Verse 59. "Then took they up stones, &c." - It appears that the Jews understood him as asserting his Godhead; and, supposing him to be a blasphemer, they proceeded to stone him, according to the law. Leviticus xxiv. 16.
"But Jesus hid himself" - In all probability he rendered himself invisible-though some will have it that he conveyed himself away from those Jews who were his enemies, by mixing himself with the many who believed on him, (ver. 30, 31,) and who, we may suppose, favoured his escape. Pearce.
But where did they find the stones, Christ and they being in the temple? It is answered: 1st. It is probable, as the buildings of the temple had not been yet completed, there might have been many stones near the place; or, 2dly.
They might have gone out so the outer courts for them; and, before their return, our Lord had escaped. See Lightfoot and Calmet.
"Going through the midst of them, and so passed by." - These words are wanting in the Codex Bezae, and in several editions and versions. Erasmus, Grotius, Beza, Pearce, and Griesbach, think them not genuine. The latter has left them out of the test. But, notwithstanding what these critics have said, the words seem necessary to explain the manner of our Lord's escape. 1st. He hid himself, by becoming invisible; and then, 2dly. He passed through the midst of them, and thus got clear away from the place. See a similar escape mentioned, Luke iv. 30, and the note there.
THE subjects of this chapter are both uncommon and of vast importance.
1. The case of the woman taken in adultery, when properly and candidly considered, is both intelligible and edifying. It is likely that the accusation was well founded; and that the scribes and Pharisees endeavoured maliciously to serve themselves of the fact, to embroil our Lord with the civil power, or ruin his moral reputation. Our Lord was no magistrate, and therefore could not, with any propriety, give judgment in the case; had he done it, it must have been considered an invasion of the rights and office of the civil magistrate, and would have afforded them ground for a process against him. On the other hand, had he acquitted the woman, he might have been considered, not only as setting aside the law of Moses, but as being indulgent to a crime of great moral turpitude, and the report of this must have ruined his moral character. He disappointed this malice by refusing to enter into the case; and overwhelmed his adversaries with confusion, by unmasking their hearts, and pointing out their private abominations. It is generally supposed that our Lord acquitted the woman: this is incorrect; he neither acquitted nor condemned her: he did not enter at all juridically into the business. His saying, Neither do I condemn thee, was no more than a simple declaration that he would not concern himself with the matter-that being the office of the chief magistrate; but, as a preacher of righteousness, he exhorted her to abandon her evil practices, lest the punishment, which she was now likely to escape, should be inflicted on her for a repetition of her transgression.
2. In several places in this chapter, our Lord shows his intimate union with the Father, both in will, doctrine, and deed; and though he never speaks so as to confound the persons, yet he evidently shows that such was the indivisible unity, subsisting between the Father and the Son, that what the one witnessed, the other witnessed; what the one did, the other did; and that he who saw the one necessarily saw the other.
3. The original state of Satan is here pointed out-he abode not in the truth, ver. 44. Therefore he was once in the truth, in righteousness and true holiness-and he fell from that truth into sin and falsehood, so that he became the father of lies and the first murderer. Our Lord confirms here the Mosaic account of the fall of man, and shows that this fall was brought about by his lies, and that these lies issued in the murder or destruction both of the body and soul of man.
4. The patience and meekness exercised by our Lord, towards his most fell and unrelenting enemies, are worthy the especial regard of all those who are persecuted for righteousness.-When he was reviled, he reviled not again. As the searcher of hearts, he simply declared their state, ver. 44, in order to their conviction and conversion: not to have done so, would have been to betray their souls. In this part of his conduct we find two grand virtues united, which are rarely associated in man, MEEKNESS and FIDELITY-patience to bear all insults and personal injuries; and boldness, is the face of persecution and death, to declare the truth. The meek man generally leaves the sinner unreproved: the bold and zealous man often betrays a want of due self-management, and reproves sin in a spirit which prevents the reproof from reaching the heart. In this respect also, our blessed Lord has left us an example, that we should follow his steps. Let him that readeth understand.