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and did His pleasure. Nor was it possible or conceivable that He who is one with the Father could do otherwise. At this stage in the hitherto gloomy scene comes in as it were a little gleam of sunshine, a glimpse of heaven, the dawning of a brighter day. There was something so convincing in His words, that the minds of many were persuaded that this could be no impostor, that He must be even what He claimed to be.
St. John viii. 31-36.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed ; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man : how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever : but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
However imperfect, however long delayed the faith of those Jews which believed on Him, the Lord, we find, rejected it not; but turning now from those who were yet rebellious, to those who at length seemed ready to surrender themselves to Him, He addresses to them words of encouragement and counsel. Yet forasmuch as some who had before professed
v. 28. There we have the result of His working on the Sabbath-day; the hearing, simple testimony; here, the two subjects of their especial indignafuller word, signifying the effect of tion. One or other of these appears teaching, communication, intimacy. to be ever in their thoughts, rankling Compare ch. xii. 49.
in their minds; and the allusions to 1 The Lord refers both to His say- these, as perpetually recurring to ings and to His doings, to His words them, are frequent in our Lord's and to His works; especially to His answers and observations. Ch. v. 18; claim to be the Son of God, and to vii, 23; ix. 16, 24; x. 33.
themselves disciples “murmured,” and “went back," and “walked no more with Him,” therefore He urges them to continue in the faith.2 This endurance is a sign of true discipleship, and leads to further discoveries in divine knowledge, even to freedom of the soul. The Lord had spoken of spiritual freedom; the Jews, as usual, understood Him literally. He spake of the soul; they can think of nothing but the body. Of what advantage, they ask, this offer of freedom to those who were never in bondage ?5 They are not slaves either by birth or conquest. They judged indeed as erroneously concerning themselves as concerning Him. The Lord replies calmly to their boastful question. It is one of His solemn sayings, ushered in with redoubled asseveration. Whatever a man may boast himself, whatever his parentage, whatever his privileges, the commission of sin undoes him. The son of Abraham becomes the slave of sin. He is thereby degraded from the state of sonship to a state of servitude. He is heir no longer; not now Isaac who shall inherit, but Ishmael who is cast out. The Lord, it would seem, was referring to the typical teaching of these Scripture characters, to that allegory which His Apostle afterwards draws out. Thus He leads them to Himself, of whom in a special sense Isaac was the type; who had the power of translating them from the one condition to the other, from a state of degrading servitude to a state of essen
a tial freedom.' Above He said, “The truth shall make you
' i St. John vi. 60, 61, 66.
benefit the Lord offers, and they de2 Col. i. 23; Acts xiii. 43; xiv. 22; clare themselves in no condition to St. John xv. 4-7, 9, 10; 1 St. John require it. They were speaking of ii. 28.
themselves, not of their fathers. And 3 There is a paronomasia in the their subjection to the Romans could original which may be preserved by hardly be called bondage. It was rendering the original word in v. 31 certainly very different to being truly instead of indeed, and by render- carried away captive into a strange ing the words in vv. 34, 35, bond- land; very different to the condition servant.
of their fathers in Babylon. · St. John viii. 17; xiv. 21, 23; v. 48 below.
The Lord gives Hos. vi. 3.
them the truer pedigree. They were 5 We can only understand their the aliens, v. 44. saying of the then generation. Those ? St. Matt. iii. 9; Rom. ix. 6-8. who understand it of the race must 8 Gal. iv. 21-31. account for the manifest historical . See the original word in v. 36. falsehood. Moreover it is a present lu v. 31 it is another word.
free.” Here He says, “The Son shall make you free.” For He is "the Truth.” Every one that? committeth sin." He makes it singular. We may not merge ourselves in the crowd of sinners,' and so think to escape the righteous judgment of God. Thus too we are unmoved by the delirious dreams of those who in their wild schemes for the world's freedom leave Christ out of the question. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the slaves of corruption."5 The first French Revolution, with its wild “age of reason,” was a signal instance of this.
St John xiv. 6; xviii. 37 :- receive their symbol. And this so “ He is a freeman whom the Truth far from abating anything of its terror makes free,
or dear concernment, that it much And all are slaves besides."
increases it. . . . He that stands in a Cowper, The Task, 733.
churchyard in the time of a great ? So in the original. Rom. ii. 6, plague, and hears the passing bell 12. “That Lord who in so many perpetually telling the sad stories of gracious ways has sought to scare and death, and sees crowds of infected separate us from evil, does so here by bodies pressing to their graves, and setting forth to us that it is a slavery; others sick and tremulous, and death that howsoever men may think and dressed up in all the images of sorrow fancy at the beginning that their sins round about him, is not supported in shall be servants to them, it is never his spirit by the variety of his sorrow." long before they inevitably become -Jer. Taylor, Christ's Advent to servants to their sins."—Abp. Trench, Judgment. Sermons in Westminster Abbey, p. 58. 5 2 St. Pet. ii. 19.
3 The liberty to which we & Such was the admission of one called in Christ is not the liberty of who was at the first inclined to symdevils, the liberty of doing what we pathize with much of it. will, but the blessed liberty of being
* The sensual and the dark rebel in on the side of the law, and therefore
vain, unrestrained by it in doing right.”— Slaves by their own compulsion! In Sermons by F. W. Robertson, Third Series.
They burst their manacles, and wear * “ The persons who are to be
the name judged; even you and I and all the
Of Freedom graven on a heavier
chain." world ; kings and priests, nobles and
Coleridge, France, an Ode. learned, the crafty and the easy, the wise and the foolish, the rich and the Compare the confession of Madame
Roland, “O liberté, comme on t'a poor, the prevailing tyrant and the oppressed party, shall all appear to jouée !”
St. John vüi, 37-41.
I know that ye are Abraham's seed ; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have with
have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God : this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your
The Jews boasted that they were descendants of Abraham, and so had no need of the freedom the Lord offered. The Lord shows how little it would avail them to be of the seed of Abraham, while they were so far from doing the works of Abraham. Sons should bear some resemblance to their father. If they indulged that murderous disposition, manifested in their desire to kill Him, they were so far from being true children of Abraham, or, as they proceed to boast, of God, that they were rather children of the devil. The seed of Abraham according to the flesh they might be, but the children of Abraham according to the spirit they were not.? Spiritually they could only be sons of him whose spirit they followed. The Lord admits their pedigree, but that proved nothing. How inconsistent their conduct with their ancestry! How different their disposition to that of their great forefather! Then He shows the real reason of their baseness. It was not that there was anything false in His doctrine, but that their minds were prejudiced against
Aug. de Ser. Domini in Monte, greater than Ishmael. See Gen. xxi. i. 8.
12, 13, and Rom. ix. 6-8, where the 2 There is a contrast between the same distinction obtains. seed of v. 37 and the children of v. 3 The stress here seems rather on 39. The latter imports more than the the act, afterwards (v. 40) on the performer; even as Isaac was, typically, Rom. iv. 11, 12; Gal. iii. 7, 9.
it. Yet every reason had they to receive His words, for He spake not merely what was agreeable to the will of God, but what He had seen, as an eye-witness, as a Son with His Father. And very plainly did they prove by their works what manner of spirit they were of. Evil deeds manifested an evil origin. He speaks the truth of God, and they there
, fore seek to slay Him with a malice worthy of the devil. As truly as His words were divine, so truly were their deeds devilish. From this mention of the word “father," they take occasion to reiterate in another shape their former statement. Still they harp upon the same string.
But how far they were from doing the works of Abraham, the Lord proceeds to show. The messenger of the truth, whom he made welcome, they sought to kill. Such murderous, truth-hating disposition argued a very different paternity.
THE SAME SUBJECT- continued.
St. John viii. 41-43.
Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication ; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me : for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came 1 of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech ? even because ye cannot hear my word.
These men so gross and dull of hearing, now begin to get some glimpse of our Lord's meaning. At length it begins to dawn on their carnal mind that He was speaking after a spiritual manner. So, beaten from one fancied stronghold,
St. John iii. 32–35 ; xiv. 10–24. to the devil in ver. 44. They sought
to kill Him, and they succeeded in 3 Bengel explains the use of the killing Him, in so far as He was man. word man in this 40th verse by re- The antecedent to the who is rather ference to the term manslayer applied me than man.