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saying, in their contemptuous way, “We know this man whence He is.”? The Lord replies not to the words of their mouth, but to the thought of their heart; not to the question they had asked, but to the spirit which prompted it. Ye neither know me, as ye contemptuously profess; nor my Father, as ye boastfully declare.
For not Joseph, as ye imagine is my Father, but God Himself; of whom ye make your boast, but whom ye know not aright, neither can know while ye refuse to recognise His Son. The Evangelist notes the particular part of the Temple where this discussion with the Pharisees took place. It was that part where were placed the chests to receive the offerings of those who frequented the Temple. See how exact the sacred historian is. How easy it would have been to convict him had he recorded anything incorrectly. That quarter of the Temple where the Lord uttered these bold words was the most public, the most frequented; where His enemies might easily have apprehended him, but that an invisible hand restrained them for the present, though against their inclination. “ His hour was not yet come, because His work was not yet done."3 He must work the works of Him that sent Him, while it was yet day. Soon the night was coming in which He should no longer thus work. Then it would be their hour and the power of darkness. So every good man may nerve himself with the thought, “My times are in Thy hand.”
JESUS JUSTIFIETH HIS DOCTRINE.
St. John viii. 21-24.
Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins : whither I go, ye cannot
I St. John vii. 27.
? Vv.54, 55, below; ch, xiv. 6, 7, 9; xvi. 3.
4 St. John ix. 4.
s St. Luke xxii. 53; St. John xii. 27.
Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath ; I am from above : ye are of this world ; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins : for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
We come now to the substance of another of those divine discourses which St. John records. The Lord repeats what He on a former occasion had said to the Jews. That former saying He here expands. And He adds a sad sentence, framed after one of their own Prophets. “Ye shall die in your sin;" 5 in that state of sin from which faith in me can alone deliver you. He was about to return to His kingdom in Heaven. How could they come thither while they continued in obstinate unbelief? The Lord's saying set them
6 thinking, or rather talking, among themselves; canvassing one with another, as before, what this saying of His could mean. With their usual carnal bent they ask a question which proves their spiritual pride. As though they were superior to Him. As though He might stoop to suicide, but they never. And so the Lord reproves these carnally-minded
· The opening words of v. 21 seem to indicate that this was another discourse, and on another occasion. Compare vv. 20, 59. The difference of the event shows the difference of the occasion.
2 St. John vii. 34,
3 “ Ye sball seek Me" is not a prediction of what these particular Jews should do, but rather a proverbial expression, implying that He should no longer be to be found. It refers not so much to any active seeking on their part, as to the fact of the Lord's withdrawal from them. Compare Job vii. 21; Ps. xxxvii. 36.
• Ezek. ii. 18–20; xviii. 20-32; xxxiii. 5-19.
3 It is the singular number in the original.
• St. John v. 40.
St. John vii. 35, 36. & The Jews seem to have regarded this as a not uncommon termination to the career of disappointed adventurers. 2 Sam. xvii. 23. The story of Celanus (Cic. Tusc. Disp. ii. 22) and others will occur to the classical reader. A man may devote himself to death out of pure vanity, as in old times Empedocles is said to have done, and later on the apostate Pere-. grinus. He may be even impelled to it by revenge against others, as Hindoo fanatics nowadays think to lay their death at the door of those who have done them real or imaginary wrong. The case of the Donatist suicides is also a case in point. See Aug. in S. Jo. vi. 23; xi. 15, and in Ep. S. Jo. vi. 2. See also Gibbon, ch. xxi.
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 things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
1 Rom. viii. 6, 7.
3 Compare St. John iii. 12, 31, 32, 34, 35; 1 St. John ii. 15-17.
4 St. John vii. 35,
s St. John jji. 16-18; vv. 24, 25, 40; xii. 46-48.
6 The “I am He” is apother 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.
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, 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. 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." •
i Ps. lvi. 5, 6.
Vy. 16, 18 above.
THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS.
St. Johd 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, 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 6 the Father's words,
i St. John iii. 14; xii. 32. “Our Saviour's words on tbis 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.
5 St. John v. 19-23; vi. 38; vii. 16, 28; vv. 16, 19 above.
6 The word for speak in v. 26 is different from that so rendered here,