them to know. Night probably was approaching. The scanty twilight, the almost sudden nightfall of an Eastern clime, fitly shadowed forth the shortness of the time remaining to

1 Ps. xlv. 6; lxxxix. 36.

2 The words have been rendered, "What kind of Son of man is this?" 3 Dan. vii. 13, 14.

Compare their reasonings in St. John vii. 41, 42. Compare also St. John viii. 13 with v. 31. It is remarkable that they cite in their objection here, not the words which our Lord had just used, but those which He used on another occasion. These exact words are found in His dis

course with Nicodemus, and the substance of them in one of His previous discourses in the Temple. Doubtless our Lord had often uttered them, and the people had often canvassed their meaning, and now they are running in their mind. See St. John viii. 28, in which chapter the discourse in great measure runs parallel with this. On the type to which our Saviour here, as in those other passages, made allusion, see Wisd. xvi. 6, 7.




Him, the swiftness of His approaching death. Once already we have heard Him teaching them by the rising sun, coming out of his chamber in the East to run his course.1 Now He teaches them by the same sun about to set. What was meant by the Light of which He speaks, who that Light is, He had already taught them when He said, "I am the Light of the world." Not long would they have this opportunity of thus consulting Him. Let them make the most of it, and become without delay His true Disciples; lest darkness overtake them, and judicial blindness for ever seal their eyes. What is walking in the light but believing heartily in the Lord; even as receiving, and coming to, and feeding upon Him, are the same as believing with the heart in Him? For he who believes does these; and he who does these believes. The Lord tells them the result of refusing to walk in the light, of loving darkness rather than light." Miserable is that moral uncertainty of which physical darkness with its attendant danger is a fitting emblem. A sad comment upon this saying is supplied in those last words of an eminent contemner of the Christian faith, "I am about to take a leap in the dark." But contrast with this the blessedness of those who believe and walk in the light;9 in other words, who follow Christ.10 They shall become sons of light." Not indeed attaining to this all at once, but


1 St. John viii. 2, 12. See also i. 4; ix. 4, 5.


2 St. John viii. 21, 24; Jer. xiii. 16. Compare the terms of vv. 35, 36. St. John i. 11, 12.

5 St. John vi. 35.

St. John vi. 47-58.

St. John iii. 19-21.

8 St. John xi. 9, 10. 91 St. John i. 7.

10 St. John viii. 12.

11 "The obedient, and the men of practice, are those sons of light that shall outgrow all their doubts and ignorances. . . till persuasion pass into knowledge, and knowledge advance into assurance, and all come at length to be completed in the beatific

vision, and a full fruition of those joys, which God has in reserve for them, whom by His grace He shall prepare for glory."-South, Ser. vi. "Why Christ's doctrine was rejected by the Jews."

"The sun can make dark things clear, but it cannot make a blind man see them but herein is the excellency of this Sun, that He illuminates not only the object but the faculty... One of the speakers in the Book of Job, discoursing of the prosperity of the wicked, calls it but his candle, and tells how long it can last. . . . If it last his lifetime, it shall convey him no further; he goes into eternity in the dark; and therefore . . . he

gradually, yet certainly, growing up into it. "The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Christ's Sermon is done. That Divine discourse ended, He left the Temple abruptly; leaving the people to ponder His words; hiding Himself from them with, it might be, the setting sun.




St. John xii. 37-43.

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our

knows not whither he goeth."-Abp. Leighton, Second Sermon on Is. lx. 1. "It is to light that all nations and languages have had recourse, whenever they wanted a symbol of anything excellent in glory. . . . In order however that we may in due time inherit the whole fulness of this radiant beatitude, we must begin by training and fitting ourselves for it. Nothing good bursts forth all at once. The lightning may dart out of a black cloud; but the day sends his bright heralds before him, to prepare the world for his coming. So should we endeavour to render our lives here on earth, as it were, the dawn of Heaven's eternal day. . . . Merely blot out light from the earth, and joy will pass away from it; and health will pass away from it; and life will pass away from it; and it will sink back into a confused, turmoiling chaos. . . . Light illumines everything, the lowly valley as well as the lordly mountain; it fructifies everything, the humblest herb as well as the lordliest tree. . . .

Nor does Christ the original, of whom light is the image, make any distinction between the high and the low, the humble and the lordly. He comes to all, unless they drive Him from their doors. He calls to all, unless they obstinately close their ears against Him. He blesses all, unless they cast away His blessing. . . . They who attempted to become like God in knowledge, fell in the garden of Eden. They who strove to become like God in power, were confounded on the plain of Shinar. They who endeavour to become like God in love, will feel His approving smile and His helping arm; every effort they make will bring them nearer to His presence; and they will find His renewed presence grow more and more vivid within them, until the time comes when they too shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." -Archdeacon Hare, Victory of Faith, Scr. vii.

St. Matt. xxi. 17.

« ElőzőTovább »